November 3rd – Smooth Sailing
At around 9AM in the morning, we heard the radio announcement from the Grand Poobah that rally was leaving at 10:30 AM. The forecast was for 15 to 20 knots of wind, building to 20 to 25 on second day. This gave us little more than an hour to finish walking Umphrey, put the dinghy away, eat breakfast, and prepare for a brisk sail. After rushing to get the dinghy put away, we finally made it to the starting line a 1/2 hour late and sailed out on a broad reach. As the wind picked up to around 15 knots, we sailed wing-on-wing, averaging more than 6 knots of boat speed. The next few hours would be the most enjoyable sailing conditions that we saw during the entire trip. We blew right past a Hunter 46 that should have been much faster than us in theory.
The rally committee recommended that boats follow a course close to shore to avoid the expected choppy seas. Along with many other boats, we did not take this advice and followed a direct rhumb line course to Bahia Santa Maria that would put us about 50 miles offshore.
Unlike the typical weather pattern in Southern California that sees diminished wind strength at night, the wind during this leg showed a tendency to build up strength at night. This would create some anxiety as the sun went down.
November 4th – Building Seas
Shortly after midnight we started consistently seeing wind speeds beyond 20 knots and seas building to approximately 8-10 feet, with a lot of choppy wind fetch. The wind direction shifted Northeasterly, which made it more difficult to stay on course. We chose to run directly downwind for greater comfort, even though this was pushing us further offshore. With just a reefed mainsail and 50% of our Jib, we were hitting boat speeds of up to 10 knots (highest we’ve ever seen) surfing down the back of the larger waves. Although this is fun sailing, it’s almost impossible to get any sleep with the amount of motion in these conditions.
When I woke up that morning, I remember seeing nothing but whitecaps on the horizon. There were 2 other boats on the horizon that would pop in and out of view with the waves. I enjoyed a nutritious breakfast of saltine crackers and Perrier. The good news is that we were making excellent time and would be anchored in BSM after just one more night of this.
November 5th – A Quick Break in Bahia Santa Maria
For the first time in over a week, Umphrey was free to run around shore off of his leash. As soon as we set him down, he bolted around large beach, explored its tide pools, and even found a few butts to sniff.
Hurricane Vance put the HAHA behind schedule, so the fleet had minimal time to spare in this beautiful bay. However, Starfire is a small, slow boat and we would have to leave the night before to round the cape in the morning. We chose to leave the anchorage at 7PM the same day, giving us only 11 hours to rest after our exhausting sail.