500 Miles

Thursday, September 02, 2004

N 39o 02’

W 133o 48’

545 miles to San Francisco

We can now count the days remaining to San Francisco on one hand. If the weather predictions are correct, at least part of that time could be a roller-coaster ride towards the coast.

Two mornings ago, under a full moon, the spinnaker hung lifeless, wrapping itself around the furled genoa as Lillian rocked in the waves. By sunrise, contrary to the weather forecast, the winds had revived and by noon gathered strength to 30 plus knots. They have stayed moderately strong since. Unfortunately, they have been more out of the East than we would have liked. Unable to sail into the wind, we have lost ground to the south. Only today have the winds shifted north, allowing us to sail back towards our rhumbline.

By this coming Saturday afternoon, San Francisco time, the winds are predicted to be from the north to northeast and to increase to 25 to 40 knots with seas of 10 to 13 feet. At the current pace, Lillian will be approximately 200 miles offshore. That wind direction will be good for heading to San Francisco Bay, but the strength requires some preparation.

Technically, twenty five to forty knots of wind doesn’t even qualify as a gale, but just in case, we have prepared Lillian as if for the latter. Yesterday, Peter and Pedro replaced our normal staysail with a storm jib, smaller and sturdier. The bag with the spinnaker has been cleared from the bow sprit and stowed. A second set of lines secure the anchors. An additional line has been added to the lashings on the zodiac. The remaining diesel in the jerry cans has been emptied into the main tanks in order to get the fuel off the deck and to lower Lillian’s center of gravity. Down below, loose objects have been stowed, such as the kitchen knives which have been put into a drawer that doesn’t have a tendency to slide open with waves. And, as a last precaution, we have readied the tri-sail, a thong of a sail designed for use with near hurricane winds and used in place of the mainsail.

I can’t say we’re looking forward to trying to sleep in rolling seas, but Peter and I are looking forward to trying out some new sails. As for Pedro, everything has been a new experience that he seems to enjoy. Ten knots or forty, in five days or less Lillian should be crossing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

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