Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Point Conception: What A Drag!


Hello Northern California!

AnnMarie arrived the other day and we quickly headed north. The weather gods decided to punish us for moving the boat so quickly by throwing wind and waves at our bows. We bumped and bashed along, making less than four knots over much of it. The temps rarely got above sixty five, and the wind chill made it feel much worse. We wear our foulies most of the time now, and hats that can also be used as birth control, cause no one is gonna sleep with you if you're wearing it.

We motored continuously, with swells and chop coming from several different directions at once. Every so often a few waves would combine to leap up and smack our boat, jarring everyone aboard and making a booming noise that reverberated through the entire boat and slowing our progress.

The next morning I came on deck to discover that the port side trampoline, recently restrung with line we'd bought in Mexico, had parted. The constant bashing had snapped the line in several places. Two sides of it were still tied to the boat, but the other two dragged through the water with each wave that slammed into us. We reduced speed as I put on all my foulies, PFD, harness and clipped in to the jack lines, then went up on the bow to cut the tramp away from the boat. After hanging on the end of a cold, slippery bow while it bounced along through the waves, I managed to wrestle it back aboard and stow it in the cockpit. Then I went inside, and warmed up over a tin can of seafood. This is definitely not the glamorous cruising life you see on the magazine covers.

We reached Cojo Cove, just beneath Point Conception, at sunset and dropped the hook. There were a few large Coast Guard mooring balls just outside the anchorage, but these were reserved for the various oil rigs tenders, rescue ships and other such corporate and government boats that frequent the area. The winds were from the northeast, around fifteen knots but gusting to twenty five every so often, so we were nervous about making sure we had a good grip on the bottom. I added a smaller 20lb Danforth (something I've done many times before) to the end of the big CQR, but I had little faith in our primary anchor. We'd had nothing but problems with it in the past; it never set well, tended to drag, and didn't handle wind changes very well.

We dropped the hook in twenty-six feet of water over what was described as hard sand, taking pains to lower the anchor slowly, allowing the small anchor to touch, then slowly drifting back as we laid down the larger CQR and chain. We paid out all of our rode as we drifted back (leaving us a 6 to 1 scope) and then backed down on it with the engines, feeling the big anchor dig in. We sat there for a while, watching the land around us, as well as our GPS positions, to see if we going anywhere. We weren't, but I still wasn't comfortable about it, so I left the radar & GPS on, setting the electronic alarms to warn us if we moved.

Then we had dinner and rechecked our position: all was well. Naturally, the wind had died completely and we were being slowly rocked by a gentle swell from the west. Perfect conditions for rounding the point. I wondered if we should just pull stakes and head out now, but we were all tired from the bash, so we decided to get some much needed rest. We'd stay here a day, wait until tomorrow's sunset and then attempt to round the point. We all went to sleep.

About four hours later the alarms went off. The wind had come up, there was still some fog and we were dragging through the anchorage, headed out to sea. By the time I'd got up on deck we were sliding past one of the mooring balls, not five feet away from us. I started the engines and pushed them slowly forward, trying to at least keep us in place while the rest of the crew came up and we figured out what to do next. The wind was freshening, and it would only get worse when the sun rose. We decided to weight anchor and head north now.

As we used the engine to keep slack on the chain and power the windlass to raise it, the chain began to rattle aboard, but suddenly pulled to the left and towards the mooring ball. We realized then that the hook was tangled around the mooring ball's chain, somewhere beneath forty feet of cold, dark, murky water. We thought about several possible strategies, but the reality was that without a dry suit, regulator and underwater flashlights, it didn't make any difference. We were stuck.

It was still dark, we were exhausted, and this time definitely not worried about dragging, so we went back to sleep. Our plan was to wait until morning, then deal with it then. We woke up just towards sunrise when the mooring ball began banging against the side of our hull. It was dead still outside. We got up, made several attempts to figure out what to do, but diving into freezing cold water without the proper equipment, alone, using only a "Spare Air" as a regulator was a recipe for disaster. In the end decided that the forty feet of chain and an anchor we'd never liked was worth losing. We dragged out the bolt cutters, snapped our way to freedom and set out around the point.

We took advantage of the early morning wind and dashed around Point Conception, bucking fifteen knot head winds and five foot high swells and chop. The sun rose and so did the wind. Soon we found ourselves bashing into waves that crashed over the deck and sprayed green water onto the salon's cabin top. As the day wore on, so did we. We took turns at the helm, wrapped up in our foulies and watching the wind and waves do their best to stop our progress north. The only one who seemed to enjoy any of this was John, who thrives on bad weather, high seas and long stints at the helm. We sidled in along the coast line, hoping to avoid the brunt of the weather as we motored north.

We continued on and arrived at San Luis Obispo the next evening. It is a beautiful little harbor with a few mooring balls for transient boats. We motored in after dark, and tied up to a ball, but couldn't raise the harbor authorities on the radio. We've been having problems with our VHF radios, I believe the main radio's transmitter has failed entirely, and the VHF handhelds, even on the highest setting, were limited in their abilities to reach anything more than a few hundred yards away. We crashed for the night, listening to the seals barking on the breakwater just yards away.

The next morning I took the dinghy into to shore and paid for our night's stay, then checked out the fuel dock. Sadly, it is under temporary construction and not something I'd recommend for anything but a steel sided fishing vessel. The pumps are on top of a long pier, twenty feet above the water, and the hoses are lowered down to you. The only tie-up is to a long "camel" (a log surrounded by old car tires) that is lashed to the piers. Anyone wanting to preserve their gelcoat would be well advised to consider this arrangement before counting on getting fuel here. We left shortly after that and headed north again.

The ride up was more of the same. Long swells from the west, mixing with short chop from the north and a "reflection" swell bouncing off the shore from the east. It made the ride rough and bouncy, with a lot of slapping and banging as we went. We arrived in Santa Cruz that morning, and tied up to the local fuel dock. The folks at the dock were great, bending over backwards to make our stay there pleasant. We grabbed a spot just around the side and tied up Triton. Not less than ten minutes later we were met by John's sweetie Diana. John needed to get back due to a death in his family, so we had time only for a brief drink and snacks before they headed home together. SLO is a lovely bay and the harbor was quite nice, with many nice restaurants and a great beach as well. We refueled, spent the night at the dock, got a good night's sleep. AnnMarie and I left the next morning, only to be greeted by increasing winds and waves as we headed on.

Eventually we approached Half Moon Bay, and our next destination at Pigeon Point Harbor. It was already sunset as we entered the bay, so we needed to rely on the navigation lights atop the buoys that mark the entrance. You need to be careful when coming in from the south. There is a large reef that runs just south of the entrance, and you need to work your way past it before turning east. The harbor is very windy, but quite well protected, with a long, high sea wall around it. There is a second breakwater around the marina itself. We motored along, found a berth to tie up at, and cheered. We'd made it!

We had decided to leave the boat here for a bit while. We wanted to invite everyone who has ever been crew on Triton (and their spouses) to join us for the last twenty miles home. Our plan is to sail under the Golden Gate with the entire crew on deck, then pull up to the dock and invite all our friends aboard for a home coming celebration. So far, most everyone we've contacted can make it and we are excited to be so close to home.

Keep an eye on this website for the final leg's description and photos of the event. It has been a long, strange trip, but well worth the effort. We have been blessed by great friends, fantastic crew, a great boat and a survivable amount of government interference. No doubt the last twenty miles will take the longest, but it is good to be this close to home.

Cheers for now,



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