Friends, Fog and Fireworks

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One more time

After two trips to the Bay Area we got the feeling we usually get. It’s because we are cruisers. We got antsy. We were ready to head south. Being a cruiser isn’t like buying a second home. It’s like buying a thousand second homes. We like the change of scenery and to be on the move. Now I know some of you say we move too fast but it’s who we are.  After a few trips to an area we are ready to move on. As much as we love San Francisco, after this third trip we were heading south. Maybe it was the temperature or maybe too much Cabernet and Sour Dough but on this trip we flew in and provisioned for a 2-week trip south.

Not a puff

We headed out the Golden Gate to a forecast of 20 -25 knots of wind and 10 ft. swell. Once we cleared the headlands to the south we made our course for the Monterey Peninsula and the wind and swell never materialized. There was a pressure gradient change just off the coast and the winds stayed about 40 miles offshore. We were in basically calm seas and motoring along watching whales breach around the boat.  It’s not bad to motor and the boat is relatively fast at about 8 knots but it’s not the challenge and excitement of sailing. Given proper time you could wait for a weather window to allow you to sail but we are working stiffs and when we are on the boat we have to make the best of the time we have so we have embraced the motoring thing.

I get a bad feeling about this

On the second day we left our anchorage and were immediately socked in by fog. The “pea soup” kind. You couldn’t see more than a boat length around you. I haven’t seen this in years and Lennie had never seen it. We sat there in silence just contemplating that you are in this big place on a big boat but it feels like we are in a dark room and someone shut off the lights. We started to stare helplessly into the fog. We were glued to the radar as our biggest fear was being run down by a freighter. Every now and then you could hear a diesel engine chugging nearby and you cringed at the thought of a big black hull bearing down on you. Are the instruments working you wonder? Should I speed up? Slow down? Turn port or starboard? It’s just a bit confusing and you want out of it but there is no way out so we wait.

The crash is vivid in my mind

Thank god it didn’t happen. We were halfway down Big Sur and about 10 miles offshore. “Who would be out here but us” we thought. The coast guard was running a fog report and suggested vessels stay in port if possible. It was possible but we assumed we are larger than “small craft” and have the right electronics so there we were with 100 miles of Big Sur to our left and not a boat around on radar. After 5 hours we still hadn’t seen a thing and then all of the sudden Lennie screams and I pull the throttles back and make a hard turn to port. Directly in our path was a 20-foot open fisherman with three men on board fishing. As we made our emergency maneuver they hit their throttle and in a split second we missed running them down. The look on their faces was a mirror image of ours. They motored off to starboard and we adjusted our course. We sat there shaking with adrenaline pumping thorough our veins – for a long while. We slowed our boat and adjusted the radar to zoom down to 1/16 of a mile. We are talking about hundreds of feet of visibility now and previously we were at a ¼ mile.  This fog thing is getting old. Looking forward to being south.  If we had hit them at 8 knots with 18 tons of catamaran we would have rolled and sunk them instantly. It could have been loss of life. I can’t get the image out of my head. I need a foghorn. Using our own horn required remembering to push the button. I need a solution that mounts on the bow. Will we see fog again? I don’t know but I need better preparation.

This video is Part 1 of our trip from San Francisco to LA. It was a fantastic adventure through a remote and rocky coastline. Enjoy!

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