S/V Nereida sails around the world

SHTP Day 3

There's a big 'hole' in the wind at present, close offshore all the way down from SF to Pt Conception, expected to last for 2-3 days more. High is right up near Vancouver & expected to be replaced by Low there with new High forming right on my rhumbline course from San Francisco to Kauai, Hawaii (where it should have been now!)
Seems to me I'm trapped in light airs for some time - can't move west fast enough to get to the good wind west of 127W now, and will then get caught out by being near centre of new High pressure because I won't be able to move S fast enough in 2-3 days time to avoid that.... And all because I was trapped in light airs inshore from day 1 of race.. Talk about frustrating...!! Anyone who went directly S has had an even worse time than my back half of the fleet have had, if that's possible! The one guy who did that has abandoned the race & returned to SF. Don Anderson ('Summer Passage', N6HG) spoke to the fleet tonight on SSB with update on wx info & consequent routeing - although what he said was pretty well what I had already deduced from my Winlink weatherfaxes.
I actually put up the spinnaker this morning (the sailmaker had had it out for measuring for my race rating & put it back slightly twisted) - but by the time I'd got all the lines lead correctly the wind had died away completely so it just flapped about - predictable!! The good thought of the day is that at least it's ready for next time. And it actually got a bit warmer for a good hour or so, although the sun never really got through the grey overcast - took off shoes & socks and fleece jackets (plural!) & sweatshirt (it's been cold & damp!!) and had a cold beer in hopeful expectation of some good sailing in warm weather...
I'm sitting here with a nice mug of hot soup in my hands... can't wait to get to the warmth of Hawaii. Glad I stocked up with Cup-a-Soups in London in January (although that was with Alaska in mind).
I'm getting sleep in fits and starts, over the day as well - trouble is that each time I get back up on deck, conditions have changed and heading/sails need adjusting - so inclination is to try to keep sails trimmed properly (trying to get out of this 'no-wind' zone) rather than get enough sleep! When conditions are more constant, sleep is easier to get. I'm hoping for NW winds very soon - wind has gone round to the north tonight and things look more hopeful. I'm presently making just 2.2 knots.
I talk often on the VHF to the others but saw no other boats or ships at all today. Just the sea - the NW swell seems to have increased but still only 4-5 ft (1.5m).


What a frustrating time!!
Have spent all my time overnight and today tacking around as close-hauled as I can, trying to get west - no chance - options have been close to due S or to due N in the light wind - or NO wind, as it's been, a lot of the time. Impossible to keep the autopilot working with 0.0 boatspeed! Moved 2.1 mls through the water in the 5 hrs up to 6am, but tide carried me in towards shore (heard the breaking surf!) and towards Drakes Bay. Got 'embayed' and had a lot of trouble getting out past Pt Reyes - the long peninsula that sticks out south with an east-west upside down 'T' at its end - which effectively forms Drakes Bay to its east. Finally managed it around noon - but then I was forced to head even further north, rather than retrace my path south. The wind has swung around Pt Reyes and never reached more than 4-5 kn, except for a very short time, until near dusk. Then I suddenly felt breeze on my face - and it increased to give good boatspeed - what a nice change. Lasted for quite a time but eventually died away around 11pm. In the meantime, a strong tide continually took me northwest of Pt Reyes - seemed to me I was never going to escape that Point! A curious seal kept me company for quite a time as I drifted this afternoon.
There have been quite a few ships around. The new AIS program has been worth its weight in gold - seeing the boats and their names on the screen together with info such as size, speed, direction, destination, etc, has been really useful and an excellent safety feature. The skippers/crew are always courteous and keep a good lookout for me after I've called them to warn them if our paths look like crossing.
Soon after dawn this morning, as I was drifting in a flat, glassy sea, I saw humpback whales near the boat for a good half hour. They were just cruising around, coming to the surface regularly - three in all. There had already been porpoises and lots of penguin guillemots to attract my interest as I drifted with the current at zero boatspeed under the gloomy overcast. With constant efforts to keep the boat moving overnight, involving constant changing of tack as the genoa backed in the flukey wind, I got almost no sleep and what I had was disturbed by the VHF coming alive now & then to deal with the big ships heading in & out of San Francisco.
As usual, at 9 o'clock tonight, as this morning, we had a roll call of the race fleet on the SSB radio and then we chatted to each other. During the day, we keep watch on VHF69 and often call to each other to discuss problems or big ships/tugs passing close by or simply to vent our frustrated feelings at the lack of good wind. We'll see what tonight brings - but at least I'm moving - and in roughly the right direction!


Day 1 of SHTP

6pm Sat24Jun06

Lovely sunny start - but very little wind! I managed to drift over start line at back of fleet and then proceeded to tack slowly towards fogbound Golden Gate - wind came in fits and starts, but more close in to Peninsula Pt, off Belvedere.
Didn't want to get too far out into Bay because of foul strong flood tide - so took a long time getting no distance at all.
Several boats with photographers/wellwishers came by - lots of good wishes and friendly faces.
Slowly the breeze filled in again, and made excellent speed on approach to, and transit through, Golden Gate (6.5-7.3 kn) despite having had to reef right down (2 reefs in main and genoa).
Fog kindly decided to lift as got close to GG Bridge and stayed that way - so no problem there. Just as well, because my PC chargers aren't working, so it's back to paper charts and pencil+Breton plotter.
Has been difficult to decide what course to steer for best - SW wind now & light SW winds are forecast for next few days. High pressure area is way north of usual position (off Vancouver Island) - so having to try to get west over next few days, in hope of making southing later in passage.
Wind died right down as passed across the 'Potato Patch' (ebb tide + little wind + HW made that a safe option) so I'm now ambling along, headed NW at all of 3-4 kn max! Murky sky, long low swell, lots of penguin guillemots and the occasional group of dolphins.
Just offered a cup of tea to another racer as we got close! Two others in sight further out. All feels very relaxed, not like a race at all, quite unlike the excitement of the approach to the Golden Gate.

Just downloaded some weatherfaxes, so must go & do some 'HW' and then sort out food well before it gets dark - didn't get the chance to cook anything as I usually try to do before a long passage like this.