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We crossed the Newport Oregon bar outbound at about 1:30 PM on Tuesday, September 7 with the "sorta" plan of going non-stop to Monterey, California which would be about 3 1/2 or four days.   There was hardly any wind, a low long period NW swell, and mist or fog in the air with about one mile visibility. The 36 hour forecast was for more of the same with some clearing late Wednesday afternoon.

And that is what we experienced during the next 25 hours - low clouds, little wind, and some limited visibility.   The skies began to clear the wind picked up from the NW as we passed Pt. St George and passed into California's coastal waters.   The following two minute YouTube Video shows Happy Sailors in the California Sunshine.

The weather continued to improve on Wednesday afternoon as shown in this YouTube Video Sailing south to Blounts Reef.

Thursday was a repeat of Wednesday - some clouds in the morning with clearing and increasing NW winds in the afternoon.    The wind would died shortly after sunset each evening and we would motor or motorsail thru the night and following morning.  

Friday morning, near Bodega Bay - about 50 miles north of the Golden Gate, featured clear skies and flat dead calm.  About 8 AM  we had limited visibility due to fog right on the sea's surface that appeared to be less than 100 feet deep.   We continued to motor SE toward Monterey.  A large NW bound APL container ship came out of the fog and crossed our bow, about two nautical miles away.   I did a manual radar plot on the ship and saw it was doing 24 knots to the NW.

The following YouTube video shows Life in the Fog

I contacted San Francisco Traffic Control as we crossed out of the northwest bound Vessel Traffic System (shipping) lane from the Golden Gate. I wanted  to ask if they could see Mirador on radar and to find out what large ships would be using the three VTS lanes we had to cross during the next six hours.   They said they could not see Mirador on radara.  I gave them our range and bearing from Pt Reyes but they still could not see Mirador with radar.   But, they also said there was no shipping scheduled to enter or leave the VTS during the next four hours. 

Sometime mid-morning I made a cell phone call to the Harbormaster in Monterey.  He told me there were no transient slips available for three days beginning Saturday morning but he was sure he could fit us in somewhere if we arrived mid-morning.  The problem was that yacht clubs from Emeryville, and Vallejo California were arriving Sunday and had reserved most of the transient slips.  Now that was just plain weird!! Exactly ten years ago Arlene and I had the same problem, with the same yacht clubs at Monterey, when we left Half Moon Bay headed south. 

We decided to head to Half Moon Bay, Pillar Point Marina,  where we would arrive mid-afternoon and spend the weekend there rather than motor overnight to an uncertain, and far more expensive slip in Monterey.   The following YouTube Video shows us Motoring South in Golden Gate Fog.  Shortly after I took this video a very large radar target crossed eastbound about a mile behind us.   The unknown target was making 12 knots on a course for the Golden Gate traffic circle where all oceangoing ships enter the Golden Gate traffic lanes.  So much for Traffic Control telling me there was no scheduled shipping!

 The fog continued to limit visibility to less than a mile all afternoon.  The approach to the Pillar Point breakwater requires the proper identification and close passage of two buoys that mark the SW extent of the Pillar Point reef - the reef that creates the Mavericks Point break - one of the premier west coast surf spots.  Winter surf on the reef is frequently greater than 30 feet and has been surfed at over 60 feet.   As usual, the Raytheon R20XX radar worked perfectly making it fairly easy to find the two buoys which are about 3/4 mile west and SW of the point.

The fog cleared as we turned back to the NW after rounding red buoy three.  From there we had an uneventful entry into the Pillar Point marina.

A visit to the fuel dock was a little more difficult than normal due to my sleepiness and the rather unusual fuel dock procedures.   After waiting at the fuel dock for five minutes a bystander eventually told me that it was self service - something I've never seen before.   Then the problem was the enormous nozzle on the two inch fuel hose - far too large to fit into Mirador's diesel fuel inlet.   I found another smaller hose abut 30 yards around the corner and tried to snake that hose back to Mirador.  

The dock attendant finally appeared as I dragged thirty yards of one inch hose toward Mirador.  He removed the smaller nozzle from that hose and put it on the discharge end of the larger hose at Mirador's dock.  He then walked back to his office, down the dock and up a set of stairs.   We put 50 gallons of diesel into Mirador's forward tank.   I then walked up to the fuel dock office where the attendant asked how much fuel I took.  He had no meter in the office and no way to verify what I told him.  Strange way to do business!

We then had to find our slip which turned out to be in with all the 60' commercial fishing boats.  Quiet - but not very scenic and no neighbors to talk with. 

The boat in the picture to the left was on our right, to our left was another wood trawler that was  built in 1909.


The trip to Half Moon Bay did mark the first ever occurrence of a clogged fuel filter on Mirador!  Tuesday evening, about 9 PM, the ever faithful Yanmar stumbled badly and tried to quit running.   I was in the cockpit and immediately ran below to check the fuel vacuum gauge - which showed over 20" of suction which is about 16" more than normal.  I switched the diesel fuel manifold valves to use the other filter and also switched the valves to draw fuel from the forward tank.   The Yanmar stumbled for about another 10 seconds and almost quit a couple times but then settled down to it's normal 2200 RPM purr and the vacuum dropped back to 4" of suction.

Jim and I removed the filter and found it full of a reddish goop about the texture of runny yogurt.   The very odd thing is that the fuel in question had just come aboard at Newport, Oregon where I had put 30 gallons into the 55 gallon aft tank.   That amount of fuel filled the tank and when the problem started less than seven gallons of diesel had been pulled from the tank.   The aft tank had last been filled only 26 days earlier at a very high volume Puget Sound fuel stop. The seas were fairly calm and the Yanmar had been pulling from that tank for the last 158 hours of engine time.  The seas had been very rough the previous week but the engine had run for over 20 hours since then. 

 It appears to me that the only explanation is bad fuel at Newport!  There is still 45+ gallons in the tank so I now have to figure out what to do with that fuel. 


Newport Oregon Half Moon Bay California

  September 7 September 10  2010
Nautical Miles   446
Elapsed Hours   75
Engine Hours   62
Sailing Hours   13 - all downwind with sail poled out
Sailing with engine on   20 - all downwind in 8 to 14 knots true
Maximum Wind   18 knots from NNW
Sails used   Code 0 or Genoa on pole - all downwind
Biggest Seas   7' from NNW - occasional white cap
Sunshine Hours   15
Rain   none
Fog / Mist   36
Max & Minimum Temperature   68 - 54