Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26, 2014 - Eureka California

We had a VERY easy transit to from Crescent City to Eureka, about 9 hours of motoring.  In fact, they were best conditions so far on the pacific ocean.  5 knots of wind, if that, and virtually no swell.  I think it would have been good waterski water!   Since the Washington/Oregon border we have been seeing strange little things floating on the water.  They look like pieces of clear plastic floating upright in the water.  Surprisingly, at 7-8 knots we pass them too quickly to really see what they are.  We have seen large patches of them at night in our spotlight, and they seem to show up in clusters.   On our trip to Eureka we saw many more of them.   In the afternoon we slowed way down and caught a few in a small net to take a closer look.  They are very strange creatures.  They are about 4" in diameter and have a clear semicircle sticking up on the top.  The bottom side is blue.  Kathy looked them up and they are called Velella.  They are related to the Man-O-War.

A Valella, from the top.

The clear "sail" on the topside of the Valella.  This is all we see sticking up
out of the water.

Thousands of Valella floating by.

Here you can see the little sails that move the Valella across the seas.

Here is a great link to info about them.

Just after Kathy looked them up we sighted them by the thousands!  It was amazing.  We have never seen anything like it before, and apparently neither has the California coast in the numbers seen this year.  They are being washed up on beaches by the thousands.

In Eureka we secured a slip in the Woodley Island marina, just across the channel from "old" town.  It's a very nice facility with a lot of commercial fishing/crabbing boats.  In fact, a commercial crab boat I completely rewired a few years ago is here.  I rewired it back in La Conner and then was here in February to install a new autopilot when the old unit finally failed.  So, I've been in this marina before.  Zach, the crab boat owner stopped by for a visit.  He's a nice guy and has a very interesting life, crabbing off the California coast.

Beautiful sunset at the Woodley Island marina.

Rainbow.  It rained hard here for a solid day, and then scattered showers the
following day.

The weather is not going to be favorable the next week or so.  We need to get past Cape Mendocino which is the most notorious obstacle for boats on the west coast.   The weather here can be terrible, and change very quickly.  In fact, in July it's the only place in the entire Pacific Ocean likely to have gale force winds.  That's omminous.

Eureka is the "waiting room" for boats heading down the coast, as it's only about 15 miles north of Cape Mendicono.  There are a few other boats here waiting for the right time to get past this next hurdle.

NOAA has a weather forecasting office here and we took a tour of the facility yesterday.  We got to go into the main forecasting room and sit down with one of their forecasters to look at the computer models and tools they use to generate the forecast.  It was very interesting.  There were about 4 other people in the room each with a bank of computer monitors in front of them studying weather data in order to make the predictions for the marine weather that us boater's rely on when making go/no-go decisions.

Yesterday, I (Steve) spent most of the day working on Zach's boat.  I installed a new charge sharing relay, a new battery charger, and also went out to re-calibrate his autopilot.  His motor seized up a while back and he had to have a new motor installed.  Fortunately the motor was under warranty and the entire bill was covered including cutting apart his boat and then re-fiberglassing it back together.  The total bill was close to $70,000!!!  During that engine swap the autopilot somehow lost it's configuration information and we needed to get it all fine tuned again.

Coming back to port after tuning the Autopilot on Zach's fishing boat "Miss Phyliss"

We are renting a car this afternoon and will have it for the weekend.  We are "stranded" here until probably Monday morning due to bad weather on the ocean.  Tonight we go over to Zach's house in Trinidad for a Tuna BBQ.  Yum!  Tomorrow we will go exploring by car.

A friend's of Zach's with a commercial boat two slips over from us stopped by an hour ago.  He has some electrical work for me on his boat if I'm interested.  Since we will be here a few days, I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity to help offset the cruising costs.  It's nice to have skills that are valued by our slip neighbors in the marinas  :-)


  1. Great post!!! Who knew that your trip would be so educational for those of us watching your blog.

  2. Great Blog. I thank you for sharing your experiences. It was fun to hear from the GirdleChunks earlier on adventure also.