Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014 - Eureka to Fort Bragg

Exiting the bar at Eureka was a little lumpy, but not bad.  There were no breaking waves to battle, nor was there any wind worth mentioning.  It was quite dark even with our nice lights.  I think we need even more candlepower if we are going to be doing this kind of boating on a regular basis.  I don't expect to, but you never know what lies ahead.

After the bar we got out into the Pacific Ocean again.  I breathed a sigh of relief with the bar now behind us.  The seas grew a bit and they were confused.  There was not much of a regular wave pattern so the boat was being tossed about in an uncomfortable motion.  The kids had moved to our bed, which is at the center of motion in all directions and is the best place to be when it gets rough.  They were completely unaware of our discomfort just 8 feet above their peaceful environment.  They were sound asleep.  Zappa our cat started showing signs of sea sickness, and unfortunately so did Kathy.  Eventually the seas won, and Kathy did indeed become seasick.  She took a nap on the settee for a few hours while I motored toward Cape Mendocino in the dark.  Zappa never did get sick, but he was not very happy about being underway again.

The infamous Cape Mendocino.  It was just fine the day we passed, thankfully.

Kathy awoke as it was getting light outside.  We were still 45 minutes from the Cape and conditions were good.  The sea had sorted itself out as we got into deeper water and were riding on a comfortable swell from the stern.  The winds were light.  Visibility was good.  All systems running perfectly.  I felt ready to round Cape Mendocino.  Kathy returned to the settee to rest some more.

The Cape proved to be an easy passage for us.  No huge waves or sudden winds.  This place has a terrible reputation for being violent and unpredictable.  Fortunately we skated though on an "off-day".  No drama or excitement.  That's the best kind of boating; uneventful.

During our transit to Fort Bragg we had a small pod of Dall's Porpoises come play in our bow wake for a few minutes.  It was GREAT.  They would zip around our bow going from side to side popping up to catch a breath with a loud "whoosh" sound of air.  Then back down to zip around some more.  There were probably 20 of them playing at the bow of our boat.  As quickly as they appeared, they disappeared.  It was exciting.

Watching Dall's porpoises play in our bow wake.  Beautiful
weather and sea conditions, just south of Cape Mendocino.

Dall's porpoises come to play

Later we spotted a whale spout several times, but we never saw anything more.  A bit later we saw a few sunfish floating on the surface.  We saw a handful of Valella float by.  Nothing like a few days earlier when we saw them by the thousands.  The sun was out and the winds were ranging between 7-12 knots.  The seas were relatively smooth and it was a comfortable ride.  Kathy and I each took turns napping on the nice bench seat on the bow.  It was very warm nestled into the bench seat.  With the wind from behind us there was no breeze on the bow and the sun felt quite warm.  It was fabulous.

A sunfish.  He appears to be injured.  I saw several others that
swam away as we got close, so I didn't get pictures of them.
Here's a good article about sunfish:

We adjusted our cruising speed early on in the passage so we could arrive at Fort Bragg around 6:15PM.  It's very hard to predict currents on a 105 miles passage, and the GPS speed is constantly fluctuating as the boat rides up and down the swells.  Nonetheless we arrived very close to our predicted time.  We were about 20 minutes early.   Not too bad after 15 hours of motoring.

The entrance to Fort Bragg on the Noyo River is definitely one to remember.   You cannot even see the entrance from offshore.  It starts out in small bay that is very shallow on the sides, with many rocks awaiting an errant navigator.  You then move into a very narrow bar that also has submerged rocks on one side.  Then you round a tight buoy-marked turn while going under the highway 1 bridge.  There are several waterfront restaurants lining the entrance and we could see people snapping pictures of us was we passed by.  Then it's a winding river full of buildings built on pilings over the water, and many fishing boats tied to piers.  It is very narrow and picturesque.  It's one of the most memorable places I have ever taken a boat.  I have never experienced a waterway like this before.  It would make a great setting for a Hollywood high-speed boat chase scene!  Or, throw in a little fog after dark and it could be the creepy "pirates of the Caribbean" ride at Disneyland.  Line up a few drunken sailors on the banks singing "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" and you could completely skip the Disneyland version.  It is very cool.

The narrow bar entrance to Noyo river.  That's the highway 1 bridge, built in
2005 after the old bridge was determined to be dangerous in an earthquake.

Very interesting, and cool Noyo River.  It might look spooky at night with a
little fog.  

A commercial fishing boat comes in after dark.  Fort Bragg is very interesting.

We will spend a few days here waiting for the next break in the weather.  That break should be on Thursday or Friday.  Fort Bragg looks like a good place for the bikes.  The real town is on the other side of the river so we will need to ride our bikes over the bridge we passed under yesterday.  Town awaits us on the other side.

Adagio tied safely to the docks at Noyo River Public Marina.
Fort Bragg California.

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