Wednesday, October 9, 2013

At Anchor in San Simeon

I'm currently at anchor in San Simeon.

I was 20 miles offshore last night at around 11pm when I turned on the weather radio to listen to an update.  At the time, I was sailing in 20 to 25 knots of NW wind, gusts to 30.  I had my main sail doubly reefed and my genoa also with two reefs - the monitor was steering well and the boat was balanced making good speed (6.8kn and up past hull speeds.)  The wind waves and swell were annoying.  I was needing to jibe inshore and offshore in order to make my way generally south east in the north west winds.  On the offshore tack I was taking the waves a little aft of my beam but the boat motion was pretty active.  On the inshore tack the boat was still active but a little less so.  There was lots of spray in the cockpit as the occasional wave would crest just at it met the hull, splashing up into a vertical spray of water.   It was pretty dramatic, especially when you throw in the phosphorescence.

The forecast I was sailing in called for NW winds 20 to 30, which was what I was seeing.  The forecast also called for wind waves 6 to 9 feet, NW swell 11 to 14 feet at 11 seconds.  This is also what I was seeing.  As I rounded Point Conception the winds were forecast to fall to 15 to 25 with local gusts to 35, combined seas 10 to 13 feet at 10 seconds.  I suspected the local gusts would be where I would be, rounding Point Conception.  These are conditions which are acceptable to sail safely in, but its a little annoying and physical.  Ever movement you make on the boat needs to be considered, always keeping both hands holding hand holds, placing feet carefully, constantly in motion.  I've done this before, for longer periods of time.  However...  the following day the forecast winds fall into a comfortable range.  Over the forecast period, the highest waves and winds are due at exactly the time I was rounding Point Conception.  Humm.

Back to the radio forecast.  I was sailing along at 11pm and decided to listen into the weather radio.  I picked up a station doing an update of the LA area which included Oxnard and its area as its close to LA.  Oxnard is my destination for this part of the trip.  The fellow was relaying the forecast of strong winds in those areas - 50 miles per hour and up.  He talked about a strong high level low passing through, and 'when this storm passes...' something or other.  Land folks talk about storms all the time, but rarely mean an actual storm.  Its windy one night, and we talk about 'last nights storm.'  At sea, winds all have very specific names - gales are less than storms which are less than hurricanes.  The word 'storm' in a marine forecast is serious stuff.  When I heard the storm word I realized that I hadn't seen a surface analysis of the weather for a while and wasn't really sure what I was sailing into.  The text forecasts for the regions have been very accurate and were forecasting conditions I liked, but with the possibility that a storm was in the area just outside one of the zones I was planning to be in, I wanted to gather some more information.

At that time, I was at the point I could jibe into shore and be on a direct line to San Simeon, an anchorage I had stopped in last time down the coast.  I did that, and at 3am dropped anchor and shut the boat down.  There were three boats here, two with anchor lights on, one without.  My radar was handy.

Now that I've updated my weather info for the areas and have a good idea of what's going on again, I think I'll leave tomorrow morning and continue the journey.  I may stop in Cojo anchorage just around the corner from Point Conception and then may or may not stop at Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz.


Update Oct 10th, 2013.

San Simeon has AT&T cell phone coverage.  My smart phone provides a hot spot, so I have internet here.  Sweet!

I've decided to leave on friday rather than today.  The pzz670 regional forecast is saying 10-20 knots from the NW today, but my grib files are showing the winds closer to shore are light and that I would end up motoring most of the way.  The pzz670 forecast is for 10-60nm off shore.  The point is 80nm away, so heading 40nm offshore to get wind doesn't really make sense - I'll be staying closer to shore from here to the point (15-20nm off?)  From interpreting the info today, it looks like if I leave tomorrow, around noon, I'll motor for a while and then meet light but sailable wind in the early afternoon.  There's a chance I'll be able to sail a big chunk of the way from there - so with that possibility, I leave on friday.

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