Snug Harbor headed north up the Pacific Baja coast at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning. Along with the captain are crew members Stu Conway and George Bean. Stu and George qualify as the greatest of friends by virtue of their volunteering for 1250 miles of motoring into the strong head winds that relentlessly blow down the Pacific Coast of California and Baja California. We delayed our planned departure date by 5 days waiting for a “weather window”. The winds often blow down the coast at 20 knots or more for days on end, which leads to ocean swells and wind driven chop which make passage north in a small boat nearly impossible. You try and find a forecasted period of time with light winds over the week it takes to motor north to San Diego. The captain down loaded all kinds of weather apps to help figure this out and also hired a routing service, Commander’s Weather to advise him on the optimal time to leave.
Commander’s recommended that we wait to leave until Sunday to start out with the best weather. However, leaving a day later also meant that their forecast showed we would get clobbered the last day before we got to San Diego. So we elected to take our licking early and finish with good weather at the end of our projected transit. Of coarse, this is a weather forecast, and one for a week in the future – so you make your best guess and you take your chances.
Well we took our beating the first day. We motored into big waves and swell that had us hobby horsing like crazy, leaping off waves and then burying our bow in the bottom of the swell. However, Snug Harbor is tough and she handled the beating well. When we motor around SF Bay we are accustomed to Snug Harbor making about 7 knots. On day one of the Bash, with same amount of throttle we averaged about 3 knots. We were not making much headway and were using so much diesel at that pace that we would run out before we got to our first available fuel stop in Turtle Bay, which is 425 miles up the coast. The crew was all looking a bit glum (except Stu, who always smiles) and wondering what they were doing out here.
We made it thru the night, the wind lightened up in the morning and we starting making a little better headway. The Captain was stressing over fuel calculations and wondering if we would have to turn tail back to Cabo for more fuel, giving up our hard earned progress north. Then the wind started to build, it got overcast and we slowed down again as the waves and swell began to build again. The captain decided to ignore reality for a while and took a nap.
When the captain woke up, the sun had come out, the wind had died, the swell had changed direction, Stu and George were smiling and Snug Harbor was scooting along at 6 knots, fast enough to get us to Turtle Bay with the fuel we have. So if the current weather holds we are good for Turtle Bay, and will have half the Bash behind us. If the weather turns nasty again then we will motor until our tanks are dry, save one jerry can of diesel for emergency use, and sail the rest of the way to Turtle Bay. After all Snug Harbor is a sailboat!