43 Hours of Non-Stop Sailing along California’s Coast

We left Half Moon Bay at 7 am after checking over the systems on our boat. The run from Half Moon Bay to Santa Barbara took us 43 hours of non-stop sailing (although the first two hours and the last four were actually motoring. As we motored down the coast I was beginning to wonder if our trip to Santa Barbara was going to be another motoring trip, especially after the lack of wind from San Francisco only two days earlier. Only two hours into our trip however we were surprised by some very strong 20 to 25 knot winds and immediately we had to reef our mainsail (raised it about 2/3rds) and pull in our jib. Within a few more hours we had to lower it again and by the latter part of the day we were only using the jib (sail at the front of the boat). This due to the wind gusts up to 35 knots. The swells were strong and everyone on the boat was feeling the effects of the waves and strong winds.

It was rather cold outside and so we assigned a series of 2 hour night watches for everyone over the age of 12. Orin (12) started the first shift from 7-9 pm, Norm 9-11pm, Kirsten 11pm-1am, Jaeden 1-3am, Dailin 3–5am and finally our visitor Ben 5 – 7am. It was great to break things up a bit and give everyone an opportunity to keep an eye on the sails as we travelled through the night.

Kids Harnessed on Deck
Kids Harnessed on Deck

It was an interesting experience to sit there for two hours under the stars with little to do but think and meditate. I think it was perhaps the quietest most peaceful I have felt as we rolled over the waves with nothing but the wind to propel us forward. My mind began to wander and think about the adventures that were waiting for us as we sail the South Pacific islands. I felt the confidence I needed that I could do this incredible journey, confidence that has at times faltered as I think of upcoming challenges. I have to admit that although I was not on watch through the night, I did not sleep as well as I would have liked to.

Around 1am I had a call from on deck for some help. By the time I got there however the jib that has wrapped like an “S” was back in place. I had a hard time getting back to sleep and woke up frequently as the winds shifted or changed. I kept second guessing what was going on at the helm as a gust of wind would come up and the boat would slap through the waves.

The second day was long but I woke up refreshed and without any sense of seasickness all day. It was great. I felt that I had gained my sea legs and was ready to take on the seas. Most of the day we surfed with the waves behind us. Frequently in the 20 to 30 knot winds the waves would be over 8 feet tall. I could see the waves above the cockpit propelling the boat forward as it slid under the backside of the vessel and across the front.

For hours we literally surfed the waves as the swells slipped under the boat and sloshed at the underside between the two pontoons of our catamaran. As the waves sloshed under us we could feel the table bounce upwards and the floor of the kitchen vibrate. The boat was literally surfing across the water as the waves pushed us along. Our foresail was barely out yet we were still travelling at 8 to 10 knots with the help of the swells. I was just glad that we were heading South with the waves as it would have been near impossible to travel the other direction.

The roughest weather we encountered was shortly before completing our journey as we rounded Conception Point. It was here that we saw the first of many oil rigs off the Coast of California and the largest waves of our journey. The winds were blowing the strongest with gusts up to 38 knots and the waves climbed over 12 feet from behind us. They shot us around Conception point like a boomerang and I hesitated to steer inland for fear of having the waves broadsiding us too much.

As soon as we rounded this bend however the winds died down and before we knew it, there was not enough wind for us to even sail. The last 4 hours to Santa Barbara had us starting up the engine and we arrived in the harbor just after 1am Monday morning. Fortunately there was someone available to check us into the Santa Barbara Marina this early in the morning and we quickly checked in, had them put a fluorescent yellow die ball into our head (toilet – they don’t want wastewater discharged in the marina) and tied up to a dock for a restful night, happy to know that we were in a safe harbor again.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Fantastic, you all are so brave (or crazy) to do this.
    Can’t believe you are already to Santa Barbara. It is going fast.

    Enjoy it.

  2. Proud of you, Normand!

  3. How exciting! Wow, what a trip, I bet that was a bit scary. We’d like to see way more pictures, that way when you get back it will all be organized and you can easily make a photobook for your journal of the activities. You guys are HEROES!

  4. Oh the memories that account brings. More videos of the waves and even the inside of the boat and of the crew would be loved by all. Please don’t let Zacharie (?) grow up without us seeing some of his progress physically and mentally. Oh my I can smell the ocean from here. love you guys. Dad

  5. Wow!! You guys are so courageous! I love the fact you are taking kids-bet that makes everything even more exciting. Our family are definitely going to be following this blog.

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