Portland to San Francisco

Here is the we are finally heading south update. We left Portland on a cloudy, cool September 8. We had a great party the night before and it was time to head out. First stop, the fuel dock at Donaldson’s, right next to Rose City Yacht Club, to top off the fuel tank. One of the first challenges on heading down river is the Vancouver Railroad Bridge. It’s an old swing bridge and Nina thinks you can never have enough pictures of it. She also likes to take photos of every ship we pass. We’ll spare you those, unless there’s one that is really interesting.

Vancouver Railroad Bridge, swung just for us. We got right through. Sometimes you have to wait for trains, but this was one of those times we hailed the bridge and they opened it up right away.

Like many trips down the river, our routine was Martin’s Slough for the first night. We left the next morning and actually sailed downstream through Longview. The question then was where to stop next and in how much of a hurry are we. Walker Island offered the opportunity for Bill to play with the single side band radio, Cathlamet had hot showers. We anchored off Walker and it started to really rain. The next morning was cool and cloudy and looked like rain so we started out with wet gear and sandals. On the way to Cathlamet, Nina rearranged the galley drawers and she took a saw to the rubbermaid silverware holder so that it would fit in the top drawer. The left side of this drawer is shorter so that it can slide under the sink and has a divider that makes the space less wide. The holder now fits perfectly and the other drawer were rearranged to make things work better for now.

West Basin, Astoria was the next stop. We had a few projects we wanted to work on there while there before we headed over the bar and south. Nina worked on splicing preventer ropes out of dyneema and making a set of dinghy bridle ropes out of double braid. The preventers will be used to keep the boom from swinging back and forth when it is set out from the center line. We hit the library for some internet time and made a trip to Englund’s for a few items – a new sewing palm and a fishing gaff. More projects: laundry, repurposing an old life jacket strap to hold the sewing machine in place, a main sheet bag, a bag for the companionway drop boards, and adding a handle to the bottom of the laundry bag. Bill worked on windlass maintenance and installing the jacklines and the new preventers.

There’s only one dryer at West Basin and our large load did not quite get dry. Someone else needed the dryer, so we saved some quarters by hanging clothes up outside.
And more hanging clothes inside. On the floor is the sewing machine.

We listened to the weather forecast, hoping that conditions would be good enough to leave the next day, Friday, September 13. Messing with other superstitions, we also had bananas on board. Slack tide was toward the afternoon. Bill had time to check the engine, top the water tanks up. Wind was out of the south, it was raining. We left about noon, passed the last bar buoy at 3:15 and turned left. Our original plan was to sail to San Francisco, about five days away. We made it to Newport. Winds were expected to be out of the south, southwest and increasing up to 30 knots. We hunkered down for a few days. Met folks on a Jason 35 doing the same thing. We were joined by more sailboats there to wait out the weather, one from Vladivostok, Russia.

Sunset at the Newport Marina and RV Park.

We ended up spending four days in Newport. We went to the Hatfield Marine Science Center, went down to the waterfront and the library, did more laundry and discovered the wifi in the laundry room worked really well. Topped off our groceries. Made soft shackles. Killed time.

We left Newport on Wednesday. Small craft warnings for the Yaquina Bar were in effect until just before we wanted to leave. Swells on the bar were supposed to be 6-8′. It was raining. We left. The bar at Newport is narrow and extends out past the jetties. It can get really rough, but we had a good run through it. The Columbia has provided good practice.

One of the things we decided is that, if possible, to sail rather than motor. When we do motor, we usually have the genoa out to steady the boat. We discovered that, steadied or not, ocean waves are much bigger and less predictable in pattern than those on the river. Coffee was spilled. It went in the refrigerator, down the pantry and made a mess. The only damage ended up being to a chocolate bar, so we ate it. The sun came out. Bill refigured out how to get the Monitor steering the boat. We were making good time. Everything that could possibly shake or rattle in the boat was doing an excellent job of it and we were running out of things to stuff everywhere to damp it. Sleep was still not happening for Nina. Three hours of watch and then three hours of sleep are a challenge for someone who doesn’t sleep well in general. Bill can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.

Seas were rolly, we had a couple more coffee accidents, one which broke the french press carafe. That one had an additional flourish of raw eggs. It was not pretty. That could have been the day we had cake and potato chips for lunch. So much for the romance of the sea.

A beautiful day north of Point Reyes, just before San Francisco.
Ready to round Point Reyes about half an hour later.
And then the lighthouse at the San Francisco bar.
Approaching the Golden Gate Bridge, almost totally fogged in.

Under the bridge we went. The fog cleared enough to see the bridge and we sailed under it. This was Bill’s first time sailing under the bridge. Nina remembers sailing under it as a small child in the SS Lurline.

A Richardson Bay cautionary tale. We dropped anchor here (Sausalito) on Sunday, four days after we left Newport. The San Francisco bar was smooth and we did not have to dodge any big ships to get in.

5 thoughts on “Portland to San Francisco”

  1. Quite the adventure! I could see the “job well done” smile on Bill’s face sailing under the GG bridge. Looking forward to more of your stories.


  2. Thanks for this lovely catch up blog. I have been wondering how you have been doing. Those spills ! Coffee and eggs.


  3. Bravo on another round with smiles, laundry, and new recipes for eggs! Love the pictures and tales. Keep them coming! Love, Mom


    1. You are settling in…fixits and mishaps along the way help to create your tale. I enjoy reading these even if I only pop in occasionally. Thermos brand makes a great insulated stainless steel French press. 🙂 No glass to accidentally throw overboard or break.


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