Communing with Drake

10 Jul

As those who follow Randall and Mo on Facebook and the Tracker will know, Randall is in. Mo sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday afternoon. But the posts are not quite home yet. There remain two to complete the story, and this is the first of those…

July 7, 2018

Day 189/19

Noon Position: 39 01N 126 47W
Course/Speed: ESE7-8
Wind: NNW17-21
Bar: 1025, falling
Sea: NW6+
Sky: Overcast
Cabin Temperature: 69
Water Temperature: 59
Sail: Working jib, one reef; main, two reefs; reaching

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 128
Miles this leg: 2580
Avg. Miles this leg: 136

Unmitigated sun yesterday. A sky clear to all horizons save aft, where an indistinct line of cloud sat, unmoving.

I prepared for the joy of a starry night, only our second since departing Hawaii, and some sextant work. Then as the sun sank lower and lower, so the cloud astern approached until it took the sky just as the day ended. I saw Venus for a moment, winking on and off through growing obscurity as if signaling for help.

Then the wind died.

Today the sky remains gray and threatening, but there is no shortage of wind. We have finally reached the edge of the northwesterlies, which are, here, a compressed tongue of air 200 miles wide and pushed southward as if being squeezed like a watermelon seed. What is doing the squeezing I can’t say. But slowly since morning winds have built and are building still. 25 to 28 is now the norm. We take this wind just aft of the port beam and with two reefs in both sails. Mo makes quick work of boisterous sea.

This should be our last race. We are 150 offshore and should be anchored by nightfall tomorrow.

Yes, anchored.

It is a tradition of mine that after a long cruise home I anchor for the night in Drake’s Bay, a sweeping crescent behind Point Reyes, before sailing the additional 20 miles south to the Golden Gate Bridge and into that bay by a city. What is now called the Point Reyes National Seashore is a vast stretch of open land, brown grass hills toward the sea and forest further inland. It is domesticated only by cows on the rangelands; the rest is wild.

One story has it that Sir Francis Drake anchored here and careened his Golden Hind up what is known as Drake’s Estero. Impressed by the white cliffs so similar to those of his homeland, he called this land New Albion.

Drake was not the first to sail around the globe, but I believe he was the first to survive the voyage (Magellan did not) and write up his tale in a volume called The World Encompassed. In this way a stop in homage to Drake seems a fitting close to Mo’s own world encompassing voyage (would that I had found half as much gold!).

My reasons for stopping here usually have to do with softening the blow. Coming in off the sea and being driven home on a six-lane freeway is not a transition to be taken lightly. And too, Joanna often makes the trip out from the city. We have a picnic on the beach and get to know each other again in a quieter world.

This time however, the reasons are more practical. My sister-in-law, her husband, and two wee ones are visiting from the east and would like to watch Mo sail under the bridge. But if I continued on, my bridge entrance will conflict with an appointment the wee ones have at San Francisco’s Ice Cream Museum. And I am well aware of the penalties that accrue to him who gets between kiddos and their ice cream.

I will not dare it.

So, we have set a course for a quick commune with Drake.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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