We find ourselves on the eve of departure with mixed emotions. The first set of emotions is relief, exhaustion, a sense of readiness for the stress of preparations to be over. The second set of emotions is a bit of disbelief, reflection and bittersweetness at the finality this night brings.
In our previous post, I wrote of the nitty gritty details that needed attention: buying, installing and checking the final safety items that needed doing (our life raft, our dinghy, etc.) But amidst those preparations, we were reminded of the other outstanding things that needed doing: updating our navigations system (no small feat of course), moving out of and getting rid of our second, and last, car, moving out of our slip, packing up the last-minute items we had previously taken for granted and of course final provisioning runs and errands that took far greater time than we could have anticipated.
All told, we finally feel we are ready to depart. Have we said goodbye and spent time with those most dear to us in these final days? Sort of. We have, technically, seen those whose schedules coincide with the jello-like plans we have had from day to day. Has that time been of the quality we had hoped, knowing we are departing for the next 12 months or so? Certainly not. But we are forever grateful to those who have tolerated our flimsy and ever-fluid schedules – not really knowing what each day will hold no matter how hard we try to plan for it. And we are grateful that everyone who has been able to see us understands the dynamic nature of what we are attempting to do.
First, and what I believe will always be foremost in cruising plans–the weather. True to form, Mother Nature in the Bay Area saw fit to throw us some insane winds, gale force (which I have learned is > 34 knots) no less, on our last two days here. Last night we slept fitfully – our family of 4 in our master cabin while my parents bunked in the kids’ cabin. The 45-50 mph winds kept us up most of the night with violent rattling above our cabin (which required checking to make sure nothing was amiss). Somewhat ironically, this worked to solidify our desires to get the hell outta dodge as well as worked against us as we tried to finalize last-minute to-do’s. That said, we finally said goodbye to our last land-based luxury today – our family car. Without much fanfare (it was blowing like crazy, the little was overtired and my parents needed to get on the road with our car back to Sacramento), it was not until they had long departed and we had the little one in the bath that we realized, “Oh shit, we don’t have a car anymore!” Yikes.
With the littles tucked snugly in their cabin and the winds finally lightening up, we now have time to turn to some final thoughts, some of which I hope to record here . . .
It is truly bittersweet to be leaving Coyote Point (San Mateo). It is the place we both called home when duty called us away from our home in suburban Rocklin. It is the place we berthed our first boat, Eleni (our 30 foot Catalina), in the early years, and the place we have called home for the last almost-two months aboard Dakota. The place where friendships have crystallized over time, the place both Elliott and I learned how to sail, and the place that will always hold a special spot in our hearts. It is not without a bit of sadness that we will push off the dock here for the last time tomorrow morning.
That said, we are very excited to finally be setting sail for Southern California! Our first ocean passage as a family aboard Dakota. And though the kids may not truly appreciate the enormity of the task we are about to embark on, it is momentous in our lives as a first-time cruising family. Ever mindful of the clear and present dangers that the Bay Area sailing environment poses (winds, weather, nautical traffic and all of the unknowns), we plan to take the next few days very slowly – we have deliberately planned our routes and know where safe harbors are, should we need to take cover unexpectedly.
So, for those interested in where we will be, we plan to hit San Francisco tomorrow and position ourselves close to the Golden Gate and get to that preferably-timed spot so that we can push off early in the morning Saturday and make our way to Half Moon Bay. After a night at anchorage in HMB, we will set sail for Monterey Sunday, and if we are feeling brave (and the winds look favorable) push on towards San Simeon. But we are building in a cushion (we hope) with the weather and plan to take advantage of the high pressure coming in right now so that we can clear the hurdle that is Point Conception and make our way further south while the weather is good. Once we are safely in Southern California, we hope to take refuge in the warm and light winds down South and ease to a more leisurely pace through Southern California onwards to San Diego.
We feel *tentatively* comfortable that we have plenty of time to get to San Diego and hope to explore some of the amazing anchorages on our way. And we hope to spend time with close friends in SoCal as we make our way down, making sure we have time to restock some of our fresh food provisions and take in the sights, historical landmarks and wildlife that the coast of Southern California has to offer.
For tonight, we rest lightly and reflect on all that’s been done in the last two months . . . . We moved out of our comfortable family home in Rocklin. We travelled by land and air, bidding farewell to close family and friends. We spent countless hours and sleepless nights preparing for our first ocean passage as well as selling/transitioning our two family vehicles, finding new (temporary) homes for our furry family members (who we miss dearly!) and moved out of our long-time slip in the Bay Area. We have normalized boatschooling and life afloat to our kids and we have begun to set a new rhythm to our family.
All in all, I think we are ready. Or, at a minimum, as ready as we can be tonight.