June 29, 2006

Since our Return...

Hi everyone!

When we last reported on June 12th, we were 58 miles out anticipating an 8 PM arrival. At that time the weather was foggy with a few mile visibility.

As we approached the Golden Gate, the skies cleared. The bridge was glorious in the early evening sun as we reentered San Francisco Bay after an almost 2 year absence.

We found our old slip at Mariner Square in Alameda waiting for us and we docked at 8:30 pm (we had an ebb tide in the bay slowing us down). Gosh, things have changed at Mariner Square.

We left to move to Marina Village in 2003 in the midst of seismic retrofitting of the Alameda tunnels that run under the marina. Everything was torn up. It was still like that when we left the bay in September 2004.

Now, almost everything was rebuilt and upgraded. There's a waterfront park that's quite nice, a Sr. living residence and a boat dry storage building. The Marina office has nice shower, restroom and laundry facilities. The only area that hasn't been completed is the old foundation of Larry and Della's Restaurant, near Chevy's, that burned down in 2002. I think that they're still haggling with permits over this rebuild.

We cleaned up the boat that night and said our good-bye's to Bob and Jerry who headed off. The next day we returned to our vacation home in Sonoma and started coordinating all the work to be done on Raptor Dance while we're in the bay.

Since then, We've been busy with lots of chores:

We've given the boat a thorough cleaning. This was quite involved as we had a lot of rust particles on deck from a fishing boat that was undergoing a lot of grinding up wind from where we were docked. We still have some detailing left to do. We're doing this job ourselves as the folks we previously used quoted us $900+ for the job.

We also polished all the stainless using the wonderful "Miracle Cloth" that was recommended in a recent edition of Practical Sailor. It made the job much easier.

We had our dead battery charger and modified sine wave inverter replaced with a new Magnum Energy MS2812 pure sine wave Inverter/Charger. This was a tough project as the old units had to be removed and the new put in their place on the far side of the engine room. Alan Mcdonell from Boat Guys in Alameda spend two days wrestling the units in and out. I really like this unit as it already provides noticeably better results (e.g. less radio interference, it runs the microwave at full power, it has a bigger charger, etc.).

Yesterday we motored to Point Richmond and back to drop off our 4 sails at Quantum Sails for service. They're 6 years old and need a thorough going over.

We still have more chores to do and I'll report on those later.

We hope to get all this stuff done so we can have some fun days sailing on the bay before we leave to head South towards the end of August.

Mary and I want to wish you all a happy 4th of July weekend (US folks), Canada Day (North of the boarder) or just a happy summer weekend (everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere)!

Bill and Mary

June 12, 2006

ETA Mariner Square, Alameda - 8 PM

Hi Everyone!

If you've been watching our progress on Position Reporter (see our homepage http://raptordance.com or go directly there via http://www.winlink.org/positions/PosReportsDetail.aspx?callsign=WB6JAO ), you're aware that we're making much better time than we anticipated from Crescent City.

We're now just off Bodega Bay (where Alfred Hitchcock shot his movie "The Birds" - no sign though of Tippie Hedron!) and we've been making between 7.8 and 8.0 knots.

We should be entering the Golden Gate around 6:30 PM tonight, Monday, June 12th and we should be at our temporary home at Mariner Square Marina in Alameda around 8:00 PM.

Thanks to the hospitality of Bill Joos at Valiant West, we'll be in the same slip we used to occupy before we moved to Marina Village (during the seismic retrofit of the Alameda Tunnels), a year before we left on our voyage in September 2004.

We'll be there for the next month or two until we resume cruising by heading down to Southern California and then back to Mexico. Right now we're scheduled to arrive in Paradise Village in Nuevo Villarta, Nayarit, Mexico approximately November 15th.

During the trip south, we've accumulated a number of maintenance items and will be attending to those while we're in the Bay. Also, this coming weekend is the Summer Sailstice and we're planning to participate.

It's been a VERY quiet trip (except for the engine), so far, from Crescent City. Off Cape Mendocino, one of the most feared spots on the Pacific Coast south of Alaska, we did raise the main - but didn't have enough wind to turn off the engine ;-{

All in all, we've been a motor boat on this leg. Right now is flat calm with nary a ripple on the seas, in light fog, with variable visibility (right now it's about 1 mile).

Except for tweaking the autopilot to say on course and watching for other traffic on the Radar, the Automatic Ship Identification (AIS) system and visually there's not much to do. So Jerry's standing watch, Bob is finishing up his book, "The Da Vinci Code", Mary's tiding up and I'm typing you all this message.

According to the GPS and Chart Plotter, we're 58 miles and 7 hours 45 minutes from the slip.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 11, 2006

Departed Crescent City - We're once again on our way

Hi Everyone!

We cast off the dock lines this morning at 645AM and left Crescent City Harbor. We left on a rising tide as the harbor is shallow and we didn't want to get stuck for long if we ran aground. As it was we saw water as shallow at 8 feet on our way out - that's only 1' 9" more than the depth of the keel!

Once out of the harbor, we raised the main and guess what... The wind's on our nose again! The forecast is for 10 to 15 knot North West winds, which would be behind us - but right now the winds are about 4 knots from the South West! At least it's not slowing us down much as we motor sail down the coast.

We should pass Cape Mendocino somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00 this evening. Cape Mendocino can be pretty rough, but the forecast is for benign conditions as we pass. Right now we're heading South West but will turn South East after rounding the cape.

We should arrive at the Golden Gate sometime late Monday night. We're attempting to get there during the flood tide. At 2 AM Tuesday morning the tide turns to ebb and we would have to fight a current on our nose of 6 knots if we arrive later than that.

More on our progress later.

All in all, we had a relaxing time in Crescent City after we got all our boat chores done. There are some nice seafood restaurants in the Harbor, the best being "The Chart Room". Note, this is not part of a chain of restaurants, it's a local place. "The Grotto" restaurant was also pretty good, but the best dish was the Crab Louis at the Chart Room.

Other than boat chores, walking about, eating and visiting the Internet Coffee House, we watched a few movies. Moby Dick with Gregory Peck our choice for Friday night and last night we watched Perfect Storm (I would have preferred Captain Ron!).

That's the news from Raptor Dance.

Regards to all,
Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 10, 2006

Weather Window looks good for a Sunday Morning Departure from Crescent City

Hi Everyone!

It looks like the winds are lightening and we have a favorable weather window starting tomorrow morning, Sunday the 11th. We'll leave here probably around 8 AM on a raising tide and are anticipating passing through the Golden Gate very early Tuesday morning.

We've been busy here in Crescent City waiting for our weather window to continue South.

When we were out bouncing around a few maintenance items came up. The most fun was the furling line on our main sail.

We were double reefed, heading on a deep broad reach and had the boom held in place firm with our preventer. Coming down one wave the main was back winded in 30 knots of wind - good thing we had the preventer on or we would have accidentally jibed. The furling line was taking the pressure and the stopper stripped the Dacron cover from the Spectra core. This kept the stopper from holding the line so enough of the sail unrolled to drape the main across the stays. I had to go forward, engage the furling ratchet on the Leisurefurl's drum, insert a winch handle and manually re-furl the main. Of course, I was clipped on with a harness to our Jacklines. This cleaned things up. No big deal, but exciting at the time.

When we got into Crescent City we replaced the line with a replacement. We basically have enough spare line on board to replace all the running rigging at least once.

Did I mention that the head also was clogged? Fortunately it was the overboard thru hull that clogged, so we could still use the head into the holding tank. So when we got in I used our "Blast it Out" (http://www.blastitout.com ) to clear it. I also replaced the Joker valve, which probably contributed to the problem.

Also, the battery charger died, but we're able to charge the batteries off the engine alternator. Just to keep things topped off, I bought a small charger at the local Crescent City marine chandlery and hooked it into one of the auxiliary power sockets on board (these sockets used to be called cigarette lighter outlets).

We have a new charger and inverter from Magnum Energy awaiting installation when we return to SF Bay. We also got word that our Solar Panels that we ordered at the boat show are in and ready to be shipped to us. So this should help us when we continue our cruising in August.

All is well on board and our next report will be at sea. Keep an eye on our position reporter to follow our progress.

Regards to all,
Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 9, 2006

Crescent City CA

Hi Everyone!

We're safe and sound in Crescent City waiting for the winds to lift before we continue on.

We arrived at 4 AM Thursday morning. The winds were building and we decided not to push too hard. The winds were already up to 30 knots and forecast to have gusts over 40. Seas were building too!

Anyway, Crescent City is a lovely little town with a pleasant marina mostly with fishing boats. There's a great chandlery near by for any items we need. Town is a short mile walk away.

We're in "The Coffee Corner" right now having our espresso's (Bob) , cappuccinos (Bill and Mary) and Raspberry smoothy (Jerry). And, of course, using their wireless Internet connection. Since it's a mile walk, this will probably be the only time we're on while here.

The Weather is forecast to lighten Sunday, if so, we're resume our voyage. We're about a 40 hour sail from the Golden Gate - so just under 2 days to go, once we cast off.

That's the news from Crescent City.

Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 7, 2006

Off the Brandon OR (South of Coos Bay) - Past the Halfway mark

Hello Everyone!

We past the half way mark this morning at about 10 AM. We motor sailed all night as the we were sailing dead downwind and the wind strength wasn't sufficient to get much speed sailing.

This morning, at about the half way mark, the wind picked up a bit and we're now sailing "wing on wing". This configuration is when we have the main on one side of the boat (starboard in this case) and the Jib on the other side (Port). To hold the Jib stable, we're using our Spinnaker Pole attached to the jib sheet.

After a great 4 hour sail the first day, we've pretty much been motoring almost the whole time. Our sail right now is a welcome respite.

With 16 knots of wind, we're making between 7.5 and 8 knots of speed over the ground (as measured by the GPS - the nearest ground is about 6000 feet straight down!).

All is well on Raptor Dance: Jerry and Mary are doing dishes, I'm (Bill) typing this note on the computer and Bob is keeping watch.

We rotate watches every three hours with 1 person on each. This is great as you have 3 on and 9 off - ample time to sleep, read, whatever.

Commanders Weather says we might see more boisterous conditions off Cape Mendocino, but nothing major and no where near what the boat and crew can't easily handle. so far the winds and seas have been substantially lower than forecast and we're hopeful that that trend will continue.

We've been seeing loads of hump back whales and dolphins the last few days. They're always welcome visitors.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 6, 2006

Oregon Coast - Looking for wind.

Hi everyone,

Yesterday after our long slog out the Straights of Juan de Fuca, we turned the corner at Tatoosh Island at 3:30 PM.

Finally the wind was not dead on our nose. We raised sails at 4:00 PM and by 4:30 we had the Monitor wind vane hooked up a steering the boat. Under sail the boat quieted down and just moved! Using no electricity or other technology (the Monitor is a totally mechanical steering "computer"), we were on course, happily zipping along at over 8 knots.

We were on a close reach until 6PM when we turned to port (left) again and headed South to parallel the coast. Our speed was in the 7 knot range with a really nice ride while we had dinner (Garlic and Thyme Roast Chicken, Asparagus with a Balsamic Glaze and a Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf).

Around sunset the wind died - to less than 12 knots (from behind making our apparent wind less than 6 knots) - with 4 foot swells - so we furled the Jib and Staysail and motor sailed with the main up.

We still had enough wind to push us along and maintain 8 knots until this morning when the wind died further. Right now (9 AM PDT, Tuesday June 6th) we're off the Oregon Coast - 40 miles due west of the Columbia River Bar - and we only have 2 knots of wind.

More wind is forecast and we hope to get more sailing in.

It's great having Bob and Jerry along as it means that Mary and I can get lots more sleep than we did on our long passages in Mexico. We're doing 3 hour shifts, so everyone is on 3 and off 9 - plenty of time for sleep!

It's time to fire up the Genset, cool down the fridge and desalinate some more water. We'll report further later today.

Be sure and check out our position reports, we've been filing 3 or 4 per day - see the "And Find our Current Position on Position Reporter" link on our website or go directly to:

That's the news from here!

Warmest Regards,
Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 5, 2006

Enroute Report - Off Neah Bay in the Straights of Juan de Fuca

Hi Everyone!

Bob Hinden and Jerry Stadulis arrived yesterday and we had a lovely Bon Voyage dinner with Jerry's wife Cory and daughter Emily at Michaels restaurant in Port Angeles.

We all turned in early so we could get up at 4:00 AM and cast off just before 5. Twilight up at this latitude starts at 3:40 AM with sunrise at 5:18 AM - so we had plenty of light when we cast off. As we rounded the end of Ediz Hook, exiting Port Angeles harbor - we entered the Straights of Juan de Fuca.

Oh great, lumpy seas with a 15 knot plus head wind. Ho hum... here we go again. At least it's not as bad as we've seen off Monterey.

We had the wind opposing the current unit around 8 - with an ebb tide and a West wind. This always creates a lumpy situation. It slowed us down considerably. Our normal 7 knot cruise was reduced to 5.

Around 8, the tide went slack and we picked up speed - even without the current pushing us. The seas also flattened. Our speed didn't last though as a flood current on our nose and increasing winds slow us way down to a low of 4.5 knots at one point. Over the last hour (11:30 to 12:30) we've only progressed 4.7 nautical miles.

The sun came out around 10 (it was overcast this morning) and it's a beautiful day with relatively flat seas in spite of an 18 knot headwind and adverse current. So no problems... Even if we're only doing 4.6 knots as I look at the GPS.

We should be well out of the Straights by 5 and well offshore by sunset at 9:13 PM tonight. Twilight will last until 10:50 PM and the moon will be up until 2:19 PM so we'll have ample light for most of the night.

Around sunset we'll make the final turn to the south on our route - from there it's 458 miles to Cape Mendocino.

As of right now - 1:00 PM we have 637 miles to go to the Golden Gate.

More later along the way.

Bill, Mary, Bob and Jerry

June 3, 2006

Southbound Preparations

Hi Everyone!

It's been a busy week since our last message.

After Pender Harbour, we motored back to Vancouver and spend a lovely 5 days across from Granville Island in False Creek. We again moored at the False Creek Yacht Club.

It was quite frustrating seeing all the great produce and meats at the Granville Farmers Market as we couldn't take any of these wonderful items across the boarder into the states.

Besides boat chores, we managed to spend Saturday, May 27th at "Eat Vancouver" sponsored by a number of local restaurants and Food TV Canada. It was quite interesting and we discovered a very nice local Mexican Restaurant where we had lunch on Monday "The Mouse and The Bean" http://www.themouseandthebean.com/, quite yummy.

On Tuesday May 30th, we crossed back across the boarder and spend two nights in Friday Harbor. We had a favorable current which had us exceeding 12 kph at times, getting us into Friday Harbor 2 hours early. We hit the local markets to start our provisioning and visited with Bill's high school friend Candy Bowers.

On Thursday, June 1st, we crossed the Straights of Juan de Fuca and arrived at Port Angeles in thick fog. It's a good thing we have GPS and Radar, we needed them to get safely into the harbor as the visibility was only about 100 feet!

We never did see what all those large blips on the radar were since we gave them at least 1000 feet clearance. Only one tiny 20 foot Boston Whaler style became visible for a few minutes and the swallowed by the fog again. When we arrived at the breakwater, we saw it on radar long before we could see it with our eyes. And when we did, it just looked like a slightly darker shadow. We continued on until we suddenly saw a wall in front of us, quickly turned and slowed down. This was the entrance to the marina which we couldn't see until we were on top of it, literally.

Since then we've been getting all our boat chores done, minor repairs, provisioning, cooking, etc. getting ready to head back to San Francisco. The dock is loaded with local fishermen and other boats getting ready to head out to Hawaii or San Francisco. Everyone has been exceedingly friendly. There is even a pair of dock ducks that make their rounds several times a day. It's curious. The ducks walk the docks. We have yet to see them in the water.

The passage is planned at just over 750 miles and it should take us between 5 and 6 non-stop days to make it. We'll have two crew along. This is a first for us as it's always been just the two of us since we left California in September of 2004.

Bob Hinden and Jerry Stadulis are the two fellows coming with us. Bob and his wife Maryann own the Valiant 42 "Acacia". Jerry and his wife Cory are having Valiant 50 #114 built in Texas (very exciting construction should start soon!).

Bob and Jerry arrive tomorrow, Sunday and weather permitting we'll cast off around 5 AM on Monday.

We're using a weather forecasting and routing service "Commanders' Weather" http://www.commandersweather.com/ for our trip planning. They provide great briefings and en-route updates.

Right now they're forecasting favorable conditions (mostly 15 to 20 from behind us) until we get to Cape Mendocino. Then it may be a bit "strong" 30 to 35 knots pushing us. We'll decide if we're going to go for it or pull into Eureka, CA (before the cape) when we get closer and get the latest update.

You can follow along as we'll be sending out email updates periodically reporting on our passage and we'll also update our position reports - probably at least twice a day.

You can access our position reports via our homepage or by using this link:

The Blue Balloon is our latest position. You can also click on any of the balloons to see our Course and Speed (if we're away from the dock), text comments from us and the date and time (in UTC, commonly inaccurately called Greenwich Mean Time, to convert to Pacific Daylight Time subtract 7 hours - subtract 4 for the east coast, etc.).

While we're out, we won't have regular email - but will be checking winlink and sailmail. Remember we love hearing from you, but please only send messages of a few paragraphs with no attachments.

We have many other stories to share about our last week getting ready, but we'll do that in later installments. Coming soon! "The mystery of the Shredded Charmin"

Warmest Regards to all!
Bill and Mary