Finally it was Monday the big day, the Zenamaran visits blue water. The plan was to leave by 10 am. After morning stuff, turning in the key and a small bit of exploring we set out … On time.
I was told by a passing Sailor that 15-20 knts of wind was expected for the afternoon. I told him we were not going out for long. Even though that is not really that much wind. I installed the jack lines and told LZ were the Type-I vests were located and we headed out. I brought along my Yumi and a Ya to do a shot going out the Gate. That did not happen. It was too rough, I chose to pass and be safe. I settled for a high five photo!
We motored slowly out from under the Gate, even though somewhat early there was already some white caps covering the area. I tried to find the “groove” to have this go smoothly. It was not bad so far but I did not feel in control, and more so when after raising the sails and sailing a short while I could not get the boat to tack. I turned the wheel but nothing happened. This was a concern, very concerning. I used the motor to help give me some power to tack. I figured I just did not have enough forward motion. It did bother me I needed to use the motor, this made me feel somewhat a failure as a sailor. However it was more important to do what needed to be done than be concerned about my sailing ego. This was repeated to me by another sailor when I retold the story to him.
Part of this problem was the same as yesterday, wind angle, and my sail angle. Wind was right on the nose I needed to close reach, which put me in a bad spot heading for a bridge pillar, Rock, breaking surf, whatever. After we got some more sea room I could sail off wind more and we started making some progress. Sailing in the ocean swell was different. I needed to really pay attention to what was happening. My thoughts wandered a couple of times and I lost the flow of merging with the sea. LZ was a bit concerned about the waves/swell it was her first time having them up close and personal. However it was still thrilling to her and she was delighted to see a pod dolphins. he saw a bunch of them. I did not, only something just off in front of us, I thought seals.
We started to make fair headway and travel about 1.5 kts. I changed my plans on how far we were going today. One reason I did not want to get back too late. With that in mind the next step was to turn around in the swell and head back. I thought once the turn was made it would be an easy ride back to the Gate.
However even though I did the turn around ok, and now the swell was pushing us as was the wind, we made no real headway. I think we were still in the ebb tide. We got a little wing on wing action but none of the land marks were changing, the wind was not that strong yet. I tried trimming the sails differently to get more power. Finally I again started the motor to give us some forward power. That slowly made a difference and the Gate grew larger.
Once we got to the Gate and past it the wind really kicked in and we started moving at a good pace. I shut off the motor, pulled it out of the water to reduce drag as we started to pickup speed. I thought we were doing good. Yet in the distance behind us I saw the Oracle CAT out doing practice maneuvers and they were flying about. They shortly overtook us and past us like we were drifting, it was impressive. I thought to take a picture as they bared down on us. By the time I got the camera out an snapped, they were already pass us and moving off into the distance.
We continue to zip along nicely in front of the city front. Once we made the turn to face the Bay Bridge the winds calmed. We were out of the slot at this point and a whole different wind was waiting for us. We slowed a lot!! Just under the Bay bridge we for the most part ran out if wind and stopped moving. Again it was hammer time. It stayed that way for the rest of the final leg to home port.
The trip to the Gate is full of changeable sections. From very calm to intensely challenging, depending on the day, or the time. No swells but plenty of wind, mixed currents and at times intense chop. It was good to make the trip. I feel more confidant in myself and the Zen-II. I will be repeating this monthly until we cast off for good…Yosh!