Noyo River
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September 2003

Off Cape MendocinoWe were just rounding the point at Cape Mendocino, in northern California, notorious for big winds and big waves.  We were being tossed around by high wind and huge (to us) waves.  The traveler had exploded, the radar mount was working back and forth over the starboard backstay.  We worried that the backstay would fail and bring the down the mast. We were all in foul weather gear, with our life jackets on, our safety harnesses on and strapped to jack lines, which were strapped to the boat.  I secretly thought that the motion was extreme enough that someone might fall overboard, which was impossible, because I wouldn't let anyone leave the cockpit.  

We could see a fishing boat, about the same size as Soul Catcher, a little ways away from us. She was pitching and rolling dramatically in the waves.  At a certain moment, a man came out of the pilot house.  He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.  He walked casually forward, sat on the fish hold, calmly lit a cigarette, and opened what looked like a cold beer.  His boat was still pitching violently from our perspective.  He sat causally smoking and drinking, looking over at us, dressed in all our safety gear, tied to our boat with harnesses and jacklines. He smiled at us, we smiled at him.  We felt quite sheepish, us newbies.

The bar at Noyo River The Coast Guard boat guided us limping over the bar into Noyo River, scared and broken. We could hear someone  announce to their home base:  "Coast Guard vessel is safely over the bar".  And a few minutes later, "Soul Catcher is safely over the bar".  We were very relieved. The entry is between those two concrete piers...
The broken traveler, lashed on temporarily. Noyo River is a fish boat town and they don't have many sailboat parts.  We weren't able to replace the traveler until we got to San Francisco, so we had to sail with a double or triple reefed main until then. The broken traveler
The fix for the radar mount This is the fix for the radar mount. The backstay was working back and forth alarmingly and needed a stabilizer. Chris Van Pelt, who has a welding/boat building shop just up the road from the marina, showed up  an hour after George called him. He listened to the problem, took a look and came back to the boat with the bracket almost ready to install. A little more adjustment and he was done. The backstay hasn't moved since. A very elegant fix.
The Noyes Harbor Marina was full, and we finally found a rather precarious mooring at Carine's Restaurant.  We had some nice moments with Mama Carine and truly amazing hamburgers, hamburgers to dream about. Carine's Restaurant
The Bar at Noyo River Crossing the Bar at Noyo River, going out.  Somehow it looks even narrower from this side.  We went right out into short choppy seas that made us immediately seasick. We are bound for San Francisco.


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Last modified: April 27, 2010