I'm Matt, a software engineer and boating enthusiast based in Washington State (but on the move). I started Hermit Cove Boats, offering cool skin and frame boat plans and kits. Check it out!
We had to come over the Noyo Bar to get into Fort Bragg, so by the property of bar symmetry we had to cross it to leave. Which was a bitch. There was more surf this time and of course from that side you see the breaking waves, whereas from the ocean you just see the backs of waves. They crashed on the rocks on either side of the jetties sending spray 20 feet in the air. Small breakers even came in between the jetties. We’d have to time our escape. We waited till they just finished breaking (doing donuts in a narrow shallow river mouth while fisherman gawk is not my idea of a Sunday drive) and then gunned it.
We timed it just wrong, but they were small breakers so it didn’t really matter. What was more concerning was the feeling of driving up a wave, and doing it for a while. “My what a large face you have, and such a pointy crest!“. Madrone handled the waves with ease, but we felt queasy. The anti-seasickness drug stugeron faced its first real test, and it barely held us together.
Another round of big surf was due in 2 days, so we were sneaking out while we had the chance. It was a rough night, big seas, no wind, and lots of fog. My shift featured an AIS alarm - a collision course in 20 minutes with a boat headed north. I kept steering more and more trying to put space between it and us. As we both veered back and forth in the waves we’d go from a collision course to passing miles apart. In the end we crossed a mile apart. I never saw any lights. The rolling, fog, and going up and down to check on the other boat nearly did me in. But as promised, by midnight the waves were down. By my morning shift it was smooth motoring, and a lovely sunrise. Bodega Bay was our destination, but we had a secret plan in the back of our minds to continue on and make it to San Francisco. I checked the tides and our plot was foiled by bad luck - flood tide would be early and late. We’d miss the early one and the late one would have us arriving in the dark. But we’d already passed Bodega Bay, so we pushed on for Drake’s Bay in the lee of Point Reyes.
And what an anchorage it was. Point Reyes sticks way out from the mainland and then hooks to the south, providing protection from the NW and the W. Unlike Shelter Cove, it is real protection and the swell barely made it in. The anchorage is sizable, we spent 30 minutes driving over suitable depths, and anchored half a mile from shore. We were the only boat, so we could drag anchor for miles in any direction without harm. The northerly kept us rock steady with our mizzen up as a riding sail. We took a long nap, then sat around all day reading, ate well, and got to bed early. It was probably the laziest day of my life. We were resting for our early morning and the last leg of our trip.