Well I had a request from my sailing friend, Jamie Orr, for some more info on how we have been cruising:
"The blog is fine but doesn't have the details of each passage: weather,sea conditions, how you arranged watches and how they worked. Also how the boat and equipment is standing up. Sometime in the future I expect to hear all this over a beer or two so make sure you're recording it somewhere!"
For the first few weeks we did a lot of overnight sailing, because safe harbours on the Washington and Oregon coast are typically too far apart to reach during the 12 or so hours of daylight, unless you are prepared to motor a lot. These night sails were quite exhilerating but often very cold and a bit scary because of the need to constantly watch for fishing boats (sometimes unlit, we have been told) and commercial traffic.
We were doing 2 hour watches because of the cold and fatigue, but switched to 3 hour watches for the last couple of night passages. 2 Hours is not really enough time to fall asleep and get a decent sleep in and we were definitely going into sleep deficit the next day!
In the last couple of weeks, we tried to do day sailing and sometimes did very short passages, staying in marginal anchorages (used by fishing boats, usually) to accomplish this. I found that the long overnight passages took a lot of the fun out of sailing and that this came back quickly when we were able to sail during the day and drop the hook to get a good rest. This will be our approach for the rest of the trip where possible (some ports are still too far apart on the California and West Baja coasts to allow this). On night passages we wear harnesses and clip onto a webbing line that runs from bow to stern when we need to do sail changes.
Weather has ranged from light to no winds about 20% of the time to moderate to strong NW winds. Swells have been a major pain when running down the coast because they pick the boat up and twist it around, overpowering the autopilot. We find that we use the autopilot about 95% of the time and it is a Godsend! However we need to keep the boat running at or below it's hull speed of 6.5 knots or the pilot cannot cope and the belt slips and wears. We are currently having a 3rd reef put in the main sail to help slow us down on the downwind runs. We reef at 15 knots, again at 20 knots, and we would like ot reef again at 25 knots. This is with just the main up and we are still doing 7 knots and surfing up to 10 knots in these conditions running downwind. We typically wait out forecast gales in port and also wait for southerly winds to clear out before we leave port. This has delayed us for a total of 12 days out of 40, so far. We treat these delays as an opportunity to explore an area.
Equipment that has failed so far: autopilot belt broke at the glue joint, upper sail batten broke, sail chafed where it rubbed the shrouds at the 2nd upper batten, many holes in spinnaker from chafe on forestay and due to wrapping. Broke 2 preventer clips (bronze is too weak for this job). Destroyed a preventer pulley. Rudder has significant play in the bottom bearing from all the rolling downwind. Dropped a few things overboard (camera case, lens cover). Most stuff is holding up well, 'though, and the boat is working out better than I thought it would.
We have been able to cook at sea despite not having gimbles on the stove. Running downwind this is not a big issue, although you do get thrown around. I have added a strap to hold us into the galley and fiited pot holders made from coat hanger wire, which work very well :)