Tuesday morning, we departed Monterey at 1:20 am, and sailed 93.1 nautical miles over 14 hours to arrive in San Simeon at 3:50 pm. It was extreme, wearing, an exciting.
We woke to early morning starry skies and had an easy departure from Monterey, as a chorus of reeking sea lions thick on the breakwater sent us off. We motored carefully around Point Pinos and out to three miles off shore. As we went, the wind built from the north west. We added the staysail to the double-reefed main, and Dominic rigged a preventer to the boom. The wind built as we sailed father south. By about 3 am, the wind was 25-30 knots apparent, with a steady six or seven knot boat speed.
I had the first shift snoozing down below. When I came above deck around 4:30 am, the winds were blowing 35 knots. The forecast had called for 10-20 knots, but these were the fiercest winds any of us had ever seen over a sustained period. Entering the cockpit, I felt the torrent of air, and the seas surged above, streaked with breaking white caps as far as I could see. Which, thankfully, wasn't very far or I probably would have headed straight back down below. As it was, I braced myself under the dodger for about 20 minutes as I woke up and got my bearings, then I took the helm from my Dad.
With three people, our tricks at the wheel were only about an hour and a half and we could keep two people in the cockpit. Being on watch required attention and physical endurance, but the autopilot held its course despite confused seas and 12 foot following swells, so we didn't become exhausted. There was a fair amount of vertical movement and some rolling—at one point the pizza stone pushed open the oven door and threw itself to the galley sole, rudely rousing Dominic from his bunk—but Helios tracked well and we felt safe and secure for the nine hours we sailed in a moderate gale.
I had a series of very minor calamities along the way: I made the fateful choice to take a bathroom break while on watch; then, I lost my headlamp and beanie overboard as the boat tipped while I bent down to release my safety tether; THEN (and this is typical sailor woman stuff that has happened before and will happen again), the boat tipped the other way while I was shedding layers to go the bathroom, and I went crashing forward into the head door. My neck still aches. All of this happened within a frazzled five minute period, but then, back on watch, the peachy sun rose over the dusty plum contours of the coastline, and all was well in my little corner of the universe.
We arrived at the picturesque San Simeon Bay, with Hearst Castle perched in crags above us, in time to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. My dad said that this was the most exciting sailing experience of his life. Dominic and I are feeling good knowing that Helios is comfortable in uncomfortable conditions. We decided we earned some rest, so we spent the next day rolling in the anchorage, enjoying the scenery, and snoozing as often as we liked.
Here we are trying to keep beverages on our rolling table:
and enjoying the views of San Simeon: