In mid-summer I spent an overnight drifting hove-to in The Gulf before spending a morning at the Farallon Islands. Little Cat and I did not get a usable breeze until crossing out of the "Precautionary Area" on our way out from The Bay. We managed a gentle beat on a course that would take us just south of the Farallons. At dusk we hove-to a mile or so East of the islands and set the boat up for the night, putting up the "cockpit tent" (cover over the open port hatch), turning on the AIS, and cooking a simple meal.
|The S-bend is hove-to during the night|
|Approaching in the morning|
I settled down in the port hull under the hatch canvas and tried to sleep between the half-hourly Channel 12 traffic reports. I had carefully chosen the area of water to drift in after long study of the traffic movements in The Gulf. The area between the Farallon Group and the Northern Shipping Channel sees very little traffic from commercial shipping because of the dangers to navigation represented by the islands. That doesn't mean there is no traffic, but less risk from being run down by a ship or tug. I did not sleep much, but when I did I was awoken by the Traffic Report every 30 minutes at which time I checked for AIS targets and had a good scan around. By early morning, Little Cat had fore-reached within two miles of the Northern Shipping Channel and we seemed too close to the few passing ships, so I moved the boat over to the starboard tack to reverse direction and stop us getting any closer (at the end of the S curve on the chart above).
|The Channel between East Landing and Seal Rock South of SE Farallon|
Around 6 AM I got up and trimmed the sails for a close reach to SE Farallon. My plan had been to visit the Middle and North Farallons, but I had not got much sleep and didn't have the energy opting instead for a quiet breakfast stop at the SE Farallon.
We rounded the west end of the island and followed the coast across Mirounga Bay (South of the island), past the residence houses (biologists) towards Seal Rock. I dropped anchor beside the East Landing and what I believe is called "The Great Murra Cave" (from the only map I could find naming features on the island).
|Lunch spot be the East Landing|
This spot was alive with sea life. Groups of seals cavorted around the boat. A small whale breached continuously a hundred yards behind the boat and appeared to be playing (one of six whale sightings throughout this trip). The number of birds is indescribable - see videos below to get an idea. Excuse my usual lack of videography skills.
Anchored next to "The Great Murra Cave".
Rounding the east side of the island towards Fisherman's Bay
I brewed up some coffee and food and enjoyed the moment. I would like to come back to this spot and spend the night, though the holding did not feel good (rocky). We then headed back for the 25 NM stretch to the Golden Gate in flat calm conditions. I had to motor all of the way back though with some mainsail assist in very light air. The Tiller Pilot had stopped working on the way out - later revealed to be a broken fluxgate - so I was stuck on the tiller for hours and became reacquainted with the "tyranny of the tiller".
|The bigger picture|