Pendana arrived safely in Los Angles and slips into her magnificent surrounds at Marina del Rey (“MDR”). After a relatively straight forward passage from San Francisco it sure feels good to be out of the wind and cooler climate of the San Francisco bay area and into the heat of Los Angeles. Thank God, no more cold weather from this point forward for me. NEVER, EVER!
Our departure from Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond was made so much easier when our good friends Adam & Eve (former owners of N47 Eden) came to wish us farewell with a box of assorted bagels and cream cheese. Their help with the lines made everything just that much more relaxing. Little did we know this would change and change very quickly! As Pendana ventured forth, all of a sudden, alarm, alarm, alarm! A high pitched screech was warning all on board was not well on the good ship Pendana. What we had was a low water flow alarm. This was the first time we have ever heard this alarm and let me tell you, it was somewhat terrifying. As we were in a relatively narrow channel, these things always happen at the worst possible time, I handed control of Pendana to Commander Claire as I made my way to the engine room with some haste. I quickly bled the air the from the mighty N14 water pump which soon rectified the problem. Within minutes the alarm ceased and temperatures started to return to normal. I must say it’s good to know the low water flow alarm works as it’s always been an indicator that in the past, sat idle. We monitored temps in the engine room and at both muffler stations every five minutes for the following hour until satisfied that the alarm was caused by simply not bleeding the air sufficiently. The question is, how was this possible? We have started Pendana thousands of times so what changed? Well, about two weeks prior to leaving SF I had cleaned the main engine sea strainers so all I can think of, is that maybe in some way there was some sort of air lock which was the direct cause of our problems – either way, lesson learnt!
As most would know exhaust temperatures are extreme and if not mixed with sufficient water then things start to melt very quickly indeed. Thankfully no damage was sustained although a few more minutes longer and we would have suffered material damage and, as such, would still be in SF. Or maybe under it! Never a dull moment, never a dull moment!
Once our problem was rectified our trip south was without incident and navigating the narrow, shallow channel on exit went well. It’s amazing how many things go into planning a trip and trying to juggle the competing issues. For example, we wanted to depart at 6am local but of course this wouldn’t be possible due to a negative tide of -0.40 of a metre. Normally this would cause no issue at all but as the channel directly outside our marina was very shallow and, I might add narrow, we decided to wait until 9:30am to depart allowing for 0.69m of additional water to help our passage across the shallowest part of the channel.
The decision to leave later and allow for greater water under our keel had a knock-on effect and meant that our arrival under the Golden Gate Bridge would be met with some stiff current flowing into the bay. While it was our intention to depart SF with a current inflow of 1kt , due to our late departure we would now face 3kts. As the entrance/exit to the harbour/ocean has pretty consistent winds from the west/northwest it’s imperative that the wind flow and the current direction for transits be the same. When current flow and wind are opposed some particularly dangerous conditions can arise and that is very true for the bar which lies just to the west of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
The other issue the later departure delivered was the late arrival into Los Angeles. With a 9:30am departure from SF we would arrive in LA and to the entrance of our marina well after midnight which breaks our golden rule which is, always arrive at a new location in daylight and at slack water. Removing potential issues like, local currents and visibility makes sense in my book. Too often folks just head out with little regard and come unstuck. I can’t tell you how many times we heard ‘Mayday calls’ for help, from people who did just about zero planning. So, out of respect for lives on board (and my ego), I would rather plan up-front, play it safe, be conservative and arrive in one piece than take potential short cuts that could lead to disaster. We arrived at MDR at first light safe and sound.
Our run, south, down the west coast was simply lovely with the winds and seas behind us. It was great being out to sea once again and once south of Monterey Bay the seas flattened and winds eased off. Pendana, as usual performed flawlessly on this short run south with all temps and pressures in her mighty engine room remaining in spec and in the acceptable range. Other than the wee hiccup as we departed she didn’t miss a beat! I simply dread to think what we would do if ever faced with a real issue at sea. Being mechanically and electronically obtuse I shudder to think!
Bianca once again managed the scare the life out of me as she performed this latest dramatic makeup on herself. This is starting to become a tradition I don’t like!
One thing that was truly special on our way south was the sheer amount of wildlife. I don’t think I have ever seen so many whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, birds on any trip. I estimate there were at least twenty whales just west of the Golden Gate Bridge and at least another hundred on our way down. The issue with big whales is that they sleep at the surface which meant on four occasions Pendana had to suddenly change course to avoid the mass of the mammal asleep. Another real treat was I saw a huge Sunfish. I am talking at least 8ft in length and 5-6ft wide. It was simply at the surface as we motored right alongside. Thanks to my commitment to smoking, I just happened to be outside when we did.
Another interesting fact was the huge number of oil & gas platforms in southern Californian waters. How do I know? Well these platforms are hard to miss as you motor on by. Rising out of the water like some life sucking machine from H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds they sat eerily in the water slowly emerging from the fog as if something from another world. Spooky stuff.
Arriving into Marina del Rey in the early morning was simply beautiful. Not a breath of wind, 20C/68F and mirror finish waters. It simply felt good.
With that being said, it’s time to collect the rental car and go and explore what LA has to offer. It’s funny but already everyone has remarked how they like the feel of the place. See, it really is all about the weather!