Isla San Francisco

We had a great day yesterday at Isla San Francisco. It was hot and the water was flat. Enough breeze to keep things tolerable. Great day for lounging around. We went agate hunting on the other side of the island for a little while and managed to find a few. Then back to the boat for lunch. Later, Lulu rowed me around the anchorage for a diversion. We even fit naps in and all was good.

In the late afternoon, our friends Doug and Linda from s/v Que Linda sailed in. We arranged to meet this morning on the beach for a gam before Lulu and I shoved off for San Evaristo.

During the night we got a southwest breeze that made the anchorage a little rolly. Not bad but not flat either. This morning, after the nets and breakfast, we rowed ashore to meet up with Doug and Linda. We found a good spot on a little rise on the beach and told lies for a couple hours. We were joined by Jim and Jean on s/v Kanga (they’re the ones who gave us a ride back from Mega Foods after one of our provisioning trips). Had a fine time but eventually we got pretty hot and the sand got pretty hard. We said our good-byes and rowed back out to Siempre Sabado. Within 20 minutes of climbing aboard, we were underway. Of course, the fact that we decided to tow the dinghy made getting ready much faster. I know, I know. We said we’d never tow the dink again after swamping the PortaBote on this very same stretch of water (the lower San Jose Channel). But it was SO calm out there.

When will we learn? No, we didn’t swamp Babalooie, but we didn’t have a dead flat ride either. The San Jose Channel never fails to screw with us. Seems like every time we cross over from Isla San Francisco, the ride starts out really smooth and nice. And, it’s only about a 10 mile trip. But invariably, as we get closer to San Evaristo, the seas inevitably start to build. This is generally accompanied by a strong headwind. The combination of wind and waves slows our progress down to about 2 knots, give or take. Today was no exception. The trip started out with flat seas. The wind was non-existent. This was going to be a piece of cake. Yeah, uh-huh. Sure enough, as we reached the 3/4 mark the seas started to build as did the wind, dead on the nose. Our speed dropped from 4.5 knots to 2-2.5. And then the autopilot lost its mind. Happens every time. The autopilot HATES 2-3 foot waves, close together, on the quarter. Shoves the boat off-course and then the autopilot overcorrects and next thing you know I’m sitting there with a tiller in my hand. The windvane would probably have done the job but, by that time we were within spitting distance of San Evaristo. Or so it looked. In reality we had another hour, at least, to go. This is the only stretch of water that has ever caused me to increase the engine speed from our usual 2200 RPMs to get it over with sooner. Did it again today. Revved the Westerbeke up to a screaming 2800 RPMs and gained a knot and a half. Omar the Magician, I mean the Mechanic, in San Carlos said not to be shy about running these rigs fast. They’re built for generators and designed to run at high RPMs for days on end. And the fact is, none of the gauges showed any indication that we were running faster than normal. Of course, we probably burned an extra half gallon of diesel. But at least we got here a little quicker. As soon as we got behind Punta Evaristo, everything just calmed down, as usual.

We anchored within 10′ of where we anchored last time we were here. Could have anchored about anywhere. There were only 2 other boats here when we arrived and only one more has come in since then. Been blowing 15 knots all afternoon with gusts to 20 but there’s no sea room so there’s absolutely no swell so long as the wind continues to come out of the N, NE, or NW as predicted. Supposed to blow pretty hard tomorrow from the NE so we’re going to sit tight. This afternoon’s breeze is a good 8-10 degrees cooler than it was yesterday just like the weatherman said it’d be.

So, we’re hunkered down and ready for the evening. Wind seems to have died down quite a bit now that the sun is down. Nighty-night.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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6 Responses to Isla San Francisco

  1. Janet says:

    Hmmmm. I spent my day in a gray cubicle staring at a computer screen and dealing with people who occasionally verify an undiagnosed bipolar disorder – or their heads just spin. The high point for me was walking across the street to the health food store for lunch and feeling the sun and wind for a brief moment – about ten minutes total. And tomorrow it’s gonna rain.
    You need any crew? I can pull a line and swab a deck anyday. LOL

  2. Scott Wedge says:


    Using more power into a headwind can actually use LESS fuel. Strange, but true. Consider if you throttled back to where you were making no headway. You’d just sit there burning fuel just to stay put. Infinite amount of fuel to never get there. Lousy MPG. Next, consider increasing to normal power – you do get there eventually and use a limited amount of fuel. The way to think of it is that the quicker you get there, the less time the engine runs. Alternatively, you go less distance through the wind, hence less fuel used to do it.

    To calculate the best power for a given head wind component, you’d need to know the speed vs fuel flow as a function of head-wind. But you can probably get pretty close by taking some notes and a little calculation. I’m guessing you do not have a fuel flow readout, but chances are that the diesel uses fuel more or less proportional to the RPM. So, you could get close to best miles per gallon by looking at the ratio of speed mad good to RPM. Heading straight toward your destination, GPS speed would even include any effect of current. On a given run into the wind, set a low power, measure the ratio, and then increase power and measure again, and you should find that you are making more headway per revolution. Continue increasing and measuring until the ratio starts to decrease or till you reach your maximum comfortable RPM. That will be your best MPG power, more or less.

    So, hammer down to save fuel when pushing into the wind. Power back down wind too. Or sail – it is quieter. Same pertains to currents, come to think of it.


    • sryoder says:

      I’m going to have to give this more thought than the few seconds I can afford it as I wade through three weeks of unread e-mails. But thanks, Scott.

  3. Pat says:

    What sort of autopilot arrangement are you using? I’ve got a Cape Horn (or Cap Horn if I’m around Yves) but nothing else for those lazy days. Photos maybe one day?

    Pat (Tilson)
    Shaboom (W32 427)

    • sryoder says:

      Hey Pat,

      We have a Cap Horn as well. But we mainly use our Simrad TP32 tiller pilot. I’ll try to remember to maybe do a short post on it with photos soon. You might try doing a search on the blog using “autopilot” or “Simrad” or “tiller pilot” or “Autohelm” as I’m pretty sure I covered it in a previous blog long ago.


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