When my buddy Nick asked if I wanted to go on an overnight sailing trip from Berkeley to Santa Cruz, I immediately said yes. I have vague plans of sailing the world on my upcoming travels, so I’d really been wanting to get some more experience sailing offshore (particularly overnight).
Our friend was having a graduation party on Saturday afternoon and we left straight from there to the boat around 4pm. We had a crew of four and had all been drinking at the party, so spirits were high as we set off for the gate.
We motored through the bay and hit the gate right around dark. There was, as is usual, some super funky currents and chop under the bridge which made for good fun and excitement.
I was on the first shift and sailed with from 10pm to 2am, taking turns at the helm with my shift partner. The winds were blowing consistently between 15-20 knots so we sailed with just the jib. The ocean swell was also sizable and it was pretty stressful navigating through it in the dark but after a while I got the hang of it. Right around 2am we started to see bioluminescence in the wake of the boat which was really amazing, it looked like there were tiny electric currents running through the water.
I got some sleep from 2-6am, then took another shift from 6-10am. Towards the end of this shift we saw a huge humpback whale fully breaching about 200 yards off our starboard. It would slap the water with it’s pectoral fin a couple of times, then jump completely out of the water. He went through this routine about 6 times but despite our best efforts we couldn’t get much closer than 200 yards.
About 2 hours later a massive Blue Whale, probably close to 80 feet, surfaced for air about 30 feet of our stern. Seeing an animal this big made the Wedy Mynd (the 36ft sloop we were on) feel very small and vulnerable out at sea. Around this time the wind completely died and we decided to motor to Half Moon Bay and refuel rather than continuing on to Santa Cruz.
While we were motoring a pod of dolphins began following up and riding just below our bow. They seemed really curious of the boat and followed us for about 20 minutes. We got some cool video of them (included in the video below) and later learned that were Pacific white-sided dolphins, which are known for bow-riding.
As soon as we left Half Moon Bay the wind picked up again and we sailed at about 8 knots the entire way back to San Francisco. The trip was a blast and even though it was only for one night it was great to get a taste of what it’s like it like to sail at night in moderately high winds and seas.