Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cowboy Logic Ride Again : Long Beach to the Delta

Several  CIYCers recently completed a delivery of Gary and Sandy Wineroth’s 60’ Hatteras north along much of the California coast.  Why has Gary bought another big Hatteras boat?  Ask him and his wife and they just say “cowboy logic.”  It seems that Gary sold their 58 footer last year because he was “stove in” (his words) by meds to lower his cholesterol.  He was concerned about having to stoop over in the engine room for checks and maintenance.  This is where “cowboy logic” comes in—he bought a boat with a larger engine room.



The new boat is named Cowboy Logic II.  This one is a 1978 sports fishing model with a 18’beam and twin 12 cylinder Detroits nestled in a stand up engine room. This space is coupled to a separate utility room full of mechanical goodies and a washer/dryer. Overall, the boat is approximately the size of a small condo--three staterooms with their own heads, a big galley and a salon large enough to sleep two (more on that later), a pair of stuffed side chairs that could each sit two and a coffee table and side credenza large enough to set out a full buffet.

The crew was Gary, Curt Hayes and yours truly. Jack DiBartolo  joined for the last leg of the trip. Curt (“Hayes Engineering”) and Gary went to the yard in Long Beach for five days of intense fiddling and fixing before the trip. Curt and Gary got most of the bugs worked out making the boat ready for sea.  On Monday, November 17th the thee of us drove south to start the trip north.

Gary had purchased enough food for a 10-day trip if the weather didn’t cooperate. We fueled the boat as soon as we arrived and got the boat loaded up. As it darkened about 5:30 and with a fresh weather report, we began to lay more detailed plans for a trip that would take us to Santa Barbara, Port San Luis, Monterey, Sausalito and then on to Willow Berm Marina on the Mokulumne River. With Curt in charge of engineering, I was put in charge of navigation, log entries and photography --  later earning me the moniker "Hawkeye Lyman."  Bed came early that night as it did every night of the voyage.

We were held up a bit on the first morning, Tuesday, while the yard workers installed new wiper blades and arms suggested by the weather report of rain along the way. The story will come back to those wipers later.

Day One at sea ended with our entry to Santa Barbara harbor at dusk. We immediately went to the fuel dock to top up, a routine at every stop along the way. After checking in, we were assigned to an empty berth and enjoyed a celebratory arrival drink, which also became a routine.

Day Two started at zero dark thirty (6:30) with a planned 98-mile voyage to Port San Luis, about 15 miles south of Morro Bay. This leg had us rounding the notorious Point Conception, home to many wrecks whose hulks still rest on the bottom. Seas were boisterous, a term the navigator wrote in his log in quotes. Intermittent rain was not a problem until the center windshield wiper arm came off and swung crazily across the glass right in front of the helm. Since the windshield is nearly 20 feet off the deck and the windows didn't open, we were in no position to do anything but watch it and hope that the glass wasn’t getting scratched.

Our destination, Port San Luis, is a scenic “dog hole” anchorage near Pismo Beach where many northbound boats take shelter. It wasn’t blowing particularly hard but the wind had shifted during the day to come around behind us from the southeast. After hunting for the entry buoy and then the narrow channel to get around a breakwater, we eventually tied up to the fuel dock. Actually, it was a high pier on spindly pilings with a low log which was protected by tires. This was apparently the “camel” the dock guy told us by radio to come along side of. The surge was more than moderate necessitating plenty of lines and balancing on the edge of the deck with the fuel hose passed down about 20 feet and swung out to our deck guys.

We put in our average 300 or so gallons, our routine at each fuel stop to SF, got assigned a big mooring buoy out in the bay and eventually got the boat “settled” for the night. Darkness came early in the murk of light rain no moon. We all sat in the salon looking at each other slowly turn green.  The boat was rolling like it had no keel (it does, and loaded Cowboy Logic II weighs 50 tons).

The captain and Curt slept in the aforementioned large salon.  I got into my narrow bunk and basically wedged in with my toes jammed against the bulkhead. About 1 AM the boat hit the mooring buoy, pitched into it by the surge and a shifting wind direction. There wasn’t much to do but wait for the next heavy slam which came at about 4 AM.  Gary and Curt, who were sleeping just inside of the hits, got up and Maguivered a fender in place.


By 4:30 we were all up and sitting in the salon once again looking at each other waiting for enough light to leave this horrible place. After Curt made one of his twice daily engine room checks, we departed for Monterey.  It was barely first light, not helped by a lack of moonlight and the fact that we might have been no more than half awake. Captain Wineroth won’t visit Port San Luis again. He is not alone in that thinking.

Day Three was mostly uneventful as we made our way north to Monterey 125 miles or so away. There was little wind and only occasional rain.  It wasn’t stormy, but the seas were significant (10-15 feet) and a bit confused.  Nor was it particularly dangerous (as I said the boat weighs 100,000 lbs.), but this left us with the need to hang onto something in a three-point stance for basically the duration till the last ocean leg was complete. It was like doing 10 hours of daily isometric exercises hour after hour.

Entering Monterey at sunset is, as you might imagine, one stunning sight after another--cruising along Cannery Row, turning eastward at Pacific Grove’s Lovers Point and heading for the sounds of hundreds of sea lions inside the harbor. We went to the fuel dock for the obligatory daily 300 gallons (do the math) and a berth assignment. Curt got up on a long ladder to repair the center windshield wiper, for the time being.

Ten hours of hanging on after a few hours of sleep the previous night took its toll so once again it was an early night for the crew.  The next thing we knew it was daybreak and time to take our leave of this extraordinary place to start Day Four of our journey. 

We headed out across Monterey Bay and soon got into an area the ship’s log reported as “whale city.”  We saw Humpbacks, Blues and whatever else hangs out in that bay. While I was looking backwards for some reason, the Captain and Curt saw a humpback come fully out of the water about 50 yards dead ahead. Gary yelled, Curt was speechless and I was apparently taking pictures of the sunrise, birds or something else of little interest compared to a fully breeching whale.


Cowboy Logic II was northbound to San Francisco and home sweet home. We spent three hours between Half Moon Bay and SF’s Potato Patch dodging crab pots, maybe a thousand of them. The rain hadn’t been all that heavy but for some reason two of our brand new, very expensive articulated windshield wipers were now in full failure mode. Then as we decided to give SF’s Land’s End a very wide berth, heading out about five miles off the Cliff House, the chart plotter went south—as in dark.

This wasn’t a serious problem since the radar was functioning and the visibility was ok. The seas across the notorious south bar were running a bit high at 15 feet or so thus were tolerable and the wind was light—we were basically surfing to the aforementioned barn. Our radar proved helpful as we cleared the bridge’s south tower a little after 3 pm, as planned.

We had tried to get a transient berth at Sausalito but none were available so we made our way to South Beach Harbor whose Harbormaster guaranteed us a berth for the night on their Pier 40 guest dock

As we were approaching the bay we called Jack DiBartolo to see if he wanted to join the crew and take the last leg up into the Delta.  He liked the idea and met us at South Beach.  We talked till we were done and then all hit the sack. 

The crew was up bit later than usual (0700) on Day Five for the last leg into the Delta and on to Willow Berm Marina. The rain was coming down pretty good and the foggy horizon was no more than a half mile off. Wait for it to clear or press on?  By this time we had gotten pretty comfortable with the radar and we had all the right paper charts and gizmos for navigating on paper so the crew decided to go. 

The fog was patchy so we got the electronic fog horn going and took off across the bay at about 5 knots, compared to our usual 12.  Picking our way buoy by buoy, we got across the “slot” without incident and were happy to see the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge largely in the clear.  From this point on it was high cotton.  By New York Slough, Jack had gotten the chart plotter going about the time it wasn’t needed (he was a electronics tech in the Air Force and that training came in handy).  The windshield wipers could wait as the sun was bright and the seas calm.

We arrived at Willow Berm about 1 PM to see shortly thereafter Jo Anne and Sandy who greeted us as long lost sailors (it had been a long 6 days after all).  We filled them in on the various adventures and toasted the good crew work that brought Cowboy Logic II home through an area that canhave the most treacherous seas on the west coast. 

What worked well:  captain and crew, engines and mechanical stuff.  What worked less well were electrical and electronic: windshield wipers, chart plotter, the Trimble nav station, a knot meter and various instruments we never did figure out  fully.

As the crew was leaving the boat, Captain Wineroth came forth with a brass plaque, saying “this is for you guys:”

When crew and captain understand each other to the core, it takes a gale-- more than a gale to send the ship ashore;
for the one will do what the other commands, although they are chilled to the bone;
and both together can live through weather, that neither could face alone.


Those words were meaningful. Thanks Gary for a trip to be remembered!

Ted "Hawkeye" Lyman

More pictures can be found at on the photo tab.