It’s dark out there!

Captain Rick Holway is making sure the Carters have enough sailing miles before launching the new boat. He’s a veteran of the singlehanded sailing society’s solo Long Pacific races, so I pay close attention to his coaching. We picked a no-moon phase for an overnight sail in the gulf of the Farrallones last night.

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Outbound at dusk we were among 50+ salmon boats – the prospect of navigating thru that fleet then the northbound shipping lane in pitch black was daunting. So we headed east amongst the unmarked but rather boat-crushing rocks of the middle and north Farrallons.

Zoom in to the next photo and see the separate rocks in the distance – the chain extends for many miles north, with gaps plenty wide enough to pass between.

Throw in an inbound marine layer and by midnight the lack of stars and moon made the sea and sky one black blob. Made me think hard (between 1-4am) about being visually impaired and relying on autopilot vs windvane self steering and how they are mounted.
Ian Jones wrote in suggesting a wider stern tower for solar panels too.

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Good idea but it’s getting crowded up there and I don’t want the windage of panels that high – we’ll put those on top of the dodger and out on the beams. I need to widen the tower a bit and figure out how exactly to connect a tiller pilot that can control the new rudder’s trim tab, overriding the vane when the tiller pilot is connected. That’ll be for motoring and when steering to the compass heading is critical (as opposed to optimizing for wind angle with the vane system). And this 24 hour sail came just in time before building the tower legs Tuesday to make it taller and get that radar up well above the boom.

After going about 40 miles out, we got back to SE Farrallon in the early morning for Rick to spot four Albatross. Kind of a rare sighting there, and a nice little Puffin touched down near us to cap the day.

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