Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wishing all of you a fabulous Christmas!!

It's been a different Christmas this year, but good all the same. With John gone, my Christmas Eve started with a sleepless night, as the wind howled through the marina, I was up several times to check our lines throughout the night. Come morning, I moved the boat to a slightly more protected slip, then it was off to the markets with Mary from Sorceress! We wandered through downtown looking for fresh produce and assorted odds and ends. Of course it was a zoo, with lots of last minute shoppers out and about, and the street vendors in full force. But it was great to explore with Mary, as she has been coming to La Paz for 10 years, and knew all the best places to shop, and most of the shop keepers. We found our needed supplies, and headed back to the marina, after a fabulous lunch of chile rellanos. Mmmm....

I spent the evening with new friends on Pisces, Jacob and Julia, and their friends Curt and Nancy from Raven. Jacob ferried Curt, Nancy and I out from the docks to their anchored boat - doing three wet trips through the chop in their 2 passenger dinghy. Julia made a spectacular rib roast, along with knoodles (german specialty - sp??), and we enjoyed the evening sharing stories about our travels so far, and the nuances of each of our boats. As it turns out - Curt and Nancy had looked at Renova when she was for sale a few years back. Small world. After dinner we wandered downtown (again, thanks to Jacob's ferry service), and found ourselves at Midnight Mass in a large catholic church, presided by the bishop! It was a fascinating experience. Some notable moments included:
  • The bishop and his 'team' were ushered in to the tune of Jingle Bells.
  • The music throughout the service was provided by a BAND...complete with vocalists, electric guitars, bass, violin, snare drum and cow bell.
  • Listening to a service in another language is fascinating....it allows one to imagine what the content of the service is, but also to listen to the tone of the speakers, paying attention to the fine details that aren't as obvious when you are focused on the content.
  • The church was stunning - there was standing room only, and the congregation was obviously very devout.
  • The incense that was burned throughout the service was strong and tickled at the eyes and throats of us gringos. The locals seemed less affected, although there were sporadic coughing fits throughout the service.
  • All of the hymns/carols were familiar melodies, but in Spanish, making the differences in language seem less significant somehow.
Today, Christmas Day, I joined Eric and Mary for a fabulous dinner on board Sorceress, where we ate like champions!! They have been my Christmas Angels - taking care of me, and checking in to make sure I'm ok - even delivering gifts! Eric has great stories and information on spear fishing, and Mary has a talent for pouring delightfully yummy drinks. What a great team!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Driving Inland

Although the bus was cheaper, we decided to rent a car to get John to the airport at San Jose del Cabo, a couple of hours away from La Paz. It turned out to be a great trip, as we stopped for breakfast to check out La Ventana and scope out where we might stay on our next trip here. We also passed over the Tropic of Cancer, and stopped at the beautiful beaches of Los Barriles.

Here are a few of my observations from this trip...
  • roadside shrines - from the very simple to the elaborate and decadent - serve as a continual reminder that it is probably a good idea to drive the speed limit (or close to it);
  • the numerous empty beer cans strewn along the road side, have a very similar effect;
  • in Mexico, it is unnecessary to mark upcoming speed bumps - (thankfully it's a rental);
  • learning the rules of the road by following the cars in front has not always proven to provide me with the best interpretation of the legal driving regulations;
  • stop signs are indicative that there may be traffic coming from an alternate direction - the actual stopping part is left up to the discretion of the driver;
  • cows, sheep, goats and dogs all roam freely along, and on, roadways; and
  • the ecosystem changes wildly within a relatively small amount of time/kms - ranging from flat, arid regions, where cacti seem to be the only vegetation for miles, to lush valley bottoms with a diversity of shrubbery and vegetation.
Apparently, it blew hard all day while we were away from the boat. Our neighbors, Eric and Mary, have been a blessing...they watched the boat while we were gone, and welcomed me back at the end of a long day with a drink and good conversation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Flood...

Sorry about the lack of blog posts. It's been a busy few days.

Last night, we received news that our home in Campbell River had flooded, as a result of a cracked toilet tank. Sheesh. Thankfully Darren and Ken were quickly on scene to mitigate the damage. Because we have a storage locker in the house with our 'stuff', we were worried that the boxes were all wet, and would need to be sorted and dried out. We quickly booked a plane ticket home for John, and agreed that I would stay behind in La Paz to watch the boat.

Today, we replaced more of the hoses on our head system, and generally got ready for John's departure. We've rented a car to drive John to the airport at Cabo tomorrow, so we also did a huge provisioning shopping trip, and an excursion to Home Depot (yep - even in Mexico) to grab insulation for our poor fridge.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happiness is....

I blew out my flip flop
Stepped on a pop-top
Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home
But there's booze in the blender
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on

---Jimmy Buffet---

Happiness is...(I know the suspense is killing you)... a new pair of flip flops. Three weeks is a VERY long time to be flip-flop-less. It is also a long time to live with someone who is flip-flop-less....just ask John.

And...because it is Christmas...this is my gift to you...click here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

To La Paz....Eat Your Heart Out

This post is dedicated to our many fanatic fisher-friends...you know who you are:


This is our first Dorado...a prized game fish in these parts (also known as Mahi-Mahi). We caught him about an hour before we reached the La Paz Harbour, shortly after John fell asleep. It was an exciting fish to bring to the boat, and he didn't dissapoint. The colors in the photo above are very muted, compared to when he was fighting on the line, and he flashed various shades of green, blue, yellow and silver - it was beautiful. And...I heard unfamiliar words from John - "Are we going to keep it"? We did, of course. We quickly filleted it, and turned on the fridge to super cold. We made ceviche out of a portion of the fish, fried some up for lunch immediately, and attempted to freeze the remainder.

Making the ceviche...note to self: buy lime juicing gadget....

Otherwise, our passage to La Paz was uneventful. We left at 1:00 in the morning, and arrived 8 hours later, with calm seas and little wind for the entire trip. We tied up in a marina in anticipation of our first proper shower in three weeks. We were also excited about the prospect of laundry - which has been waiting even longer. After several weeks on the boat, in various sea conditions, and sitting at anchor, every surface was covered in salt. We were looking forward to giving the boat and ourselves a good hose down.

Shortly after we arrived, Narama also tied up in the marina. Heidi and Steve joined us that evening to share in the bounty of the fresh Dorado.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not the Dead....DREAMS

So it seems that the local developers didn't like the local name for this place, which translates as "Bay of the Dead"...so they renamed it. The resort community here is now "Bay of Dreams". Hmmm.

Whatever its name, we've enjoyed our stay. While most of the other sailboats pressed on to La Paz, we decided to relax and spend a day here. We've enjoyed watching the local fisherman grab their bait from right off the beach.
Terry, Fraser and Lorna drove from La Ventana yesterday evening for dinner - how awesome. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed for a private function. Instead, we were invited to dine at the nearby resort. UNBELIEVABLE!!! It was pretty nice. We had dinner in the train room, where we were the only guests. Apparently they aren't expecting any guests at the resort until, umm, Tuesday, maybe.

Anyway - the menu was in US dollars, so we knew we were in trouble. Regardless, the dinner was fine and the surroundings beautiful. It was great to catch up with Terry and for me to meet Fraser and Lorna. And...the mezzanine to the restaurant was a complete model train extravaganza.

This morning, we spent time on a couple projects. I affirmed my domestic goddessness by sewing up a hatch cover to keep our bunk dry in the crashing seas. John worked at providing for us by experimenting with our new-to-us spear gun.
After an unsuccessful trial run, we decided to drown our sorrows...so we took our dinghy over to the fancy resort and enjoyed a couple of beers and a plate of papas fritas (french fries) poolside. Why not?


After our break, John insisted on trying his luck snorkeling with the spear gun, but luckily Heidi and Stephen on Narama kindly invited us for dinner. We had a great time, enjoying a fabulous meal with this great couple from Alert Bay. We look forward to bumping into them again in La Paz.

We've cleaned up the boat, and have prepared to take off tonight. Another early morning departure, to be sure we arrive in La Paz with favorable currents, and in daylight.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Los Muertos (Bay of the Dead)

Another sunny, breezy day here in the anchorage. We're pleased to be closer to La Paz, and we can see the restaurant on shore, where we plan to have dinner tonight - hopefully with Terry, John's cousin who is visiting here.

We spent the morning fixing the various items that we broke yesterday. The furling line on our main genoa needed to be fixed, and the sail hoisted, and a few other little tasks.

And the head...

When I agreed to this sailing adventure, I did so with the caveat that I had no intention of rebuilding or repairing the head, should something go wrong. And John was true to his word today. He took apart the pump, fixed it, and put it back together again. As a result of the warm, salty water here, scale builds up on inside the pump and the hoses, blocks the flow, and shuts down the system. It needs to be chipped away periodically. John did this marvelously. My hero.

While all this was going on, I tried to stay out of the way, passing along essential tools as needed and spraying perfume around the boat to counteract the wafting odors. When it was complete, I went a little nuts with disinfecting the entire boat.

Finally, it is now mid-afternoon, and we're off to explore the beach. We're considering leaving late tonight for La Paz, but will see what the weather holds.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Amy!

What a day. We woke at 2:30 am to find that we were one of the only boats left in the anchorage, the remaining having left an hour or two previously. By 3am, we were also on our way to Los Muertos, in hopes of arriving at daylight. As we listened to the radio chatter, we realized that the seas were larger than forecast, but we pushed on regardless. We also decided to take advantage of the wind, and take a course well out to sea, and tack back in again later in the afternoon, in order to keep the wind at a favorable angle, instead of bashing into a headwind. Of course, this adds more distance to our total distance, but we hoped for faster boat speeds, and a more favorable motion...not to mention saving some $$ on diesel costs. This was contrary to our usual method of favoring the straight line on our GPS...regardless of wind angle and sailing opportunities.


As it turned out, we took much longer than anticipated, and endured some pretty rough sailing conditions. Waves broke frequently over the deck and cockpit. I received a shocking soaking, as I lie in the sea berth (our main 'couch', so to speak) and we hadn't tighted down the main hatch...which is under the dinghy! The cockpit was frequently drenched in spray, and even our main v-berth up front received water through a solar hatch vent. We had the sailed reefed down to small scraps of canvas, yet still the boat was heeled right over, with the leeward rail regularily dipping into the water.


At some point, our furling line for our main genoa broke, and we struggled to control the large sail that we had to drop to the deck and stuff into a bag, all while the boat leapt up and down seemingly huge seas. But we worked together, and managed to get it tamed, and tucked away in the cockpit. We still had use of our staysail, but decided we needed to change out the regular sail that we kept on deck for the tougher, stronger, storm staysail. So of course, that required another sail to be brought down and bagged. We both got thrown around the deck now and again, and John almost went over the lifelines, but was saved by his harness. If all that wasn't enough...the pump on the head finally quit, and we lost another fish.


Our last couple of hours into the anchorage were uneventful, and we arrived shortly after dark, in the company of three of four other boats. The boats that had made their arrivals before nightfall gave a summary of the anchorage, and lit up the area to guide us in. What a great group of folks.


After a simple dinner, and a beer to celebrate Amy's birthday, we fell exhausted into bed.


No pictures today - camera would have been soaked!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another day in Paradise

We're still in Los Frailes. The wind is screaming through the anchorage, and in the company of a dozen or so other boats, we await suitable weather for making the next jump. It's not a bad place to be marooned. We're beside a long, sandy beach, with reportedly incredible snorkeling. There is a row of grass palapas on the beach to provide shade from the scorching sun. I'm reading Shantaram, a huge, somewhat intimidating, tome, donated by Sooh, and I'm loving it! I've never been to India, and this book paints an enchanting picture.

The wind seduced John into rigging the windsurfing gear, and he enjoyed an hour of sometimes gusty, sometimes over-powered, sometimes dead wind conditions in the bay. I ended up rowing to the beach in our dinghy for a rescue mission. But it was the first time we've used the gear on this trip, so it was nice to know we've been hauling it around for a purpose!

By mid-afternoon, we rowed to the beach, donned our snorkel gear, and jumped into the refreshing water. We snorkeled along a fabulous reef with dozens of amazing tropical fish. This area is now a protected park, and apparently the La Paz aquarium stocked their exhibits from this area - it is fabulously diverse. We saw all sorts of fish - most of which we can't name. But there were parrotfish, angelfish, puffers, triggerfish, and many many more.

Weather forecasts are calling for one more day of this wind, before we'll have a chance to poke around the corner...but we'll see. We're anxious to make it to the next anchorage, where the Giggling Marlin awaits with cold cervezas and perhaps a meeting with John's cousin, Terry!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chicken for dinner...again

Our fishing has not gone well these past few days. We've had a couple bonito tease us, but the true game fish still elude us. But today was the ultimate...a large fish took the lure, and ran out for what seemed forever. Finally, the line got hung up on the reel and broke. In celebration of his freedom, the fish jumped clear out of the water, in all its colorful glory. It was a marlin or swordfish. Not sure what we would have possibly done with a fish that big, but it took our last "Mexican Flag"...THE lure for fishing down here. That was a $15 lure. Oh well. If we haven't got fish stories...what have we got??


This all happened shortlly after leaving Cabo, on the trip up to Los Frailes, which we motored most of the way. When we arrived, we found the anchorage full with a dozen other boats, all waiting for the northerly winds to calm down, so they could make the next leg up to Bahia de Los Muertos...just a stone's throw from La Paz. We walked the beach here - lots of RVs and campers in the area, and a deserted seasonal fishing camp. And big homes on the hill, mostly belonging to foreigners.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cabo San Lucas...

We arrived this afternoon in Cabo...a place that seems unlike Mexico in every sense. It is crazy busy. Everyone speaks English. Expensive. Loud. Clean.

But a necessary stop. We needed to pick up a few fresh groceries and refuel. We took on just what we needed to get us to La Paz, where we expect everything to be somewhat less expensive.

Our passage to get here went very smoothly. We flew the spinnaker for the first time on this trip - although only for 30 minutes until the wind collapsed, and we turned on the motor. The night shift was absolutely incredible. I saw over 50 shooting stars during my 4 hour watch. This must have been a meteor shower...absolutely magical. I saw dolphins, John saw turtles.

Unfortunately, we lost 2 dorado on this trip. John is quite sad about this.

As soon as we dropped the hook, we were both diving off the side of the boat to cool down. It was a glorious day for a swim. And shortly after, we finally met Nigel and Bay (Arena), who are from Quadra Island! We have talked with them several times - at home, and again in Sausalito - but we weren't able to coordinate a get-together. Funny how we've come all this way to bump into neighbors from home.

We're now anchored just outside the harbour, in front of a row of hotels and condos. The fabulous part about being in front of this strip of hotels is the wireless internet! The less-than-fabulous aspect of this spot is the crazy loud music coming from the variety of dance clubs/variety shows/whatever else they have going on over there.

The anchorage here is terribly rolly and we've decided not to stay any longer - we'll be off again tomorrow, to Los Frailes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Enjoying Bahia Magdalena

We're still anchored in Mag Bay, and are now in the company of several other boats, most of whom we've seen in previous ports/anchorages.

This morning, Bob on s/v Mojombo was kind enough to spend a few hours with us and give us a crash course on celestial navigation. We were finally able to put our theory to use, and take a sight with our sextant and work out our Line of Position. Again...just like those early explorers. Now...we need to practice!

We also had an interesting conversation with a fish wholesaler here. His view of the resource was very different than the girls we talked with yesterday, so it was great to be able to hear two sides of the story. If only our Spanish was better, and we could chat with the fishermen themselves!

We're now getting the boat ready to head towards Cabo San Lucas - the southern most tip of Baja.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bahia Tortuga to Bahia Magdelenia

Well...another passage of two days and two nights. And it rained (well, showers). Shocking, but true. I know that everyone at home has absolutely no sympathy for us. But we've come to enjoy this dry climate. In fact, it was our fifth day of rain since leaving home in August. Rain has become a major inconvenience although at some point the rain will become critical for replenishing our limited fresh water capacity.

John reminds me that Tillman (some ancient mariner and mountaineer) would travel 6000 miles with 5 crew and 200 gallons of water. Obviously, Tillman would have me walking the plank. I appreciate washing dishes after each meal, and the occasional shower. Just call me wasteful.

Our passage from Turtle Bay to Mag Bay (gringo-speak) was good, we had some of the most fabulous sailing of our entire trip so far. We had to motor for about 11 hours (we have learned that we have little tolerance for flogging sails and low boat speed), when the wind disappeared, but arrived in Mag Bay during daylight, which is a huge bonus. We are now anchored in Man of War Cove, in the community of Puerto Magdelena. It is a very small communtiy of less than 200 people, and has been hit hard by the recent hurricane in August. We found ourselves woefully ill-equiped to provide any treats for the communty. We ransacked the boat, and came up with some supplies to donate to the school and the children. And we're determined to purchase more supplies for schools once we arrive in Cabo San Lucas, in the event that we come across communitites in similar situations.

Bahia Magdelana is huge. One book suggests it is the same size as San Francisco Bay, although to me, it seems even larger. We had a nice walk across the peninsula, to the Pacific and Bahia Santa Maria beaches today:
There were a couple of women here today from an NGO in Mexico City doing interviews with the locals to document their history and relationship with the Bay. We had a fabulous conversation with them and it seems that the community here is quite poor and the fishermen all belong to a cooperative that is attempting to encourage them to convert to 4 stroke outboards, and to help them to sell their product at market, but they make very little for their efforts. Very hard to encourage conservation of fishery resources for future generations when they are struggling to provide for the needs of their families today.

We have a friend, Eduardo, whose family is from this community, we think. But we haven't found them yet. We'll keep looking!

There are three other cruising boats here. One is Mojombo, from Comox...small world. We met them in San Diego, and had a nice evening with them tonight. Doin' It from Hawaii left today for Cabo, and Gert on Tate arrived today.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bahia Tortugas

A couple pics from Bahia Tortugas...

John dives on our zinc...to find it missing...again. I end up fitting a replacement prop nut and zinc, in many, many 10 second increments of breath holding. fun.

Fishermen are scooping up the sardines from the bottom of their boat into crates, which they then pass along the line into the waiting truck. Of course, the odd sardine makes a dash for his freedom...and the waiting gulls are gleefully waiting...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ensenada to Turtle Bay - Major Milestones

[UPDATED Dec 10 and 11, 2009]

We've just arrived in Turtle Bay / Bahia Tortugas / Port San Bartolome after a 50 hour passage from Ensenada. It was a great passage, unlike the other multi-day trips that we did along the Washington and Oregon coast. By contrast, this passage had moderate winds and sea swell and we were both able to get decent sleep inbetween our watches, and the watches went by fairly quickly. Dolphins visited us regularly, as did a variety of birds, yet we saw very few other boats. Enjoying this passage was a major milestone for us, and gave us the needed confidence boost that we could do other similar passages for even longer periods of time.

Flying downwind with two headsails - wing on wing:

And the other major milestone... (drum roll please)... "WE GOT A FISH" was John's cry from the battlezone (aka the cockpit), less than an hour after we had set the sails and the fishing gear outside of Ensenada Harbour. I had only just fallen asleep, but quickly scrambled up to the cockpit to reel in our prize. We reeled in a fairly small tuna...not yet sure if it is a skipjack, or perhaps even a bonito...we have a fish book, but with few pictures. When we find the internet, we'll have to do some more detailed investigation. [Update: turns out that this beauty is a bonito...not the most prized of all game fish...but who are we to complain? Fish tacos, anyone?]

Almost forgot to write about the third major milestone in this passage. JOHN PLAYED YAHTZEE WITH ME!! Wow. Unfortunately, I felt queazy after only a few rolls (all that concentration and addition, I guess), and we haven't yet finished our game, but I consider this to be HUGE progress.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ensenada

We didn't linger in Ensenada, but we did spend one more morning seeking out the grocery store. Along the way we found the fish market...where we bought a gorgeous hunk of smoked marlin for about $3. Hmmm. Mark and Vicki tell us that we should have tried out the fish tacos - the best they have found to date. And they should know...they are on a serious mission to find the best fish tacos in all the land! They also had this display of prawns unlike any that I'd ever seen.

A cruise ship had arrived in town today, so we saw a very different town than yesterday. On every corner, we were offered a cornucopia of assorted wares and services.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ola Mexico!

After a few errands with the rental car, and a nice lunch with Denis and Holly (Tango), we left San Diego late on Monday afternoon, and after a short trip, we arrived in Ensenada Mexico at 4:00 on Tuesday morning. It was a lovely overnight passage with a full moon and calm seas. We both managed to sleep for a few hours. We had originally planned on a slow sail and tacking in front of the harbour until sunrise, but we arrived early and when we saw how well lit the harbour entrance was, we decided to enter. We didn't have any problems and were able to tie up at Cruiseport Marina without incident. In fact, a staff person was on hand to welcome us and check us in!

After a couple hours of rest, we began the process of getting assigned a slip in the marina for the night, and then checking in with all the various authorities - Immagracion (3x); Bancocito (4x); Customs; Pesces (fisheries -2x); Port Capitan...etc. We started at 8am, and we finished in time for lunch at 12:30. Whew. Luckily...the kind folks at the marina prepared our paperwork for us (at no additional fee, although the moorage wasn't inexpensive), and were super helpful in making the process go smoothly. We did all of this in the company of Mark and Vicki on s/v Southern Cross, so the line ups weren't a problem, as we had people to chat with, and a spanish speaker to ask for directions!

We also spent some time at the TellCell store, in hopes of setting ourselves up with a new cell phone. It didn't work out to be as easy as we hoped, so we aren't going to have a new cell until La Paz.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Beasts...oh my!

Denis and Holly on s/v Tango invited us to join with them and Judy and Jordan (Sea Turtle), for a trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. We hadn't planned on doing any sightseeing in San Diego, so we decided it would be fun to go along. It was Sunday of the Thansgiving weekend, so we thought it may be busy, but the overcast skies worked in our favour and the crowds didn't appear. We saw all sorts of creatures and critters, including lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, antelope, wildebeest, springboks, and tons of birds - pelicans, flamingos, condors, ducks and more. Overall, it was a fun day! And a great opportunity to get to know the camera a little better. As usual, more pics will be posted on flickr, when a lightning fast internet connection makes itself available.


Leaving America

We're about to release the dock lines, and head off in the afternoon breeze towards Mexico. It is a short trip and we should be in Ensenada by tomorrow morning.

I'll try to sort out our photos from yesterday's adventure, stay tuned! Hopefully, we'll find an internet connection!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

San Diego Wild Animal Park

We spent the day at the San Diego Wild Animal Park with Tango and Sea Turtle. What a day...we took a TON of pictures. When I sort them out I'll add a few here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a great thanksgiving with Denis and Holly (Tango) and Ben and Marion on Guinevere (from Alberta!), complete with turkey and all the delightful fixings that accompany a proper feast!! I was expecting that we'd have to sacrifice some traditions for boat living...but this is not one of them!

Our next few days were spent enjoying the hot tub at the San Diego Yacht Club, doing odd jobs around the boat, shopping, and enjoying the company of the cruisers around us. Amazing how many Canadians are here. Jordan and Judy (Sea Turtle) are from Victoria, and Tenacious Grace, an Alberta boat, who we met previously in Santa Barbara, have just pulled in beside us. And many, many more.

Today we joined forces with Tango and Sea Turtle and headed into town with the intention of visiting the Maritime Museum and perhaps the Aircraft Carrier. Well...we only saw the Aircraft Carrier. It was my first time on such a ship, and it was pretty interesting....but imagine John's delight! Needless to say...between the two pilots and John, we spent most of the afternoon wandering around, glued to our headsets. Tomorrow...we continue our touristing...and then back to this cruising business...

Other blog-able news....I just bought a super-duper-wifi-antenna-gizmo. And now I can poach wi-fi signals from even further away! Yippee!!! Yahooo!! So once again, I have internet on the boat. Just before we leave.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Newport Beach to San Diego - Happy Thanksgiving

With our theme park fix satisfied, we set off on a heading to San Diego. En route we stopped at the communnity of Oceanside. What a gem.

The Oceanside Yacht Club was soon to be our best friends. They welcomed us in and we arrived during a critical game for the San Diego Chargers, determining the winners of the Western Conference. The club lounge was decorated in team colours and we happily took advantage of offers of food and drink that was freely flowing! After the game we wandered along the town's waterfront walkway, and drooled over all the great smelling restaurants. But after our $$ day with Mickey, we decided that pasta on the boat was all our budget would allow.
The trip from Oceanside to San Diego was in keeping with the rest of the week...light winds, warm sun, and smooth seas. We arrived in the early afternoon and were able to get quickly checked in with customs and found that there were at least 6 or 8 other Canadian vessels at the police docks!! So we decided to stay...at $10.50 a night, it is the best deal around and our cheapest moorage yet (with the exception of the complimentary Yacht Clubs). It has been a bit of a hike to get to the shops and to the grocery store, but I'm already a bus pro. Internet, on the other hand, has been devilishly difficult. I'm now on a quest for a wifi booster.

We were assigned a slip at the bottom of the ramp, so we quickly got to know many of the other boats in the marina. Almost all of the boats were also heading to Mexico, so it wasn't hard to find commonalities. We were invited to a Thanksgiving potluck in a neighboring harbour for the long weekend.

We'll be moving tomorrow (Thursday), in order to take advantage of a reciprocal moorage at the San Diego Yacht Club (and be closer to the turkey feast). Even though we will have access to internet again, I imagine we won't be able to update the blog as I'll be too busy lounging in the pool. So sorry.

And a happy turkey day to all ye yanks...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth!

Our main reason for stopping in Newport was its proximately to Disneyland! Surprisinly, once we arrived, we couldn't find bus service to Anaheim - not even the big hotels were running shuttle buses to the happiest place on earth! So we followed the advice of locals and rented a car for the day. We drove our cute, little VW Beetle to Anaheim to discover that the park was in holiday mode already. As we wandered through the gates, we set our sights high and decided to focus on rides that were marked as in appropriate for those with high blood pressure or pregnant women. Despite being a Saturday, the park wasn't too busy, and we only waited more than 10 minutes for a ride on two occasions (Space Mountain and the Matterhorn).

It had been 30+ years since John's last visit and 13 years for me. Somehow it wasn't nearly as humongous and fabulous as John remembered it. Perhaps we should have gone to California's Adventureland instead, and he would have been able to keep his grand 5-year-old memories intact. Growing up is hard to do.
John gets a soaker on the Log Ride:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Channel Islands to Newport

This is the life. After leaving Channel Island Harbour, our approach to L.A. was obvious by the low low haze on the horizon and the frequent passing of large jets overhead. This time we stopped in at the King Harbour Yacht Club in Redondo Beach - just south of LAX. Again fabulous.Redondo beach had a pier with an assortment of bars, cafes and trinket shops...all well placed to enjoy another spectacular sunset.
We then travelled to Newport Beach, where we're now tied up at the harbour entrance. We stretched our legs by wandering around some of the gloriuos waterfront homes, but there wasn't much within walking distance of our slip.

Our last three days of travelling have been very similar. Light winds, less than 10 knots, from all directions. We've tried to sail a few times, but within moments, the sails are flogging, and we're at a standstill. Thankfully, our trusty motor has been performing flawlessly.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Santa Barbara to Channel Islands Harbour (Oxnard)

Nov 18
Distance: 30 nm
Ave Spd: 6.3 knots

We left Santa Barbara today and made an uneventful passage to Channel Islands Harbour - Oxnard. Lots more oil rigs on the way, tons of crab traps, and a few more dolphins along the way. We're now tied up at the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club - with their beautiful clubhouse and pool. Membership really does have its privileges.
I've added a few pics to the last week or so. More to come.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Port San Luis to Port Conception...and Beyond!

Nov 16/09
Total distance: 91nm
Ave Spd: 6.3 knots
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

We had a long day from Port San Luis to Port Conception, but the weather was gorgeous - not a cloud in the sky. No wind for sailing, but that was hardly a concern for us. We had heard terrible things about the storms that rise around this point, the "Cape Horn of California". Yeah right...what a bunch of hooey. It was as smooth as a baby's bottom.
In fact, the day went so well, that we decided to push on towards Santa Barbara for the night. That would give us a whole day to rest and explore the city. We arrived in Santa Barbara at 9:30, and were directed to a slip for the next couple of nights, right near the middle of town, a fabulous beach, and close to all amenities.

The highlights of this trip were the dolphins which joined us in Santa Barbara Channel, and stayed with us for at least an hour, while I laid on the bow and watched them frolick below. It was glorious - it was after dark, the stars were glowing, and the waters was thick black, which made the contrasting trails of disturbed water that emerged behind their fins shine through the darkness. They played in the bow wake and really seemed to be enjoying themselves, as much as I enjoyed watching them. In fact...I think I may have witnessed dolphin sex!! Either that...or they were dancing a tango. If anyone is an expert in these matters - please let me know.

We also saw several oil rigs. This area is full of them. Oddly enough...all of the ones we've passed so far have names starting with an 'H'. Hidalgo. Hugo. Harmony. Heritage. Holly. Etc... Weird.

Our day in Santa Barbara was good - we fueled and watered the boat, did laundry and bought groceries, and explored town and the Sterns Wharf. The oldest working wooden wharf. Hmmm. Good chips. And I consider myself a bit of a french fry afficionado. These outshone even fries from Commercial Drive...or even from "Frites"on Robson Street. No cheese curds. No gravy. No basil garlic aioli. No nothing. Just pure, delightful, deep-fried, goodness. I expect that these will be the golden standard for some time. In fact, I don't know why I didn't take a picture.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Simeon to Port San Luis

We arrived at Port San Luis at 1:00 today, after a 6 hour trip from San Simeon. It was a glorious sunny day, with very little wind for most of the day. We did get some fabulous sailing in this morning, when the winds picked up from the east - pretty unusual, as we still had swell from the west, but wind waves from the east. But it was a great sail, and we managed to keep our speed up for a short while. Not long after we started our motor, the Coast Guard came alongside - they were warning us about the one mile security zone adjacent to the nuclear power plant. Oops.

We arrived at Port San Luis to find out they were out of diesel fuel! We were pretty keen to fuel up, as we are still hoping to get around Point Conception tomorrow - while this high pressure system holds out. So, we took our jerry cans to the beach in our dinghy and paid $50 for a cab to take us into town for $30 worth of diesel. Oh well. Now we can rest assured that we have plenty of fuel for tomorrow. But...we did decide to eat on the boat tonight, instead of trying out the restaurant on the pier.

Renova at anchor:

The view from Renova at Anchor:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Carmel to San Simeon

On Saturday, we woke at 3am, and with favorable wind reports, we headed south. We had to cover a lot of ground, and needed to be travelling at least 6 knots all day, in order to make it to San Simeon before dark. So, we motored for most of the day, although we had a nice sail while we made (our second) breakfast, and again at the end of the day. The day was gorgeous. We
first travelled in calm seas, beneath glowing stars and watched the moonrise. As the sun rose, we had a beautiful, sunny day, with moderate seas that made for a comfortable day. We arrived in San Simeon at 3:30pm, 12 hours after we started.

We're now nestled into a cute little anchorage with the Hearst Castle towering over us from the hill above. Although touring this fortress was on John's to-do list, we've moved it to the "Next Time" list. We've got a great forecast that should see us around Point Conception - the last nasty
obstacle on this stretch of coastline.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sat Phone Success

I've spent many, many hours over the past couple of weeks trying to set up our sat phone to send and receive emails and weather forecasts via our computer. What I thought would be a fairly simple task has turned out to be pull-out-my-hair frustrating. But I'm happy to report, that we have success!! Today I was able to request instant emailed forecasts, and weathergrib files (graphic images that show wind strength, wind direction and pressure isobars overlayed on a map). It is all compressed to be sent over very slow internet connections, such as our sat phone. Funny how such simple things can make me happy...

Carmel Update

We arrived in Stillwater Cove, adjacent to Carmel and Pebble Beach, after a fairly easy day of 27 miles from Santa Cruz. The swell was big enough to create quite a lively motion in the boat, and I spent most of the day in the cockpit to ease my queasy stomach. Yuck. But some of the highlights were seeing a couple of sunfish, and our first sea otters of the trip. Our next passage is a long one - 75 miles - so, we'll be watching the weather closely.

We woke up at 4:00 am on Friday, and after listening to the weather, we discovered it was already 20+ knot winds, which would be increasing throughout the day. We decided to head back to bed, and wait until a better forecast. And we were glad we did, since neither of us had a good rest in the rolly anchorage, and I spent most of the day nursing a headache. We did have a good time watching the sea otters play around the kelp bed that we were anchored in. John got a few good photos.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In Carmel

We arrived at Pebble Beach at 12:30 today. Mostly small swells, although occasional huge ones, which kept the morning interesting. More to follow when a reliable internet connection can be had. Big day tomorrow, if the weather cooperates.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Santa Cruz

We left Half Moon Bay at first light and had a great day of motor-sailing in light winds, averaging about 6.5 knots. We arrived in Santa Cruz at 2, with time for a shower before happy hour started at the marina bar. We checked the internet and enjoyed half priced appies, all while enjoying the daily dramas unfold on the beach and the (way too early) sunset beyond the horizon. The evening held its own entertainment, as John wedged himself into the engine compartment to change our transmission fluid. An early start for us tomorrow, as we head across the bay.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Going Crazy

Many a sailor has gone loopy as a result of long passages, and the relentlessness of the open ocean*. Here is proof positive that I am no exception:

It was late in the month of August,
When we sailed into San Fran' Bay.
We searched for a marina to tie for the month,
And found Clipper would let us stay.

In Sausalito, lies Clipper Yacht Harbour,
With great staff and hundreds of slips.
We settled in for what is to become
A highlight thus far on the trip.

In the 60's and 70s Saus' was a hummin',
Artists and hippies galore.
Peace and love were the order of the day,
But the community had much more in store.

City dwellers discovered the quaint little town,
Commuters rushed in to buy land,
Sausalito is now quite gentrified,
Not quite what the hippies had planned.

Now walking through town along Bridgeway,
One finds boutiques, cafes and shops.
The streets are alive, the sidewalks crowded,
As tourists shop till they drop.

We settled into Basin Four,
And John returned to work back home.
I stayed behind to watch the boat,
We'd talk everyday by phone.

I met my dock neighbors, all were just great,
Including Carol, Conrad, Betsy and Joe,
And there were many others I came to befriend,
Even Bob and Jane from Nanaimo.

I wandered the city by bus, ferry and foot,
I strolled beaches and we watched a ball game,
I saw the city from above, I shopped and I dined,
And viewed work by artists of considerable fame.

Oh Marin County - what a fabulous place,
I'd return at the blink of an eye.
To all the people who welcomed me in,
Thank you, be well, and goodbye.

--------------------

*I realize that I'm not a solo sailor and haven't been at sea for months at a time...but I tell ya...one long night shift in the cold darkness can make you go a little loopy.

Sausalito to Half Moon Bay

We had an uneventful passage from Sausalito to Half Moon Bay. After returning our harbour keys and saying goodbye to our new friends, we took off under the Golden Gate Bridge, into 8 foot swells but no wind. We motored south and were able to set our anchor at Pillar Point Harbour, on the north side of Half Moon Bay, just in time for lunch. The wind has picked up as we sit here, and we are swinging from side to side on our hook, but we seem to have good holding. I'm going to bake a batch of cookies to warm up the cabin, and test our email capabilities with the new sat phone!

Leaving Pillar Point at first light:
PS - now that we're on the move, we'll be using our SPOT to update our daily position. Feel free to click on the link to our location on the right hand side of the page.

PPS - the sat phone is experiencing hiccups....we'll continue to update when we can poach wi-fi signals.

So Long, Sausalito...

We'll miss you.
I never thought I could live in the States. But I stand corrected. I could live here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow....

We'll try to leave again tomorrow. This morning we found pink fluid in the bilge.

So. We. Didn't. Leave.

We found a leak in a fitting on the fuel lift pump. It wasn't there when we went for a test run earlier in the weak, but John's managed to spend the morning fixing it, and now we're once again ready to leave.

Heading South

We're off. Finally. This morning, we're leaving Sausalito and SF Bay. Bob, Jane, Joe and Conrad came by last night to say goodbye. We'll miss the great people that we've met here (and the awesome internet connection), but looking forward to the next leg. We'll be updating the blog with our new satellite phone when possible.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Birds on the Bay

In a past life, I did bird surveys. I wasn't very good at it. Nowadays, I'm terrible. Still, the great variety of birds around here is fun to watch. Here's a couple of the more photogenic species...

The Brown Pelicans are everywhere. I've been told that they were once endangered, but I can assure you that they are doing just fine here in Sausalito!

Both Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets like to hang out at the marina, and the estuary where I often go for a run.

These Sandpipers were hanging out at Stinson Beach:


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stinson Beach


John and I spent a glorious day at Stinson Beach. We had an epic bus ride to get there, but enjoyed hanging on the beach, walking around, house shopping, and checking out the surf. By mid-afternoon, there were lots of beach-goers taking advantage of the beautiful day.
As usual, more pictures on our flickr page.