Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas Dinner... still no turkey

Hi folks... still no turkey... (we missed both thanksgivings :-( But, we had a good Christmas feast with our cruising friends....

S/V Eagle did a great job of documenting our Christmas gathering and dinner at a local eatery called "The Shack". They've got some great photos too... So, if you want to see how we did.. check out www.sailblogs.com/member/bigleftturn/ .

All is well here. The winds have calmed down for a little while and we've moved to a slip at the Marina de La Paz. It's right downtown, has showers 'n everything... We're hoping to go snorkeling with the whale sharks very soon (maybe tomorrow even :-). They're huge, but harmless (unless you're vegetation 'n such)... so it should be fun. There's so much wildlife around here. Even under our boat, 1-2 lb. fish (n/k name but apparently good toeat) hang out and leap out of the water regularly. Last night I saw a 1 1/2 foot eel wandering through the water near the dock. And, of course, the birds continue to fascinate. Take good care.. have fun... and


HAPPY NEW YEAR... ALL THE BEST IN 2012 TO YOU AND YOURS....

Much love.................. Carolyn & Kathy & Sophie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

They call the wind... a 'norther'.

Northers: Now I'm pretty sure the word alone can conjure up all kinds of images and scenarios in the average imagination... and that no doubt could be a lot of fun explaining... but let me tell you what the word 'northers' now means to us...

Here we sit, in sunny La Paz. it's a little colder than we thought it would be so we're wearing things like fleece pants 'n pull-overs in the mornings and evenings... but that's ok, cuz it's warm during the day. We're tied up to a long, new dock in the middle of the main harbour and we're in good company. Several of the boats we've met along our way are also here and it's kind of like another group of our loose-knit cruising family. We'd been assured the new dock with it's newish dock-anchoring-system would hold us all very well, but I think the owner hadn't realized just how popular his new long dock would become and, as boat after boat arrived, the weight on the lee side (the only comfortable side of the dock) grew steadily larger. You see this dock runs straight out from the beach side and lies broadside to winds from the north. That's ok most of the time because, except for one kind of wind (you guessed it, but more about that later) the harbour is fairly well protected.

Now we'd heard about winds called 'northers' before we left. The Sea of Cortez veterans, all the cruising guides, and just about anyone you talk to who has ever sailed in these parts.. will tell you about them. They blow hard, they say. They blow for days and days. They start in early December and the air and water temperatures drop... it gets cold... they say. Now come on... we're from BC. We've sail in cold, heck we swim in cold, and as for wind - how hard can it blow? It's protected on 3 sides for heavens sake!

Well... let me tell ya... Here's how it goes. For the last few days, our local radio net weather guy has been mentioning that a norther was on the way. We all listened carefully and mused about how the dock would do with all the boats on it. No problem was the response. We also took a look at our dock lines and fenders... no problem there either... all looked good. Yesterday, I even hiked to a nearby marina to find a guy called Javiar who apparently had some large rubber snubbers for sale (just in case you know...). Unfortunately when Javiar finally arrived, he knew nothing about snubbers and, by that time the stores were closed.... so no snubbers for us. I should confess that, believing we'd be mostly anchoring, I'd left our handy-dandy Blow-max shock absorbers at home. We had only one rubber snubber (thanks to father Ken) we'd brought to use on our hand-line for fishing. We put that snubber on our bow line. Just about this time, the wind started to pick up... you guessed it... from the north. Seems when the 'northers' hit, they curl around the entrance into La Paz channel and harbour and then they head straight in to where dozens of boats are anchored and hundreds of boats are tied up at various marinas (ours included). The forecast, as we'd heard it, was for E 5-15 on Thursday, N 30 on Friday, and 20+ for Saturday and Sunday. It wasn't such a large surprise when the owner, or his right-hand -man, showed up Thursday afternoon pacing the dock and looking kind of perplexed. Indeed he was quite worried that the weight of all the boats on the one side of the long dock would create more flexing than the anchoring system was designed to hold. You see, the new marina is only partially built and, once complete, the anchoring system will be quite sufficient, but until then (and without the support of the rest of the intended docks) there was room for some serious concern. So, here's what happened. One boat joined several others that had been anchored, and left town all-together, deciding to take their chances at anchor in the lee of one of the nearby islands. Three boats moved off the dock and took up older mooring buoys in the nearby area. Four boats stayed on the main dock, but spread themselves out to even the weight distribution. One boat went around to the inside of the main dock, deciding to take his chances with the many small ferries that pass nearby. And we moved Shannon back and on to the main dock to a position that those who had experienced this before said would be the most protected.
Once all the moves were completed we all set to organizing our chafing gear and our dock lines and generally tidying up our decks and junk that collects there. This whole thing took the rest of the day. It was actually after dark when we finished (mind you, it gets dark here very early.. about 1700 ish...). I'm pleased to say we completed our dock line 'knitting' just before the brisker winds began to hit. Which was pretty much when we realized we should have used the winter lines (buried at the bottom of the biggest locker) and we should have had more rubber snubbers (who knew??) and we probably should have joined the others at that peaceful island anchorage somewhere 'out there' (but we hadn't). So, having done all we could think of to do, we turned in for the night... after all, how bad could it get??

Well.. it was just like anchor watch on a blustery night. I was up pretty much every hour checking out each new noise, or new jerk... and checking our lines to make sure they were all still in one piece. The wind howled... the boat lurched and bucked up, down and sideways... at times threatening to stick all her fenders under the toe rail of the dock... just to see what would happen... yikes! Through the night I became quite inventive with respect to re-establishing the best height for fenders, and shortening and lengthening the many spring lines, trying to get the boat to stop bucking quite so hard. After all she'll be 37 this April.. how much can an old girl take? And so it continued through out the night. The other boats and crew were going through similar maneuvers and, by daybreak, we were all pretty tired. But there is no 'rest for the wicked' and winds have continued all day. There are a few small boats on the beach, several dragged over-night and, when you look out to the end of the channel, all you can see is a wall of white water. We've seen gusts just over 30 this afternoon which is pretty much what they forecast so no real surprise. First thing this morning Kathy hiked to Lopez Marine and we're now the proud owners of four, humongous rubber snubbers that fit perfectly on those large winter lines I almost didn't bring (after all... we were going to the Sea of Cortez, not the Arctic... right?). Together with two extra-large, borrowed fenders (thank you Dario), all of the fenders we brought with us, our winter lines, our new rubber snubbers and rather taxed senses of humour, we are finally 'ready' for this 'norther' to hit... oh, wait a minute, it's almost over... or so 'they' say. We shall see. But that, my friends, it what the word 'norther' now means to us... big prep, big winds, take heed....

Before we leave you, may we wish each and everyone of you all the best over this joyous season. Enjoy your self... love your family and love your friends. All the best... CJ & Kathy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

La Paz... at last

Here I sit, at my computer, in beautiful Marina Palmira, at the coastal town of La Paz on the inside of the Baja. The weather's cooler now (all the way down to 19 this morning :-) and I'm forced to wear a sweater. Who knew how quickly you could become adjusted to warmer temperatures? I'd worried about that before we left home., about how we'd deal with the much hotter temps... but no need to have worried as here I sit, actually chilly at 19 degrees. Visiting home in January is going to be like travelling to the North Pole I expect.. brrrrr.

Anyway, we are finally in La Paz. We weren't exactly the slowest vessel (there are several still behind us, but many others have definitely been here for a while) and before I tell you about this place, I want to share with you some of the experiences we had getting here from Cabo. You will recall we arrived in Cabo in the middle of the night, anchored in ridiculously deep water just outside the entrance to the inner harbour, and passed out/fell asleep for 4 hours before rising to continue on. Well, it turns out that in the clarity of daylight what we had thought were condos 'n such... that had laid claim to most of the waterfront areas in Cabo bay... were in fact figments of our exhausted imaginations. The shore of the bay, further away from the inner harbour entrance, was actually a terrific place to have anchored and there were quite a few boats already there, some of whom we knew. They called us on the radio as we were leaving, asking where we were going and inviting us to join them. Given the constant passing of more time than we had, we were determined to carry on so thanked them for their invites and pressed on towards our next 'port of call', San Jose del Cabo.

San Jose del Cabo: Leaving at 0700 hrs in the morning is often a great time to weigh anchor as the morning winds are usually not as strong and don't begin to build until early afternoon. That was the case for us and we had a good motor-sail all the way to San Jose, arriving at 1130 hrs. at their beautiful, new marina. We joined friends on their new 'long dock' which is a side-tie and costs only $40 per night (instead of about triple that in their regular slips). There was no power, and (non-potable) water was provided by one very long hose... but, considering the price, that was just fine with us so we settled in with SV Desolina and SV Lorelie, and a few other boats we came to know thereafter. We spent a couple days there, enjoying the (all new and still under development) gardens, paths and art work; really quite a place and worth a trip back to spend some time. Their monthly rate is only $400 so a few boats have booked in there to spend that time now. We met up with Francine, a woman from our yacht club at home, and had a wonderful dinner and we went for a walk on the longest most beautiful beach I've ever seen. When next we visit this desolate beach will have become a world-class resort but for now it is just miles and miles of white sand and undeveloped fore-shore stretching as far as you can see, with azure blue water for waders and puppies to play in. Sophie was so excited. We'd been promising her beaches since she rejoined the boat... and finally we were able to deliver. While we lay on our towels to dry off, she proceeded to dig and spray sand in every direction possible.. and, if we weren't paying enough attention she'd just leap and deposit her sandy self onto our towels and our bellies... she was a hoot!

Bahia los Frailes: Despite a growing urge to stay longer, we headed off to our next destination (Los Frailes) on Thursday, December 8th and after a very long day (9 hours) of bashing up and down on large, square waves (some call them boxcars) and fighting wind and current that pushed us back to a mere 1 knot of speed at times... we finally arrived in the lee of a very large rock/mound and dropped our anchor in the dark (it gets dark here by 1730 hrs. so we're actually getting some experience anchoring in the dark) and settled down to catch up on our sleep. We awoke to one of the most beautiful anchorages we've been in yet. It was gorgeous. A beach with golden sand, several boats at anchor (a few left early in the morning, allowing us the opportunity to move a bit closer to the more protected snorkeling area.. which we did). We were just delighted with this place. There was an RV parking area of sorts at the far end of the beach but our end was serenely and ruggedly 'empty'. And, it turns out, not more than 10 feet from shore was the best snorkeling we've experienced in Mexico so far. It was like swimming in an aquarium with huge schools of fish who hadn't yet figured that snorkeling humans might provide food. They just let us swim with them, no demands made. The action below the water wasn't the only wildlife either. This bay is famous for, and we were treated to, the sights of small rays (about 1 to 1 1/2 feet across) leaping from the water and performing somersaults in mid-air before crashing back into the water with a very resonant splash. We'd heard the splashes the first night but didn't realize what they were. What a great sight... and then, looking into the water, we couldn't help but notice the huge schools of various types of fish circling our boat and moving through-out the bay in giant 'balls'. It was quite amazing. Whilst we were taking turns snorkeling, Miss Sophie played on the sand and I don't think we've ever seen her quite this excited. Even with her life-jacket on (which she now wears quite happily because it means she gets to go in the dinghy) she ran and ran and ran (without leash this time as there was little fear of predators) in the soft sand... She was so excited she actually, at one point, just stood there jumping up and down... This bay is definitely on our list for places to return to. But again, the calendar called and we responded, leaving Los Frailes and continuing north, up into the Sea of Cortez.

Ensenada de los Muertos: Sunday, Dec. 11th we weighed anchor at 0044 hrs. (that's right, just after midnight). We worked out the math and determined that, to arrive in daylight, we needed to leave in the middle of the night. Actually we've become quite fond of this plan as it allows us to sail away from a port we know, travelling along and into the oncoming day, and... with luck, arriving at the new destination in time to anchor in daylight. On this occasion we had a great passage with light winds and much calmer seas. We arrived mid-day and had our anchor set by 1230 hrs. This anchorage is also well known for snorkeling and Kathy did some with the crew from SV Sea Moore. Several other boats also joined us in this anchorage, including SV Navigo, friends from BCA who arrived with a gift of fresh caught fish for us (and a recipe). It was delicious. We had a group dinner at the one restaurant on the shore aItalicnd hit the sack early as we had another early departure planned. This time it was 0200 hrs., at which time ourselves and Navigo departed. They headed south on their way to Mazatlan and we headed north, continuing our quest to arrive at La Paz in time to catch up with friends on SV Eagle and in time for Christmas. Turned out, we'd planned well and, with the tide and breeze in our favour as we transited the infamous Cerralvo Channel and it's neighbour San Lorenzo Channel, we had a very comfortable journey up, around, and down to the port town of La Paz.

La Paz: We had reservations at Marina Palmira in La Paz. It's a lovely marina with great services (laundromat, showers, small store, garbage, water) and we were lucky to get their last slip (everyone is super busy as it's Christmas). We were well received by several vessels, all great folks. The only downside with this marina is that it's 2 miles out of town and, although there's a free shuttle it only runs three times a day... and, the boats and friends that we do know are all in town spread between the various anchorages and marinas. Although we really don't want to anchor (with dog aboard, etc.) we would like to be closer to the activities of the town harbour. La Paz is set up well for cruisers. There's a Cruisers Club with morning net and a coffee get together each day. Many activities get organized as well. For instance there's a swap meet this Sunday.. a great opportunity to off-load some of the extra 'stuff' we've been carrying around. There's a great malecon for walking and lots of things to do.. if only you're close enough to take advantage of it.

We've been here a few days now.. checked a few things out. Our friends Tom and Jeanne (SV Eagle) are here, in the harbour, tied up to a brand new dock/marina. They don't have power or water yet but are right down-town and, it turns out, we may be able to join them (the moorage cost will be much less than we're paying and we'll be right in the heart of things). Fortunately a near-by marina (Marina de La Paz - for which we're on the waiting list) allows boats (for a small fee) to tie up their dinghies, use their showers, and acquire water... So, we will be checking out this possibility... That's the news for now. We're safe, working on the boat (what else ? :-), enjoying learning about La Paz (still no Spanish lessons yet, but I'm trying)... and looking forward to spending time with friends.

The latest project? There I was at the helm one day, having just left an anchorage, and Kath was on the bow washing down the anchor chain (with buckets of water into the anchor locker). I couldn't help but notice a pattern. About 2-3 minutes after each bucket of water into the chain locker... the bilge pump kicked on and spewed out about a bucket of water from our bilge. Hmmmm..... I quickly deduced we had a problem. Yup, you guessed it. The drain hose (37 years old) had finally separated from the bottom of the well..... onto the project list it goes.

Well, my friends.... that's it for now. More news later... I expect you're all very busy getting ready for Christmas... can't say we're used to even thinking about Christmas when it's 75 degrees out... but we're trying. Please know you're in our thoughts... and we hope your preps for the festive season are going well. We'll write again before the 25th... Bye for now... CJ

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bahia Santa Maria to San Jose Del Cabo..

It seems like weeks ago we were heading to Bahia Santa Maria... so much has happened I shall try to provide you with a 'shorter' version of events... We are well.. very well.. and as I sit here at the nav station, in the Marina at Puerto Los Cabos (an almost new marina taking up the whole harbour at San Jose Del Cabo) writing to you.. I feel like we've 'made it'.. and I guess we have. We're at the bottom of the Baja, at the doorway to the Sea of Cortez. Phew...

Kathy last wrote when we were heading to Bahia Santa Maria so let me backtrack to there. We arrived at the 29th of November and had our hook down by 1800 hrs. It was an amazing place, our first experience with the 'Baja' style of anchorage... very low land surrounding a large body of water with a small range of tall hills protecting the anchorage from the northwest winds. We finally picked our place to anchor (based on info from the guide books and our own observations) and even with all that help, it was quite unnerving to feel the swells rolling under our keel as they swept towards the shore, only to crash against the beach. No safe dinghy landings here... (thank goodness for Princess Sophie's willingness to use the mat). We spent the night safely enough and went to bed expecting an early leaving the next morning.. NOT. We woke up to thick fog and so had a leisurely morning until it lifted. About 1110 hrs. we headed out of Bahia Santa Maria, bound for Magdalena Bay (just around the corner we thought). Also NOT. What looked like an easy 3 hour tour... turned into a longish day (not without its excitement tho') and we didn't arrive in Mag Bay until 1800 hrs. That was ok because we were still on a high from the trip. As we left Santa Maria the boat ahead of us (SV Lorelie) caught a fish.. not just any old fish.. but a yellow-tail.. and a small enough yellow-tail it motivated me to drag out my rod and dangle it off the side and drag a good old BC lure.. something with some chrome on it. And guess what? I CAUGHT A FISH !!!! not just one, but TWO... It was very exciting. Both about 3-4 pounds. They grabbed the lure and ran with it, a very exciting sound, even on my old rod and reel. Then I'd get to play it a bit.. and then we'd net it and flip it into the cockpit. Now that's where the 'fun' got trickier. They have very hard heads... and Sophie wasn't too impressed watching me trying to bash their little brains in with a fish club. And the fish weren't responding to that knocking on their heads either... so then I had to find a more refined method of dispatching them.. which I did... and I won't go into details but suffice to say a little vodka and a sharp point did the trick.. a much more peaceful way to 'go'. Also... just to paint the picture accurately, as I was playing fish #2, a large humpback whale began to breach just off our beam. He lept out of the water and crashed down on his side about four times while we were playing this fish, sailing, steering and enjoying a brilliantly sunny day. Very much like paradise, I'd say. We had sashimi for dinner that night; it was delicious. We had BBQ fish the next; it was good too. We gave away some to another boat and we still have some in the freezer. Fish tacos??

Man of War Cove, Magdalena Bay was our destination and we got there. It wasn't at all what we'd come to expect, having spoken at length with other cruisers over the years. We didn't see any whales after entering the Bay and the small village was a ghost town as the vast majority of inhabitants were away at another village for some sort of celebration. They weren't returning until Sunday or Monday so we had short visits with the few residents who remained. There was one little store open, with not too much food and there were lobster fishermen in abundance, but they weren't allowed to sell us any lobster... So, we made a visit to the local teacher (school wasn't in as there were no kids and she was sick anyway) and gave her some school supplies we had brought and then we began the process of watching the weather forecasts to determine when it was safe to leave. We weighed anchor on Saturday, Dec. 3rd. It was time to go. Our delays earlier in the trip had eaten up the time we might have spent dallying in Mag. Bay so we decided to make the best of it and keep heading south.

The trip from Mag. Bay to Cabo San Lucas is a long one and there is no where to get out of the weather if it kicks up. So, when you leave... you leave.... and you're on your own to deal with whatever the weather gods throw at you. This part of the trip has been described by others as the 'best downwind sailing' you'll ever do. What they don't tell you tho' is that the average auto-pilot (ours included) doesn't handle large following seas very well... and neither do many of the wind-vanes (ours included). So, you guessed it, hand-steering yet again !! We had a 'vigorous' downwind sailing experience, with a double and triple reefed mainsail and the 110 genoa furled in to hankie size. We had winds averaging between 15-25 knots and, just to make things perfect, at one point we heard a beeping going on and finally discovered our Wheems and Plath tracking/recording barometer alarm beeping away.. to tell us of a Gale Warning !! What else we said... bring it on. It's interesting how your mind can deal with pretty much anything once you tell it, it must. And so we continued all day and all night and all day again. We were tired, very tired, and even running out of quick to prepare food (how many times can you eat peanut butter in a row???) so decided to pull into Cabo San Lucas for a rest before continuing around to San Jose Del Cabo (our original, intended destination).

We were last in Cabo in 2003 and at that time there were dozens of available mooring buoys and so that's what we were looking for. Unfortunately it was 2330 hrs (very dark) when we arrived and, in our fatigue, we couldn't find a single mooring buoy and failed to recognize the proper anchoring location. In desperation we finally dropped the hook just outside the entrance to the inner harbour, in about 70' of water, and fell asleep. We woke 4 hours later, hoisted anchor, and continued on our way... arriving at San Jose Del Cabo at 1100 hrs. on the morning of Monday, Dec. 5th. Our friends on SV Lorelie and SV Desolina were here already and took our lines as we arrived. This is a great place, brand new and still under construction. It's quite beautiful and the price is right ($40/night without power). We'll stay here until the winds abate some (there's been a "Norther" blowing for several days). Last night we met and had dinner with Francine a friend from our yacht club who has a condo in Cabo. It was great to spend some time with someone from 'home'. Tonight all us 'yachties' are heading into town for dinner together... I expect tomorrow some may head out (we may too, but it depends on the wind and the sea conditions)... Some may wait until Friday.

The long legs are over... yippee !! Our next hop will take us to Punta Los Frailles a meer 30 NMs away. The next hop will be to Ensenada de los Muertos (48 NMs), and from there we'll aim for La Paz... (60NMs). We've friends waiting to see us in La Paz and we're looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years with them. We have reservations from mid-December to the end of January at the Marina Palmira in La Paz... can't wait to 'park it' for a while.

This amazing journey continues. We're happy and proud to have made it this far.. and looking forward to warmer weather and waters as we travel.

Take good care friends... Enjoy your family and friends over the Christmas season. 'till later.... Carolyn

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turtle Bay to Bahia Magdalena - from sandstorms to glassy seas

We left Turtle Bay early yesterday morning as the Santa Anna winds were blowing thick clouds of sand offshore, in a brisk easterly wind.

Three other boats, new-found cruising friends of ours from Vancouver & the Pacific Northwest, left about 1/2 hour before us. As we rounded the headland just outside and south of the bay, we saw these boats were all heeled over with the gusts blowing out through the valley.

We kept in touch over the VHF radio and our friends sent back reports on the conditions that they were experiencing up ahead of us. About an hour out, one of the boats (Reunion) lost control of their transmission and had to turn around and head back. We all offered our help, but they told us they were fine and urged us to carry on. We listened to them call other boats anchored in the bay and were glad to hear that they were able to sail in and select a safe spot to anchor.

As we progressed down the coast, we would find more gusty winds and choppy seas each time we came abreast of another valley. So we spent the day alternating between motoring in dead calm and sailing 'on our ear' with a reefed main and partially-furled headsail.

The Santa Anna winds are warm and dry, so we wore shorts and t-shirts until evening came and the sun set.

The night was quite uneventful, with few ships and just a couple one or two hour periods of gusting winds. We took turns on watch while the other tried to catch some sleep.

This morning, we checked in and gave a position report on the Sonrisa (Ham) net and received a weather forecast for the next few days. It looks like we will have a motor-boat ride down the Baja the rest of the way to Bahia Magdalena ('Mag Bay'), so we are being careful with our fuel consumption and are glad that we still have four gerry cans of diesel on deck.

We hope to make Bahia Santa Maria (the bay outside of Mag Bay) by sometime mid-day on Wednesday. We'll post position reports along the way.

Salud,
Kathy

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Friday, November 25, 2011

A leg to 'test our mettle'...

May each day create new opportunities for learning and growth... phew!

We last wrote on Nov. 20th and we were on our way from Isla San Martin to Turtle Bay (Bahia San Bartolome)... well, we made it. We arrived, or were rather blown in, at about 1020 hrs. on Tuesday the 22nd, after what I will describe as our toughest leg yet. Don't get me wrong.. there were times when it was the best of the best that Georgia Strait has ever had to offer... downwind sailing with seas not too huge, blue sky, blue water and sunshine.... And/but there were parts where the winds were a bit more than that, the seas a bit bigger than that, and well... to be honest, for the last 24 hours of the leg... we were hand-steering again - our auto-pilot complaining about something or other. Given the wind strengths, water conditions, and wave and swell heights, and our equipment issues... this leg taught us more about ourselves than any other has so far. So, really, it's all good.. isn't it. We're even stronger than we realized :-)... and Princess Sophie, boat dog extraordinaire continues to amaze us. She is now truly a live-aboard boat dog... using the deck for 'both' and doing so where she's supposed to - even at a fair heel in 15 knots of wind... what an amazing little creature!

Having arrived safely in Turtle Bay, we were quickly joined by several boats we had already met and so, in the company of SV Lorelei, SV Reunion, SV Prairie Rose and SV Desolita we have spent the last few days visiting each other and touring the small town of Turtle Bay. Yesterday, we all met for lunch at a small mom and pop restaurant for what turned out to be a 3 hour meal... (who knew that once you placed your orders, the proprietors then rush to the store to buy the food to bring it back to fix for you?) It was truly delicious and Carlos and Mercedes were wonderful hosts... The only downside was it gets dark so early here that it was dusk before we got back to our boats and began to prepare for departure the next morning...

However... the weather gods were not on the same page and we've all decided to hang out here for a couple more days while a system packing up to 30 knots of wind blows by... Then (hopefully Monday) we'll weigh anchor and head south to Magdallena Bay where we have a date with some whales. Anchorages such as Bahia Asuncion, Punta Abreojos and Bahia Santa Maria are along the way and available to take refuge in should we need to as we travel south. Our friends Jeanne and Tom (SV Eagle) are already snorkeling in Los Frailes and we're just a wee bit jealous... but we'll get there in due course. We plan to spend Christmas and New Years in La Paz and have secured moorage at Marina Palmira from mid-December to mid-January. Then we'll see which way the wind blows... no firm plans on direction yet.

As for thanksgivings.. we missed both opportunities for turkey dinners but will try and make it up later... To our Canadian and American friends... Happy Thanksgiving everyone !!

Bye bye for now... CJ

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Heading down Baja Norte

We left Ensenada yesterday morning, after 15 days at the dock, and we were (wait for it...) able to successfully calibrate the new autohelm!

After a short 24 hour leg, we anchored (for the first time since June!) in front of a tiny little Mexican fishing village on a tiny little volcanic island called "Isla San Martin". There is a fishing camp onshore and about a dozen little pangas moored in the little bay. The bay is open to the NW winds, which are prevailing this time of year, however SW winds were in the forecast for the next day or so. This little bay is the best (and only) SW protected anchorage between Ensenada and Turtle Bay, so we were glad to spend the night there.

As we were just settling into the cockpit for a "hook's down" margarita, a young couple from Pender Island (S/V Prairie Rose) saw our Canadian flag and came over by dinghy to say hi... small world!

We spent a quiet night (aside from all the curious seals playing around the boat) and got up early to check in on the Ham radio nets for a bit of news about our other cruising friends and also a weather update. We could hear Lionel & Barb of Sea Whisper checking in from Bahia Conception, on the other side of the Baja from us. It turns out that low pressure system (with its strong SW winds) made landfall quite a bit further north than expected and so had missed us, so we're good to go!

We left Isla San Martin this morning in the sunshine and are now headed to Turtle Bay. We have a light SW today, so we are motor-sailing.

News flash: Carolyn got the watermaker going today!! We are making the 3rd gallon as I type this.

A large bunch of elephant seals come porpoising by the boat this morning as we were passing San Quintin. They were so cute! And curious about us, it seems, as a couple of them stopped at the stern and popped up out of the water to have a good look at us.

As I am typing this, a large pod of dolphins have come by for a visit with more coming up astern of us. The ones bringing up the rear slowed down to do some community fishing, with lots of splashing and circling behaviour. A few of them are jumping completely out of the water and tail-walking.

Princess Sophie is taking a nap (making up for lost sleep on the last leg from Ensenada) and so is missing the excitement. Her big news is that she has now successfully used the 'mat' while underway. This is a huge relief for us (as well as for her, of course). Her voyage should be much more comfortable for her (and us) now.

We won't be in Turtle Bay for a couple of days, so we'll post Position Reports enroute when we can.

cheers,
Kathy

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scrabble Champ!! ... and some photo catchup

Hi folks,

It's hard to believe that we've been in Mexico for 15 days already!  Definately long past time catch up on a few photos, so I've added a new album to our photo library (see the link on the right, near the top of our blog).

But, first of all, I need to take a moment to brag... Carolyn and I were playing Scrabble on the iPad the other night and (this must be some kind of record or something) I scored 76 points on a single 4 letter word!  Have a look at this...

Awesome score

As I mentioned, you'll find more photos added to our photo library, but here's a few just to get you started...


The view from our mooring in Avalon Harbor


At Marina Baja Naval, Ensenada


On the Malecon in Ensenada

That's it for now. We'll be up early tomorrow morning to continue south, hoping to finally find those warm sunny days and long sandy beaches. We'll let you know when we do! :-)

Salud,
Kathy.

At last...

Kathy rocks !! She did it !! We are free to go.... Ah, but I rush ahead... let's go back a bit... As much as we like Ensenada, and have met some wonderful people... IT'S TIME TO GO!! Oops, was that too loud ?? :-))))) OK, I feel better now... we all do.

The short version of the last 15 days is, we arrived in Ensenada to check in (and out) and carry on our merry way. Unfortunately the auto-pilot had suffered a bit of a melt-down just before we arrived and we knew that would take a little time to repair... but, no worries, the weather (as usual) had stirred up and we'd need to wait a day or two anyway. That was FIFTEEN days ago. Seems that the experts at Raymarine, with whom Kathy conferred regarding dear 'not so old' Otto... may need a bit more time to study up. The first guy was certain we needed a new 'course computer' and so we set about trying to obtain one. Turned out the price difference between a new course computer and the whole shebang was only $200... so, what you have done?? You got it.. we did that too... ordered the whole enchilada. Lucky thing we did.. cuz when it finally arrived (yesterday afternoon) and we set about replacing the old with the new (course computer) nothing changed... THAT was not the problem. Second call to the 'experts'... this guy was certain the problem was not the course computer, but the drive motor... Good thing we just happened to have a spare one... now :-) So we changed that. While it was good that we did, as we discovered a small crack in the inner ring/contact/surface of the drive unit... nothing changed... THAT was not the problem either. So, we girls put our heads together and decided it might just be the (always has been) lousy connector of the power cord to the drive motor... and so we changed that... and VOILA (sorry, that's french not spanish)... zee whole theeng, she is fixed !! Yippee...yahoo... you betcha... ! We'll be out of here tomorrow morning (with a few extra spare parts) after doing our obligatory circles to calibrate the new parts of the almost new auto-pilot.

The weather looks pretty good and we're going to make a run for Turtle Bay (about 3 days away if wind and water cooperate). There are several places we can stop along the way if we (or Miss Sophie) need a break so we'll just head out, turn left, and keep going 'till it's time to come in.. or until we get to Turtle Bay. This is one of the very few places you can pick up fuel on the outside of the Baja.. and it's the last major stop before heading for Magdalena Bay.. one of the destinations we've been dreaming about for a very long time... We hope to spend several days with the whales there and on the long, sandy beaches... before continuing south. From there, we'll continue down the coast rounding the bottom of the Baja at Cabo San Lucas and probably continuing past there to San Jose Del Cabo where we'll pull in for a rest. That's the plan for now anyway.. written in sand as usual.

Until we write again... this is CJ and Kathy and the devine Princess Sophie.. sending you all hugs and hoping your winter is going well... sorry about the weather you're having :-( Take good care. Bye for now... CJ

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15th... and still waiting

Hi all... just a quick note to let you know we're still waiting for our new auto-pilot. 'twas to be here today... but now it's tomorrow (maybe)... We've 'enjoyed' our stay in Ensenada and/but are antsy to move on...

We'll let you know when we do.

Monday, November 7, 2011

still here in Ensenada town...

Wow... woke up this morning and thought we were in Prince Rupert. Not that there's anything wrong with PR, it's just that the wind, rain and cold... are not supposed to be 'here'. Add to that the fact we're going to be here a few days longer than planned... and it could get downright depressing. Seems the course computer for our auto pilot may be fried... won't know for sure until Kathy speaks with Raymarine this morning, and an electrician/technician this afternoon. But, for sure, we won't be leaving this morning with everyone else. And, therein lies a slight problem as there's yet another 'system' coming in on Friday that will be bringing huge seas from the south... which means cruisers need to be anchored somewhere with protection from the south winds and seas before Friday... and there aren't any of those between here and Turtle Bay. For those of you new to this kind of 'figurin' it's what we have to do every time we're planning to leave somewhere safe. Where are we aiming for? How many nautical miles away is it? How far out should be go considering fore casted seas and winds? How long would it take us to get there if we averaged 4 knots ? 5 knots? 3 knots? Can we get there before the next weather system? If we don't make it, where can we turn in to for protection? Are we ready to go? fueled? watered? victualled? It's what I used to speak of when I described cruising as just the first three steps in the "Hierarchy of needs." You psychologists will know of what I speak.

On another note, we've had some difficulties in being or staying connected to the internet (I'm writing this quickly as we're connected for just this wee moment). And, cell phones are not what we expected either. Seems they're more expensive and less useful than we'd been led to believe. So, sorry about that but it looks like e-mail will be our main form of general communication and you can use either our personal e-mails or the boat e-mail and we will get it. Also, if you call our home phone number (the 604-800-xxxx one), the message will come through on the ships e-mail. Please feel free to stay in contact; we love to hear from home. To those of you who e-mailed yesterday, if I don't get back to you today, it's only because the 'net connection's gone down again... so thanks for writing. It was great to hear from you. To all of you, please know we think of you often and hope all is going well.

Ensenada's changed since we were here last (2003). It's bigger and a few more people in the 'tourist' industry speak a little bit of english... but not much. I got lost yesterday, trying to find the bank. There I was standing on the corner, with the trusty ships dog at my side, and I couldn't tell which way it was to get home... in fact I was pretty sure if I kept walking in the direction I was going, I'd end up in the country, inland somewhere. Best I could come up with after tapping a lady on the shoulder, was to point at myself and say "yachtista"... and then "yacht??". Naturally she thought I was nuts, shook her head and wandered off. So, Sophie and I figured that if 'that' way was inland, then the opposite way must be water.. so off we headed and we did finally find our way home... I have GOT to learn how to speak spanish. Maybe if we're going to be trapped here for aItalicnother week by auto pilots and weather systems .. maybe I can sign up for some spanish lessons now, instead of waiting for La Paz. Oh yeah, there's another bit of interesting news. The 'northers', those horrible and cold winds that sweep down the Sea of Cortez in December and January.... have already started. Rats ! That's going to throw a kink into our plans too. When the northers are blowing, cruisers have great difficulty even getting up the coast to La Paz... so most just give up and head across to the mainland. That's all well and good, and warmer too... lots warmer, but it extends the time frame as to when we'd be getting near to an airport (and we'd hoped to each head home for a week near year's end). So, as they say (over and over) "the best laid plans for cruising, are written with a stick in the sand... [wait for it] just below high water mark." Some things just don't change, and that's one of them :-)
Time will tell and we'll just have to do our best. Bottom line... we're in Mexico !! Yippee.

I know Kathy will tell you more about it, but as I'm here now, I just wanted to say a bit about our faithful companion, the ships dog, the devine and beautiful, princess Sophie. What a girl !! She continues to amaze us as she just takes things in stride... Can you even begin to imagine what this little girl is experiencing? Don't forget, her world is only 14" tall. The sounds, smells, birds (most bigger than her), noise level, number of people, type of people, even the sidewalks, and lack of grass (that she's allowed on anyway), dog-friendly areas (none), and language... are all so very different than what she's used to. Heck, she even had her first over-night passage already...didn't mind it too much once she realized she could sleep with whoever was off-watch. But there you have it, she takes it all in stride... doesn't even bother with the pigeons anymore, unless they walk right under her nose... cocky birds ! And, no, she doesn't bark in spanish yet, but she'll learn to I'm sure :-)

Guess that's all for now.. I just wanted to say hi and let you know we're well.... surviving in this Prince Rupertish climate. This morning will be a bit sad as we bid farewell 'till next time to many of our cruising friends who are leaving early to make the 3 day run to Turtle Bay before Friday. We'll see them some time... but, at this point, don't know where... While we wait for our auto pilot to be well, I've arranged for a diver to clean off Shannon's bottom, and I'll putter away on chores. I want a better and easier system for tying on (and un-tying) our jerry cans and I'm going to build a shelf in the V-berth to hold a couple of things that can't seem to find a home. And, maybe I'll learn spanish, and maybe I'll find a Ukulele and start learning how to play it, and maybe I'll start writing again... who knows. Kathy will be busy with the technical challenges (sorry I can't help her with them... but I keep the toilet working and the engine running, so far..). And she may even have time to pick up her guitar.

Wow, I've been chatty. Hope all's well.. take good care my friends... hugs to all of you. CJ

PS: Just a reminder that our friends Jeanne and Tom on the SV Eagle do a great job of describing their journey, which is parallel to ours, on their blog at www.sailblogs.com/member/bigleftturn . The latest is a great description of what it's like to check into Mexico now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Dos cerveza por favor"... Mexico at last !!

Can't believe it! We're actually here... in Mexico... in one piece... and still happy.

Well, to be honest, last night with the winds gusting to at least 30 and the surge springing the boat back and forth (even tho' we are tied to the dock), and our soaking wet clothes (from re-doing lines and actually moving Shannon across to the other side to prevent her from crushing all her fenders) hung all over the place to dry... our dear Shannon did feel a tad 'small'. Even with all our fleece on and tucked under blankets on the couch reading our books, it took a goodly dose of Carolan's in hot chocolate to cheer up the crew. We were all feeling a little bewildered at the way mother nature decided to treat us on our first visit to Ensenada. It's 1045 in the morning as I'm writing this and the temperature is only 18 degrees. Our clothes are almost dry, the sun is out and Kathy's gone off with Rogelio (our wonderful marina manager) to try and get a cell phone. Sophie and I are onboard, tidying up and deciding which chore to do next. They say there's another system coming through on Sunday so I guess we're here for a few days at least. There's nothing about 15' seas that I find appealing and that's what they're calling for out there, never mind the wind. Besides, there's lots to do here :-) and we have a few repairs/maintenance issues to take care of (nothing new there, I know.. I know.)

Our trip from San Diego to Ensenada was fairly uneventful. We decided to slip at mid-night and, when we awoke from our early evening nap, we found ourselves surrounded by fog (what else is new?) Luckily it lifted just long enough for us to clear our slip and head out of Shelter Island harbour and San Diego. It filled in again as we cleared the last channel marker. We motored in calm seas and no wind pretty much the whole way to Ensenada, and the fog finally cleared off when we were a few hours from the end of our trip. Unfortunately, at about 1130 hrs., the auto helm declared itself "Not Stable". I thought it was talking about me but apparently it wasn't as it then shut itself down and ceased functioning for the remainder of the trip. Today, when Kath gets back with the cell phone we shall commence running some tests to see if we can figure out what's wrong. Luckily there is some internet (albeit off and on) here, and we should be able to access some Raymarine 'help'. Time will tell. The good news is that the marina is also a shipyard and Rogelio says he has a good electrician. Will let you know the outcome later.

With the weather systems predicted we're not sure when we'll be leaving here; hopefully and perhaps on Tuesday morning. We have to check 'out' (get clearance to leave) so that can be done on Monday and we'll then have 48 hours to 'get outta town'. Checking in wasn't too bad. It's easier now that you don't have to go clear across town and back again (several times) between the Port Captain' office, Customs and the Bank. It's all in one building, with a handy little photo-copying office just outside the door. Our only delay was that the sign on the Port Captain's office window said "back in 30 minutes" which really meant "see you in an hour and a half... maybe...". Eventually (about 3 hours later) we were done and headed back to the boat... armed with our Tourist Permits (good for 6 months), our Temporary Import Permit for the boat (which is good for 10 years), and copious numbers of photo-copied documents which we never needed cuz no one asked for them (this time). No questions were asked about the dog and Rogelio has advised us that no one here cares about that, but that Port Captains down the way might. We even managed to get a 'green light' which meant that the Customs fellow did not come down and tear apart the boat looking for contraband that isn't there... so it's all good.

We hope you are all well and enjoying life. Take good care... until next time. Carolyn

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

San Diego...a boaters paradise

I can't believe a week has passed already. We 'touched down' in San Diego on Monday, Oct. 24th and landed at the Silvergate Yacht Club. But it wasn't the quiet entry you might have imagined. We planned, and executed, an arrival at the entrance to San Diego harbour - to coincide with the departure of the 177 sailboats heading off on the Baja Haha rally down the coast to Cabo San Lucas. One hundred and seventy-seven masts... all shapes and sizes... and all heading out of San Diego at the same time. It was an amazing sight. We just coasted down the side of the channel as they all passed us; and, we were able to pick out the Canadian boats... most of whom we now know... It's great how loud those little air horns are :-)... and, of course, we hoisted the biggest Canadian ensign we have (which is pretty big) so it was great fun to cheer for Canada as the "eh's" (that's what they call us down here) passed. Once they'd all turned left and headed down the coast there was this, almost audible, sigh of relief from the San Diego harbour chandleries, restaurants, and other service providers. And, thankfully, it seems they did leave a bit of merchandise in the stores for us to wander through. This area of San Diego is literally filled with every kind of boating store and service you can imagine. Within a very few blocks you can find at least one of everything... it's marvelous!

The folks and facilities at Silvergate were very nice. Their bar & lounge were open most nights. The food was delicious and the big-screen TV allowed us to watch the last 3 innings (the best part of) the 5th baseball game in the world series... which of course hooked us and kept us watching the ball games until the series was over. Shortly after we arrived at SYC, we received a call from friends Susan and George, who had taken a jaunt down to San Diego to say 'hi' and to give us a hand with our provisioning. We spent an enjoyable two days with them, visiting various spots in San Diego (at least in this portion of it which really is focused on boaters and boating... and we did some shopping and running around... and we visited the Birch Aquarium, an amazing place Kathy had wanted to see for years. Their displays and aquariums were second to none and the sea horse tanks (and baby sea horses) were really neat... They even had a floor to ceiling, huge, aquarium display of a kelp bed, complete with sharks, huge groupers, and other local fish.... and, I'm happy to say, the displays were pristine.

After a few days (2 as reciprocal guests, and 1 as paying customers) we left SYC and moved over to the Southwestern Yacht Club. They didn't recognize us as 'reciprocal' so no free nights, but they did allow us their 'daily rate' of $1/foot. (NB: imagine our surprise to see them flying our Burgie in their wall collection). Here we met up with our friends Tom and Jean on SV Eagle and continued with our preparations and projects on Shannon. The SWYC has the best Club restaurant we've seen yet. Food and service are excellent and their Crab Louie salad ($7.50) was so good.. I had it twice. They say the food at SWYC is so good that the members from the neighbouring San Diego YC come to SW to eat :-). We stayed at SWYC until Monday (yesterday) when we had to move off the guest dock anyway, so we took ourselves over to the San Diego YC (again no reciprocal, but at least the $1/foot)... because we could. We won't be by this way again.. and besides, they have a pool and hot tub :-).

We're now in the last couple of days here. Today, Sophie gets her 'Mexican cut' and a visit with the Vet for her International Health Certificate (required for entry to Mexico). While she's at the 'spa' Kath and I will head downtown to the Customs office to acquire our 'permission to leave the US' papers... and we have a few more parts (technical and mechanical) to pick up on our way back. We'll spend this afternoon and tomorrow morning tidying the boat and getting our papers in order. Our plan is to head out of here at mid-night Wednesday/Thursday and travel through the rest of the darkness in US waters. That will give us daylight to find our way through the myriads of Mexican crab and lobsters pots as we approach Ensenada - our first port of entry.

We'll be checking into Mexico at Ensenada and staying at the Marina Naval. They're very helpful there and the manager, Rogelio, speaks English well. We'll then provision with fresh food and hire a diver to sponge off the bottom of Shannon's hull. Hopefully we'll be on our way south within a couple of days.

It's definately time to get into some warmer weather. The dew is so heavy now that it pools on our little cockpit cover just as if it had rained all night. We've collected the charts and books we need (and there aren't that many available anyway) for Mexico so, off we'll go into the second phase of this fantastic journey.

PS: We'll be getting a new cell phone in Ensenada so our US cell will be 'retired'.

Take good care everyone... talk to you later... Carolyn

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Princess and her Dolphins

Well, the pup (Princess Sophie) has definitely settled in to life onboard and we couldn't have ordered up a more intriguing first couple of passages for her.

Both on our return trip back to the mainland from Catalina Island yesterday and on our 30 mile journey today southward to Mission Bay, we were surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of Common Dolphins. They were playing up beside our bow, leaping along both sides of the boat, some up to 10 feet in the air. One fellow put on a spectacular show by jumping clear out of the water and then tail walking, over and over again. Another amazed us by leaping high and then turning sideways to fall, slapping its body on the surface. We wondered if this was just for the fun of it, or if it was a kind of dolphin fishing technique.

With all the commotion and acrobatics occurring around us, it didn't take long for Sophie to roust herself from her usual onboard snooze. We laughed when we saw her standing on her tip-toes, peering overtop of the spray cloths and scanning the horizon for signs of marine life. The show went on for hours and was highlighted by the little yellow throated warbler who was hanging out ondeck, and literally walked in front of her nose, while trying to find its way down into our cabin.

As we approached Mission Bay, coming closer to shore, we were keeping a sharp lookout for lobster traps. Our friends Tom and Jeannie had called our cell earlier in the day to report that they'd had to wind their way carefully through mine-fields of them on their way into the Bay. Our first sighting turned out to be a big old seal, floating lazily on its back on a pile of kelp, fins and tail held up in the air... waving at us as we motored by. Sophie eyed it suspiciously... such a new thing for her to be on high alert while onboard. "Welcome to your new life Sophie - ship's dog on wildlife watch."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Avalon, Catalina Island

Saturday, Oct. 22nd 0230 hrs: It’s early, really early, but as usual when we’re planning on leaving at ‘sparrow fart’ (0400 hrs.) I can’t sleep. So, I’m up and thought I’d tell you a bit about Catalina Island (at least the part we’ve been visiting – Avalon Bay). We arrived on a Tuesday, just after a cruise ship left, and (lucky us) there hasn’t been another one since – it must be the ‘low’ season. I remember when I was here last in 2003 it seemed a cruise ship arrived every 2 or 3 hours and, when each ship ‘puked’ out its payload, the town was overrun by hundreds, probably thousands, of mostly over-weight, determined to buy every last touristy t-shirt, ‘get outta my way’ kind of folks.

This week we’ve actually been able to enjoy a town without that ‘influence’. The tourists have been ‘us’; the yachties who have travelled by small boat to visit. You can tell who we are. We’re the ones wearing white running shoes :-) and carrying cloth bags for our groceries and taking advantage of VONs special – 30% off on all wine and an additional 10% if you buy 6 (so of course we all buy 12). We smile at each other (unlike most of the residents who stare straight ahead as they walk, in case anyone might expect them to break into conversation or share a bit about themselves or their island). Dogs aren’t welcome in the heart of town, so the ‘princess’ Sophie must walk around it. That’s OK as there are several side streets with interesting homes and garden displays to ogle as we pass. Ironically, while she’s not welcome in the heart of town, not two blocks away she’s welcome right on the patio, under our table, while we eat our meal sitting right on the waters edge, in a dockside cafĂ© beside the ‘Casino’. Avalon has this large, round building (you can see it from a distance and the town’s famous for it) that was once a dance hall, then a Casino, and is now a museum and a hall that groups can book. There’s also the ‘Wrigley mansion’. It sits high on the opposing hill and was once the home of the Wrigley family. It’s now open for tours and operates as a bed and breakfast (altho’ local rumour has it that business may fold and the property revert back to the family). The town has much to offer in the way of tourist shops and the like, but it also has the mainstays (groceries, hardware, laundromat, and restaurants… lots of restaurants), and there’s a golf course as well as several walks the energetic can do. We walked clear out of town and up the road to the Botanical Garden and Wrigley Memorial. It was a longish walk but with lots of scenery and birds…and we’re glad we did it.

Probably one of the most memorable attributes of Avalon is the lack of cars and trucks as we know them. Most Avalonian autos are, in fact, golf carts. They’re carts that have been fixed up, suped up, and dressed up. One looks like an old, antique Ford… another like a Harley Davidson ‘something’. The majority are kind of junky and beat up, but they’re everywhere and they are definitely the primary mode of transportation on the island. You too could be driving one (for $40 an hour). We walked.

As the week progressed, so too did the population of boats in the harbor. By Friday (now yesterday) the mooring bouys were filling rapidly and our quiet and attractive ambiance was destroyed by weekend boaters determined to beat their competition for a preferred spot. Between the uncontrolled use of generators (for hours and hours and hours), the blatant disregard for neighbouring mariners displayed by some boaters determined to party all night, and the general increase in dinghy traffic, loud radios and general hullabaloo… it was easy to conclude… it’s time to go.

We leave in a few hours. It will still be dark, but that’s ok… as long as we’re able to let go our mooring lines (fore and aft) without tangling or otherwise getting caught up in them or the yards of kelp that accompany each bouy. But we’ll manage, and we’ll be ‘outta here’… and heading for Oceanside (about half way between here and San Diego). We’ll be in Oceanside Saturday night and Sunday and then we’ll continue south.

We plan on heading in to San Diego as the 170 boats on the Baja Haha rally are heading out on Oct. 24th. We’ll be busy in SD. Besides getting all our groceries and equipment (last chance for a big shop in the US), we need to get our Fishing License for Mexico, Mexican liability insurance for the boat, and an International Health Certificate (signed within 72 hours of crossing the border) for Sophie. As well, there will be cruisers to meet (Downwind Marine even sponsors a coffee and donut ‘meet ‘n greet’ on Wednesday mornings for cruisers heading south to meet each other), and last minute repairs or upgrades as required. We’ll probably be there for about 7-10 days before heading south to Ensenada, Mexico.

For now, we prepare to leave Catalina Island… a piece of history morphed into a cruise ship destination and a home to many. Been there, done that… time to go.
Bye for now. CJ

Monday, October 17, 2011

A few firsts...

Hi folks,

We've had quite a few landmarks this week..... we saw our first pod of Spinner Dolphins, our first Blue Whale and I saw the "Green Flash" (at sunset) for the first time. More important than any of this... we met our dear friends Susan & George here in Dana Point and were reunited with our black, curly & four-footed crew member the "Princess Sophie".  And finally, Carolyn found that Singapore Sling!!

Susan & George have been dog-sitting P.S. for the last 6 weeks. Although our our little pup is a hearty sailor and a great companion onboard, we realized that she would not have enjoyed this first and roughest leg of our southbound journey.

We had a fun couple of days exploring Dana Point with Susan & George and, being caught up in the moment, we only now realize that we forgot to take some photos of our reunion. We do have a nice shot of Sophie after she got herself moved onboard with all her essential sailing gear.

Sophie & friends in her bunk


As we were motoring south to Dana Point from Newport Beach, we saw a huge pod of at least 100 Spinner Dolphins migrating south. We watched for several minutes and they passed us by on both sides of the boat. See you in Mexico guys!!


Spinner Dolphin, heading south with pod
In the distance, we saw one leap completely out of the water, too quickly to get a photo.

One took the time to play in our bow wave.
 An hour or so later, we noticed a whale spouting a short distance off our port side. This was our first sighting of a Blue Whale. We saw only its back, as it slowly moved through the water, but it was enough to impress us with its massive size. At 30 metres in length and 180 metric tons or more in weight, it is the largest known animal to have ever existed.

Blue Whale swimming north near Newport Beach


Soon after our arrival at the Dana Point Yacht Club we met Vinnie, the resident club bartender. He has a  wry sense of humour, a varied and colourful background and an impressive wealth of exotic cocktail recipes committed to memory.  We realized that this was the perfect opportunity for Carolyn to make good on her promise to her dad...


Vinnie - Dana Point Yacht Club's highly skilled Mixologist

We set a date with Vinnie and came up to the bar at the appointed time. The creation of these two drinks was nothing less than a work of art in progress. After topping them off with the requisite marachino cherries, Vinnie told us the story of how he had come into the posession (albiet only a lone) of an original, leather-bound, pirate-map paper thin, copy of the official "Trader Vic's Cocktail Recipe Book".  He went so far as to tell us that the essential ingredient was a "simple gin", but try as we might, we could not get him to share the recipe! Even without the "umbrella", this turned out to be quite a delicious drink!

Trader Vic's special recipe

Hey Dad, these are pretty tasty!!
 
There are two yacht clubs here in the Dana Point harbour (Dana Point YC and Dana West YC) and we've been welcomed with open arms by members of both clubs.  We've enjoyed four days here and have had a few great meals.  Today, we rented a car and drove the Princess to Huntington Beach ("Orange County's Only Off-Leash Dog Beach!!")... well, we mighta picked up some propane and a few groceries while we were at it.

Tomorrow, it's time to go... we're planning on leaving early for Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. "26 miles across the sea...."

'til next time....

K.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

still looking for that Singapore Sling...

Once upon a time... and not so very long ago.. my Dad said to me "that's a good keel, I like it" as he inspected my newly acquired boat the SV Shannon. "Why is that Dad?" I asked, not too sure where he was coming from. "Well" he said, "you can hit rocks with it." Now that may sound funny to you (and it did a bit to me at the time) but I can tell you that... he was right. When I did hit that awful rock, the soft-fronted cruising keel on Shannon rode gently up it and then slid back down. Phew. As time went by my Dad continued to bestow short phrases of wisdom upon me. Like the time he told me to start using the auto pilot (I hadn't been using it you see; too darn lazy to set the thing up). Once I acquired a modern auto-pilot and started using it, I realized how right Dad was (again). Otto steers far better than I have ever steered. He's tireless, whines a bit but keeps right on steering anyway. We would be exhausted over and over again if it weren't for Otto. Recently, while getting Shannon ready for this trip, Dad said "You need to know how much the wind is blowing. You need a wind speed indicator." I've never had one of those things, never thought I needed one, even went so far as to purchase a hand-held thingy that I could hold up into the wind and it would tell me how fast it was blowing.. if I cared... Well, Dad'd been right so often I figured I better listen to him again... and so, I got one. Wow. Is it ever cool to know what the wind's doing and from where, Seems I was very (humanly) way over-estimating the wind strengths... and causing all kinds of related trepidations therefore and thereafter. If you know what the winds doing (and from where... especially in the dark) you can make all kinds of wise(r) decisions regarding sail size, trim, etc.... Thanks Dad... right again. And then, just before we left, Dad said, "when you get to California, put your feet up on the bar and have a Singapore Sling. " Well, he'd been right so many times I figured I better honour this request too, so I just wanted you to know Dad... I'm still looking for someone who remembers what a Singapore Sling is :-) and... who will let me put my feet on their bar... AND, I want you to know I will find such a person and a bar.... so thanks for being patient.... and, thanks for being my Dad... and thanks for the wonderful advice(s).... love you lots. CJ

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Goodbye Pt. Conception... hello sunshine...

Brilliant moonlight, shooting stars, and shades of baby blues and pinks.... What an amazing collection of memories these last few days hold.

We really enjoyed Morro Bay with it's funky restaurants, friendly people, VW bugs still sporting flowers, salt-water taffy, 'real' antique stores, unique characters (real people characters) like the fellow who is the cobbler (but was a boxer and has an amazing collection of boxing memorabelia in his shop), and the fuel guy 'Butch' who is a lot friendlier than the locals said he'd be (helped me with my need to fill our fuel jerry cans, and 'Mike' who works for the harbour and helped me dispose of some 'bad' fuel from another stop... and the guys at the Fish Market/Restaurant who served us wonderful oysters in the half shell with Chardonay while we listened to two older gentlemen making music and singing for us, and watching the fishermen unload some amazing fish (like Opa) from their holds right next door... folks like that. And we enjoyed meeting most of the members of the Morro Bay Yacht Club.. I say most because there were a couple of less than friendlies... but I guess most clubs have those and we can live with that. But, it was time to go... and so, at 2100 hrs. on Friday, October 7th we bid adieu to our friends Jeanne and Tom on SV Eagle, slipped our lines and slid away into the dark, heading out the estuary and into open water once again. We turned our noses south, tuned into the GPS and headed off onto our next new course.

It occurred to me there may be some of you who aren't familiar with what 'slipping your lines and heading out' entails for a trip such as this... so, if you'll permit me, I'd like to step to the side and describe a 'moment in time' that time of preparing... for us. I've already talked about all the kinds of general preparation required to leave any dock for any trip, but there are even more things that must be done before heading out on what we now call a 'transit'. These transits aren't just another short jaunt off to the next harbour. The territory between where we've been and where we're going can be docile or it can be hostile or it can be both; and no amount of carefully crafted weather forecasts can guarantee which it will be. Both boat and crew must be prepared for the worst.. just in case. To that end we have to secure all moving equipment (inside and out) and that includes the books, dishes, clothing, electronics, couch cushions (seats and backs) anything and everything that can fall or be thrown. Some say "imagine your boat being picked up and turned upside-down. What moved? Fix it." As well, we have to prepare ourselves. Getting dressed to go out on deck feels, by the time you're done, like you've just put on one of those fluffy snow suits we used to wear as kids... like the Michelin dough boy. First your fleece layer, then a wind layer, then a couple more fleeces on top, then your rain/wind jacket, then your PFD... then the flashlight for your pocket, your kleenex, your glasses, and finally that thing we love to hate... the dreaded tether. I've never yelled at an inanimate object as much as I've yelled at my tether. When I want to go forward, it holds me back. When I want to turn around it stops me. When I want to move quickly across two lockers, it stops me in mid-air... or trips me... And if I have to get out of my PFD in a hurry (like, you know, when you gotta go and it's taken way too long to get below to do so....and you're in a hurry)... it gets all tangled up to make sure you have no quick way of unlatching it from the two D rings it's supposed to be connected to and then it hides the other end that, at some point or other, you stuffed in one of your many pockets to get out of the way... I think you get the picture... Anyway, we're not done yet. Then there's the sustenance issue. No one, and I repeat no one, is going to cook when the boat is doing a topsy turvey dance act... so you have to pre-plan what you're going to eat over the next 8, 10, or 30 hours .. whatever it is. While on watch we snack on cereal bars and juice boxes... stuff like that (maybe the occasional red licorice or salt-water taffy :-).. so they have to be easy to reach. Also, from time to time we try to act like civilized adults and have a meal. They can range from pre-made sandwiches to those bags of frozen one-pot dinners we've learned to heat up in our frying pan while suspended from the stove by a 'bum-strap'. It's quite simple really... if you have four arms :-) Then there's the actual watch system. We haven't perfected it yet. Many have... and they recommend 4 hour watches, or 3 hour, or... well you know... it goes on. We're settling in with the approx. 3 hour watches (give or take an hour depending on how we feel) and it works pretty well for the two of us. We set up our one long couch as a single 'hot bunk' with a lee cloth that holds us in place. It is amazingly comfortable and once we figured out how to wake each other up, it's working well. We now have an 'alarm bracelet' for use when the 'sleeper' is refusing to wake up and/or can't hear their alarm. It's a dog collar (thank you Sophie) worn as a bracelet, with a long string on it that reaches all the way out to the cockpit. Then, if the person on watch wants to wake the sleeper up, they need only pull on the string. It's amazing how your arm gently levitating off your pillow will wake you up - no problem.

OK that's enough prep. Let's get on with the trip. We headed out of Morro Bay and turned our noses south. Our main goal was to get around Point Conception (described as the "Cape Horn of the Pacific") unscathed by early morning, and then to carry on to the Channel Islands Yacht Harbor where we would stop for a day or two. Our plan was almost flawless. We did round Pt. Arguello and Pt. Conception without any problems... and without any wind (another motor-sail trip) and it turned out we were making such good time (picked up a current I think) that we would be passing Channel Island Yacht Harbor at midnight.. not a good time to stop. So, as in almost every other passage so far, we adjusted our plans and decided to continue south. At 1100 hrs., we found ourselves at Redondo Beach (the longest beach I've ever seen) and guests of the King Harbour Yacht Club. Our transit was calm and beautiful. The days were filled with beautiful scenery, clear blue skies, warm sunshine and visits from various mammals and birds. Our nights were filled with brilliant moonlight, shooting stars and glorious starlight displays. It never actually got dark. The moonlight and starlight were so bright there was always a horizon to be seen... no darkness. And the moon sinking into the sea was every bit as dazzling as the sun setting.

Finally,this morning, as we made our way down Santa Barbara Channel, we were treated to the most spectacular display of colour I'm sure mother nature could conjur up. As the dawn light began to show, there were wisps of clouds starting to swirl with the winds high up. They began as clear grey and then slowly changed from pastel to brilliant oranges and blacks. Then the warm glow of the rising sun began to climb, the clouds turned to the softest shade of pink... all of them, backed by the clear baby blue of the morning sky. This pink and blue display covered the entire sky and lasted for over half an hour... My little camera will be unable to capture the clarity but I tried anyway... we shall see how the photos turned out. The best of course, remains in my minds eye.

We're here at the yacht club now and have met up with several other BCA (Bluewater Cruising Association) boats. SV Iridium, Tahnoo and Sea Fever - all boats from our BC bluewater cruising group - are here. Some will continue south tomorrow and the rest of us will follow. For now, we catch up on our sleep and prep our little home for the next phase. We're very excited. We meet our friends Susan and George in Dana Point on Oct. 14th (5 more sleeps) and they will have Sophie (ships dog) with them too. Can't wait to see them all.

Our plans for now have us at Dana Point from Oct 13 to 17ish and then probably over to Avalon on Catalina Island. We're going to hang back from San Diego until after the Baha Haha has left (Oct. 24th) as the docks are/will be chocker-block full with the over 150 boats collecting to do the group rally down the coast of the Baja from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.

We all walked out for an amazing feed of sushi tonight. Now we're all back at our respective boats, tucking ourselves in for a well-earned sleep. I may have trouble falling asleep tho'... without the throb of the diesel engine, the whine of the whirling auto-pilot, the beeping of the AIS and the annoying and often irrelevant broadcasts on the VHF by the seemingly too young and/or 'not finished training yet' Coast Guard youngsters.
Oh well... I can but try. Good night... CJ

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the best 24 hours yet...

We had a great time in Monterey... we met wonderful folks, shared some fun times with the Monterey Yacht Club members, did some touristy things.. and generally enjoyed ourselves very much. Kathy's going to write more about our Monterey experience... I'm still so excited about our run down from Monterey to Morro Bay that I'm just going to jump right in to it. So here goes..

When we started dreaming about this adventure, and preparing our little ship and ourselves for the day we might just push off... we also dreamed of warm (or hot) sunny days, sparkling diamond seas, and just enough wind to keep things interesting without being too onerous. Well, let me tell you... we finally, after all this time, found just that. We left Monterey in a light fog (yes, after living in fog for weeks you start to clarify just how foggy it actually is :-). We'd fueled up and wound our way out of the harbour doing our best to miss the islands of sea lions laying about on the water.. and we'd managed to miss the huge piles of kelp that also look like small islands. We motored around Point Pinos and down the coast fairly close to land.. it was just beautiful. We motor-sailed (main up finally) past Carmel and Big Sur... and then, as the day warmed up the fog thinned out and disappeared and the wind filled in behind us and... away we went. It was fabulous !! It was everything that you imagine it could be. We weren't racing along, we weren't careening down huge waves, we weren't having to hold on particularly strongly. But we did have a terrific down-wind sail and it lasted pretty much all day. We were travelling with other boats for the first time and that was neat too. We had friends ahead of us to our starboard (a mile or so) and others behind us... and we kept in touch by radio from time to time. And then, as the afternoon light began to fade, and the sun began it's glorious descent towards the sea, we got ourselves fed and dressed properly for the cooler evening. The winds did pick up a bit more. In fact we put a second reef into the mainsail (we usually travel with the first reef in all the time while we're 'in transit'), and semi-furled the jib. Eventually we furled the jib all the way in and just ran on the main... we were doing about 4 knots and that's just fine for night runs. As well.. I really like reefing the main in daylight before I have to fumble around in the dark. We carried on into the night, under an amazing starlit sky. The milky way was huge... and stole the show for hours. Cassiopious was with us all night too (thank you Fred for teaching me about old Cassy...). Every time I see this constellation I'm instantly transported back to the cockpit of Zephra where Fred and I spent many a good hour talking about life as we helped Jim deliver his yacht to Cabo. Fred told me about Cassiopious and she's been kind of a symbol for me ever since. Anyway, I digress. The sky was magnificant !! The moon came up bright as ever, stayed with us most of the night, and then changed to a burning glow as it sunk slowly into the sea and disappeared. It was one of those nights that will stay with me forever. It was the best of the best for night watches. We travelled all night and into dawn's early grey light, arriving just off the entrance to Morro Bay about 1020 hrs.. Our friends on SV Eagle had gone in before us and secured moorage at the Morro Bay Yacht Club (MBYC ironically the same initials as our own YC) and we rafted to them. We're here in the cutest coastal California town I've ever seen. It's like stepping back into the 1960's. It's just great.. and that's a 'good thing' as the weather our friends are having in BC is now sweeping down the coast and giving us rain and gusts to 35 knots... It's a good time to be snug as a bug and safe in harbour. We hope the forecasts are correct and the winds and seas will die down by the weekend, at which time we'll head back out and continue our trek south. We're excited about meeting Susan and George and Sophie (the ships dog) in Dana Point around mid-month. We were disappointed to learn that the Santa Barbara marina is under renos and we won't be able to go there.. but the good thing is there's lots of other places to visit :-). So for now my friends... adieu... I must get to work... chores await me. And... our friend Tom has found a place that sells his favourite beer in pitchers for $6 each... we must continue our culinary quest for the bestest and cheapest beer... and the bestest food (PS: there's an oyster place here... can't wait :-). Bye for now... Carolyn
PS: Our friends Jeanne and Tom have a very nice blog at www.sailblogs.com/member/bigleftturn . If you go there now, you'll see a photo of Shannon and their boat rafted at the Morro Bay Yacht Club.. and Jeanne's written a good piece on transiting from her point of view...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Enroute to Monterey

Most of the journey south was completed under power alone and the seas were quite large, some coming from the SW and other’s from the W and NW. Luckily they were quite far apart (12-13 seconds) so we didn’t get too bashed about. At one point, not too far out from Monterey, we had a special treat. We finally had enough wind to unfurl our genoa which gave us another 1 ½ knots of speed and we were enjoying a brisk sail through the building seas. We’d seen a few porpoises and lots of birds on our travels so we were watching for wildlife… and we weren’t disappointed. We were joined by about 6 beautiful white-sided dolphins that frolicked in our bow wave, flitting from side to side, for about 10 minutes. They’re just so great and really make you feel like you’re ‘doing it’… Even after all this time we still find ourselves startled by the fact we actually left and we’re actually doing this trip… It’s hard to explain but so many years were dedicated to the planning and prepping and now, finally, it’s unfolding right in front of us… really a ‘pinch me, is this real?’ kind of a feeling. But, here we are, now tied up at the Monterey Municipal Marina and ready to explore this new place… later.. CJ

Half Moon Bay

We arrived at HMBay at 1530 hrs., which was perfect timing for scoping out the local eateries. Kathy’s mom has suggested we’re ‘eating and drinking’ our way down the coast. She may be right, but it’s fun and a great way to get a feel for each new location. For instance, at the HMB Brew Pub, the chef actually gives out free appies that he’s experimenting with on Tuesdays at happy hour.. so guess where we were.. you bet! We’ve been blessed with friendly and helpful staff where ever we’ve gone and they’ve offered great advice on places to go and things to see… and, of course, other good places to eat :-)

Half Moon Bay is a nice little seaside town, larger than you might think at first blush, but accessible by local buses. We took a turn on those buses to go into the main shopping centre in search of eye drops (seems you can’t buy Polysporin eye drops without a prescription in the US and, as CJ’s eyes are acting up a bit, we had to find something to soothe them.) The bus ride was interesting and on the way home the driver dropped us off early which gave us an opportunity to walk back along the beach walk. It was really quite beautiful. One thing we learned (from our server of course) was that Maverick Beach is just around the point from HMBay. That’s where, about once a year, humungous waves come in and they call a surfing competition. The waves can build up to heights of 70 feet plus and many good surfers have lost their lives trying to tame them… interesting note on human nature.. hmmm, let me see, these waves could kill me... guess I’ll give ‘em a whirl… (Darwin’s theories at work, yet again). Anyway, we met up with a couple of the BCA boats here and had a chance to get to know Bill and Brenda and Mel and Margie… all good people.

The forecasts that we could get (no internet connection in Half Moon Bay so we had to rely on postings at the Harbormaster’s Office) convinced us that heading further south on Wednesday would be a good idea. Otherwise we could get stuck in HMB (a nice place, but not somewhere to hang out for too long) for quite a few days. Sooo, you guessed it, at 0500 hrs. (again)… well actually it was 0510, we crept out of our quiet little slip and motored slowly (it was dark) around the old pilings, out the breakwater protecting the marina, through the unlit anchored boats in the outer anchorage, and out the ‘entrance channel’ protected on both sides by stone breakwaters. As so often can happen, we’d been lulled in to a sense of complacency by the quiet, protected waters of the harbor and were rudely awakened from our reverie by the huge, broad-side swells that buffeted us and bounced us onto our side a few times as we turned out of the protected entrance and headed across the bay. It was quite an eye-opener, certainly got our undivided attention and put our ‘security’ measures below to a good test (most passed, some did not :-). It took a good couple of hours to break free of the large, broad-side swells but once the dawn had broken and we had a better handle on our location and situation, things did calm down. We motored south for several hours (the only wind we had was what we generated by our forward movement) and had a scenic tour of the coast as we pointed our nose towards Monterey.

Leavin’ the big city...

What a wonderful ‘leaving’ we had. After enjoying several days exploring Sausalito and bonding with no less than five BCA Fleet of 2011 boats and crews, it was time for us to pick up our skirts and head out; and, at 0500 hrs., we did just that… under a clear, starry sky and with no apparent wind at all. We wound our way out of Richardson Bay and headed out under the Golden Gate Bridge. The waves were large but far apart and, except for the occasional large cross swell, the waning ebb tide was good to us – allowing us to exit the Bay without opposition, however… like an old friend, the fog waited patiently until we’d almost cleared the last shipping lane buoy. It then wrapped its soft arms around us, enclosing us in our familiar world of grey mist and 50 yards visibility. We’re sure glad we bonded with our radar, even if it is the smallest one you can buy… it still works… well, really… it’s great for up to 3 miles. If we ever win the lottery it might be time to upgrade… but for now, we’re fine.

We’re heading to Half Moon Bay. It’s only 20 miles south of San Fran but it looks like a cozy little hidey-hole and we wanted to get out of the Bay before a few days of windy weather hits. We’ll enjoy exploring the beaches, trails and pubs of Half Moon Bay and, hopefully continue our journey south on Wednesday or Thursday. Apparently Hurricane Hilary is sending a little wind and water up our way, so we’re happy to sit it out for a couple of days in somewhere new.

To those of you who have written… thank you. It’s always great to ‘hear from home’. To those of you following our Blog… thanks also. It’s good to know folks are enjoying the ‘words’. And… Kathy has added quite a few photos so don’t forget to check the photo gallery (and behind each photo is an ‘album’ of others).

The good ship Shannon is doing well for a girl her age. We managed to snap the handle on the Y valve but that’s all fixed now (and of course once you’re ‘there’ you might as well clean out the hoses…right? So the heads system is renewed… yea!). Kathy changed out our ignition starter button (for the engine) and it works better than it’s ever worked now…. also yea! We of course still have many projects underway and they’ll get done in their own sweet time…

Well, we’re about 2 hours out of Half Moon Bay now and the sun is doing it’s darnest to burn off the fog… and it’s almost time for me to go back on watch… until next time… adios, CJ

Friday, September 23, 2011

San Francisco… the 1st bubbly

We brought two bottles of champagne with us. We had the first one on September 18th, after having arrived at the Marina Village Yacht Harbor in Alameda at 1800 hrs… and it was delicious!!


Shannon in Bodega Bay


Bodega Bay was very nice, and we had lots of great (long) walks… but it was time to go. The locals call it Blowdega Bay and, indeed, with the winds that come up every afternoon (25+) one could be forgiven for getting ‘stuck’ there. So, having checked the tides, the weather forecast, and the ‘goings on’ at the Golden Gate Bridge… we headed out of town at 0500 hrs.


For the first time in days there was no fog that morning; neither was there much wind (and it was on the nose) but lots of warm sunshine as we motor-sailed down the coast. While the fog was always on the horizon for once it stayed there and we enjoyed a clear, sunny transit all the way from Bodega Bay to Alameda. We passed by Drakes Bay. We were warned about anchoring there if a south wind is blowing and there was one forcast. Also we had already planned to head all the way in if we could.


Having travelled down Bonita Channel, dodging fishing boats and minding the bouys, we turned left and were greeted with the vision of the Golden Gate Bridge… clear as a bell. Every cruising guide warns you to be very mindful of the traffic lanes and ships coming and going from San Francisco Bay as well as the volumes of water pouring in and out as the tide floods and ebbs. We were very proper on our approach and after one large ship passed us on their way out, we looked ahead to see dozens of sailing vessels of all shapes and sizes sailing everywhere on the Bay. They were crossing the channels back and forth, and there were also several small passenger ferries scuttling back and forth across the Bay between Alcatraz and other such islands. It was chaos to say the least. Luckily there were no other large ships trying to arrive or leave. The wind was finally up but we were far too busy taking photos of each other with the bridge in the background to think about hoisting sail.

.... and so, we motored across the Bay ducking around and giving way to all the sailing boats (even an America’s Cup boat)… At one point one of the passenger ferries was aiming right for us and I called Kathy up to be witness to what was going to be a very close call (we had the right of way). Luckily I didn’t give him the ‘not so friendly’ wave as when he got closer, the Captain came on the PA system to point us out to his passengers and welcome us to San Francisco…! Then he slid by our stern… only to be replaced by a fellow on his kite board ripping across the Bay. He got so close, he actually put his kite over top of our mast and managed to miss our radar arch and stern at the same time… quite hairy really!!


Having survived crossing San Francisco Bay, we wound our way under the Oakland Bridge and up the Oakland/Alameda Estuary for about 3 miles to find our pre-arranged slip. We had chosen Alameda as our first port of call as we hoped to re-connect with a woman I had met several times in the past. Nancy Erley has twice circumnavigated our planet on her sailboat. She’s also an instructor, teacher (there is a difference) and speaker, and she’s currently doing some yacht brokering in the Alameda area. It was great to see her again and we spent some very enjoyable time together talking about boats and off-shore sailing and ways to improve Shannon’s rigging design (seems I’m finally old enough to warrant some lines run aft to the cockpit) :-)

After 3 days exploring Alameda on foot and by bus we decided to get closer to the Bridge in preparation for continuing our journey south, and on September 22nd we slipped our lines in Alameda and had a vigorous sail across San Francisco Bay to Sausalito. We arrived at our new marina (Schoonmaker Marina) in Sausalito at 1500 hrs. and were greeted by two other Canadian boats, both members of our fleet. Sea Reach, Night Sky and Shannon are all lined up along the outside of F dock with a great view of the Bay. The Bay is covered with a thick, tall, layer of fog while we sit here in brilliant sunshine with a swimming beach as part of the marina.. great fun.

Just to keep us on our toes, the heads hoses are acting up :-( so I must leave you now and don my ‘plumbing role’… luckily West Marine isn’t too far away as the handle has also snapped off the Y valve…. Oh well, isn’t that what cruising is all about… working on your boat in exotic places… Bye for now… CJ