Friday, November 29, 2013

Final part of US West Coast

As we left Two Harbors on Catalina, a pod of pilot whales were feeding just outside the bay. It was a nice start to our sail to Newport Beach. We tied up in the very nice and very friendly Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.  We had just missed the ‘make your own bloody mary’ special but we did have an excellent margarita at the club bar.

Dina's Godmother and her son came to visit us and we enjoyed the club's special Sunday breakfast buffet. After a wonderful visit, they drove us to Minney’s Yacht Surplus in nearby Costa Mesa. We spent a couple of hours looking through bins, boxes and shelves full of sailboat parts. Among other things, we bought an old wooden whisker pole. Rather than have us walk back to the marina carrying the pole, the owner of Minney’s, Ernie, drove us back. You meet very kind and generous people while sailing.

The next day we left for Oceanside, and about one hour into the trip the bilge alarm went off. I suspected the fresh water system as Richard Parker (the fresh water pump) had not been sounding happy.  We closed off the fresh water tanks and enjoyed a lovely sail to Oceanside with only the gennaker and coasted along at 5 knots in 10 knots of wind. We passed through a long line of dolphins feeding.  Jeanne Socrates had left Marina del Rey about an hour before us, but we didn't catch her until we docked at Oceanside Yacht Club.

At the dock we discovered the problem was a leak under the sink in the aft head. Of course it is in a place completely impossible to reach! After Malcolm broke through the floor panel that had been glued down, we tried tightening the fittings, wrapping it in rescue tape, using 5200, but it continues to drip. We will now just take out the 25 year old pipes and fittings and replace the entire section rather than try to repair these connections and the other 25 year old connections that will surely start to leak next.
We kept the boat at Oceanside for a week as we visited with Nancy and Jim (Dina's step mother and her husband) in Fallbrook, about 15 miles east of Oceanside.  Then it was on to San Diego.
After a very nice sail, with wind on the beam, we tied up at the San Diego Yacht Club in Shelter Island.  There are many marine stores within walking distance in Point Loma and we have been to all of them a couple of times. We have stocked up on all sorts of spare parts. Admiralty Marine was very helpful with the engine servicing and parts. Shelter Island Marine Exchange is by far the best marine store ever! Downwind Marine hosted their weekly Wednesday coffee and donuts morning for cruisers. There were 4 Canadian boats and Jeanne Socrates, an honourary Canadian.
In San Diego we spent about 5 hours touring the aircraft carrier USS Midway, with Rob and Debra from the sailboat, Avant. The USS Midway was very interesting.

The modern, active, aircraft carriers, USS Vincent and the USS Ronald Reagan, were tied up just across the bay at the Navy base. You are not allowed to get too close to them.  In addition to floating buoy line, there is a Coast Guard ship on guard.

The San Diego Yacht club is very nice and is a pretty serious racing club.  In addition to having Denis Connor as a member (we didn't see him), they've got about 100 Optimists, 25 Flying Juniors, 15 420's, and more!! All just for their Junior racers.  After a few days there, we changed over to the Southwestern Yacht Club just east of the San Diego Yacht Club where Rob and Debra on Avant are staying. We had a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with them at the club.

Now we are just waiting for wind to leave San Diego, the USA, and enter into Mexican waters!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Channel Islands and a celebrity in Marina del Rey

We thoroughly enjoyed Santa Barbara. It is a lovely town nestled between the coast and mountains.  We sailed (motored) to one of the North Channel Islands, Santa Cruz. We motored past the world’s largest sea cave, Painted Cave.  The photo doesn't show it, but it's big enough for us to sail into (we didn't!).

After passing several smaller sea caves and sea arches, we found a quiet anchorage in Pelican Bay for the night. It was sunny and warm so we opened the dodger.

The next morning we sailed (and some motoring) to Oxnard and then on to Marina del Rey. The wind was directly behind us so we tried a bit of wing-on-wing sailing.
Sailing "wing on wing"

When we checked in at the lovely California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, we were told ‘another Canadian’ was there, 'that woman who circumnavigated alone'. It was Jeanne Socrates the grandmother who completed a solo circumnavigation last year.  Jeanne is actually British, but she did begin and end her circumnavigation in Victoria, BC Canada, so we can see how the staff at the yacht club would be confused. We went straight to the club bar where we were told she had last been sighted, and we joined her for a Happy Hour G&T. 

Not only did Jeanne circumnavigate solo, but she did it non-stop (her foot did not touch land or a dock) AND she did it un-assisted which means no engine and no one could help her – no one could even pass her a bottle of wine! AND she is 70 years old! Jeanne is the oldest woman to circumnavigate solo, non-stop and un-assisted and the only woman to accomplish this from North America.  Jeanne's website is:
The next day we changed to the Del Rey Yacht Club just across the basin. It is a very friendly club. The Vice-Commodore shared lots of information and we even had the privilege of having dinner with him and his wife. Jeanne had changed yacht clubs as well and they asked her to speak at their yacht club association meeting that same evening. We were invited to attend and everyone enjoyed Jeanne’s story.

A third boat (Nomatia from Berkeley) also switched to the Del Rey Yacht club. This gave us a chance to get to know  James, Dominga and their dog, Mika . We all enjoyed Marina del Rey, especially the $5 breakfasts at Killer CafĂ©!
From Marina del Rey, we sailed to the famous Catalina Island, part of the Southern Channel Island group. We picked up a mooring buoy in Isthmus Cove in Two Harbors. Since it was the off season, the island was pretty quiet, although we were still charged the summer rate for the mooring ball! It's a nice place, but it must be extremely crowded during the busy season.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Into Southern California

After installing the CPT, we decided it is small enough and unobtrusive enough to just leave attached all the time. We’ll give it a few sea trials and decided if it will be our back-up or our main autohelm.

We enjoyed the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club. Everyone was very friendly. We had drinks and pizza in the clubhouse with some of the members.  We left at 5:30 AM with only the sea lions awake. We had a 16 hour sail to San Simeon; the next possible anchorage along the coast. Unfortunately, there was no wind, so it was a 16 hour motor-sail. San Simeon was quiet. We dropped the hook near shore, within view of Hearst castle on the hill and next to an old pier that Hearst had built in the late 1800’s.

We decided to by-pass Morro Bay with its zigzag entrance channel and aim for Port San Luis and the tourist town of Avila. On this passage, we had enough wind to sail for about 2 of the 7 hours. We anchored near town, between the research pier and the Avila pier, then instead of going into town, we sat in the cockpit and watched the beautiful sunset and enjoyed a glass of wine.
Point Conception is called the Cape Horn of California. Supposedly the winds and waves can be very confused and strong off the point. Also, the weather is supposed to change dramatically south of the point, which marks the northern boundary of Southern California. We left Port San Luis at 6 AM to ensure we rounded the dreaded Point Conception in daylight. We motored around it. It was more concerning that Vandenburg Air Force Base has various “Danger Zones” along the coast and they kept announcing on the radio that one of them was “live” for missile practice. Fortunately, no practice missiles were spotted.

The oil rig, Irene, was interesting to see over 3 miles off the coast.

Unfortunately, along the way to Santa Barbara, there are many offshore oil platforms and we saw a film of oil on the water.

We rounded Point Conception into Southern California and it was warmer! We dropped the hook in Cojo Anchorage, just past the first kelp bed and up close to shore near the train tracks. We sat up on the hard bimini, backs against the furled main sail, drank wine, ate cheese and crackers, and watched the dolphins, birds, sea lions and train go by as the sun set. The best balcony ever!

This morning there was wind! Well over 20 knots of it, and all coming from exactly where we wanted to go. We put up the solent and reefed the main and proceeded to tack back and forth towards Santa Barbara.  The current was also against us so we didn't make a lot of progress but it was fun. The wind did not stay with us for long. As it started to diminish we shook out the reef and hoisted the genoa along with the solent. We had a good 6 hours before we finally had to turn on the engine.

When we docked in Santa Barbara, a fisherman named Sean Robertson approached us. He had taken some photos of us sailing off of Point Conception. He email them to us.  We look pretty good...

Monday, November 4, 2013

San Francisco to Monterey

Good as Gold docked beside Tappen Zee (our friends Tom and Annie)

As we left the lovely Saint Francis Yacht Club and our wonderful friends, Tom and Annie on sv Tappen Zee, this little sparrow flew onto our foredeck. It sheltered in the lee of the hatch while we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. It must be a good omen.

We had a calm sail/motor to Half Moon Bay. It was foggy in the morning, but there was no traffic and the sun came out in the afternoon. We tied up at Pillar Point Harbor. It was the start of the crab season and there was lots of activity on the docks; crab fishing boats and crew, tourists, and fresh seafood shoppers.
We left relatively early for a long day’s sail to Monterey Bay. There were calls for gales and small craft warnings and we certainly had to deal with large seas and high winds. The wind was coming from behind and the boat (and crew) handled everything very well. Just as we sailed into the northern part of the Bay, the seas and wind were both up enough, and behind us enough, that hand steering was a bit more comfortable. At one point we hit over 12 knots of speed as we surfed down a wave – “Weeeee!”.  As we pulled into Santa Cruz, the winds came down and it was odd to think, ‘Oh good, the winds are only 20 knots now.’
We anchored off the beach and amusement park in Santa Cruz. We purposely anchored as far away from the pier as possible since it is home to a sea lion colony and they were in full vocal mode. However, shortly after we anchored, several sea lions boarded a small sailboat that was anchored next to us.

They proceeded to bark at everyone they knew for the rest of the evening. Several sea lions swam to our boat. At first we thought, how nice and we took pictures.
As we were about to have dinner down below, we heard and felt a large crash against the hull; one of the sea lions had launched itself at our boat! That was when we realized they were circling, looking for a way onto our boat! These are large animals; the males can be over 700 lbs! Shouting didn’t seem to deter them but they did not like having a flashlight in their faces. Fortunately, as our deck was too high and we have lifelines all the way around, there were no more attempts to board our vessel during the night.

We had a calm, sunny, 4 hour sail straight south across the Monterey Bay and are now nestled into the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club in lovely Monterey. We are purchasing a CPT auto-helm as a back-up self-steering device. The owner and manufacturer of CPT is coming to our boat to install it properly and make sure we know how to install it (if we ever need it). Otherwise, it will live in a neat little box and provide peace of mind.