Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 30 - Dana Point, California

Our short trip from Long Beach to Dana Point was lovely. When we arrived, we found that the slip we were given was directly across from the entrance to the harbor. This has the advantage of having the best view in the harbor. The disadvantage is that there is quite a lot of swell which worries Earl. Needless to say, Serenity has been tied down most securely – seven lines, to be specific.

We have enjoyed our stay here. The weather is just about perfect, and there is always something to look at. People certainly enjoy this harbor. There are many people fishing, most of them from kayaks. The fish are not much to write home about, but people are having fun with them. In addition to the boat traffic, there are tons of kayaks, dingies and paddle boards on the move. These last are like surf boards on which one stands and paddles around. It is obviously the latest California fad. It is apparently very good exercise, expecially for the ‘core’ and people are hard at it even before the sun it up. Some take their dogs with them. One man had a little yorkie which ran back and forth, up and down the board, between his legs as he paddled.

At night we have been enjoying dinner by candle light on the back deck. We are pretty smug, since I think we probably have both the best view and best food in the harbor. Nordhavn has been very good about working with Earl on the few items that he wanted done. The only disappointment is that without taking the boat out of the water they are unable to put in an over the side divert for the galley sink. That would be a nice thing to have, so that we would not worry about food waste going into the grey water tank, but it will have to wait for another time.

We are tied next to a 47 foot Nordhavn. She is only 3 feet longer and 1 foot wider, but she seems about 50% bigger than we are. Hard to imagine, but Serenity looks petite next to her. Now Earl is worried that we need a bigger boat to safely sail south. The Nordhavn salesman agreed. When pigs fly.

In addition to getting a few boat items taken care of, Earl visited a fishing supply place. Ouch! Who knew you could spend so much money on jigs and line, but Earl assures me this will take care of him and, after all, we really need it if we are to take people fishing in the Sea of Cortez.

Tomorrow we are off to Anchorage and will leave Serenity here by herself until October 22. I am sure that Earl will be sleepless until he sees her next.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 24 - Enroute to Dana Point, Ca

Who would have imagined that one of the loveliest anchorages we have had would be the Long Beach Harbor? Strange, but true! Along this part of the coast, there are very few anchorages, and most of those require use of a mooring buoy which Earl dislikes. The guide book mentioned the possibility of anchoring out at Long Beach, so we decided to give it a try. The harbor is enormous and intimidating. Huge cranes can be seen from way off shore and the tanker and container ship traffic is constant. We worked our way in to the harbor from the south and headed for a manmade island. There are several of these in the harbor, nicely landscaped with palm trees. What the guide books don’t mention and probably few boaters know is that these islands are actually drilling islands on which the well heads and drill rigs have been camouflage. Anyway, we anchored behind White Island, off a beach on which people were swimming. Off to our port was the Queen Mary which is now permanently moored in Long Beach and the Long Beach Aquarium. We lit up the barbeque and ate hamburgers while watching the sunset. The minnows in the blue light on the stern lit up like sequins. Then we slept, snug as could be, confident that no wind would bother us.

This morning Earl watched a couple of people in pedal kayaks go off fishing. It has been a lovely lazy day since we only have 20 some miles to Dana Point, so we had breakfast on the back deck. It was so pretty that even the sour milk did not ruin it. We finally pulled anchor around 10 and are headed south on a glassy sea.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23 -En route to Long Beach, CA

We spent 3 nights in Santa Barbara. It is a pretty large marina by our standards – “only” 100 guest slips are available and I think the dock from our finger was almost half a mile long. We had a nice slip, just one row back from the breakwater. It turned out there was a big three day concert on shore just off our berth. It would start at 4pm, and we were asleep before it ended. There were 14,000 spectators. We recovered from our trip from Morro Bay, did laundry, and enjoyed a visit from Earl’s aunt Donna. Every morning it was foggy, and every afternoon it cleared. In the evening we turned on the fancy underwater stern lights that Earl installed and watched the fish swim by. In addition to the usual herring, we saw larger fish that we finally determined were steel head. We think they are planted here.

As usual we met nice people around us. One was a family with three children on a sail boat going south for the Baja Haha. Another nice couple from Mammoth had spent some time in La Paz and the Sea of Cortez and had some tips for us. They had stayed at the Costa Baha Marina where we have reservations and liked it very much. However, they cautioned us that it was a ‘hot’ harbor and would eat our zincs.

On the 22nd, we left Santa Barbara and headed for one of the Channel Islands, Santa Cruz. We were concerned about choosing an anchorage after our last experience at Secate. The Santa Ana winds are blowing and, if they are strong, many anchorages are not suitable. We took a chance on an anchorage at the SE end of the island, called Smugglers. It was apparently well used by them in the past. A local sailor who was anchored there said that since we had an opposing wind off shore, he did not expect any strong Santa Ana to reach us. He was right, and we had a peaceful night for once.

Steve Elston had suggested more stats and maps, so I have included a couple of maps. As for stats: As of last night we had gone 1420 miles which is at least 30% more than the official mileage for the distance by the shortest route. We have added 183 hours to the engine and 130 to the generator. The biggest stat would be fuel usage. Unfortunately, I don’t have a clue what that has been, but past experience would suggest 2.5 per engine hour and 1 per generator hour for a total of 590 gallons. For the most part we have run at 1700 rpm. Because of the fog, we have used our flood light during the day which has required lots of hours on the generator.

We are currently running, once again in the fog, about 15 miles off shore on the way down to Long Beach which is just south of LA. We are bypassing Santa Monica where the Marina Del Rey has 6,000 slips, which seems overwhelming. The water is very clear and very blue and we have had multiple visits from porpoises which we have all enjoyed. With the very clear water, it was quite wonderful. If things go according to plan, we will be anchored at Long Beach by 5 pm, and then off to Dana Point tomorrow am.

Now that we are in the area of the LA harbor we are very glad for the AIS that Earl installed. I think the initials stand for automatic identification system, and large ships are required to broadcast their position on it. We have a receiver and can pick up the location and identification of the large ships on our plotter. Right now we can see 8 ships on the screen– oil tankers and cargo vessels. We can see their names, size, direction and speed. With the fog, it gives us a feeling of comfort over and above the radar.

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 20 - Santa Barbara

Our run from Morro Bay on the 18th got better and better. While still in the fog, somewhere 10 miles off the beach in the vicinity of Pismo Beach, we encountered the largest bunch of porpoises that I have ever seen. Suddenly they were everywhere – all sides of the boat. There must have been hundreds of them. Daisy almost went crazy! She was running from one side of the boat to the other and her tail was going so fast that I thought lift off was inevitable. We ran through them for close to half an hour, by which time Daisy was close to collapse and Earl’s camera was giving off smoke and then, as quickly as they had come, they were gone.

We continued on in the fog around Pt Arguello and Pt Conception, with pleasant seas. Then the fog lifted and it was lovely. By then, it was early evening, and Santa Barbara, the next harbor, was 5 or more hours away. The weather forecast was 5 to 10 NW, and the cruising guides recommended Sacate as an anchorage. In this area there is a thick growth of kelp about 150 yards off the beach and it acts to break the surge. We took their advice, ran into within 40 yards of the beach and anchored in 25 feet of water. It was a beautiful evening, with virtually no wind. We ate dinner by candle light on the back deck and watched the sun go down and the stars come out. The sky was breathtaking and we drank it in, together with our wine. We went to bed feeling extremely pleased with ourselves to be where we were. Well, that only lasted till about 1 am. Suddenly we were rolling around with winds blowing from the south east at about 30 miles an hour. The captain was not happy being blown on to the beach, so up came the anchor and we found ourselves heading for Santa Barbara in the dark. Bad things were said about NOAA weather forecasting. We arrived in Santa Barbara at 6:30, just in time for breakfast.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 18 - Leaving Morro Bay

We had a lovely last day in Monterey. Our walk around the old town, which is lovely, included a stop at a Walgrens where we were able to get our annual flu shots. We toured the Maritime Museum, which was very sweet and informative. One of the highlights of the day was lunch at a little place called Turtle Bay. You order your food at the counter and it is brought to your table, obviously not a fancy place. Earl had calamari that he thought very highly off, and I had the best chili rellenos I have had in years.

Thursday morning we left at 4 am in the fog and were met by lumpy seas even before we left the harbor. It was not pleasant, but Earl was delighted to find how well the Serenity did in a large following sea. Even with the current and 30 mph winds coming from behind us, we did not seem to get much of a ‘push’. We averaged under 7. Finally around 2, the fog lifted and we were able to see the beautiful coast below Big Sur. The seas also gradually improved, so that by early evening it was very nice going. Just before reaching Morro Bay we encountered a pod of whales chasing small fish on the surface. It was fun to see and we wished we could linger but were anxious to get into the harbor before it was too dark. Just to temp us further, we had a brief visit from porpoises. It was lovely and we enjoyed the view of the big rock, 581 feet high, against the sunset. We finally anchored up at 8 pm, in the dark, after 16 hours and 110 miles. We fell asleep, once again, to a chorus of barking sea lions. I can’t see how they are too endangered.

We left Morro Bay 12 hours later, again in the fog, but now an hour later it seems to be clearing. It is lumpy, but nothing like yesterday! We have not decided how far we will go today. The big challenge on this part of the Coast is Point Conception, which can apparently be pretty nasty. If the weather is not too bad, we will probably try to go around it today, probably in the evening when the winds tend to die down.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 16 - Monterey, California

This is wonderful town for a boater. You can walk to the aquarium, along the harbor, and through the old town, all of which are delightful. The aquarium is extraordinary. I’ve seen large live tanks and big fish before in other places, but I don’t think I have ever seen exhibits that are breathtaking as the jelly fish and the sea horse exhibits. The sea horse exhibit is relatively new – who knew there are so many varieties of sea horses. The jelly fish are like works of art.

Yesterday we went to the Tuesday night market downtown. As always in this part of the world, the veggies and fruits are to die for, and, once again, I probably bought more than we can eat. They are difficult to resist. Proving once again that the world is not a big place, on our way back to the boat we ran into Erik Schei whose boat was moored right next to ours in Shelter Bay. Today, we will tour the old part of the town and check out the few museums which have not been shut due to the current California budget issues. The day is beautiful, as was yesterday, and I know we will enjoy ourselves.

Tomorrow we will leave very early for a long run to Morro Bay. The weather forecast is good. We have really been blessed. We just passed a major milestone – 1,000 hours on the engine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14 - On the way to Monterey

We spent five nights at Pillar Point. It is a large harbor with an inner and outer set of breakwaters. The marina is inside the inner set, but there are lots of boats anchored out in the larger area between the two breakwaters. Pillar Point sits at the northern end of Half Moon Bay and there is a lovely trail that runs along the coast between Pillar Point and the town of Half Moon Bay. Earl unpacked the bikes and, after considerable examination and consultation with the company that sold them to us, he came to the conclusion that mine would need to be returned to get the electric parts fixed. In the meantime, however, it works quite well as a traditional bike, so we had a lovely ride down the coast and back. (I got more exercise than Earl).

I am beginning to think that there are more sea lions than people in California. They are all over the breakwaters and docks here. The harbor master shoots them with paint ball to discourage them, but they come right back. They are dirty and noisy. Right now there is a good bunch or herring in the harbor and everyone is enjoying them – seals, sea lions, gulls, pelicans and local fisherman who are jigging for them(not very successfully.) The harbor is a mix of older commercial boats, cruising boats and charter fishing boats. We tied up next to a charter boat owned by Jackie and Dale. We got together for wine and cheese on evening and Dale told Earl how to catch Humboldt squid while Jackie told me how to cook them. We are looking forward to eating them!

On Sunday, Gabriela, Damien, Ramsay, Andrea and Sarah came for brunch. We all enjoyed it and afterwards they came down to see the boat. Daisy was a big hit with Sarah, and totally broke the ice with her. The rest of the visit she teased Earl, who would oblige by tickling her. They left promising photos as soon as the babies show up.

We left at 7 and are now on our way south to Monterey where we are planning to spend a couple of days. Once again, the seas are wonderful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 10, Pillar Point California

On Wednesday September 2nd, Stuart picked us up for a lovely back road drive from Bodega to Santa Rosa. Out of concern for his father’s nerves, he drove more slowly than his norm, and we all enjoyed the beautiful rural areas along the Russian River through which the road took us. Thursday was a lovely Sonoma Valley day. The boys stayed home, and Mouse, Teri and I went out to shop and lunch. Both were wonderful, as expected. Mouse was quite prepared to stay for a while – not what she expected of California. We left the house at 5 am on Friday for the Santa Rosa (Charles Shultz) airport, the Karis to go south to LA and Mouse to go north. Saturday, Earl and I toured the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is quite unique. The outside is stainless and intriguing, while the inside is mainly fir and warm. There is a wonderful third floor garden. It is definitely worth seeing. The Rhodes wedding was simply great. The weather was perfect, and the setting in a downtown park by the library was magical. Ann and Ben said their vows under a beautiful tree, through which the light was shining. The rest of the evening was delightful – Earl and I enjoyed the floorshow of the younger crowd dancing, something that we had not seen in a long time. Then Sunday am back to Santa Rosa. Teri took me to the Saturday Market, multiple grocery stores, Costco and Trader Joes. By the time I was through, it was not easy getting everything in the car for the trip back to the boat, and quite a challenge to stow the stores.

The seas were calm as we left Bodega Bay on Tuesday afternoon. Our destination was Drakes Bay, a wonderful anchorage formed by Point Reyes. On our way we were surrounded by humpback whales feeding on the surface. It was very exciting. We anchored up and enjoyed the scenery and solitude. Wednesday we departed in the fog headed for Pillar Point which is just south of San Francisco. We will save San Francisco Bay for our return trip. We are planning on staying in Pillar Point until Monday morning. My nephew Ramsay and his wife and child and my niece Gabriela and her husband are coming down for brunch on Sunday. Both ladies are expecting babies in late November/ early December and I am looking forward to seeing them and renewing my acquaintance with little Sarah, who is four. While we are here, I am hoping that we can do some bike riding around Half Moon Bay. One of our electric bikes is not working, so fixing it will be a priority for this stop.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 2, Bodega Bay

We stayed in Fort Bragg until Tuesday, September 1st. Friday, August 28th, was Mousie’s birthday and Mouse and I celebrated by visiting a local pizza parlor for lunch (Earl opted out) and picking up a fancy pie for dessert that night. The marina is old, laidback, and lovely. We were tied up at the very back and felt as if we had our own private area – private except for the wildlife. There were a couple of sea lions that pulled out on the dock near us and barked on and off during the night, and then we had a nightly visit from otters that scurried around on the finger outside our window. Across the river there is a farm with some beautiful horses running in a field and there were all sorts of birds to look at as well. Saturday we did laundry and invited our Canadians over for burgers. They brought the salad and a wonderful cake – wacky cake, so called – that Foster, the 11 year old had made. We all enjoyed the evening. Sunday, Mousie and I left Earl at the boat under Daisy’s care and went into the town to catch the Skunk Train. This is a little old train that goes up through the redwoods. It was wonderful. It only goes about 40 miles, but at 12 mph and a stop for lunch while the engine is refilled with water and turned around, it was a good 4 hour trip. There was an open car that one could stand in and really enjoy the surroundings. Monday, we managed to drag Earl away from the boat to see the movie “Julie and Julia”. Wonderful! The movie theater was small, and the audience no more than 10 people. The occasional commentary by some of the locals was a hoot.

Finally on Tuesday September 1 we left Fort Bragg and headed for a 12 hour run to Bodega Bay. The weather could not have been better and we enjoyed the scenery, including some whales not far off our port. Mouse was amazed at how little development was to be seen on the shore. After a wonderful sunset, the moon lit the way to Bodega. When we arrived at Spud Point Marina in Bodega it was dark, and we found ourselves been assisted in tieing up by our same Canadian friends from Fort Bragg. We are in the slip next to them. We told them that we expect the same service at every port. Today we will clean house (and frig) and Stuart will pick us up and take us to Santa Rosa and we will leave the Serenity for a week. On Friday morning Mousie will leave us to visit a friend in the Dalles near Portland, Oregon and we will fly south for a couple days to attend Ben Rhodes’s wedding in LA. Daisy will stay with Stu and Terri and terrorize their cat.