Archive for the ‘Firsts’ Category

Survived the Festivities
July 7, 2013

Avalon had a double whammy celebration week set with first, the Centennial of the City of Avalon followed by the Fourth of July (and busiest weekend of the year).  In what I consider a major coup, I was not bumped out of the harbor for the duration of the party and so spit shined the boat and put up flags.IMG_0354In the parking lot of the harbor it was easy to spot my boat.  This is what the harbor looks like chocka-block full.

Avalon Harbor Full Up 070413I was at the radio station on the fourth as DJ for the beginning of the day-long live concert that we simulcast from the Casino stage area.

IMG_0371If you didn’t catch that concert and want to check it out you can go to and there should be a link to the archive soon. Getting the sound out was made a bit harder because both the wifi and cell phone reception went wonky this weekend.  Too many people trying to use it, I expect.  It was so intermittent it was as good as shut down.

In other news, I had the privilege of visiting with the new falcon babies as they attempted their first flight on the ball field.  Here are the little featherheads.  They still need names, so if you can think of some good ones, please send me ideas and maybe you’ll win the naming contest.

DSC03092 DSC03096Aside from that, new cartoons going up on the web soon.  I’ve been forewarned about “the August Uglies” that hit folks here who are wiped out by the crowds coming through.  Hopefully I’ll have nothing to report about that.  And we have all of July still to get through.

Dock Dorks to be sold in Seattle WA
June 14, 2013

Coming soon to a store near you (if you happen to be in Washington State). Captain’s Nautical Supply in Seattle will soon be selling Issue One of The LiveAboard DocuComic Series, Dock Dorks.  Please check out their web site for all of the cool things they sell for boaters.

Also new this week, is LifeLines, my boater-centric radio show aired from KISL 88.7 FM here in Avalon.  Tune in online at  There are four or five ways to hear the show live and in a couple of weeks the recorded shows will be available in the archives.

For an under-employed LiveAboard I sure am working hard…

On the Rocks
May 7, 2013

It’s official, I have now earned the title Doofus after drifting up on the rocks yesterday.  I was doing fine until the motor cut out.  I think it has a low idle problem.  Now that I have a manual I will fix it.  That was embarrassing.  No damage done, save to my pride.

I’ve been moving around a bit because when the swells are too big in the harbor it gets a little pukey on the boat.  Shifting to a different mooring can make all the difference in the world; such as when we had a Santa Ana coming in and I came back to find my dinghy gone.  Actually the whole dinghy dock was gone and there was no access to the water.

The patrol came and picked me up and found my dinghy for me.  Apparently when the bumpy water comes in they pull the docks to the side so they won’t bash to bits.  Good plan.

And I finally got a little trip into the interior.  This place is Never Never Land meets Jurassic Park.  IMG_0031

I have been riding twice at Middle Ranch (I always think Middle Earth, as in The Hobbit), and yesterday came to a point during a trail ride when the view took my breath away.  I had mountains, ocean, and horse under my butt all at the same time.  A fantasy come true.Interior

Austin is considering running for Mayor of Avalon.  He has been Glad Pawing all over town, expanding his Pack daily.  This place is good for him – and I think good for me too.DogTiles

Whale Footprints
April 6, 2013

I didn’t know whales had feet.  Google “Whale Footprint” for pictures on line.  My mouth was too busy hanging open to take any of my own photos.  I saw about a dozen of these slick spots in a line right after two whales gave me a full fluke wave ( their tails were wider than my boat was long!).  I only recently learned that the strange group of floating smooth bits were made by the whales.  That solves that mystery.  Sort of.

Spending the day on the water as deckhand on Afishinado Charters.  Fun stuff, that.  Zipping around on a luxurious multihull, bringing joy and amazement to the passengers who don’t usually get to see the nifty water creatures out there.

Island Time
April 5, 2013

The fog that has pillowed my travel in Southern CA waters may be lifting.  In each port I have looked for indications that I could stay put for a while.  Become part of a community.  Many places had strong draws but ultimately I moved on. I see it as the rhythm of the cruiser.  Go, stay, go go go, stay, go, stay stay stay… DSC03077 In some ports the bureaucracy was too demanding and menacing.  Port authorities presented bizarre paranoid hoops to jump through.   Some communities were disjointed and  disinterested.  Some places I didn’t really connect with anyone.  Other places I didn’t have enough time with the cool people I met – like the fabulous folks at the Seal Beach YC.  Wish I could have spent a week with you guys!  Sailing back to San Pedro from Alamitos Bay I succumbed to the sin of racing.  A Cal 24 was gaining on me and I started consciously trying to stay ahead of it.  I miscalculated and went around one of those man-made oil islands and was then in the work boat thru-ways.  A big bumper work boat with 6000 horsepower motors on them roared up and blasted his horn just before his wash knocked my momentum wonky.  What was the point of that?  Rude little boys.  Sound your horn so I can get out of your way in time, or go around.  It’s a big bay.  Idiots.


This is the scary Port Police boat that came to collect my paperwork at a free anchorage.  I guess they are the largest port on the coast so maybe they have a right to be paranoid and nervous.  I decided to flee to the Island to find more hospitable waters.DSC03083

Along the way during the picture-perfect sail we had a wee little wardrobe malfunction.  Fortunately it was a parted seam and not a tear.  I will be able to hand sew it back up with no trouble.  We have the technology.DSC03088At some point I noticed that the water turned a ridiculous Disneyland Aqua blue.  So clear you can see the critters swimming around under the boat.  We made it in to the mooring in time to walk dog, get a bite to eat and go to the movie just as it started playing at the 1920’s Casino building (not a gambling establishment).  The movie was Oz and was beautiful and colorful, but nothing compared to the theater murals when the lights came up.  My wow was amplified when, stepping outside, a perfect cheese orange full moon sat in the sky lighting a path across the harbor – again did Disney have a hand in this?  All of us exiting the theater remarked at how amazingly fake it looked in it’s perfection.  It would have been a jaded comment if we weren’t all grinning like idiots.  Down the pier, to the short dinghy commute and I slept like a rock on my first night in Avalon.

March 3, 2013

I just experienced my personal internal version of global warming.  I caught the classic week-long childhood flu (everything listed on the NyQuil bottle) complete with an escalating fever that reached 102.1 before tapering off.  I usually run a cool 96.8, so that was a bit much. I started wondering at what point does a fever start cooking and killing your brain cells?  I need every one I’ve got.

This is the first time I’ve been sick on the boat other than bouts of Mal de Mer and one freak incident brought on by not enough salt (go figure).  I figured that being on the boat kept me away from the hordes of sniffling coughing humanity and that outside living kept me strong.

Think again.

While radiating so much heat that the dog wouldn’t sit near me I had time to think about how fear of illness is one of the things that prevents people from cruising.  What if I get sick? is a common refrain when justifying not going anywhere.  As my temperature crept up, my buddy boat and I considered options for health care.  I wish I could afford health insurance but I can’t – in this country.  And that means that I cannot also afford any fines that might penalize me for not having health insurance. I have heard about a Cruiser’s Health Insurance, good anywhere in the world.  I’m looking into that.

My Buddy Boater has Kaiser and he called in to see what they would do for him if he had my symptoms.  They were going to sell him a dose of Tamiflu for about $100 (on top of his monthly charges).  Wow.  Tamiflu that isn’t useful after being sick for 48 hours and has a ton of side effects.

The local walk-in clinic said they would charge $100-200 for the check up and any medicines would be additional.  I didn’t want to pay them to tell me to do what I was already doing – constant fluids, chicken soup, rest.

Fortunately this morning I am on the mend.  And the answer to What if I get sick? is the same whether you are on a boat or on land.  You take care of yourself the best you can.  And hopefully you have a Buddy who brings you ice and Kefir and ginger ale.



In the Shadow of the Muffin Top
December 13, 2012

Imagine an open boat in the dark on the roiling ocean occupied by a lone person and a hungry animal.

No, it’s not Life of Pi, it’s me and Austin on my first solo overnight on the big blue.

It’s daunting to commit yourself to 24+ hours of unknown.  That’s what you do for the longer than day-trip stretches of this kind of travel.  The best I can manage is be as prepared as possible.  With a newly installed GPS, warm clothes, a three day weather window, plenty of fuel and supplies, safety gear, etc. there was nothing left but fear to hold us back.  So we left.

Sadly, there was no wind to speak of.  My sails were up, ready to catch whatever poofed by, but mostly they flogged themselves.  The outboard was put to the test to keep us in cooperation with the swells pushing down the coast in big rolling surges.  When I found the sweet spot on what I now think of as Riding The Eskers (a geographic ridge concept I became aware of on the East Coast), the engine did not cavitate and we pushed along at a good clip.  It’s when the bow went down and the stern lifted from the water that I got the rrrrRRRRRrrrrrrRRRRRRrrrrr that is not so good for the Honda.

The moon came up on the horizon like a sliver of cheddar cheese.  I watched Orion’s belt slide from low to high in the sky, and deliberately did not look at the clock.  It didn’t matter.  We were waiting on sunrise.  From my prone position in the cockpit where I tried to get some sleep, I could open my eyes and see the distant curve of the coastal mountains and some lights.  The water was a black undulating alive thing that was regular in it’s unpredictable rhythms.

The sky was clear and studded with stars but the dew made everything sodden, including me. Note to self to use the cockpit cover next time to stay dry.  I was in a surreal state of Mal de Mer where every decision took a long period of deliberation.  Not even my ginger could counteract the washing machine agitation effects of a sea without a steadying wind in the sails.

At sunrise we could appreciate how far down the coast we had come and welcomed the drying warmth.  Austin did not make a peep for 24 hours.  He was wrapped in his blanket in his usual spot in the cockpit, didn’t quiver, didn’t groan, didn’t complain.  It was in the shadow of the Morro Bay Muffin Top Rock, when he felt a landing was imminent, that he went coo coo and wiggled out of his pfd.  I had to pull the naked dog through the dodger zipper and put him below, squealing, while trying to steer through a famously dangerous port entrance.

We had seen whales show their flukes right next to the boat, some large flat jelly plates floating in groups on the surface (???), other cruisers passing us by on the same route, and managed to miss hitting any crab pots that mine the coast.  We survived another one.


Sea Critters and NOAA
November 29, 2012

I’ve been to a lot of aquariums over the years and nothing beats seeing the animals and birds in their natural environment.  In Monterey Bay there was a pod of Risso Dolphins, that look like small greyish white whales with dark fins, crossing La Bonita’s path.  Thrilling.  The ubiquitous Harbor Seals get aggressive and charge the boat like hoodlums when you coast through their feeding and snoozing grounds.  But the presumed benign sea otter presented the weirdest sight so far.

A bunch of tourists looking down at a small cove spied a sea otter and what looked like an adult Grebe (pointy beaked sea bird), hanging out together companionably.  As they got near the beach the sea otter suddenly grabbed the bird and rolled it underwater, holding it’s head underwater and biting it.  The tourists gasped at what looked like an otter eating a bird.  Since when do otters eat birds???  After a minute or two of mauling the otter let go and the bird lay limp and head down in the water.  We felt we’d just witnessed a murder.  The otter killed the bird!  someone cried out.  Indeed, it lay there still for a long time.  And then, the bird lifted its head, shook it off and swam just out of reach of the otter.  It’s ALIVE! came the cry from the tourists, and we had no idea what we had just seen.  Sea otter sadism?

On a less weird note, we got to visit the NOAA weather station while in Monterey.  The head meteorologist, Mark Strobin, had invited anyone at his lecture a few years ago at the Berkeley Yacht Club to stop in when in town.  So we did.  We got to see the hub of weather prediction on the West Coast and express our huge appreciation for the work they do that lets us have a much better chance of staying safe out on the water.  For their part they seemed tickled that anyone would trek through the guard gates on a stormy afternoon to give them kudos.  Normally they only get noticed when they do something wrong.  So thanks NOAA, for all you do!

October 30, 2012

Despite the Golden Gate Troll that puts up a strong force field to keep the watery denizens of the Bay inside, I broke through and am on the OUTside now.  How thrilling is THAT?  The fog lifted just long enough for us to slip under.  Channel 14 Traffic Control said there would be no big tankers expected for a couple of hours, so we went for it.

The fog was like a curtain that came and went. The sun was on the other side.

We headed for the sun.

I have asked others what it is like to transition from the choppy Bay water to the Ocean.  No one so far has really offered a description that poetically does the experience justice. So here’s my attempt.

  If the Bay is a trot, the Ocean is a canter.  If the Bay is jiggling jello, the Ocean is a table cloth being shaken out and I’m a crumb.  The ocean swells are the undulating back of an arching cat and I’m a flea.

The environment of the landless water is alien at first and then you can’t imagine any other kind of world.

Choosing to go Out is to choose to put your body through a deliberate unfamiliar physical experience, like birthing or a car crash or flying.  Your body is out of it’s comfort zone for a period of time.  I think of the movies when the protagonists go from one plane of reality to another – like through a worm hole in Star Trek, or into John Malkovich’s brain.  It’s not necessarily comfortable at first but you are glad to do it, and do it again, and your memory of the queasy disquiet is short.  The thrill of freedom remains.

For some, the experience of On Ocean gets to be as natural as On Land.  Then you are hooked.

There is plenty to fear on the Outside.
But if you are dedicated to the idea of Safety, you don’t own a boat.

Going under the Golden Gate for the first time is a big deal.  It’s like a rite of passage, literally.  Like any other transitional phase, if you get the notion you have to do it, you will only feel regret until you make it so.

This is the Golden Gate Bridge as we leave it behind…

White Out
October 20, 2012


The Alternative Press Expo was both overwhelming and less-than my great expectations set me up for.  What was I thinking?  This is a tough crowd!  I managed to ferret out the handful of boaters in the comic geek group.  I may do better at sailing shows, but this expo thing is energy-intense.  My great thanks go out to the friends who showed up to bolster my resolve and shlep the heavy boxes to and fro.  B & E, for example!  And I wore my Jacky Faber “Bloody Jack” t-shirt, as she is my literary sailor hero.  My table-mate didn’t show up so I eventually spread out over the whole table.



The surprise favorite draw to the table was the Hyacinth Heffalump.  Woven out of Delta Hyacinth, collected and dried and made by moi, the heffalump was a hit.  Many people asked to take pictures of it.





the goofy muppyety grin apparently caught the imagination of the cartoon crowd who stopped to check it out.

I enjoyed meeting other cartoonists and hope that this was the first step to becoming a regular part of the cartooning community.

Sunday night was absolutely stunning and mild.  I enjoyed the ball game from the sidewalk outside the park (even though the home team lost).

        And the next day the Bay was hit with

         a total white out.  I could not see

         the Bay Bridge from the marina.

       But I had to leave, because someone

      else had reserved my marina slip…

     And at first it went well.  A

circle of sunshine seemed to follow my

boat as I scooted out of the way of

the Millenium Star, barreling under the

Bay Bridge.  Then I got into familiar home territory and the curtain went down.  Wow.

There’s this thing called Dead Reckoning.  Not sure why it’s called that, but I guess I Reckon if you don’t pay attention, you’re Dead.  At any rate, I thank the folks who built the Berkeley Pier in the 20’s.  It helped me find my way back to the entrance of the marina as I bonged my oversized cowbell which rang elegantly through the fog.

And as soon as I tied up under the yacht club the fog evaporated completely.

Go figure.