Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category

Redondo Beach and more
March 24, 2013

I stuck my nose out into the fog at Marina del Rey to see if the NOAA water vapor loop was accurate.  It showed dry clear weather, but my eyes saw a whiteout.  Upon inquiry at NOAA I was informed that the loop only measures cloud cover 16,000 miles up – great if I were going to be flying.

To my delight, it was clear just outside of the marina.  A bubble of sunshine escorted me to Redondo Beach, around the Chevron tanker and tugs.  Once inside the breakwater the fog closed in again and didn’t clear up for two days.  Here is the King Harbor YC web cam view.  RBguestdock

An excellent dog park within biking distance was the main attraction.  As I was leaving the yacht club was installing their docks back in for the season on those empty piling posts above.

My next stop was Hurricane Gulch YC in San Pedro.  HGYC is a paper club that still manages to accommodate traveling cruisers through an arrangement with Cabrillo Marina.  They have possibly the most active cruising schedule I’ve seen, with 11 trips planned during the year.  As a group they have decided that the camaraderie of trips is more important than having an expensive clubhouse to maintain.  I was treated to an excellent tour of town, a tall ship, and the mammal rescue center.  Thanks Jeff, Chuck and Barbara!

Cabrillo Beach YC was right around the corner and much closer to the dangerously fun Kelly’s boat consignment store where I picked up the coveted Bruce anchor I’ve been hunting for.  The marina is a great place to walk the dog, with a nice grassy greenbelt area nearby, but the offleash dog park under the bridge is a bit bleak.

It turns out the Long Beach harbor from San Pedro to Alamitos Bay is similar in size (end to end)  to the Bay Area from Richmond Bridge to Bay Bridge, with about the same amount of traffic.  The Alamitos Bay YC hosted me for three days and we did a burgee swap at their monthly membership meeting.

CaptureTheFlagABYCDogs are not allowed on the beach except at Rosie’s Dog Beach, a bit of a walk up the Ocean Park walkway, on the way to the Arco that sells gas $1 cheaper/gal. than at the marine fuel dock.

Sailing Over the Ocean Blue
February 8, 2013

Dock life is different than anchorage life is different than being underway.  You worry about different things, prepare yourself differently, think differently.  Even where stuff is put away in the boat changes depending on the condition of motion or stillness.

Shifting from comfortable complacent dock life to uncertain, possibly wretched mobility brings a certain amount of anxiety – which goes away once you’re out there and quickly forget you ever were tied to a chunk of floating wood called a dock.

I spaced out taking any seasick meds for the “quick” trip to Oxnard and consequently had a nasty time on what should have been a friendly daysail.  Boo.

I wanted to enjoy the ten hours to Marina del Rey and so inhaled my Bonine and ginger with fervor.  The swells were pushing us as fast as 10kts at times and the wing on wing sails were unstable and needed constant tending.  The autohelm was overwhelmed by the radius of swing and tried to round up several times before I told it to take the day off and hand steered the rest of the way.  I should have gone closer to shore as my buddy boat did and used a more comfortable point of sail, but I was in a kind of trance, watching waves, watching sails, mesmerized by all the motion.

Within sight of the harbor entrance, the wind died but the swells did not.  Now flogging helplessly, the sails had to come down.  This is exactly the conditions in which my beloved outboard is least productive.  For the last two hours I steered facing backwards, timing a serpentine swivel of the tiller to coincide with the top of the big swells to keep the prop in the water.  Like turning on the mogul when downhill skiing.

This took all of my concentration and muscle and if I listened to my buddy boat yelling at me “what the hell are you doing?” I would lose the rhythm and the outboard would cavitate tragically.  And thus we entered Marina del Rey (MdR) and were guests at the lovely Del Rey Yacht Club.  Austin has fared well on all of our trips, and philosophically calculates that the relatively short periods of discomfort in travel are more than made up for by the new smells, cafes with bacon, and beach runs that come after.


Funky Time Travel
February 6, 2013

It is common experience that as you age it feels like time moves faster.  On a sailboat the phenomenon is amplified.   My last entry was about our New Year’s Eve victory of getting past Pt. Conception.  After a very surgey anchorage at Cojo ( akin to being rocked to sleep by an angry teenager; go to SLEEP, go to SLEEP), we had a beautiful sunrise trip to Santa Barbara.DSC03028

The water turned glassy and dolphins raced the boat as we entered the harbor and found the temporary tie up dock.  Santa Barbara is in a pickle because they are doing a major rebuild of their docks and so have none to spare to travelers.  We only managed to find a spot because we offered to double up in a 50 ft. slip and promised to leave promptly when asked.  When the yacht club opened on Wednesday we managed to use their docks for a few days.  Santa Barbara Yacht Club has the best nachos I’ve ever eaten.

Ventura was next and we absolutely loved how welcome we felt at the yacht club.  Austin made a little friend, Bella, who ran around with him on the beach.  We liked it so well there we got an application for the marina and are still considering returning there to stay for 6 – 8 months.


But since our goal was to tag up at Chula Vista before making a decision about where to stay, we got antsy and had to go.  Plus the Anacapa Yacht Club asked me if I would give a book talk for their Friday night dinner entertainment.  I made the presentation into a little movie you can see here.  While in Oxnard at Channel Island Harbor we also spent one night at the Pacific Corinthian YC where we had a delicious dinner and sat in the famed jacuzzi.  Bliss.

The next leg to Marina del Rey was promising to be ten hours long and we were ambivalent about leaving.  It is VERY easy to let inertia take over your cruising brain.  Life goes on with bills to pay and contacts to maintain, repairs to make, provisions to buy.  Time whips by at a snail’s pace and it is easy to become overwhelmed in the bizzy bizzy chore cycle.  There have been no dull moments.

Coming soon, the trip to Marina del Rey…





Accuracy in Reporting
January 2, 2013

One of the lessons on this trip thus far is that Reputation May Exceed Reality.

Not really surprising if you consider the tradition of tall tales told by salty folk.

Translation: the hype and anxiety of Point Conception back in the SF Bay is not shared by locals from Morro Bay to Santa Barbara.  They have learned to live with the many moods of Point C and gauge their travel past it to suit.  Similar to navigating the bipolar swings of a spouse, perhaps?  The Golden Gate Bridge is another such Bogeyman, and stories abound of vessels crashing on the rocks, tossed on the Potato Patch, or bashing into a tanker in the fog prevent many a sailor from attempting to get Out.

Another story we are told is that one shouldn’t travel down the coast in the winter.  While it’s true that you can get stuck waiting between weather windows and ambushed by winter squalls, the clarity of the atmosphere at this time of year might just make it less dangerous than in the summer when fog obscures everything and there are far more boats out and about with which to collide.  Sure, it’s been a bit chilly, but that’s what foulies and long johns are for.  Satellite images are immensely helpful in anticipating weather and what to expect.

I do not wish to downplay the potential for disaster.  I consider my utmost respect for the Ocean’s variable nature to be my key survival tool.  As always, Anything Can Happen, and Usually Does.  But I will henceforth try to reserve my anxiety for situations that are plainly hazardous and not just rumored to be sometimes so.  My stomach will feel better, and I think I will become a better, more confident sailor in the long run.

Kudos to the Morro Bay Yacht Club.  They were gracious with us throughout our extended stay, were inclusive, amused, and only asked us when we were planning on leaving a few dozen times.-1Photo taken by traveling Catamaran Zen – Thanks, French!

PupSack and Storms
December 3, 2012

I have a foldy bike but have not been able to use it since I got Austin.  The first time I tried to ride with him running alongside, he promptly zippered in front of the bike after a squirrel, and I ran over him.  He guilt-checked me for weeks afterwards as he forlornly licked his boo boo and gazed at me meaningfully.  So it was a happy day recently when Austin finally let me shlep him around in a bag I made deliberately to carry him.

PupSack3Between my Itzy clown bike and the big-eared dog looking over my shoulder, we got a lot of attention.
One little girl said, “mommy, why is that dog in her backpack?” the answer was, “because the doggy doesn’t have a bicycle.”

I have found that any time out from actual sailing time makes me a bit lazy.  There are a different set of skills and considerations for travel, at anchor, and at the dock.  Each takes a different kind of energy and attention.  But once back on the water, it’s the only place to be.MontereySail

The recent storm system that blasted through was not enough to prevent a visit to a local state park during a flood-warning, tree-breaking, high-wind downpour.  So glad not to be trying to sail in THAT!RainyDay

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…

What a Drag – when trash lurks at the bottom
August 31, 2012

I was looking forward to my anchor-out time at Treasure Island, but after the first three times that I had to re-set the Danforth because it picked up bottom-trash from previous visitors (old rope infused with mud, plastic bags filled with who-knows-what),  I thought to rename the cove Trash-ure Island. My efforts turned out to be the entertainment of the afternoon.  “Look at that poor noodlehead single-hander, honey,” I imagine they were saying.  Later I was hailed by a chartered Adventure Cat 20′ wide Chartered Catamaran wedding party, “Hey Brattleboro!” the father of the bride hollered, “We’re from Bennington!” Demonstrating that even far from my landlocked heartland the letters VT can still inspire enthusiasm from far-from-home Right Coasters.

I finally found a spot that appeared to be clean and the anchor held.  Because there were no boats near me and I was pretty close to the guest dock and beach, I put a stern anchor out as well.  Then it was pure bliss for three days.  The wind stopped, the Harley Convention went somewhere else, and the air siren at noon on Tuesday was “ONLY A TEST,” as confirmed by a mechanical voice somewhere in the shrubbery.

Austin was in good spirits, thanks to the easy twice-a-day trip to the clean beach.  He even let me bury him in the sand until I got to his front paws.

Our trip to Richmond and the hidden jewel of the Point San Pablo Yacht Club was uneventful.  We got in after a stop in Berkeley to wash off the mud the stench of which I thought I’d never stop smelling.  And yes, I did wash under my nose.  Why am I surprised that the mud of the Petaluma smells just like the mud of Treasure Island?

We got in just in time for a beautiful moonrise, calm and clear.  And except for the squealing of the train switching yard and noises from KKMI boat yard, it’s a surprisingly peaceful industrial area.  Plus, the YC folks are extremely friendly.

It turned out to be just the place to continue working on my almost finished first issue of The LiveAboard Docucomic Series, Dock Dorks.
Thanks PSPYC!

Back to the Beginning
March 1, 2012

I spent the month of February at the marina where I began my life as a LiveAboard.  I was dog and boat sitting for friends on vacation. It was nice to catch up with folks I haven’t seen for a while, but I can’t say I miss the old slip.  I take this as confirmation that I am doing right by changing up marinas every other year.

All four marinas I have lived in so far have had different flavors and quirks.  I can’t work out what exactly makes them different until I leave and can look back from a distance.

There is a tension in some of the marinas that I believe stems from two vastly different real estate users living elbow to elbow.  You can call them Haves and Have Nots, or Landlubbers and LiveAboards.  It’s not about class structure, but money and values do have a part.  There is a distinct hierarchy from Sailboats to Motorboats to Boxes on Barges to RVs.  The folks in the condos overlooking the marina either envy the boaters or think they’re nuts.  I find I am not comfortable with the confrontation of high contrast ideals in opposition at close quarters.

As a continuation of my social anthropology studies I decided to Go Native here on the Peninsula for a day and was a makeup model for a girl trying to get a job at a spa at the Stanford Mall.  The girl should have quit before she started.  She had no idea what Palo Alto upper crust want to look like, particularly a “mature” woman such as myself (aka “old”).  I knew it was going to be a disaster when she started putting prosthetic eyelashes on me.
It was pretty gross, made me look cross-eyed, hurt, and my whole face felt sticky after the TWO HOURS which she had said would be 20 minutes.
To add insult to injury, she bolted without graciously transacting the “negotiable compensation” we had discussed.  Not only was I transformed into a trollop, but scammed by a Craigslister. Mostly I feel sorry for women who feel like they have to put on this elaborate mask before they can leave the house.  It’s hard work to be beautiful.  I think I’m just too lazy for that lifestyle.  I’ll go back to my sailboat, thank you.

I have enjoyed the good reception I can get on my cell phone in this “metropolis” and hot and cold running water and wifi.  It’s easy to spend too much time on the computer when anticipating returning to spotty internet and dropped calls.  The price for living in the boonies.

The bread I made in the mysterious convection oven contraption was edible and frugal. The extra space in the galley inspired me to make more complex meals than I normally attempt in my 2′ x 2′ foodery at home.

I did not get a fraction of what I had planned accomplished while here.  My main task has been to encourage readers to help get the first issue of The LiveAboard cartoon, Volume I, Dock Dorks, published.  Through a referral program with my printing company, Printing For Less, my cartoon printing project gets cheaper when friends try their services for free.  If you have any need for business or boat cards, they do a great job and the first 500 turn out to be free with the $50 intro using my referral number: RP1JT7C56
Click here and here to get complete info about how to order your cards and/or pre-order a signed, numbered first edition of the The LiveAboard Volume I Issue I Dock Dorks docucomic.

Eggs and Pears at the Hotel California
October 29, 2011

I still haven’t quite left this place yet.  I am only anxious in the sense that the weather is growing cooler and I’d like to be safe behind my wall-o-eucalyptus before the first storms of the season hit.  Plus there’s a strange endless routine of boat cleaning and painting that I have fallen into as I try to help my friends ready their sailboat for sale. There’s an anticipatory tension in the air that I can’t quite shake.

There’s also been smoke in the air.  The controlled burns are very dramatic, and pretty in an awful way.

We are surrounded by pear orchards.  In the evening I walk Austin through the rows of trees and there is a strange musty smell that I do not associate with dirt, rotting fruit, or grass.  Can’t identify it.  And I’ve been told that there are semi-wild dogs in the orchard who are deliberately not fed so that they catch the rats.  Austin looks a little too much like a white rabbit so I’m always on guard.

The business we are docked at does a vigorous wedding business on the weekends.  The building is all white and gold and ornament with incessant hot and cold running Mozart.  It puts one in the mood to get married.  Austin still hasn’t said yes.

Yesterday we scored a dozen eggs from a neighbor who keeps chickens.  The little brown eggs were precious both because I could see and hear the chickens who laid them and that I walked a mile down the road to retrieve them and never set foot in a store.  They feel like a treasure.



October 10, 2011

The San Joaquin River was like a highway on Friday.  We managed to sail a little bit but after a while the traffic was so heavy it hardly seemed worth it.  One particular Chris Craft roared by so close we believed he had malicious intent.  My poor boat rocked hard as there was no way to turn into the instant wave and no way to get out of the way.

Then we were beset by Cigarette Boats.   These are sleek, shiny, brightly colored, high octane, LOUD, speed boats.  They travel in packs of a dozen or more and they go so fast you don’t see the boat, only the spray.  We were told there was a “Poker Run” this weekend.  It was explained as a river rally with stops where participants collect playing cards.  The faster you get there the better the card you get, the best hand wins the weekend.  Much alcohol is imbibed.  I was pretty sure I was going to die when I saw the first dozen coming straight at us.  If we can’t see them, how can they see us.  No chance of getting out of their way and so you sit still and pray. I call this River Terrorism.

The fright of the Cig Boats was alleviated by the extreme kindness of the Village West Yacht Club folks.  They let us stay at their dock, chatted with us over sake, and even lent us their Patio Boat to get over to The Garlic Brothers Restaurant across the lagoon.  The food quality fluctuates depending on who is cooking but I’m told the pizza is always good.  I was mightily impressed the next day when a large group of yacht club members arrived on time to the work day and proceeded to clean and groom their clubhouse and grounds.  They couldn’t do much about the floating islands of water hyacinth other than wait for the current to haul them away.

The next day we toodled down to Stockton which was, as advertised, socked in with the same hyacinth, but to the point where R. would not take his catamaran into the downtown area.  We scooted behind a big Seascout boat that broke open a path for us and docked for a few hours.  What can you say about Stockton?  Nice city park.  Great rootbeer float and hamburger at Moo Moos.  Ok, been there, done that.  Back to the Stockton Sailing Club.

We did not anticipate the relief and happiness we felt when we entered a marina blissfully populated with a forest of masts.  Our People!  After suffering many indignities from stinky loud powerboaters ( who are mostly polite, if truth be told, but you mostly remember the bad ones), we were grateful to see “our kind.”  We like it so well we decided to stay all three days – and maybe thus avoid the return of the Cig Boats from their Poker Run.