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Ship’s Blog » 2009» January

Archive for January, 2009

January 1st, 2009

Monday, January 26th, 2009

January 2009

Traveling is great, but we still think of friends old and new, and wish we could gather you all together and spend some time with each of you. We thank you all for the support and encouragement we couldn’t have lived without this year. We wish you a healthy, inspiring, Mid-winter/Mid-summer Celebration (depending on where you find yourself) with as much adventure as you want and as much “nesting” as you need. “Where you go, go well, and a fair wind blow.”

PS: Look below for the story of the last few months. Scroll down to September 15th to start at the beginning. And scroll down just a little further for the photos.

2008 from September to December

Monday, January 26th, 2009

2008 from September to December

It has taken months to put together the story of the trip down the West Coast. There are several new Blog entries here. We will post them in the following (reverse) chronological order:

November 15-December 26, 2008: Australia
October 14-November 15, 2008: Alameda, California
September 25-October 14, 2008: Sausalito, California
September 20-24, 2008: Coos Bay to San Francisco Bay
September 15-18, 2008 Port Townsend to Coos Bay

October 14th-November 15th, 2008: Alameda, California

Monday, January 26th, 2009

October 14, 2008: Alameda, California

Today we slipped the mooring in Sausalito and headed across San Francisco Bay, bound for Alameda. A more interesting trip than we expected: interesting because a huge Cosco freight carrier came up behind us, passed us as we motored under the Bay Bridge, and then turned sharply to port, crossing about 1/4 mile ahead of us. Naturally she headed exactly where we were headed. Luckily, she was pulled over by her two tugs, just before we picked up Guy Stephens, our knowledgeable native guide, at the end of his dock, and then headed under 4 more bridges, three of which had to open for us. Great fun heading down the narrow channel, blowing the horn, one long followed by one short, to get the bridges to open. There is only one bridge-keeper, so he has to stop the traffic, open the bridge, wait for the boat to go through, close the bridge, let the traffic go, run to the next bridge and do the same. We certainly appreciated this, and especially when the third bridge opened just at the rush-hour closing time. He could have made us wait, but he let us through.

October 15th, 2008

We are now at a dock behind a house in Alameda. It’s less rolly and quieter here than Sausalito. Spent today getting Australia visa for Pat and tickets for both. Won’t go into the hours of frustration trying to find a travel agent in Sausalito (don’t bother-there isn’t one).

Took a long walk and bus ride to check out the area. Great grocery store not far away. Staggered back to the boat, loaded with groceries, and had a quick stir-fry before Guy picked us up to take us to Aikido in the park. This was a first for Pat, and a refresher for Tony, who had done it for a year more than 20 years ago. We loved it. What a great way to meet some wonderful people of Alameda - good teachers, lots of fun, with hearts of gold. And we both loved the workout.

Now we are spending our time getting the boat and ourselves sorted out for the winter. The weather is so perfect here. 82+ degrees and sun for the next week at least. This is the weather we have been waiting for! Let’s hope fall never arrives!

September 25th-October 14th, 2008: Sausalito, California

Monday, January 26th, 2009

September25-October  14th : Sausalito, California
Now we are moored in Sausalito, and it’s taken a while to recover from all those months (years!) of prep and the trip itself. The members of the Yacht Club here have been extremely warm and welcoming. We have explored this part of Sausalito on foot, checking out the little stores and picnicking in the park.
One day, David Lovine (Shanteyman from Lady Washington) came over on the ferry, bringing us goodies from the bakery and a wonderful phone to use while in the US, as well as a little survival package of bus/ferry information, including a bus card and a Peet’s Coffee card. What a welcome! It felt great to sit with David in sunny Sausalito and picnic while watching the boat on her mooring.
The first Saturday night, we took the ferry over to the Hyde St. Pier to attend a concert (Geoff Kauffman, from Mystic Seaport). Many thanks to the Holdstocks who left us tickets. The ferry ride takes an hour, and there is one stop along the way, at Tiberon (home, rumour has it, of some of the best high-end consignment stores in town). Then it goes by Alcatraz. We were reminded, on this trip, of the climate here. It gets quite warm in the daytime (up to 85F) and then gets very cold at night (down to 50F).
Getting off the ferry in San Francisco, we found ourselves in the middle of a frantic, noisy, busy, tourist area. Wall to wall people, scam artists, hustlers, buskers of every description. Fast food, fast souvenirs, fast music, fast talkers.
Then, waiting outside the gates at the Hyde  St. Pier, we began to meet some of the folkies lined up for the concert. Within a few minutes we had two offers of a ride home (the ferries stop early and we were planning to take the bus). The concert took place on board Balclutha, an old square-rigger, the original inspiration for Tony’s song “Kings of the Western Ocean”. We enjoyed Geoff’s concert, which afforded lots of chorus opportunities, with some familiar songs and some we had never heard before. Geoff has lots of historical info. about the songs, and uses bones and concertina and guitar to accompany himself. We were also pleased to meet Peter Kasin, the park ranger who organizes the music at Hyde St. Pier, and to meet some of the other folkies at the concert (JD, Cara says “hi”). The whole Pier is a must-see for anyone interested in Tall Ships and the lives of traditional sailors. There are a number of priceless vessels preserved at the docks. (check out the website).
On the drive home from the concert we chatted with our new friend, who told us that there had, a few years ago, been a wonderful event at the Hyde St. Pier for his father-in-law, a sea song researcher. Turns out that his father-in-law was Doerflinger, a source mentioned often in Hugill’s books!
We have spent some time here researching places to leave the boat for the winter while we head out to Aus. for Xmas. The Yacht Club allows 7-10 days on their moorings. It’s been great because we also can be online most of the time, the members and staff are great, and the showers are excellent. There is always something happening at the club, and cruisers are made most welcome. One afternoon we were hanging around the club getting to know many of the fascinating folks there. Afternoon turned to evening and then there was a BBQ happening, and it was long after dark before we got back to the boat.
On Sunday, Maltese Falcon made her grand entrance into San Francisco Bay (See Ship’s Blog for more details). There were hundreds of boats sailing and motoring around the Bay to welcome her. ( as it turns out, one got a little too close!) The Yacht Club was packed and cameras were flashing. Craig and Vicky from the schooner Magic joined us for a picnic in the park. Then we all had drinks on the Yacht Club patio waiting for the big boat. She arrived, fashionably late, and presented quite a sight as she circled the Bay and then anchored close by. The view out the ports right now is boats from the USA, Canada and Holland, the San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the ferry terminal, the Yacht Club and Maltese Falcon.
On Monday night, Forbes arrived from Nevada City in his camper van. We’ve been enjoying having him close by for a few days. Yesterday we all walked down to see the Bay Model. This is a huge working model of San Francisco Bay. Seems it was originally built to test peoples’ ideas of what should be done to manage the huge watershed that feeds the Bay area. There is real water in it, and it simulates the water movement in the entire watershed, both fresh and salt. It is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and you could spend days going through it and learning about water management and conservation. We have been told that local sailors check out the Bay Model when they are planning a race.
The following days in Sausalito passed all too quickly, filled with “chores” such as checking out places to leave the boat, continuing to clean up and organize on-board, finding where to do banking and laundry and grocery shopping, and learning about San Francisco.
One day, we had a San Francisco Public Transportation Tutorial with David LoVine. We took a different ferry to the Ferry Terminal. The Terminal Building was full of activity – shops and food and a farmer’s market and Peet’s Coffee. “Great place to window- shop”, we were advised, “But don’t buy anything there-it’s too expensive.”
After sampling Peet’s wares, we walked up the street and learned how to use the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). You have to understand a slightly complicated process for paying your money and getting your change and using your ticket. The BART took us all the way to the airport (a dry run for next month’s trip). The BART left us just a few feet away from the right terminal. On the train, we enjoyed the view and the many creative outfits people were wearing to the Bluegrass Festival, Lovefest, Octoberfest, and the many other events San Francisco seems to offer on a regular basis. We returned to the Terminal area and took a couple of different buses through Chinatown and Little Italy. Dinner in an Irish Pub was followed by a trip to Ghiardelli’s, an over-the-top chocolate and ice cream heaven. It’s an entertaining event just to go into the Ice Cream Parlour and watch everyone getting his or her treats. We had Hot Fudge Sundaes and watched the chocolate being made in huge vats.
Then we headed over to Hyde Street Pier to attend the monthly Chantey Sing on Balclutha. This time, instead of a concert, about 70 or 80 folks attended to share shanties. Peter Kasin, the park ranger, expertly hosts this evening and we had a great time. Peter and the “regulars” there know a lot of chanteys and are extremely well informed about the history and function of these working songs of the tall ships. We especially enjoyed the many opportunities to harmonize and to learn some brand-new songs. We each led a few songs, and Tony was thrilled to be able to sing “Kings of the Western Ocean” on board the ship. Many thanks to David for facilitating such a fun-filled, action-packed day in SF.
On Monday, Craig (Schooner Magic) kindly picked us up and drove us out to sort out a place to leave the boat for a few months at a safe and secure dock. Then he took us home with him to Sonoma. We loved seeing the desert landscape and driving through wine country. A tour of downtown Sonoma with Craig and Vicky delighted us—many historic buildings including some intriguing old barracks dating back to the first Spanish involvement with the area. We stopped at “The Patch” for fresh organic veggies for dinner. The Patch is a community-operated vegetable garden that provides both jobs and fresh local vegetables in the area. We also got to taste some more interesting and delicious (you guessed it) ice-cream-this time it was Mexican Freeze pops a bit like fudgecicles, and very tasty), to fossick around a Thrift Shop, and to watch a great bunch of kids rehearsing a dance number in an old-style, beautiful theatre.
Craig & Vicky are staying at the home of Craig’s sister, Barbara. An interior designer of significant talent, Barbara has built a magnificent home with tons of recycled real old barn wood. Her solar power arrangements put electricity back into the grid!
The days are passing all too quickly with lots of business (plans to leave the boat, banking and all the mundane everyday chores that become more like adventures when you are in a new place). We’ve also had several different tours of Sausalito, with Lee and with Rod (both of whom we met at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival). We saw a number of interesting boats with Lee, and met some fascinating people who live and play on their boats here. Heard lots of history of the area—some of which would not be found in official history books. With Rod, we toured the Spaulding Wooden Boat Centre and were most impressed with the staff and volunteers, and all the work they are doing to restore and maintain classic boats and to keep them on the water. The volunteers at this centre get lots of chances to sail! We appreciated very much these “inside” tours of the area, as we saw and learned things we would never have seen on our own.
We also spent some more time at the Hyde St. Pier, enjoying a Living History event (people taking on 1901 personae, dressed as ship’s captains, suffragettes, etc.) tasting a typical meal from a 1901 ship (officer’s mess, so actually quite delicious, lobscouse is not that bad!), and at the same time, watching the Airshow (Canadian Snowbirds and American Blue Angels). The Airshow was just one part of Fleet Week (when the Military comes to town) and the town was buzzing. Traffic jams everywhere and zillions of sailboats on the Bay.
Because of high winds and another Airshow over the Bay, we postponed a planned sailing day on Sunday, taking a quiet day on the boat instead (although it was anything but quiet with all the wakes from the many powerboats taking people out to watch the Airshow).
Life is never dull in Sausalito—at least, not in the harbour. One night we took the boat in to the Yacht Club dock for a couple of hours, as a number of the members had expressed an interest in seeing the interior. (No one stays at the dock long—it’s far too rolly there and you are allowed two hours max.). We had a lovely time visiting with folks and enjoying  yet another Thursday night BBQ. Then it got a bit crazy as the wind piped up just as we were leaving. We were fully occupied picking up the mooring in the dark, and managed to sustain a wee bit of damage to the bulwarks in the process. At the same time, another Canadian boat dragged anchor and bumped into the catamaran (Puddytat), then headed off, sans crew, in the direction of Maltese Falcon. Since the owners of the stray boat were not aboard, the Puddytat  crew had called the Coast Guard, but the owners managed to row out and catch their elusive vessel just before the Coast Guard arrived. All was well in the end, as it appears there was no damage done. That was a good thing, because at least three boats had dragged that night. Local wisdom calls for multiple anchors a la Bahamian mooring.
The next night, we awoke about midnight to find a horrific and awesome sight—Angel Island, just across the Bay, was engulfed in flames - a most surreal spectacle, with flames leaping into the sky all the way to the top of the small mountain in the centre. Luckily, Angel Island is uninhabited, having once housed an old military base. It’s historic buildings remained undamaged by the fire, which burned into the next day. Sunrise infused a fiery hue behind the blanket of smoke around the Island. For most of the day the mountain continued to glow like the coals in a campfire, while helicopters dropped water and flame retardant into the smoke. This was a light show we’d rather not have witnessed.
We spent the next day touring by bus again with David Lovine. This time we ventured north to Marin County and San Rafael. Checked out some thrift shops, enjoyed the different scenery and houses, visited an outdoor theatre where David had performed in “Under Milkwood” last summer. It’s good to see the haunts of long-time friends, and this very unusual historic garden theatre was another example of places we’d never have found on our own.
There is not enough time or room to share all the great moments in Sausalito. We would love to have been able to follow up and visit with many of the folks we met there.
But it was soon time to head out to our winter berth for the next stage of the adventure.

September 20-24th, 2008: Coos Bay to San Francisco

Monday, January 26th, 2009

September 20-24th : Coos Bay to San Francisco Bay

We had planned to spend several days in Coos Bay, cleaning, re-stowing, adjusting a few things, visiting with folks and exploring the area. All the other cruisers were leaving on the 20th, but after they left, we checked the Weatherfax again and decided we’d better go too, while we still could. Chris and Kathy dashed off to gather saltines and Cuppa Soups, and also managed to get both propane tanks filled (even the one no one would fill them in Port Townsend). We did a quick stow, filled fuel (sang “Women in Work Clothes” to the gal at the gas dock), and headed off by noon. Pat and Kathy had taken the four-hour seasick meds this time, so the trip was a lot more comfortable. We enjoyed a hot meal that night. The next day the wind came up and we flew along on fores’l only, doing about 8.2 kts. Tony was thrilled with the way the boat was handling, and he took some time to play at the helm. Under a brilliantly sunny sky, we had dolphins playing around the boat. What a sight! They seemed to like to play with Mr. Toad.
The wind continued to increase, and we finally doused the fores’l just before dark. We probably had waited just a bit too long, and it was quite a workout for the four of us to furl that sail! We continued under jib alone, doing about 6kt. It was a wild night, very sloppy seas with the wind gusting to 30kt and seas 6-8 ft. Every now and then the two would combine and the swell would be huge. We learned not to look behind to see what was coming! Chris and Tony took the helm for much of the night, and at times, it had to be Tony, as he was most experienced and knew how to approach those big ones!
While the state of the seas and swells could be intimidating for the uninitiated, it was amazing how quickly we got used to it. There were one or two startling  moments when we took a big one. Once the coffee pot went flying, and once we took a bit of wet in one of the portholes.
There were some challenging periods when we had engine problems while motor-sailing. We had been using the engine when the wind was on the nose, and had been plagued by a pesky wee leak. After several bouts in the engine room, spending hours bleeding the fuel line and trying to work out the problem, Tony finally pulled the injector and found a broken part. He was able to make a repair, but all those fumes were finally beginning to make him a little queasy.
Luckily, the winds were favourable for the last part of the trip. With Cape Mendocino well behind us, conditions became more comfortable, and everyone was able to get a little sleep. (We had been warned about Cape Mendocino, and interestingly enough, it wasn’t too bad when we were right there. The worst seas blew up just past the Cape). As we approached Drake’s Bay, we deliberately slowed down to make our destination in daylight.
Drake’s Bay was a welcome sight, and by the time we arrived, the seas were calm. There were no other boats as we anchored, surrounded by pelicans. But just at dusk, a strange square-rigged apparition appeared. Luckily, we had met the owner earlier in the summer in Montague Harbour on his smaller boat Atlantide (only 130 ft). So we were able to recognize Maltese Falcon from the photos we had been shown. As she ghosted into the Bay, she looked like something out of Star Wars. And when, at dusk, she lit up all 5 sails on each of the towering masts, the sight was even more science fiction.
We left Drake’s Bay the next morning (not too early) timing our arrival in San Francisco for mid-afternoon. It’s important to plan carefully for arrival at the Golden Gate Bridge. The word is: “The Bay sucks”. The combination of wind and tide contributes to very disturbed seas. On top of all of that, there is usually lots of shipping traffic in a confined area, and sailboats are expected to stay out of the way. We took our time getting there, and managed to arrive just at 1500. Conditions were excellent, and there was very little traffic. Even so, we experienced the predicted winds as we sailed under the bridge. What an amazing feeling to approach this area on a sparkling sunny day. The bridge itself is quite a sight. Brick–coloured art deco. Goes on forever. You get lots of time to look at it as you approach. And the closer you get, the more the wind pipes up.
As we entered the Bay, we decided to try contacting St. Francis Yacht Club, the first of many in the Bay area. But they had no room, so we headed back out for Sausalito. There were lots of boats anchored there, and we easily picked up a mooring in front of the Sausalito Yacht Club.
While Chris and Kathy dashed ashore to make arrangements to fly home to their own boat, Pat and Tony met a few of the friendly regulars at the club and took advantage of their wonderful showers.
Next morning, after hiking up the street to Fedex to mail the crew’s stuff home, we all checked out the nearest ice cream and coffee bar. Then Chris and Kathy dashed off to the ferry/BART/airport and home to their own boat. They were the best crew, never complaining, always ready to do whatever needed to be done, lots of fun, and great team players. We were sorry to see them go, and we wish them all the best in their future adventures with Skye.
After lots of rest and boat clean-up we began the adventures of discovering Sausalito and San Francisco.

September 15th-18th, 2008: Port Townsend to Coos Bay

Monday, January 26th, 2009

September 15-18, 2008:  Port Townsend to Coos Bay

Departed Port Townsend at 700 hr on September 15th, 2008. We have a great crew on board: Kathy Haight and Chris Wood from Port Townsend (their boat, Skye is a Lyall Hesse cutter similar to the Pardeys’).
A beautiful sunny, clear day. Rounded Cape Flattery in the late afternoon (motoring with no wind at all). Enjoyed a delightful meal on the afterdeck. Kathy had volunteered to make “sandwiches”, but we had no idea what a gourmet sandwich chef we had onboard. Imagine tuna, fresh cranberries and walnuts in a delicious dressing on fresh-baked croissants. This is definitely the life!!
Fried the alternator around that time, (or so we thought) but kept on going. Coincidence or amazing magic, just after this happened and we were talking about calling up Gordon Simms, master sailor and electrical genius, who had been helping us just before we left, he called us on the phone — no kidding—and said he just wanted to see how we were doing !!! With his encouragement, Tony just took the drive belt  off and hooked up the new, untried ‘towed generator’ (We call it ‘Mr. Toad’) and it made electricity for us for the rest of the trip. We love Mr. Toad! (8 amps at 6 kts –more than enough to keep up with the computer (power hog!), GPS, running/house lights and radar.)
We sang David Lovine’s song…  “All around Cape Flattery Tatoosh shone bright” under a full moon. Had a quiet, breathtakingly beautiful night. On Tuesday, at 125 degrees longitude, with the swells starting to roll in, Kathy and Pat were a bit queasy, Chris a little less, and Tony just plain exhausted. (We had worked on the boat till 2 a.m. the night before). But everyone did watches and kept up spirits and senses of humour. It was certainly a brand-new feeling to be out at sea, with no other boats or land in view, for hours at a time. We were surprised, throughout the trip, how little other traffic we saw. A few cargo vessels, a couple of nights of twinkling clusters of lighted fish-boats (mostly in Oregon), and maybe one or two other sailboats far, far away.
The next day, the seas were a little calmer, we all got a little more sleep, and we all felt a lot better. Which was good, because on Wednesday we had the wind 15-20 knots on the nose and a very rolly sea. We all felt OK up on deck, especially at the helm, and we felt OK horizontal in the bunk. But those long minutes of getting into wet weather gear and getting the harness all set up, brought on the queasiness again.
We were extremely grateful for the harnesses Brion Toss set up for us the day before we left. They were easy to use and it often felt like Brion himself was holding on to us. The helm became difficult to manage at this time, although it wasn’t bad once you got into it for a while.
The first night we had moon and stars to steer by. The next night, just the moon. The next night, just the lights from a few fish boats, once in awhile, but really you had to watch the compass all the time.
What a sensation, to be ploughing through the seas on a pitch-black night, at the helm for hours at a time! Mostly it was wonderful and exciting. The queasiness, we could have lived without, and we will try some meds next time, at least for the first few days.
We sure didn’t eat much—mostly saltines, cuppa soup noodles (Kathy & Chris’ remedy), biscotti (thanks Christian) and applesauce. The first couple of days we had Kathy’s gourmet sandwiches, but once it got rough out there most of us weren’t that hungry. This is a great weight loss programme!!
Thursday morning we pulled into Coos Bay at about 10 a.m. (a sensible plan to get some rest and fuel). We had actually slowed down for most of the night so we wouldn’t enter the bay in the dark. This became a pattern for the trip, and we made every landfall at exactly the right time.
The entrance to Coos Bay is lined with caves on both sides. It seems amazing to be only a few days away from home, and yet the landscape looks so different from anything we see in coastal BC. We saw pelicans on the way in!!! As we pulled into the transient dock (lots of room), we noticed crowds of folks sitting in lawn chairs, visiting, talking, eating and drinking and catching crabs in traps. This goes on all day every day, with people from all over the states coming here to spend their holidays doing this. It’s like sailing into a Steinbeck novel.
Once we got in, exhausted, salty, and suddenly very hungry, we had a huge breakfast on the boat and then a shower ashore. Scrambling for US coins to put into the shower. We all felt strange walking on solid ground again, and spent the day checking out the area, trying out the ice cream (great ice cream), napping, drying wet clothing, cleaning up the boat and ourselves, and visiting folks on the dock.
Consultation with other cruisers on the dock solved the alternator problem. Turns out we had inadvertently pushed in a button(equalizer on the voltage regulator) that shouldn’t have been pushed in. It gives 16volts on purpose (even if you don’t want them) to shed buildup on the plates. So that was easily solved.
There was a catamaran with a couple (David, British, Sylvie, Zimbabwean). Very friendly and helpful folks. They have a long and fascinating story and have just purchased this boat – a good deal, but with a few challenges. She has two engines and two rudders, but one of the rudders is jammed. David, the skipper, says it’s too cold to dive here in Coos Bay, so they will try to get to San Francisco on one rudder. (They did). Sylvie, David’s partner, besides being an experienced sailor, creates incredible handmade quilts - art pieces that have to be seen to be believed. The one she is working on right now, is an underwater scene in three dimensions, using hand printed fabric, collected from exotic ports all over the world, with tiny, tiny hand stitching—the wrinkled neck of a turtle done with ultra-suede, so realistic, and the shell effect done like a mola-layer after layer after layer. Such meticulous handwork—-Stunningly beautiful designs you could stare at for hours.
Another boat, with an Aussie couple, was the subject of much photo-taking. Many, many ideas for interior stowage and equipment tricks. Who would have guessed that we would meet a fellow (Max, the owner) who would be an engineer who did his thesis on wind-vane steering in sailboats? Tony was delighted to be able to talk over self-steering with him.
We could have spent days and days enjoying the company of the cruisers and locals in this port that is so different from Canada. However, the weather forecast got in the way of life.