Wednesday 31 October 2012

Baja Ha Ha - Day 3

2030 Local - Today's highlight had to be catching our second fish (another 19" tuna) and eating our first one (tuna steaks panfried in butter) for lunch. What a delight to hear the exclamations from the kids that they had never eaten anything so yummy.

It was windier this afternoon, and we had a good lesson in how things can change in a second and take an hour to restore. Our spinnaker wound itself around the forestay when we went too far downwind - it collapsed and got fabric on both sides of the forestay (this was the part that took a second). We then had to figure out how to unwind both spinnaker and "furling sock lines" from said forestay and the pull the sock down over the spinnaker, all without tangling it in the shrouds or getting knocked overboard (this was the part that took an hour and a lot of patience). We did it, and came out unscathed (no damage to boat, sail or crew - whew!) The only saving grace was that we learned this lesson in the daytime instead of at night ...

We think we are into our last night of watches before Turtle Bay. Winds have been consistently 15-18 kts, so even on a broad reach we have a reef in the main and still have a boat speed over 6 kts. We should arrive at the anchorage sometime tomorrow, in time for 1 Nov trick-or-treating. Victoria & Johnathan are relieved not to miss Hallowe'en and excited to go "door to door" by dingy!

All is well.
At 01/11/2012 01:41 (utc) our position was 28°31.98'N 116°22.35'W

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Baja Ha Ha - Day 2

Today we had conditions that make people want to go cruising ... blue sky, calm seas, just enough wind to keep our spinnaker full (8-12 kts), and a happy crew.... what a change from fog, beating to windward and motoring!

I was about to write this little update just before suppertime (chili simmering on the stove) when there was great excitement on the aft deck... we had two fishing lines in the water, and we caught a fish! This was Fluenta's first catch, so we found ourselves a little bewildered ... what do we do now?? Thankfully, Max's youth as a trout fisherman came in handy, and we quickly got a photo, took some measurements (length 19" / weight unknown) and dispatched him - we now have steaks cooling in our fridge. We think it was a small yellow fin tuna (this is what everyone else has been catching) and we will enjoy it tomorrow. During the radio banter earlier in the day, we offered to trade wasabi for fish once we arrive in Turtle Bay, but now we won't have to:)

All is well - tonight the seas are gentle, the wind is behaving (unlike last night, we still have 10-15 kts of wind from the North), and we are making progress towards our destination.
At 30/10/2012 10:20 (utc) our position was 31°32.52'N 117°17.07'

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Tuesday 30 October 2012

Baja Ha Ha - Night Sailing

0330 Local time - We have sailed out of the fog and spent much of the afternoon/evening under clear skies. Winds have been light & variable overnight. Lots of Ha Ha boats have been motoring, but we have kept sailing - just when we think the winds have dropped to the point where we will finally have to start our engine (4-5 kts) they will pick up again to 8-9 kts. We are flying our asymmetric spinnaker, using our (brand new) ATN Tacker which lets us attach the bottom front corner of the sail to forestay over our furled genoa. Both seem to be doing fine - we are making about 4.5 kts in just over 8 kts of wind. Other than the fact that we have timings to meet in Turtle Bay (don't want to miss the BBQ) this is lovely and peaceful sailing. There are other boats in our general vicinity, so we are going to stick with this approach for now. Thank goodness Max dove on the hull the other day and gave it a cleaning!
At 30/10/2012 10:20 (utc) our position was 31°32.52'N 117°17.07'

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Monday 29 October 2012

Baja Ha Ha

The morning that we have been preparing for (during the last two years) arrived this morning! We sailed out of San Diego under sunny blue skies, light winds, in the midst of a fleet of about 150 boats (some crews in costumes ...). We are now sailing in light airs under our colourful asymetric foresail. Until the fog rolled in (yes, really - we thought we were out of it once we got to San Diego, but it turns out that we were wrong) it was an extraordinary sight to see beautiful spinnakers going up all around us.

We are settling in for a passage of about 360 nm. The kids have brought Lego City to life, Frank & Max are flying the sails, and I am about to head for the galley to cook up our usual first-day supper of mac & cheese. Thankfully it is flat, so my lack of time to prep dinner ahead won't be too much of a problem. We'll go into our watch rotation later in the afternoon, and arrive in Turtle Bay in 2-3 days. One of the boats has already caught its first fish - perhaps we'll try our luck soon as well.

At 29/10/2012 20:15 (utc) our position was 32°27.00'N 117°11.70'W

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Monday 22 October 2012

San Francisco to San Diego

It's hard to believe that our last "proper" post was three weeks ago. Hopefully this little update will give you a bit of insight as to what has been going on for us and what is coming up in the next couple of weeks.

It is often said that time flies when we are having fun ... if that is the case, we must have been having a lot of fun, although it sure hasn't always seemed like it.  As we prepare for our departure for Mexico (29 Oct), some of our key systems have continued to require significant maintenance/repair (think refrigeration, rigging, steering, windlass, dingy and engine/fuel, and you will be on the right track).  Couple that with various provisioning runs, day sails to try out our spinnaker, and an ongoing effort to stow our multiplying quantities of school supplies, spare parts, and provisions (no matter how many times I read that they really do sell food in Mexico, I can't resist the urge to stock up here before we go!) it has been busy to say the least!  On the bright side, we are all healthy, we have people around us who are assisting us with our preparations, and we have already completed a journey of over 1000 miles just to get here.  As ever, life is a question of perspective!

So ... what has life in Fluenta been like since you last heard from us?  Our days have taken on a certain rhythm, but routine would be an overstatement.  The phrase, "wherever you go there you are" comes to mind  - a few months ago we were surrounded by "too much stuff" and trying to get our house ready to move out.  Now we have "too much stuff" and we are trying to get ready to leave the States!  A sense of humour,  many, many lists & spreadsheets (Max), and morning yoga (Liz) are the keys to what sanity remains.

We arrived in San Diego on 7 Oct, a month and a day after setting off from Port Angeles. We had originally anticipated taking a more leisurely trip down the coast, but because our maintenance list was still so long, we decided just to come as quickly as we could to maximize our time here.  We are not necessarily having more issues than one should expect from a new-to-us-old-boat, and it has been illuminating to compare stories with our fellow cruisers, but it has still been stressful to deal with an ever-lengthening list and an ever-shortening calendar.  During my yoga practices on the jetty, I find myself mentally composing 'wise posts' about going with the flow, taking things as they come, remembering to breathe, etc, etc - however, given our practical realities at the moment, these will probably not turn into actual posts until Mexico, if ever!  Boat yoga takes on a whole new meaning when it serves as a reminder to "be where we are" at any given moment.

Anyhow, we have continued to capture moments here or there with our cameras (even Victoria & Johnathan have begun to get in on the act, and credit will be given where it is due below), and sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words.  Here we go...


No matter the topic or the location, I am sure our blog will soon be filled with pictures of the kids climbing - both inside and out!

When he is not climbing the stays, Johnathan is often the one to cheese our lines.

We experienced a little bit of history in Sausalito (San Francisco) when the space shuttle Endeavour flew right over our boat on its last voyage (enroute to the California Science Center in LA).

Max at the helm, sailing the boat - this was a rare shot this summer.  On this day we are checking the tune of our rig and trying out our new foresail in San Francisco.

Liz's parents drove over 14,000 km round trip to take this picture - we were thrilled to be able to take them on a sunny day sail in San Francisco Bay.

Every little boy (and girl) needs a proper rigging knife for their birthday!  Liz's parents had one each for the children as they turned 7 & 9.  Their marlin spikes have already been put to use, but we'll hold off on using the knife blades for a while yet!

With Liz's parents before they set out for their return trip to Halifax.

Victoria's wish for her birthday was to wake at anchor to see the sunrise and to go to sleep at anchor after seeing the sunset.  We left Benicia the evening before her birthday (quickly at supper time once we realized that the negative tide that night would mean that we might bottom out right in our slip!) and we sailed in 15-20 kts to the other side of San Pablo Bay.  Victoria woke cheerfully at 6:30, donned our Birthday Hat, and snuggled in with some hot chocolate on Mom's lap to wait for the sun to rise.  Later in the day, we went right to San Francisco and had a lovely time at anchor in a little marine park right downtown.

The tradition in our family is that the kids help to decorate their own cakes.  Since there is no room for a stool in our galley, Victoria and Johnathan generally get up close to their work by doing it right on the counter (which also doubles as the lid of our refrigerator/freezer)

In San Francisco, it was Max's turn to be hoisted up the mast - which gave a great chance to take some photos of the (in)famous Pier 39, home of the (in)famous (and noisy) California Sea Lions, where we stayed for a couple of nights (think laundry, aquarium, and ice cream) before heading to San Diego.

 Pier 39 from the air ... look closely for a similar scene below ...

Once our boat was (reasonably) shipshape, we left San Francisco and headed towards San Diego.  We had originally intended to do short trips to get the kids used to being offshore, but we changed plans and did overnight trips right from the start, only stopping at Monterey Bay and Santa Barbara along the way.  This gave us the maximum sailing/distance with the least amount of entertainment required during the day.  This was the scenery that we saw most of the time ...

And this was the view down below - Lego, tools, and minimal floorspace.  Incredibly complex scenarios have unfolded in Lego City over the past few months.

We came into Monterey Bay in the early dawn (see view above and add darkness).  It was a bit of a surprise to emerge from the cabin  a couple of hours later to find that there really was colour in the town, and in fact our anchorage was a few hundred meters from the local beach.  It was beginning to dawn on us that we were in California!

We stayed an extra day in Monterey to give time for important errands (like visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the grocery store), then it was time to head South on our second leg towards Santa Barbara.

We had dolphins come to play with us pretty much every day ...

Victoria took this glorious sunset picture :)  No more fog!

 Johnathan is quite determined to do his fair share of winching!

Victoria and Johnathan love to be "rail meat" and hopefully get their feet wet.  It is nice that the foulies have been left in the hanging locker for the past couple of weeks (at least during the day while on passage - we still needed our layers overnight, although we were getting to the stage where a toque was optional by the time we arrived in San Diego).

The extra sails at the back make a great spot to be alone or catch a quick nap!

Once we arrived in San Diego, every cupboard and storage locker seemed to explode onto our upper deck, as we did laundry, aired mattresses, and accessed our deep storage compartments in order to have our new  steering cables installed.  The marina manager was very accommodating of our laundry drying in the hot sun, although this is not a look that they encourage for their permanent tenants!

What was that about photos of the kids in the rigging throughout the blog??

We have had trouble with our refrigeration system from Port Angeles onwards, and it finally gave out with a huge clunk when a seal let go on the trip south from San Francisco.  Max and our repairman have spent countless hours on this system since we arrived, and (fingers crossed) it is now reinstalled and keeping our food cold.  We faced the question of repairing an old system (whose compressor is no longer made/supported) or replacing it with something totally new.  We found someone who would put in a comparable new compressor to keep our old system going and decided to leave the entirely new system for another refit, hopefully several years down the line...

Where else could we possibly go for Johnathan's birthday, but Legoland????

That's the birthday boy at the back of the ride with his hands flung wide in the air.  Max and I had both had enough of rolling tossing boats by the time we went to Legoland, but Frank took both kids on the ride.  Victoria & Johnathan loved it.  We were grateful.

This view should look familiar ... here is Pier 39 (complete with tourists, sailboats, and Sea Lions) made entirely out of Lego.  You can get a sense of scale looking at the people walking by the back.

Johnathan decorated his cake with an "Eliver".  For those who have never heard of this creature, an Eliver has the front of an elephant and the back/tail/front arms of a beaver.  Johnathan had told us for weeks that this creature would have to be on his cake.  Thank goodness for ready made fondant and food colouring!  BTW the little creatures to the side are geckos and snakes.

Max's parents came to see us for a few days on their way to Fiji, where they will spend the winter.  Since both rigging and steering are required for sailing, we chose the one day between the replacement of the steering cables and the replacement of part of the rig to take them out for a sail.  We even took our spinnaker out of its bag and flew it for the first time.

Here is another of Victoria's pictures.  Yes, that really is a submarine off our port bow.  We glanced up during our spinnaker run and there she was coming into the Bay.  This photo was taken a short time later when she was leaving again.

A family shot before Max's parents caught their flight.  It is not a coincidence that we are all wearing matching shirts ... they brought us Fluenta T-shirts as an early Christmas present.

As the passage to Mexico comes ever closer, we had our first meet & greet potluck yesterday - here is our (Victoria's) contribution to the dessert table.  The cake was entirely her creation, and was especially well done since the icing hadn't appreciated its bath of ice water during a week in the fridge/icebox, and was very thin!  Victoria made up for that with fondant and sparkle balls.  I figure that she is all set to be an offshore sailor - there will be many times she will have to be resourceful with the materials on hand and come up with something even when the odds are against her.  It is fun to see these traits developing in both children as we all tackle the challenges and adventures that each day brings.

Well, the fridge is humming happily beside me, my family is sleeping, and it seems that is about as up to date as I can bring you.  We will spend the rest of this week running errands, finishing our provisioning (significantly facilitated by the loan of a car from friends posted here in San Diego - saying that we feel gratitude for their generosity is an extraordinary understatement), stowing all the things we have provisioned (I know it will all fit, but right now I'm not sure where!), and tying up as many of the maintenance issues as we can (or at least buying the parts to do the jobs in Mexico).  Once we get to Mexico, we will catch our breath and see where Fluenta takes us next.

With love and gratitude for all your good wishes during this busy time,

Tuesday 2 October 2012

In praise of the kindness of strangers in supermarkets

I popped into the local Monterey supermarket last night to pick up some provisions for our passage today (South - maybe as far as Santa Barbara - likely two over-nights).  It was a short 20 min walk on the way there ... but it was looking like a longer walk on the way home in the dark.  Even with heavy groceries in my backpack and lighter snacks in the two grocery bags, I can't say I was enthusiastic about walking back to the marina.  Enter the generous couple behind me at the checkout.  Did I have far to go?  Would I like a ride? My first instinct in this don't-trust-anyone age was to politely decline ... after all I have two legs, and I could certainly make it. Thankfully, I decided not to be my usual stubborn self, and to accept this kind offer of strangers (whose first baby is due any day).  As we got going, it turned out that we had much in common, including military service.  They are another service couple, dealing with the 'joys' of postings to separate locations and an upcoming 6-week maternity leave.  A, M, and Uncle D - you know who you are, and I thank you.