Friday, September 29, 2006

We just rounded the last big hurdle in U.S. waters, Point Conception. It was nothing, we left very early this morning and motored for about 4 hours, then the wind came up and we had a gorgeous sail around the point. We took down the main and sailed under genoa alone and we were scooting along at 6+ knots. It is sunny and warm now and I was just up on deck watching the surfers in the big waves ( I wanted to say huge but that would have been exaggerating). I think we are going to head to the Channel Islands off of Santa Barbara for awhile, not sure how long but apparently you don't want to be stuck out there when a certain type of wind called the Santa Anna's blow so we will monitor the weather closely. Most of the Channel Islands are designated a national park so there is supposed to be lots of wildlife there and I hope to get in the water and do a little swimming. I am a bit chicken to swim in the ocean by myself so will either have to work on Barry to join me or he can be in the dinghy close by. Hope all is well with everyone, we are doing JUST FINE.This is a shot of a nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon. You have to be at least 3 miles from the shoreline when you go by this facility or apparently they come out and tell you to move on out of the way!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Morro Rock as it was as we came into the bay. The stacks behind are not a nuclear power plant, that is 10 miles further south.

We are in Morro Bay, California. The entrance to the bay has the famous Morro Rock, it is featured in lots of photos. It was a long day yesterday, up at 0500 and we motored for 12 hours to get to San Simeon. We could see the barren mountainous coastline, with the highway winding along the edge of the hills. There were a number of bridges that were probably huge. We passed Big Sur, the land of the large surf, although it was pretty calm out there yesterday. We arrived in San Simeon, home of the Hearst Castle just as the sun went down. It really goes down in a hurry here, no fooling around, boom it falls out of the sky and it is dark. Anyway I was going to try and get to shore this morning and see about touring the castle, but we awoke to dense fog, so I decided that I didn't want to bother in the fog, then the fog started lifting and I tried to convince Barry to come to shore with me, but he wouldn't. There was no dock to land on so you would have to brave the surf and their was a possibility we might get wet and the dinghy might overturn, he wouldn't go for it no matter how much I weaseled. I figured I could have gotten in by myself, but did not know how I would get out through the surf myself. I would have had to paddle the zodiac through the surf and then get the motor down, it is hard enough to paddle the thing in a straight line by yourself never mind through the surf. ( We don't have oars, just paddles) We left San Simeon just after noon and had a pleasant if slow sail down to Morro Bay. We are going to explore the town tomorrow and then head towards the DREADED CAPE CONCEPTION. Apparently after you go around this cape you get into warm southern California and there are no more major capes until Cabo San Lucas at the bottom of the Baja. Notice the treeless hills in the background. This is basically the view of the coast we had for 12 hours from Pebble Beach to San Simeon.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

If you look closely you can see Cat's-Paw IV in the background, she is the one with the blue sail cover.

We are headed for Pebble Beach at the moment. We plan to anchor just off the 18 hole of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, you know the classic shot that you see if you are watching that tournament on TV. We only spent 2 nights in Monterey, I got mad yesterday that we had to walk over 2 miles to get to a grocery store and then when we got there it was a "organic store". It was a super nice store and so were the prices, so we didn't buy nearly as many groceries as we needed. We were going to stay another night or so and rent bicycles and ride along the gorgeous path along the shoreline, but we did that 8 years ago and the winds were good today to stay at Pebble Beach so we decided to go.
Off the pier at Monterey there were people taking surfing lessons, scuba lessons and a team building exercise for Yahoo employees. It was sand castle building exercise instructed by a professional sand castle builder. (I wonder how busy he is, and how did he get to be pro and what his income is, and does he still enjoy it or is it just a job, What are you doing today dear? OH well you know same old, same old, I flying to Sidney, Aust. to give a seminar for the week) Well I guess I shouldn't be surprised, we are in California after all.
Just to let you know, I had a look at the position report on YOTREPS, the map is not is the right place. I have been faithfully sending in the correct co-ordinates but it seems like the land is not where it should be on the map. It has us still north of SF and we aren't anymore, and if you look at our trip out the Straits of Juan De Fuca you can see it looks like we went over land. I don't think there is much I can do about it. I will see about finding another site that will report our movements that had a more accurate mapping system.

Once again if you look closely you can see a fence for the golf course, not sure which hole. I wandered up some stairs to stick my foot on the course and their were golfers waiting to tee off at the fence, OPPS!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

We arrived in Monterey this afternoon and had this fellow on the dock opposite to greet us. I hope he doesn’t decide to come up on our dock; I am not up on my sea lion etiquette!!
We spent last night in Santa Cruz which is just across Monterey Bay from here, about 20 miles. We were quite tired when we got there so just had supper and went to bed and saw very little of the town. We plan to spend 2 or 3 days here in Monterey.
The coast line from here to San Francisco has been designated a marine sanctuary which means they can’t drill for oil, I believe fishing is still allowed. There are lots of sea otters, sea lions, pelicans and other sea birds around, apparently whales frequent the area as well.
At one time there was a huge sardine industry here in Monterey but it died off in the late 40’s and now they have turned all the cannery buildings into a tourist area. It was quite pleasant strolling through the stores, but it is a big temptation to spend money and I had to keep my hands firmly in my pockets. Monterey seems to have a lot of history attached to it; we walked by the place where some U.S. guy landed and claimed the area for the U.S during the war with Spain over this area. It had been a major Spanish port where all boats that wished to trade on the West Coast had to report in and be given permissio We forgot the camera so will take more pictures tomorrow. There are lots of different looking trees and bushes here; I will have to see about learning the names of some of them.
We plan to rent a couple of bikes tomorrow and ride from one end to the beach front to the other. Barry and I came here 8 years ago when we won the trip to San Francisco and it was neat to be able to identify the restaurant that we had a wonderful dinner at. We may have to visit again and see if the food is still as good as we remember it. There is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. eatery as well and it sounds like fun.
We had a short visit to Fisherman's Wharf, we took a ferry from Angel Island and wandered around for a few hours. We had to head back to another spot called Tiburon to catch the ferry back to Angel Island. I managed to get some birthday shopping done in San Francisco, so that was good, Barry was absolutely thrilled to have to trail around after me shopping, but that is another story. We didn't get our cable car ride in because we were short of time and there were a gazillion tourists waiting to get on the cars and I didn't feel like waiting in line, wasting the short time we had in town. The visit was short due to the weird ferry schedules.
We left SF yesterday morning, timing our departure to coincide with the favourable tides under the Golden Gate. We left at the crack of dawn and were sailing towards the bridge. As we got closer the huge container ships, who had obviously timed their departure for the crack of dawn as well, started bearing down on us. I didn't feel like dodging them and dealing with the currents under the bridge so we put on the motor and powered under the bridge at the same time as one of these huge ships. WOOOH what a rush!!!
We had a gorgeous sail down to Half Moon Bay about a 5 hour sail south. There is a very nice spot to anchor there but we chose to go to the marina as we were both in need of a good shower and needed to power up some of our electronic gear, camera batteries, phone, computer. BAD CHOICE, they were refurbishing the pier and guys with jack hammers were pounding away, fortunately they stopped at 5:00 P.M. and as we left this morning at 0630 they were just coming to work. We had a lovely dinner at Barbara's Fishtrap, which reminded us very much of Bulluck's in Yellowknife.
We are hoping to get to Monterey today, but not sure if we can get that far, second choice is Santa Cruz which isn't quite as far. Once again it is a gorgeous sunny day and the wind is behind us at between 10-15 knots, as our anemometer( thingy that measures the wind speed) is broken and we have not managed to figure out what is wrong with it yet. It is not really vital but is sure if fun to say, OH Yeah we were out in 30 knots with gusts to 35, or Man the wind didn't get over 5 knots all day, what a bummer, and other salty things like that. Actually I think yesterday was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so I hope you threw is a few AVAST ME HEARTIES, and ARRGGH MATIES to spice up your life. This is ANNOE signing off.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We are at Angel Island today. It is a large island that is located about 4 miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge. The island is a state park and there are paths all over the island that you can hike around on. We walked up to the top of a large hill, they refer to as a mountain, and it took us an hour and a half to walk up. There are spectacular views from the top, you can see all of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, the skyline of San Francisco, all the bridges in the area, (there are at least 4 very long ones) and all the surrounding communities, Oakland, Berkley, Sausalito. Tiburon, Richmond and a whole bunch more.
The island has a lot of history attached to it, in the late 1800’s to 1940 the U.S. tried to prevent Chinese from immigrating and the island was a place where Chinese citizens that wanted to enter the U.S. were kept until they could prove who they were. People were kept in jail like conditions for many months. A U.S. military fort was also built on Angel Island because troops stationed here could control who entered the harbour. In WW2 it was the staging area for troops to leave for the Pacific. There are a lot of military building that are still standing from that period.
Angel Island is now a popular weekend destination for Bay area boaters. You can have a picnic ashore and do some hiking around and then head home. The bay where we are moored is not that big and they have mooring buoys. It was like a Chinese fire drill when we came in here, for one thing it is very shallow and at 1.8 feet below the keel I baled and backed out of our first try at a mooring ball. Barry took over and we went in and dropped anchor and then some kind soul jumped in his dinghy and came over and tied our lines off, stern and bow to mooring balls and we pulled up our anchor.
We are going to stay here for another night and go into San Francisco tomorrow, there is a ferry that arrives right at the dock and goes to Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf. We have to get in our cable car ride and see a few more sights before we leave. Not sure when we will leave but we are thinking probably Tuesday morning. We don't have internet access today so hope to put pictures on soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We went into San Francisco yesterday. We headed over on another sailboat, Mungo with our good buddies, Steve and Sandi. We got there in the afternoon and headed off to Chinatown to have supper. After an hour of walking through downtown San Francisco we arrived. My head was on a swivel the whole way, there were fantastic modern buildings everywhere interspersed among them were old Victorian style buildings and at one corner a very large brick church. The church is actually in the background in the picture of the cable car. We didn't get a chance to ride on the cable cars because we had limited time, maybe another day.

After dinner in Chinatown we headed back to the stadium to watch the SF Giants play the Colorado Rockies. It was an entertaining game; the final score was 10-6 for the home team, thank goodness. The crowd got a little cross in the first inning when the Rockies scored 3 runs but things picked up after that. I got a kick out of watching exactly how little effort Barry Bonds put into anything that he did. He would stroll out to left field, and when he was at bat he walked twice and he sauntered down to first base. Even the time he was hit home he nonchalantly made his way home at a slow jog. Mind you there was no reason for him to move faster and at 42 I guess you conserve energy any time you can. There was never a ball hit to left field, much to my disappointment, because I would have loved to see him move a little faster.

Near the end of the game the Rockies put in this pitcher and everyone booed, so I asked why “we” were booing this guy and got the explanation that he was nasty, and sure enough several batters later he hit a guy with a pitch, well my goodness, I imagine you must have to have pretty thick skin to be a professional athlete. The hot dogs were really good and the beer was very expensive!!!

We had a lovely sleep aboard Mungo, just minutes from the ballpark and in the morning we strolled down the waterfront. They had posts up by all the old piers and on the posts there were historical vignettes about what the piers had been used for. One post told about how they used to repair the bottom of the old sailing ships by leaning them on their sides, the riggers would angle logs from the pier to the masts of the ships to support the ship and then just tip the boat over somehow, amazing. We walked under the Bay Bridge which connects San Francisco to Oakland, it is quite the structure.

We have to leave this slip tomorrow and we are taking the boat to the rigger first thing in the morning to have our halyard chafe problem looked at. We are expecting to sail towards Sausalito (north part of San Francisco Bay) on Friday and spend a few days in that area exploring, after that we aren’t sure what our plans are. We talked to one couple today and they said they thought it would take them about 12 days to sail to San Diego. We don’t want to get there before Nov. 1, there is a huge sailboat rally called the Baja Ha Ha and all the boats converge on San Diego so we don’t think there will be much space there before the beginning of Nov. We have about 6 weeks to spend between here and San Diego so we are planning on taking our time and seeing the sites as we sail down the coast of California.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

We went to visit the USS Hornet yesterday. It was absolutely massive. It is a former aircraft carrier, it was operational in WW2 and in the Vietnam War, it also recovered the lunar module from Apollo 11 the first manned space craft to land on the moon. so it has some pretty impressive history behind it. We got to visit the hanger, the flight deck, the wardrooms, the sickbay, the bridge and the engine room. It was quite the tour, the place was just monstrous and it was a lot of fun to wander around and look at all the exhibits. One of the highlights was the stories the tour guide told, he had served on a sister ship to the USS Hornet as a flight surgeon, he explained that when you had to do surgery, the captain would put the boat into the waves to minimize the roll and pitch that they would experience. There was an Airstream trailer onboard that the astronauts were quarantined in after they landed, it was pretty tiny.
Barry went up the mast today, he went up the check out the shives at the top of the mast to see if he could figure out what was the matter. We also tried to restring the spinnaker halyard. Barry managed to get it down the mast but I could not get it out the hole that it was supposed to come out. Ed from Cuisine came over and showed us how to use the electric windlass to send someone up the mast, thus Barry went up instead of me. There is no way I could get him up there manually but with the windlass it did not seem to be a problem. He took the picture of his foot from the top, if you look you can seem me trying to climb on the sail beside the mast, that is Ed in the cockpit.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

We are going to stay in the San Francisco area for at least a week if not longer. We are located in the Alameda estuary. Alameda is an island on the east side of San Francisco Bay just about 300 meters across a narrow channel from Oakland. It is much warmer here than in San Francisco, apparently the weather pattern is cloudy and cool in the morning and heating up and clearing off around noon, then hot and sunny in the afternoon until it cools off at night. That is pretty nice, both Barry and I had red faces yesterday from the afternoon sunshine, it is quite intense down here, it seems like, either that or they have burnt a big hole in the ozone layer above California.
We went to see about getting someone to see about our rigging today. We got in the dinghy and zipped down the estuary for about a mile till we came to the boatyard, we got an appointment for next Thursday. Then we needed some oil for an oil change so went trundling across the channel and down about a half mile and got the oil. It was nice to be able to get around in the dinghy and not have to walk or take taxis that far.
We went and talked to the folks on Toketie, a Bluewater boat, and think we will be able to move into the Oakland Yahct Club tomorrow and take over their slip, they are leaving to explore the bay and go up the delta. Apparently the yahct club loves having cruisers there and have a very active social scene. People are also very helpful, another cruiser who we didn't even know invited us to go with them in their car to San Francisco tomorrow. WOW!!!
I hope you like the pictures, the whale one isn't much but doesn't it look like he is doing a headstand. They were amazing slapping their tails around several times in a row. Does anyone know, do they do it to fish?? When we came into Alameda we passed the Port of Oakland, there were HUGE piles of containers and they were unloading a ship with all these cranes, it boggles the mind to imagine how they keep track of where everything goes. Our buddies on Mungo, Steve and Sandi should be here tomorrow of the next day and we are looking forward to hooking up with them again.

Well, we did it; we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge today. For a Canadian sailor, this is a real benchmark; you have managed to negotiate the treacherous West Coast from Washington through Oregon and into California. It was with a real sense of excitement and accomplishment that we traveled under the bridge and into San Francisco Bay. It had been foggy the whole time we were sailing towards the bridge and I was feeling a tad disappointed that we might not get to see much of it, when the gods smiled on us and the SUN came out, it was a very magical moment. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

That is spray off the top of the waves, the reason we waited 2 days.

Well, we are Bodega Bay, California today. We made it safely around Cape Mendocino, which is a huge land mass that has it's own weather system. The cape is the last big hurdle before you get to San Francisco, we are a day's sail away at the moment. Our sail down here was uneventful, mostly motorsailing, it took 48 hours including 2 overnights to get here. We had whales, porpoises, sea lions, and brown pelicans show us their stuff, they are quite amazing to watch.
We had a lovely trip around Humbolt, County, California in our rental car (excuse me SUV) and we slept off the boat for the first time since March, in a KING sized bed no less, what luxury. We got the car late in the afternoon and then raced off to drive over Cape Mendocino before dark. I think I picked the windiest road in Northern California, it went up and over the hills and then dove down to the coast. and then back up over the hills to the highway. It was 9:00 P.M. by the time we found somewhere to eat and I was getting really hungry, so we stopped at the first place we could find. All the little towns we had driven through were really small and had no stores. They must have been started by the people that settled the region and then just gradually died away when the lumber industry died. I wonder how they still exist. But I digress, the place we stopped to eat was the classic dive, dirty, horrible food, and it looked as if the decor was the original fifties stuff, black and white diamond tile floor and faux red leather booths with splitting seats. We are still alive though so they didn't poison us. The waitress slung a bottle of beer on the table by the neck and told us her name and said if we needed anything just to shout. We are still alive though so they didn't poison us.
The next day we toured the Avenue of the Giants, where the redwoods are and drove through a tree, that was fun. The two story tree house was amazing, it was all carved inside and one of them even had a bookshelf with books carved in the wall. We contined on to the coast and looked at Shelter Cove, supposedly a great spot for surfing. I was astounded by how brown all the hills were and all the rivers had all dried up, in the picture of the river you can see how wide the river bed is and how little water is in it. In 1964 the river flooded to 75 feet above the current level, that is a lot of water.

When we arrived in Brookings the Coast Guard came over to inspect our boat. We have the greatest admiration for the U.S. Coast Guard; all of their employees are very courteous and are the most helpful people that you can imagine. Officer Hess and Officer Harrison came aboard Cat’s-Paw IV and inspected her, they were the consummate professionals, and after the inspection was finished they gave us some useful tips on where to eat and what their town had to offer

They explained to us that one of the reasons that had come aboard was because when we were boarded previously by the Coast Guard the fellow had put us down as a U.S. boat and now we had claimed to be Canadians and they needed to figure out what was what. Officer Hess got a charge out of the look on my face when he said they thought we were Americans, he said it wasn’t THAT bad!!!!

We had a few repairs to do in Brookings, and managed to find the needed spacers for the gooseneck. We also discovered we had bent a piece that connects the boom vang to the boom, so Barry had to take that out and straighten it out so we could reattach the vang, fun and games.

We motored all the way to Eureka, California, it was calm with very little swell. We will wait here for a couple of days before we attempt to round Cape Mendicino. We are going to rent a car and go and see the redwoods and perhaps explore the coast a little. We are waiting to get a car, the one place that will deliver cars doesn’t have any at the moment and it will cost almost a days rental to take a cab to the airport to rent another, so we wait, and you all know how well I do that.