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Andrew Holland came up with exactly what I wanted. He reported honestly and professionally, he never pulled punches and made me aware of shortfalls. Thank you Andrew, you were totally professional, but also I know that if and when we meet up, it will be like a friend finally meeting. You are always welcome on Aseka.

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~ Beverly Cory
Voyage 380 "Aseka"

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Cupid

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It has been a real pleasure dealing with such an honest and knowledgeable person rather than simply a broker and now someone we truly feel we can call a friend. We will very definitely refer you to any of our friends knowing that you will treat them as fairly and professionally as you have with us.

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~ John & Lynn Ringseis
Lagoon 410

Courage to Voyage

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This is the continuing story of a 28 foot cat sailing down the west coast of the USA to Mexico. Some may think this trip should be a breeze. We think courage is essential to voyaging and exploring.
 

Life consists of a million small acts of courage. From our first foray into kindergarten to sitting with your mother as her body shuts down, each one of us has to draw on our own reservoir of courage to do what must be done to live life happily and peacefully. We do not often think of it as courage: we just pull something up from within; square our shoulders, take a deep breath, and carry on. Yet, when you think of it, every day of city living requires courage: to take that first timid step into our Grade 1 classroom; to give our first speech to a classroom of peers; to meet the demands of employers and colleagues; to run a household on a limited budget; to cope with illness of children, spouses and other loved ones; to meet bank managers and arrange for a mortgage or loan; to admit we are wrong when we are; to make new friends and make amends with old; and most importantly to change our attitudes and habits when we see we must. Voyaging on a small sailboat, even a big one, also requires courage.

            In July 2006, Garett and I began a voyage from Vancouver, Canada to Mexico. We were not greenhorns. We had plenty of night sailing under our belts, and were not fair-weather sailors. We had circumnavigated Vancouver Island, no small feat, as the open reef-strewn west coast we sailed on that 800-mile trip, while being well charted, is nearly devoid of navigational aids. In that trip we were introduced to the wide-open Pacific and the big swells that roll in all the way from Asia. We were sailing the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” alone in the wilderness, far more alone than we have been at any point on this whole trip down the west coast of North America into Mexico. Walking on that wild, west coast meant walking on bear trails, and if we had any trouble, like losing our dinghy or falling into the water or breaking a leg, help was not close at hand. We were on our own.

            This voyage has required a different kind of courage. We have again sailed in waters we have never seen before, and for the first time we have not only sailed during the night, but right through one or two nights, with big swells and nasty waves pitching our vessel all over, relying solely on the strength of her design and quality of construction (which we could attest to ourselves). The only real wilderness we have seen thus far on this trip has been at San Miguel Island in California, and in parts of the Baja Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez. But nothing has compared to the vast dense rainforests that comprise not only Vancouver Island but the whole coast of B.C. from that point north.

            Voyaging sailors must plot their courses carefully, listen to the weather, study charts and cruising guides, and ever be aware of rocks, reefs, shoals and currents. Our vessel is our life raft, and our survival is dependant upon her maintenance. Life on the water, in fact, has one focus: survival. This seems melodramatic when we are holed up comfortably in Bahia Tenacatita for four weeks with 30 other vessels, enjoying daily group swims to shore, bocci ball, volleyball and Mexican train dominoes under the palapa. But the reality is that each of these comrades must fend for themselves: we each must see to our water, provisions and fuel; maintain our boats; plan our next leg; decide when we will leave or stay and where we will go; and be ready to help each other.

 

SAN FRANCISCO BAY Racing through the Golden Gate channel and under the Golden Gate Bridge after wrestling with the drifter (see “The Flexible Voyager” in May-June issue covering our trip from Vancouver to San Francisco), we passed dozens of sailboats leaving or returning to the harbor in gusty strong winds. This was our first visit to San Francisco. We prefer unpopulated destinations like Desolation Sound and the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and had stopped in populated areas all the way down the coast. Nevertheless, our blood surged like excited teenagers when we sailed under the famous and beautiful Golden Gate Bridge and at the prospect of exploring San Francisco. Tony’s song had done its magic: we expected to leave our hearts in this great city by the sea.

            We knew there were over a thousand slips in five huge marinas in Sausalito alone and the whole Bay Area has over 50 marinas with thousands more slips. From our home port in Vancouver we can easily reach prime cruising grounds in a half-day’s sail, so we could not understand why there were so many sailboats in San Francisco, bereft as it is of what we consider to be good cruising grounds nearby. What we realized, after spending three weeks in the Bay Area, is that San Franciscans love the wind. Each afternoon, the wind pipes up in the Bay, and these true sailors race down to their boats, from humble 25-footers to ultra-chic 70-footers, and go out every day possible, the windier the better. When the wind becomes a gale and others would run for home, these hardy Northern Californians whistle up a crew, slam the doors on their dusty dry offices, rush down to their boats, and race out under the bridge or tack back and forth at a mad pace in the Bay. Consequently, there are thousands of sailboats here—for the wind. And even though they haven't the beautiful destination anchorages we have in B.C., they do have the whole Bay Area and Sacramento delta estuary which is so big that it would take a lifetime to explore fully, we are told.

            Much of the Richardson Bay is quite shallow, which suited us fine, and we found a spot all by ourselves amid a plethora of what we later realized were derelict boats. The only problem is that the bay has a soft mud bottom so it took us six tries to finally set the anchor, and eventually we had to use two anchors to hold us in place.

            Our view looking west to the Sausalito hillside was quite something, setting a pattern we experienced each night we anchored in Richardson Bay. As the sun set, the infamous San Francisco winds blows over the ridge and a huge bank of fog rolls in, like an enormous hand creeping over the hills, drawn by the low pressure area that has built up over the warming land, dissipating as it travels down the hillside.

            When we woke in the morning, we were thrilled to see downtown San Francisco from our anchorage. Little did we know this would be the last time we would see it for four days, thanks to fog. Arriving just before a major race week, we were unsuccessful in obtaining any reciprocal moorage at any of the San Francisco marinas, so we remained anchored off Sausalito in Richardson Bay for a few days. It is hard to describe the magic of entering the Bay, seeing Alcatraz for the first time, then motoring between the town of Sausalito and the opposing suburb of Belvedere, taking in the hilly terrain and impressive homes built on hillsides and tops. The Taj Mahal type floating home moored on the outside of one of the marinas had us grabbing our binoculars and snapping pictures. Palatial homes on the waterfront in Belvedere on the other side of Richardson Bay from Sausalito resulted in calculations of damage in the event of another “big one.”

            After our long arduous voyage down the coast, and this being a milestone waypoint, we reveled in the opportunity to enjoy some civilization and learn about the history of the area. Exploring Sausalito first with its picturesque upscale shops, hotels and restaurants, we also found the necessary laundromat, grocery stores, barber shop, and West Marine.

 

LUXURIES AND REPAIRS Eventually, we tied up for three nights at Schoonmaker Marina—not cheap but offering welcome, clean showers and the dock stability Garett would need to climb the mast to remove the radar for repair. Being “on land” also made it much easier to for walking and running, and showers make exercise even more fun. Writing this eight months after we started our voyage and now having met and talked with so many fellow voyagers, we know that the majority have onboard showers, which means they also have watermakers. These are luxuries we do not have on Light Wave, save an outside Sun Shower. We sponge bathe thoroughly every day, and shower when we can. But, hey! We do not have to worry about the constant maintenance of a watermaker and breakdowns, a frequent problem. We do not have to generate extra power to make water or heat water, as we simply heat it on the stove. And our smaller but sturdy catamaran is seaworthy and capable of providing us with the same joyful experiences, with far fewer headaches.

            All the way down the coast, from Washington to San Francisco, fog had been our constant companion, so radar was a necessity. Sailing out the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Canada-U.S. border to Neah Bay, Washington, our new Furuno radar developed a serious glitch. It would not work more than one minute at a time, apparently due to overheating. Luckily the one-minute operating times were enough to guide us into many ports in dense fog. When we visited the West Marine affiliate electronics shop, we found that Furuno 1623 radar had been recalled due to a faulty drive belt. This was happy news, as we only had to wait a few days for the part to be delivered by Furuno and the radar to be repaired, at no cost.

            The Raymarine autopilot that had conked out sailing from Neah Bay to Tilamook was a different story, and we had to wait two weeks for the motor to be repaired by the manufacturer and returned to West Marine. Considering we had used it without a problem for six years, we were happy. Thankfully, we had purchased a new back-up of the identical autopilot before we left, so we just had to connect the new drive motor arm and carried on with no problem. When I recall now how I expected to have a repair-free voyage, knowing the quality of our workmanship on Light Wave and that she was simply equipped with fairly new gear, I have to smile. As a more seasoned voyager, I now understand that long-distance voyaging necessitates constant maintenance and occasional repairs; so at least one crewmember has to be pretty darn handy. Thank goodness Garett is, and from what I have seen most male captains are. We feel for those whose vessels are so large with more systems of much greater complexity that something is constantly breaking down. This voyage has reinforced our conviction that, as Larry and Lyn Pardey say, the simpler the vessel the better; though we would not go so far as to travel without a motor and electricity.

            Now that we had no need to be at a marina, we moved to a mooring buoy in front of the Sausalito Yacht Club at no charge, providing us access to the club and its lovely showers. Though they have no actual marina docks, tying up to a mooring buoy this seemed a great boon at the time. However, we soon learned why their mooring buoys were empty. The club is located at the south end of Sausalito near the Golden Gate channel and adjacent to docks for ferries carrying commuters and tourists to San Francisco and back all day long. The huge boat waves from the ferries and the surge of swells rolling in from the ocean made our three-day stay there pretty uncomfortable. With the winds and the big swell surges, Light Wave yanked on the mooring buoy all night; add to that the unrelenting creeks and moans of the ferry dock, we woke up to check the mooring line so many times each night we did not get much sleep. In retrospect, and having happily anchored comfortably in open roadstead conditions since then, we would have been much better off to simply anchor in Richardson Bay for the duration, dinghying ashore each day to explore and provision.

 

TOURIST STUFF The town of Sausalito was built up during the Second World War when an embattled England called on the U.S. and President Roosevelt to replenish their warships, ever dwindling thanks to prowling German U Boats. Dozens of these “Liberty Ships” were built on the docks at Sausalito, and eventually Henry and Edgar Kaiser turned out one ship every seven days here and at boatyards in nearby Richmond. Later, in the 1950’s, Sausalito became a well known community of artists in writing, sculpting and painting who shared floating homes and lived an infamous Bohemian lifestyle. You can view a fascinating pictorial history at a Tourist Centre near the ferry docks in Sausalito.

            One day we walked over to the Bay Model, in Sausalito. This amazing two-acre indoor model of San Francisco Bay and its surrounding rivers and estuaries, was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950’s and was used to predict tides and effects of silting until just a few years ago when computers replaced it. However, it is still functional, though no longer manned by scientists simulating scenarios and compiling reports. It cycles through one 12-hour tide in just eight minutes. Examining it, we were struck by the complex waterways in this valley and how the continual movement of ships is dependant on accurately planned dredging, as the water throughout is very shallow. We learned that during the California Gold Rush in the late 19th century, in inland northern California on the estuaries leading to San Francisco Bay, gold miners hosed down masses of dirt on hills looking for gold with high-pressure water hoses, resulting in a huge sediment build-up in the rivers and estuaries leading to the Bay and eventually the Bay itself. That short-sighted practice, like so many borne of greed and profit, resulted in this permanent serious silting problem in San Francisco Bay and necessitates this very complex system of governing the movement of water for farmland irrigation and shipping and constant dredging to keep the waterways clear.

            It was a great treat one morning to be picked by our friend Garfield Kincross who works in San Francisco and lives in Alameda. After six weeks of hard work at sea and feeling very much like foreigners in unfamiliar towns and small cities of coastal U.S.A., we felt cosseted and pampered sitting back in Garfield’s comfortable old Volvo while he took us on a guided tour of his beloved city. He drove us to the outlook over the Golden Gate Bridge where we were buffeted by wind as we gazed at the huge red suspension bridge and the views into San Francisco Bay and out into the Gulf of the Farallons. He then drove us across the bridge and all over the city, showing us the sights as only a resident can. It was great, as we visited places we would not have otherwise seen, including Chinatown and the Hispanic areas, where we stopped to stock up on cheap fresh produce. Visits to the wonderful Trader Joe's, that unfortunately has not yet come to Canada, and Costco gave us the chance to thoroughly reprovision.

            San Francisco is a beautiful city. The homes are very different from what we were used to in Vancouver. Most are walk-up townhouses, butting right up against each other and three to four stories high, with tiny courtyard type backyards. Some of these (right off the Golden Gate Bridge on the waterfront street) appear to be deluxe residences of extremely wealthy people. City planning had us shaking our heads, however, as we wondered about the logic of jamming homes next to each other in this cheek-by-jowl fashion. Doesn’t this city sit squarely on the San Andreas Fault? What happens when the next Big One hits? Won’t they all collapse like a line of dominoes?

            The huge and very impressive Art-Roman-Greco pavilion built as the centre of San Francisco’s 1920 World Exposition is very impressive. Like Expos everywhere in the world today, it too must have cost the city’s taxpayers a lot of money, creating much debt resulting in increased property taxes for untold years to come. The craziness of city living and political maneuvering is nothing new, and happily left behind while we are sailing. Who needs a radio or newspaper? We have not been exposed to the media since we left Vancouver, with the very odd exception hearing some tidbit from another cruiser. And we are happier and freer for it, and also quite likely make our decisions and form opinions and concepts far more independently.

            We saw Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world,” and toured huge Golden Gate Park, crowded with weekenders seeking some beach or grassy patches to relax and play with their children. We saw the remains of the historical Bath House right on the oceanfront that was built early 20th century used for several decades. It was so big that they say 25,000 people could use the pool and "hot tub" facilities at one time, and offered swimming pools, hot pools and cold pools. Sounds like good hydrotherapy, proven now to be very healthy.

            We also toured a 280-foot tall ship, Baclutha, on the waterfront of San Francisco in the tourist area. She was constructed with iron in 1886. From the 1900 to 1932 she plied the waters up to Alaska delivering wood and canned salmon. We were amazed at the size of this old sailing ship, and found the tour a real education in the way merchant sailors functioned. A volunteer told us that the method of operating this type of sailing vessel did not change in 200 years, so you could take a sailor from 150 years ago and put him on this vessel and within a day he would know all of the sails and lines and how to run the boat. We are thankful boatbuilding and design has come so far that we were able to build our small sloop-rigged catamaran capable of carrying us on long ocean voyages without five million different sails and lines to worry about.

            While strolling along Fisherman's Wharf we came across many different types of buskers. The most outstanding was the “Bushman.” This fellow, attired in green and brown camouflaging clothes, sits on a low stool hiding behind big branches of leafy bush he has cut, waiting for an unaware suspect. The victim is usually engrossed in chatting with a friend or just doing the mental processing we all do as we walk along city streets. As soon as the next unfortunate saunters nearby, the Bushman jumps out at them shaking his bushes and yelling in his uniquely Morgan Freeman-type gravelly voice, "Yaaaaggggghhh!" or some variation thereof. The victim jumps a mile and each reacts in a different way. They are all so funny, and watching the scene is much like watching a continuous Candid Camera show. So you get all of these people gathering behind the Bushman just to watch the reactions. It takes a few minutes for another unsuspecting victim to stroll along, as people close to the last one have seen what happens and give the Bushman a wide berth, a big smile plastered on their faces the while. Eventually another hapless soul comes along totally absorbed and unaware. The Bushman jumps out. "Bleaaaaggghhhh!" They jump sideways, slap hand to chest, skitter across the sidewalk, scream, laugh, and continue laughing as they smile at the "audience" and shake their heads. It is the best busker entertainment we have ever seen, and the Bushman got the most money too. If you look for him, remember that he relocates regularly, so that people never know where he will be and are thus always surprised. I've considered taking up this fun occupation when we return to Vancouver, but I don’t think my white conservative female persona would cut it.

 

CHANGES ABOARD When we returned to our floating cocoon, after the crush of the traffic and crowds touring San Francisco, we were thankful to be free from the crowds on our vessel, knowing we would within a couple of months be far from the city crushes. It was at this propitious moment that Garett announced that we need to raise the floor of the nacelle of our central cuddy cabin again, to prevent water slamming and banging, as well as for safety. We had raised the cuddy cabin floor and roof just a year before we left Vancouver, resulting in a significant reduction in the bridgedeck noise, but the steep seas of the Orgeon coast had shown that we needed even more clearance. My initial response was unenthusiastic to say the least. However, after a barrage of design and engineering arguments, I capitulated. We looked for a suitable and reasonable priced boatyard, unsuccessfully. Discouraged, we put on our thinking caps to see if there were any alternatives.  Eventually, Garett proposed a very bold, though somewhat crazy solution: why not do the work on the floor while the boat is in the water at Richmond Bay Marina? See Garett’s article, “How To Get More Bridgedeck Clearance” in this issue.]

            Zipping around the boats and derelicts at anchor in Richardson Bay, we spied another yellow catamaran! It looked like Light Wave’s big sister, so we promptly motored over to say hello. As we got closer we realized the cat was quite a bit bigger, actually 40 feet. We were warmly greeted by a couple from Germany and Austria, Uwe and Eva Keil, who started building their boat at the same time we did nine years ago but have been offshore cruising for the last seven years since launching in 1999. They invited us aboard and we learned they had just sailed down from Vancouver after going up to Alaska in the summer of 2006. Their cat Quinuituq (pronounced Kwin' oo wee' took) meaning “deep patience” in Inuit, is a Custom Tropic 40. They built her in France and she is made of plywood covered in epoxy and fiberglass, beautifully finished and very well set up for cruising. Uwe and Eva had just come in to San Francisco an hour earlier so we left them to recover while we took Light Wave over to Angel Island Marine Park, about four miles away, for the night, agreeing to get together when we returned. When we did, we found life-long friends with many shared interests and values, as we have been lucky to find among many of the cruisers we meet. They worked hard and lived frugally even though Uwe is a medical doctor who ran his own practice in Germany. In fact, they lived so simply in a one-bedroom apartment, refusing to join the race to acquire things and assume debt, that friends had trouble understanding them. They, like so many of us, were working practically towards realizing their dream of long-term cruising. Back to the subject of watermakers, we later found that Uwe and Eva had actually sold theirs after a few years of use because of the constant maintenance required, so maybe watermakers are not the necessity that many cruisers believe.

            We sailed to nearby Angel Island, plunk in the middle of the Bay between San Francisco-Tiburon and Sausalito-Richmond, and tied up to a mooring buoy in Ayala Cove, and the next morning went ashore to explore. The island is about two miles in diameter and 600 feet high at its peak. It had been used by the military for various purposes for the last 150 years, and numerous forts and houses remain, a few of which are still used by the park service. Angel Island became a national park in 1970, but still has some off-limit areas with military buildings being restored. We went on what is called the “blue trail” which slowly winds away to the lookout right on top--about 1.5 hours. The park seems to be the subject to budget cuts as the trails were not well marked. We never did see the “blue markers” or any markers for that matter, and many of the safety rails were falling apart from neglect. While the trail was a very pleasant walk through the trees and we did get some great pictures of the whole area from the lookout, this “park” made our provincial and marine parks in British Columbia look wonderful, as they are so well maintained.

 

CREATIONS ON BOARD We left in the afternoon and enjoyed a boisterous sail through the channel and off San Francisco along with all the other enthusiastic sailors, anchoring back in Richardson Bay about 100 yards from Uwe and Eva. We grabbed some nachos chips and salsa and headed over for a visit. Eva is a very accomplished gold and silversmith, who creates wonderfully unique pieces with the exquisite pearls, opals, shells and even polished nuts they find in their travels. Self-taught, she has honed her craft during their ocean travels, and returns each year to Germany to sell her pieces and take new orders. There are many ways to finance long-term voyaging, and we have heard that happy travelers usually adopt some kind of creative hobby. One couple we have since met enjoys giving back to the Mexican people, and happily offers their services teaching English as a second language. I write, knit, fiddle with the tin whistle and plunk a ukulele. Garett plays the tin whistle by ear so well he can even play “Picard’s Air” from Star Trek: Next Generation, writes, maintains the systems on Light Wave and plans and implements improvements. In addition, we both spend an hour a day on our Pimsleur Spanish lessons and speak in Spanish to each other as much as possible to hone our skills.

            The Keils showed us many pictures of their travels and talked about their cruising, sharing their experience, their voyaging savvy, and lots of tips. When Garett mentioned that we had a big storm anchor in a locker, Uwe told us the three most important things for voyaging are: a dependable anchor, GPS and autopilot. He urged us to use the biggest anchor we have all the time as you know never know when the wind will come up; with your biggest anchor, you can be sure it is always set and you can have peace of mind when asleep or ashore. Plus, how can you deploy your "Big Gun" once you're already at anchor and the wind is suddenly wailing at 40-50 knots? Why didn't we think of this before? As well the Keils have painted their inflatable dinghy engine yellow, which Uwe explained is because thieves will not steal a yellow motor as it is too hard to sell. We completed both these modifications over the next week. Since then, in addition to having an eye-catching yellow motor on our dinghy (it’s great what you can do with a spray can of good paint from Home Depot!), our biggest anchor, a dependable 32-lb Delta, rests in our anchor roller ready to use, and we now sleep better.

 

WORK AT RICHMOND By the time we left for the suburb city of Richmond, where we would do our modifications to the cuddy cabin floor, the wind was building, so we had an exciting sail over and even more exciting docking at the harbormaster the huge Richmond Marina Bay. In fact, the wind had picked up to 30 knots and stayed there for the next 36 hours. Not knowing the area, equating the name “Richmond” with the very lovely and peaceable suburb of Vancouver, and after receiving no advice to the contrary when we asked at the office, we went for an early evening walk, hoping to find the West Marine store. Soon after we left the picturesque and upscale new housing developing surrounding the marina, the area deteriorated quickly. Our walk was a mistake, as we soon found the streets totally deserted and a little creepy. When we finally did get to the Old Town, which was quite nice, we decided to take a cab home. We later learned that this Richmond has the one of the highest homicide rates in California because of the extensive drug trade and prostitution, and is one of the roughest areas in the state. The unforgettable lesson was: check very carefully before venturing out walking in unfamiliar cities.

            Over the next five days we did our modifications to Light Wave. We rented a car very reasonably at the Enterprise weekend rates, and got all the things we needed. Having wheels is okay for two days, but by the end we were stressed with driving on city streets. Why do people worry so much about us out on the sea? We rarely travel closer than a quarter of a mile to another vessel, unlike the three-foot separation distance between cars racing in opposing directions on city streets at an aggregate speed of 70 to 80 miles per hour.

            During breaks in our boat modification project, we visited with people in the marina and walked or ran the walk that borders the bay and fronts the adjacent new home development built to enhance the marina and likely in hopes of raising the tenor of the community. Richmond Marina Bay has over 800 slips, and again 95% of them seem to be occupied by sailboats. A small liveaboard community here gives a boost to security and also gives the place a nice homey feeling.

            We camped out in our starboard sleeping hull for three days and nights as we cut out the floor of the cuddy cabin for the drastic modification. With the two square feet of remaining floor, I could not prepare food, and we certainly couldn’t use the saloon table and couches! We felt very intrepid! After a full day’s work, we pulled food out of our fridge, removed the grill from the barbecue in the cockpit, and cooked on it. Then we sat down in our "bedroom hull" to eat our dinner at about 8 o’clock each night, and fell to sleep exhausted. When we finished the work, you would never know we had raised the floor as Garett did such a good job on the joins in spite of very difficult working conditions, and within a day we were used to the extra step up in the cuddy cabin and the decreased head space over the saloon area.

            We had picked up our repaired Furuno radar from West Marine before we had left for Richmond to do our repairs, so Garett went up the mast for an hour and reinstalled it while we were safely tied up to a dock.


CRUISING CYCLES
Returning to Richardson Bay, we found our friends Uwe and Eva again on Quinuituq, and had them over for a tour of our much smaller cat. After Garett proudly showed them all of the shippy features we have built into Light Wave, and our three separate living areas, we settled in to the cuddy cabin for a candlelit chat. Garett showed them all of our recent pictures, including those of our work-a-thon modifying the floor. This was our first real getting-to-know-you visit with other cruisers on a long voyage. We rarely if ever do this when coastal cruising at home, and now that we have grown accustomed to the wonderful camaraderie and quickly made friendships of voyagers, we hope to share that openness with neighbors and cruisers when we return home. One of the subjects we discussed was slowing down. When we visited them on their boat and told them our original plan was to sail a year and a half, they both shook their heads and said you need at least two years to really unwind. Two years! We had heard three months! Uwe explained that after seven years of voyaging, they do not think in terms of days, they think in terms of seasons. You start off, fresh from the city craziness, thinking and planning in minutes. As you slow down while voyaging, you go to hours, then days. Soon, you are thinking in terms of one or two weeks, and eventually, you are thinking and planning from season to season. This is not to say that the Keils are not active and productive with their time; they are. It just means that ideal state is to relax one's mind and body to the point where you stop thinking you have to do something right now, today or tomorrow, or even next week. Now approaching eight months since we left home, Garett and I figure we are living by the month, and have stopped rushing. We travel when the weather is propitious and in harmony with our own cycles, which we calculate mathematically. Just as seasons and all forms of life have cycles, so does the growing the evolving human mind. We have found using these universal laws ensures safe passages and propitious, helpful and happy conditions, occurrences and acquaintanceships on arriving at a port or anchorage.

            The night before our departure, we took our dinghy in to the Sausalito Cruising Club and enjoyed their fabulous Friday night buffet and the company of some other offshore cruisers doing the same thing we are doing. This night we met two new sets of friends who would become good friends as we met off and on while we all sailed down the Baja Peninsula, and explored the Sea of Cortez and the mainland coast of Mexico. Built on a barge attached to shore in the 1950’s, the mandate of the Sausalito Cruising Club is to provide a safe haven and welcome for offshore cruisers. They offer shower facilities and have a dining room and pub area. We simply had to sign in for the club key, and could thereafter tie up our dingy to their secure dinghy dock, use their showers, and have access through their gate to Sausalito. There are about five mooring buoys planted near the club, managed by the Harbor Authority, and we later found out you could tie up here on a first-come first-serve basis simply by signing in with the Port office. We urge any cruisers visiting San Francisco to anchor in Richardson Bay and look up the Sausalito Cruising Club.

 

ITCHING TO GO After three weeks in the Bay Area, we were itching to get going. With favorable weather forecast, we awoke very early this day so that we could go through the Golden Gate Channel at slack tide and before the afternoon westerlies came up. If there ever is a place to respect the effect of wind over tide, this is the place. We motored our way through the other boats anchored in Richardson Bay in the morning haze and reached the channel at slack tide, which lasted only about 15 minutes. The towers of the Golden Gate Bridge loomed overhead as we bade this bustling metropolis goodbye, knowing that it will be quite some time before we see this sight again. We had had enough of city living and longed for the wind in our sails and less populated anchorages.

            We only had 25 miles to go to reach our next stop, Half Moon Bay, and we sailed about one hour out of five. Well armed with my patches to prevent seasickness, I had been longing to get going. Amazing what a difference it makes knowing I am not going to be deathly ill once we get out in the not-so-swell swells! I do all kinds of things: I cook! I bake! I read! I haven’t quite gotten to the point of writing or knitting yet, but that’s coming. (Actually at the time of writing, six months later, I am almost completely drug free and manage most passages happily with ginger tea and my acupressure wrist bands.)

            Entering Half Moon Bay through the breakwaters, we had difficulty anchoring in the soft mud bottom. After four tries, just as Garett’s arms were tiring with our new heavy super anchor, we were hailed by a couple aboard an older wooden power yacht anchored nearby. Simon and Sunny invited us to tie up to Seascape and come aboard for up for a cup of tea, a great kindness. They are from Victoria, British Columbia, and several years ago purchased their 42-foot “gentleman’s yacht,” circa 1950 powered by a very dependable William Gardner diesel engine, and have cruised 20,000 miles on the B.C. coast. They are now taking a few years to cruise further south, planning to follow the same course as ours, more or less. After the tea and friendly chat, we finally anchored successfully, and settled in for the night.

            Half Moon Bay is another tourist destination, and we enjoyed a nice long walk along the road, returning on the lovely sandy beach, where we waded out into the surf to the point our shorts allowed. The undertow created by the waves rushing back out to sea pulls your feet and ankles fiercely; the water is not icy, but definitely cool, and it’s not a place you would go swimming. But everyone enjoyed wading, while the kids would “challenge” the incoming surf wading out further and further, and then run screeching in to safety.

            Another foggy early departure saw us on our way to Capitola, a spot recommended by Mike, a sailor Garett had met at Half Moon Bay. Hearing that we planned to explore the Sea of Cortez, Mike also urged us to buy snorkeling equipment as he said that half of the beauty of the Sea of Cortez is below the surface. (We are now very glad we took has advice as we have had so many beautiful snorkeling experiences in the Sea of Cortez and in the beautiful bays of mainland Mexico.) We enjoyed a great sail most of the 55 miles to Capitola. The last 10 miles were a little dicey as the fog had rolled in and we could only see about 200 yards. Nearing the anchorage, we had to figure out where the kelp beds were in the near dark and anchor between them, but we managed, just barely. It was a pretty open anchorage though, so we only stayed the night and left the next day for the short jaunt to Monterey.

 

MONTEREY We had a great downwind sail on a broad reach to Monterey, 25 miles from Capitola across Monterey Bay, using the main, jib and screecher. The sun actually came out and the motion was so comfortable that we each took turns sleeping in the hull in our comfy berths, while the other took the helm. The swells were very minimal and well spaced, as the sea action was so gentle. It is always so much more fun to sail than motor, and in these pleasant sailing conditions I “learned the ropes” that Garett had been adding to and refining since we launched Light Wave.

            We had to avoid a military restricted area to reach Monterey, and for quite some time mysteriously got no depth reading. Later we discovered that a very deep trench lies under Monterey Bay, which is why our sonar gave up. When we reached the city, we were met with a huge field of mooring buoys both inside and outside the breakwater. To avoid the $30 per night charge, we anchored instead, and motored ashore as soon as Garett put together our PortaBote and attached our bright yellow motor. Before we got going, though, Marion and Bruce, whom we had met at the Sausalito Yacht Club, rowed over from their vessel, Gallivant, and said hello. It is always helpful to meet friends in a new anchorage as you feel a little less overwhelmed. And thanks to their advice, we now knew where to tie up our dinghy and how to access the showers at the Harbor Master’s Office.

            Sea lions abound in the marinas and anchorages off Monterey. Holy schmolie! This time they set a record. They were everywhere. A great long dock built for commercial fishermen unloading into canneries rests on big criss-crossed pilings and supports, and these supports are laden with big bruiser pinnipedia, even though they are a good four to six feet off the water. So again it was “Bark! Bark! Honk! Honk!” all night long.

            Wandering around on Monterey’s seaside boardwalk and then up the streets into the town, we struck it lucky. We discovered a three-block-long Farmer’s Market that only happens Tuesday nights from 4 to 8 p.m. This was the biggest open market we had ever seen, though it did not beat Santa Barbara’s market a couple weeks later for fresh produce and beautiful display, and we augmented our produce and our starch locker while inhaling the tempting aromas of a plethora of ethnic food stands while resisting the promptings of our tummies.

            Visitors’ maps and friendly advice provided by the Harbor Master clued us into the local attractions which include several historical sites, two Thomas Kinkade galleries, and the incomparable Monterey Aquarium. Visiting the Monterey Aquarium was an unforgettable experience. We had never seen anything like it. We stood enthralled viewing their sea otters through the underwater glass and took some great pictures of these most entertaining and fluid creatures. The naturalist introduced the audience to the five resident otters and we learned that one had just returned from her duties as surrogate nurse/mother to an orphaned baby otter. The Aquarium frequently finds these orphans and brings them in to nurse to maturity, then releases them back into the wild and monitors how well they do. If they don’t do well, they will be taken back into the fold.

            An underwater viewing tank displayed a vast number of fish in their natural kelp bed environment, while a diver hand fed eels, small sharks, and many other different fish while providing a commentary through his mike. We learned that it’s better to buy your calamari at fish bait shop than a seafood shop, as you pay a lot less and get the same thing! We also learned about the kelp beds and how important they are to the bottom fish, the sea otters and visiting whales. The bigger whales eat krill, shrimp-like creatures that proliferate in the ocean. At another underwater tank, we saw a juvenile Great White Shark and lots of very big yellow fin and blue fin tuna. The Aquarium is nurturing this Great White for a little while longer, as it is growing at such a rapid rate that it will soon be impossible to keep up with. Apparently these notorious sharks are endangered. Ahem! I am happy with that. We were also delighted to find this amazing “bird habitat” where a variety of sea and shore birds live very contentedly within a hand’s reach of visiting humans, and show no sign of nervousness. The next stop was a pool of Bat Wing Manta Rays, where you could reach down and touch the little guys. On the way back from the Aquarium, we were delighted to visit the Thomas Kinkade gallery and browsed through reproductions and originals of Kinkade’s “paintings full of light.”

 

SQUASHED In one of his “friendly puppy” chats, Garett had learned that there was indeed one squash court in Monterey, at a private men’s club just a few blocks into town. As we are both avid squash players and knew there would be very little opportunity to play during our offshore cruising, we trekked over to get the lay of the land. A discreet sign announced the Pacheco Club and its “men-only” status, at a big brown windowless door in an adobe building and one little buzzer on the side. I stood well back while Garett pressed the buzzer, twice. A conveniently tall, sober-looking, man in a well pressed white shirt and tie answered the door and peered down his disapproving face at Garett, who started his “win-‘em-over-with-St. Bernard-like-charm” spiel: “Hi there! We have sailed here from Vancouver and I am an open squash player. I was wondering if I could get a game?” I don’t think so! The guy peers even more disapprovingly (if that was possible) down his snooty nose and says, “We do have one squash court,” long pause, “but this is a Private Men’s Club” (distinct emphasis on the “Men’s”), and firmly shut the door in Garett’s face. It is always a hoot when Garett’s friendly-puppy approach falls flat as he just never expects rejection (which is admittedly why he seldom is rejected). We laughed and laughed and dragged our miserable, poor, raggedy, boat-smelling selves away from the Pacheco Club.

 

NIGHT PASSAGE Our next jaunt was going to be another 115 mile over-nighter to Morro Bay. After the weeks at San Francisco and our easy day hops since, it took awhile for me to get comfortable with being way out there again and doing my watches, even during daylight hours.

            During the afternoon, about a mile to the west, we saw a humpback whale slapping its fin in the water and breaching. As our courses converged over the next 15 minutes, we saw it do full breaches out of the water several times, and heard the crash and a great “Whump!” as its body hit the water. Garett changed course and we got about a quarter mile away, then  returned to our back in the other direction as I thought we were getting too close for comfort.

            Again, we did a lot of downwind sailing, using the drifter for awhile, then the jib and screecher, and the seas were very comfortable. After a long rest in the sleeping hull, I had to do my first night watch in a long time, but found it a little easier as with our repaired Furuno radar I was able to check for nearby vessels and take visual sightings to find them. I did this job very industriously so Garett, who had taken pity on me and lain down in the cuddy cabin so I wouldn’t feel so alone, heard the “beep beep beep” of the radar and GPS as I punched in codes every 10-15 minutes, not to mention me practicing my Spanish in the cockpit with the headphones on our CD player. Eventually, I ordered him down into the sleeping hull so he could get some real rest, and enjoyed the rest of my watch listening to the wind in the sails and the following seas, watching for vessels and trying to attune myself to the rhythm of the sea rather than fight it. We hope that by the time we have to do our big passage from Mexico to Hawaii, thence home to Vancouver, we will have established a comfortable rhythm with watches.

            Early the next morning, while it was still very dark, we were visited by two Pacific White Sided Dolphins who zinged back in forth like errant torpedoes for about a half an hour, churning up bright phosphorescence trails in the dark water. We talked to them and squeaked at them, hoping to encourage them to stay with us.

            The entrance to Morro Bay was very dramatic as we passed the huge Morro Rock (a redundant name as “Morro” means “rock” in Spanish). We toured the bay filled mostly with boats tied to mooring buoys, and came back out towards the entrance to anchor near some other visiting yachts. The Morro Bay Yacht Club offers reciprocal privileges to Blue Water Cruising Association, so we motored over in our dinghy and were again welcomed by a nice lady who gave us a key when we signed in. Next day, we luxuriated in lovely long hot showers in very well appointed facilities, and even found laundry machines on the premises, saving us hauling our laundry 10 blocks up a hill to a laundromat.

            Morro Bay is a very pretty little spot with lovely shops and a multitude of restaurants lining the beach-side street. My hair was impossible, so I was delighted to find a several salons and settled on one where I could get a cut for a reasonable price. I was soon well shorn and feeling great  There is really nothing like sitting in a comfy salon and chatting with a friendly, skilled lady while she gives you a nice shampoo and head massage, then clips away. Soon, while visiting friends in Oxnard, we would buy an electric hair clipper that I now use to cut Garett’s hair. However, women’s hair requires a bit more finesse, and I am not as trusting of Garett as he is with me working on his hair.

            Morro Rock is a huge 580-foot-tall “rock” that geologists say is the result of volcanic activities approximately 26 million years ago. We had been told this was a favorite bird-watching site, and sure enough we found a friendly fellow with his powerful telescope set up, watching for Peregrine Falcons. Bob very generously invited us to peer through his telescope at a Red Tailed Hawk that had nestled high up on a perch and happily educated us on his favorite birds (raptors, but still birds). He informed us that the Peregrine Falcons reign on Morro Rock, chasing out the much bigger Red Tailed Hawks as soon as they spot them. Peregrines are the fastest living creature, and have been clocked at speeds of 246 mph. The female is bigger then the male by a third. They are very small in comparison to our familiar Bald Eagle, weighing only 2 lbs, versus the Bald Eagle’s 7-10 lbs, but very powerful. Eventually we spotted two Peregrine Falcons through Bob’s telescope careening down the rock face. Having the time to explore and talk to people, we are learning more and more about wildlife, from the Brown Pelicans that we first saw in Oregon and are found all the way down into Mexico, to the Blue Footed Boobies we would see at Isla Isabella in Mexico.

            The sand dunes and sand spit park that forms the breakwater of Morro Bay are spectacular, and provided a natural area to get some exercise while inhaling the sea air and listening to the breakers pound into shore.

             The morning we left Morro Bay, we heard a “Yoohoo!” from shore and were delighted to see Simon and Sunny whom had been so kind to us at Half Moon Bay. They had just arrived on the overnight trip from Monterey, and told us they had been surrounded by hundreds of Risso’s dolphins off Monterey and dozens of sea otters while visiting Moss Landing. Hearing that, I was very sorry we had not stopped at Moss Landing, as sea otters are one of my favorite marine creatures. However, Garett and I have talked about it and our philosophy, shared by many long-distance voyagers, is that we simply cannot see everything. So we try to really enjoy what we do experience. This wisdom, of course, applies to land-based living as well.

 

POINT CONCEPTION On leaving Morro Bay at midday, we were blessed with beautiful sunshine, so we were finally able to see the coastline which has been shrouded in fog since San Francisco 10 days ago. Our strategy to round Point Conception, looming threateningly in our minds when we recalled horror stories at Cape Mendocino, was to break it up into two legs during daylight hours. Today we would do 25 miles to Port San Luis, leaving 55 miles for the next day to round Point Conception to Cojo Anchorage.

            Motoring and eventually sailing in light winds, we found that the seas here were  very different than what we had experienced in Oregon. The swells were three to four feet, but 15 seconds apart and not uncomfortable. The air temperature was 65 degrees so we were finally able to break out our summer shorts for the first time since we left home in July with its 80 degree temperatures. And people think Canada is cold!

            We sailed past the first two mooring areas at Port San Luis with all sails up, arriving just as the sun set. The anchorage is protected from all winds except south, so we anchored off the small town in about 30 feet of water, about 200 yards from the surf tumbling softly on the beach. Very early the next morning we motored out of Port San Luis without going ashore, for the 55-mile run around Point Conception to Cojo Anchorage. We hoped for a continuance of the northwest w

Read more about the joys of catamaran sailing and Check out Carllie and Garett Hennigan’s sailing adventures at www.time-for-a-catamaran-adventure.com

All photos credit to Carllie Hennigan

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