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adventures

marin & saus town

I was finally able to tie my shoes this morning! A friend and I went walking around the Marin Headlands and Sausalito to catch up and enjoy the beautiful weather. I also chopped the mop recently. Styling it was difficult, putting it in a bun was challenging, asking people to do it for me was down right hysterical. It was long enough to donate, so I feel good about it. I thought I was going to look like an alien recovering from cancer, but I was surprised to hear twice that I look like Charlize Theron. Huh? 

We came across Bear and Zita’s cousins, Leo and Sugar, and took a really cute family portrait. Bear also got to work and entertained some Russian tourists, and gave hugs and smiles and love to all (while Zita hid). My friend Megan saw what I didn’t… sail jellies washed up on the beach! It was a great day, and a much needed venture out into the world. I’m still very grateful that after all life has thrown at us the past couple of months that we’re still together, still healthy, and still smiling. It is without a doubt if I didn’t have Bear and Zita, and the support of all my friends and family, I would not be here.

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sea jellies

Can we talk about how amazing they are for just a second? I’ve always found it fascinating when some of human “inventions” are really just recreating things seen in nature. For example, sail jellies. I was flabbergasted when hearing tales about these creatures from the Pacific Cup racers at the Kaneohe Yacht Club last year. How had I not known about these natural-born sailors before?! They are genetically predisposed to sail downwind, close hauled. Whoa!!

I was recently watching a Wonders of Life episode and was again speechless at the advanced design of jellies. There are golden jellyfish in a saltwater lake in Palau who are solar-powered. SOLAR POWERED, people! They rotate counter-clockwise while in the sun. They follow the sun throughout the day in the lake, on the dot. For not having a brain, that is some intelligent design right there.

Then I started doing research, because what else is out there I don’t know about these awesome creatures? In line with everything Australian, this sea wasp jelly is the MOST DEADLY marine creature! One sea wasp jelly can kill 60 adults, and it could kill you within minutes. Source here. Sharks really do get a bad rap.

Opposing to the sea wasp, there is an immortal jellyfish in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Japan. The matured jellies  are able to revert back to a polyp (baby stage) to avoid being eaten or succumbing to sickness. Magically, they start their lives over again. Studies are being done to see if humans can become immortal too, which I find hard to duplicate. It’s something our culture is obsessed with, so it would be interesting to see if it got us humans anywhere.

The rest of my research yielded some interesting info.

  • They’ve been around for at least 500 million years. Pre-dinosaurs!
  • They aren’t actually fish, because fish have vertebrae
  • Most do not have digestive, central nervous, circulatory, or respiratory systems
  • The sea wasp is one of the few living organisms to have 360 degree vision
  • Most species only live up to a few months

I spent many hours looking at the sail jellies on my Pacific crossing. I felt bad for the ones who toppled over in our wake. Did they right themselves? If the wake simply spun them around violently, did they get back on track? What happens to them in a storm? Where are they all going to end up? Since the wind determines where they go, but they’re all on different paths, they’re just like sailboats I supposed. Or we are just like them 😉

Here I am holding one who washed onboard, whose innards you can see on the right. I tried and failed to capture an image showing just how many sail jellies there were around us. The sea is such a humbling place.

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Categories
adventures

coconuts’ first voyage: point reyes

What are two single sailorettes supposed to do over a long Valentines day weekend? Motor sail 40 miles up the beautiful California coast to Point Reyes, I guess! Here we are, having just spotted the anchorage in Drakes Bay, on top of the world as we’d safely completed our mission having never been anywhere near this area before. It ended up being a bit of an adventure getting up there, so a celebration was in order!

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We stopped in Aquatic Park the night before heading out the gate. When living in Berkeley I used to load up the dogs and the laundry into the dinghy and I would row to the other side of the marina to do laundry. Since I’m not in Berkeley anymore, I have not used my dinghy in ages. I forgot how much the doggies love rowing around! Leann and I both kayaked over to Alcatraz, it worked out perfectly because the Port Authority was on strike so there were no cargo ships and tug boats to dodge. Unfortunately, while both toys were out overnight for some reason my custom teak ladder was gone in the morning. I was an angry mama bear without my ladder!! I wasn’t sure how to get the dogs on and off the boat without it. I mean, come on!

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We scoped out the anchorage and realized that one boat had a kayak tied to it that had not been there the night before. He had to pass my boat to get to his. His boat appeared to be of scallywag material. My ladder was the only thing that could have been stolen that would have been easy to hide. We circled around his boat and I decided to board his boat and look for the ladder. Mind you, the companion way was completely open and I knew there was someone on board. I could see right into his boat, which was exactly like the one I lived on for 2 1/2 years. I knew where to look and wasted no time quietly opening the cockpit lockers.

The only problem was my ladder wasn’t in the cockpit lockers. It wasn’t inside either, from what I could see. I certainly wasn’t going to go inside. Then he woke up. My dinghy was secured to his starboard, and I was on port. I knew I’d been caught… oops? I leaped over to the other side of the cockpit and hurled myself into my dinghy where Bear and Zita were patiently (and quietly) waiting for their crazy mom to finish being crazy. As I was releasing the line attached to his cleat, a small Jewish man with longish salt and pepper wavy hair with a knit hat and welcoming eyes emerged and simply smiled at me. Before he could even say anything, I asked if he knew anything about my stolen ladder. He chuckled, and said no.

We chatted a bit and Leann and I eventually rowed away, taking the dogs to shore for a walk. Leann and I quick;y determined he was a big fat liar. He caught me snooping through his boat and he smiled at us and was so nice. Way too nice! And he said he got back to his boat at around 7 pm, but we were out in the cockpit until 9 or so and we never saw him pass.

We went back to his boat and instead of wanting trouble I kindly asked for my ladder back and promised I’d go away after that. THAT is when he went off on us. A lot. It was well deserved, I guess. He invited us up to snoop through the rest of his boat, and while I was scared to because of how angry he was, Leann kindly checked for me and it wasn’t there. Whoever stole my ladder, it’s probably going to end up at some swap meet or something. Mr. Jacobs, our new friend, later rowed past us as he was heading to shore. He told me he had a present for me, and without hesitation I asked if it was a can of Whoopass. He chuckled again and gave me a Walt Whitman book. Joy, Shipmate, Joy! he told me to read.

So that’s how we began our first ocean voyage on Coconut! I was a pirate before I even lost part of my finger. I now know Aquatic Park isn’t as safe as I thought it was.

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Onward ho! We were set back an hour due to the ladder fiasco, but we were still able to take the tide out under the bridge. You see, Leann and I are both reverse sailors. We both bought boats to live on and then started learning how to sail. Neither of us trust engines. Yes, mine is a Yanmar and brand new, but the whole point of a sailboat is that it can get you around without an engine. My main is not ready to be hoisted yet, but the jib was a possibility.

Leann was getting the jib ready. The hanks were on the forstay, and she was searching for shackles to put on the cars for the tracks and for the sheets. Suddenly, the engine cut out. There was still a hum, but the loud purr was gone. F%*@! NO! We were still in between the Potato Patch and the rocky coast! If the engine doesn’t come on, whichever way the current takes us is no bueno. I removed the key and hit the STOP button and waited for what felt like an eternity. “What lines are the sheets for the jib?” “Is it this one? Or this one?”Leann asked. “I don’t know” I responded. “I have no clue, whichever one you want to use.” I’d raised the jib months ago at the dock, but only to see how big it was. I knew I had lines on board, what they were for I hadn’t a clue.

I put the key back in the ignition and turned it clockwise to hear that sweet sweet purr of the engine. It started back up as if nothing had happened! It continued for the rest of the trip without a hitch. We then relaxed and laughed at what a day we’d already had.

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Once we got into the anchorage, we’d passed the only other sailboat there and asked if we really needed to anchor so far away from the shore. We did, he confirmed. We set anchor in 18′ of water and began preparations for dinner. I wasn’t feeling so hot, honestly. I was burping (my seasickness I guess) and had hardly eaten all day. After eating everything in sight and still feeling like I was wasting away, I realized I was slowly dying.

You see, Leann is a vegetarian. I bought a bunch of food she and I could share and thought since we’d been backpacking several times together and eaten the same food I’d be OK. Not the case, as the packaged meals we were eating on backpacking trips had additives to prevent a carnivore like me from death. The PB&J, the pasta and veg spaghetti sauce? Not so much. I realized in a semi-conscious state that I had eggs, which Leann kindly cooked up for me to bring me back to life.

The next morning I was feeling soooo much better, we went to shore to explore, hike, and take in the beauty of this area I knew nothing about.

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It didn’t take long before I started getting lectured left and right about my dogs and the seal pups. By the end of the day, I was pretty annoyed. The laws just changed that boaters aren’t allowed to come to shore anywhere there is a seal to protect their dwindling population. Well, where are we supposed to go then? Nobody had an answer. Oh, and “dogs are SOO disruptive to wildlife.” SO ARE HUMANS! Humans are worse for God’s sake. My dogs were on leash, they weren’t picking fights or chasing birds, I picked up their poop, leave me alone dammit.

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Anywho, I learned a lot about this area. Way before the Coast Guard, there used to be a lighthouse and a lifeboat saving station. There was a crew who lived at the station, and one would walk up and down the long coastline in shifts, looking for shipwrecks. When they spotted one, they’d go back to the station and everyone would carry their gear out to the wreck. I never knew anything like that existed, but I suppose wrecks were more common back then without all the technology we have today.

Also, the deal with the seal pups? It was mating season back in Feb. and the seal pups don’t have good odds at survival. Their mama stays with them the first 4-5 weeks of life. She leaves because she gets hungry, as she hasn’t eaten at all since giving birth. It takes another 4-5 weeks for the pup to figure out that there’s food in the water, even though they don’t know how to hunt or eat or anything. Only 50% of pups make it to the first year of life. Something as simple as lifting up its head to see if it’s in danger or not can waste valuable calories it needs to survive.

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There were plenty of bird enthusiasts, and we were just a couple of weeks shy of whale watching season. The population of grey whales has increased significantly in the past several years due to the ban on whale hunting. I still have not seen a whale! I saw a spout of water off the pier in Santa Cruz, but mama whales with their calves would be amazing to see.

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We ended the day of sight seeing and hiking with opening a bottle of home made key lime vodka. It had been marinating for well over a year, I was afraid to open it and consume it. I’m not much of a drinker, but why not celebrate such an amazing voyage? Thankfully the weather was warm enough to swim in, albeit I jumped in and swam directly to the dingy. We ended up dancing under the warm kiss of the sun, Zita did not approve as you can see. Bear was happy in his “recliner” set in the shade. We danced until we, for some reason, decided to row far far away to visit a fishing boat who was anchored out. There were two sailboats near us, but for some reason that fishing boat was calling our names.

The three men that we met, whose names now escape me, were thrilled (but not too thrilled if you know what I mean) to have us visit. We got a tour of their boat and hung out until we rowed back in the fog, to my boat, that was now too far away to see. Leann was legitimately terrified, while I was genuinely optimistic. Zita’s barks lead me the way, bless her loud little soul.

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The foggy morning came and went as we made our way back to Aquatic Park where I dropped Leann off so that she could attend her classes. I met once again with Mr. Jacobs, the man whose boat I boarded. He asked if I had read the poem, Joy, Shipmate, Joy! I had not, so told me to read it to him. Out loud, him in his kayak, and me in the cockpit of Coconut, I read to him.

Joy! shipmate–joy!
(Pleas’d to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed–our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last–she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate–joy!

 

Categories
adventures progressions

strictly sail pacific

It’s that time of year again! Time to check out fancy boats, sophisticated gear, and free seminars from those whose books I’ve read and knowledge I just wanna soak up. While Strictly Sail Pacific is open for four days in Jack London Square, I could only manage one day to visit. This means I missed seeing Cap’n Fatty 🙁

First on the agenda? When I returned from my first ocean crossing, I could see how valuable the wind vane system was (self steering). I immediately went on a search for a system compatible for my dear Coconut, and Hydrovane had exactly what we needed. They were giving a presentation about their system at the boat show, so what a great opportunity! I am forever going to be fantasizing about the day I can afford this invaluable piece of equipment.

I also heard from a couple about sailing Mexico and the Sea of Cortez, which lets be honest… that’s where I really want to be! (OK, and the South Pacific, too.) The most impressive? Two women who offered invaluable life experience. Lin Pardey, of course, was a wealth of knowledge as well as another woman Wendy who has circumnavigated three times over the course of seven years. These women know what they’re talking about! I took notes. Lots of ’em.

While I came to the boat show a couple of years ago I was well aware my time on the Columbia 26′ was nowhere near over and I was super jelly of the $300,000 boats. Now? Not so much. I truly admire how spacious my boat is compared to other 35’ers. I admire their fancy electronics, the pristine wood, the refers with shelves and stuff, but I am not jelly. As one presenter said, only get equipment you plan on being able to service/repair/replace. For me, that’s next to nothing. I will take manual everything, please and thank you.

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Here I am on the back of a Lagoon 400, one cool Cat. Do you like my fashionable bandage? It’s actually turned into a bit of a security blanket. I dread the day I don’t have to wear it anymore. My hand is doing OK. Healing normally, but I am still in a lot of pain. Month one down, many more to go. I’ll end this post the way a fellow blogger does. With a feel-good quote.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” -Jack London

 

Categories
progressions

a little invention

One of my favorite things about boat living is having to be creative in your problem solving. The problem was a pesky river like leak in the pulpit where the stern light wire comes thru. I had a container collecting said water, but I’d have to remember to empty it. During heavy rain, it fills up in a couple of hours.

With the help of a neighbor and a boat store friend, a hole was drilled into the container and a 1/2″ hose was put in place with plumbers putty to keep the area leak free.

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The hose I got was pretty kinked so I opened a drawer below the container and shut it on the hose to keep it angled down. This is the only way the water will drain.
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imageAnd there you have it! The water from the bucket drains straight into the bilge. Not the prettiest or most sophisticated solution, but I have been trying to get the pulpit off for a really long time and nothing has worked. So, you do what you can do sometimes!