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delivery part 3: san diego to san francisco!

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As I was leaving Mele Kai to get back to Coconut, I ran into a couple I knew. I didn’t realize their boat was at the same marina I’d gotten into just the day before! We made plans do have a get together with some friends of theirs before we headed up North. I just love the sailing community, I always feel like I don’t know anyone, and all I have to do is walk around a marina and sure enough I WILL run into someone I know! I love it.

I don’t remember what day we took off, but I know we aimed to leave around noon and we pretty much did on the dot. We had a great weather window, and a Southerly was supposed to come by day two and help us out a little bit. Nothing over 15 knots of wind, though. We had plenty of charts incase we needed to stop anywhere along the coast. I’d brougt my keys from the Santa Barbara marina incase we needed them, and I had Charlie’s Charts of the Channel Islands.

Again, the gloomy days continued and the visibility seemed to shorten. It was so calm and peaceful (and monochrome) out on the water. Much less bashing, which was much appreciated. There were tons of birds who you could almost hear mutter “ugh…” as they sputtered away from our approaching vessel. Also, dolphins are really hard to photograph. I’m really jealous of people who just seem to be able to snap the perfect shot of them. Or maybe they just take 1,000 and one turns out spectacularly?

It was really magical around Point Sur, maybe day two of the trip? There were little kelp islands of birds, and where the birds were the dolphins were. And where the dolphins were, the whales were! We saw several humbpack whales, only needing to divert course a couple of times so they could pass infront of us. Sean tried fishing, but only caught kelp. I even saw an otter, but wasn’t able to catch a picture of it. They’re so quick! And cute.

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The trip was going well, as we were moving steady at around 6 and 7 knots. There was no “bashing” on this stretch. I watched a movie (Grace of Monaco) which was pretty cool! I’ve not yet watched a movie underway. Spoiled, I tell you! I was really appreciating how put together Mele Kai is. It has been Sean’s home for 6 years, so he has everything pretty dialed down. I grow sligtly jealous, and feel like my dear Coconut is a giant blob of tool mess and unfinished projects. It would be nice to have some help on board, but, I’d rather be alone than with the wrong person.

For the biggest lesson I learned on this stretch, it has to do with radar. I’ve got a friend who has told me I need several radar reflectors for Coconut. He worked on container ships for several years, so he knows the other side of what it’s like when you can’t see tiny sailboats. Since I’m hardly familiar with radar, I didn’t fully grasp what the issue was. Until the very last night at sea (dun-dun-duuunnnn).

We were sailing between the shipping channel and the coast. We were beginning to see more and more sailboat traffic, which is to be expected as we approached San Francisco. When I came onto watch at 2 am, I wasn’t feeling so hot. We had just rounded Point Conception and the swells were the wide type that just kind of make you feel like you’re drunk and dizzy. I’ve learned two things about myself for when I feel sick at sea: I either need electrolytes (Gatorade) or meat. Sean is vegetarian, and the last time I’d felt like this I was also sailing with another vegetarian. I grabbed some lunch meat with me for watch to try to settle my stomach, which I was really glad I’d grabbed when we provisioned. This is when I start burping incessantly. It’s an annoying spot to be physically, but I was just taking it easy to try to settle my stomach.

I could see a bright light up ahead, but nothing was showing up on the radar. I made sure to keep an eye on it, and diverted course closer towards land as it looked like we might be on a collision course. The other vessel didn’t appear to be moving, so I guessed it was probably a squid fishing boat because of the super duper bright lights. It was odd that nothing was showing up on radar, though. For a good hour I watched and waited as we approached the boat. I feared they’d set a large net or something, I surely didn’t want to get tangled in it. I went as far away as I felt necessary without getting us too far off course, and we passed without a problem. It weirded me out that perhaps I couldn’t trust the radar, I already didn’t care for it because of the amount of times the alarms went off over objects I could see. I then took short naps for about an hour, waking up every 10 minutes and looking around to make sure we were all clear. There was maybe a mile of visiblity, so I figured naps were better than falling asleep all together.

Well… I must have gotten a little lazy because my stomach had finally felt better and I decided to get up and walk around. I hadn’t been checking the port side as often. I shit you not, as soon as I looked over to the port side, I saw a sailboat, maybe 60′, with both sails up, two yellowish ligts on the mast, appearing to be moving very slowly and parallel to us (headed south)… Directly To Our Port! What the frick!!! Again, NOTHING was showing up on radar.

I was afraid maybe the alarm was turned off, but it was on, just nothing showed up. Not even a speck. The boat was maybe two or three boatlengths away from us, and man oh man my heart was racing. I couldn’t see if there was anyone in the cockpit, but I’m sure they were there and were probably wondering who the hell was aboard our boat as I was under the dodger! I didn’t hear anything on the radio either, so… goodness, that was scary. So my friend is right, fiberglass doesn’t always show up on radar and one radar reflector certainly isn’t enough. (I plan on installing three of them for Coconut. Also I think it’s wise to invest in an AIS transponder, not just receivers, but those require an additional antennae and I’m not interested in taking the mast down again.)

We arrived to San Francisco in the morning and it was bittersweet for both of us to be back. Neither of us expected to be sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge ever again, yet here we were. We made in exactly four days! At least it was temporary. I was looking forward to seeing my friends and a couple of sites I hadn’t seen while I lived there. After a few days, I remembered how expensive and difficult everything is in the city and was ready to leave, as I just can’t afford to eat out 3x a day at San Francisco prices. Anything over $5 these days I’m up in arms at the ridiculousness! San Fran is a beautiful city to visit, and there are a lot of great progressive movements there which I am proud to have gotten to know.

I was able to meet Sean’s wife Kate and their son Leo before I took off, which was great to meet the faces I’d heard so much about on the trip! Sean also gifted me his “World Cruising Guide” which I’d only recently heard about. I’ve got some great reading material to help me get to where I want to go!

This concludes the delivery. I ended up in a different location, on a different boat, with a better idea of what I need to change or work on (boat wise and personally) which is never a bad thing. I’ve had quite a few eye opening discoveries since then when it comes to dealing with toxic people, and even though it was scary and uncomfortable, perhaps that’s what I needed in order to stop making the same mistakes over and over and over. You can’t fix what you don’t know you need to change!

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adventures

delivery part 2: bahia tortugas to san diego

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The second and third parts to this delivery were much more pleasant than the beginning. Being stuck with intoxicated and combative crew was pretty unnerving, and I had a lot of reflection to do. In the end, I got what I was looking for after all.

Mele Kai was the only other boat in the anchorage at Turtle Bay (aka Bahia Tortugas). They had just arrived before the J35 did. The main function for the tiny town of Bahia Tortugas when it comes to cruisers is to re-fuel and provision. Since the sleepy town runs on island time, Daniel (crew of Mele Kai) and I had plenty of time to talk as we waited for Enrique to wake up from his siesta and bring the credit card machine so they could pay for the fuel.

I offered help if they needed crew, as it was just two of them on board. I didn’t want to be defeated and have to take the bus home (however that would work, it was a looong ways away!). I joined him in the panga ride back to Mele Kai, where we asked if I could join in the delivery. Captain Sean didn’t even hesitate and said “Sure!” Welcome on board.”

They both had a shower and then offered me a chance to get sparkly clean too (WHAT?!?!). I only had one pair of clean clothes left, aka the ones I was wearing, but it sure felt nice to be clean. It was my first hot shower on a sailboat ever, I felt like a Princess. We ate dinner in the cockpit, got to know each other a little bit, and had a good laugh about the whole situation. Apparently delivery crews are known for being like the ones I had encountered, and now I know. It was soooo nice to have normal conversations again. They let me put on the rudder to the Hydrovane on, as I still don’t really know how to use mine. We were going to fiddle with it if there was enough wind while underway, which was exciting!

We left the anchorage 11 pm that night and had a pretty bashy sail up the coast. I can see why it’s called the Baja Bash, because that’s what you do. Bash, bash, bash. Our watch schedule wasn’t really meticulous, but you knew that if you came out on watch someone would relieve you at some point. I had gotten comfortable with how to use the engine, chart plotter, learned where the sheets were, and was learning how to use the radar (something I’d never used before).

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The fog continued, but we were still treated with beautiful sunrises and sunsets. By the second day we could hear thunder in the distance, although we never did see any lightning. We’d gotten hit by a squall, a first for all of us. It wasn’t pouring down rain or anything, but the winds picked up and I decided to take a nap incase it was a long night. While I was tossing and turning, I heard something outside snap and saw through a hatch the main sail had come down. I put on my foulies and went outside to help them, but they had it under control. The halyard was stuck at the top of the mast, the shackle had snapped open. It apparently has always been loose but has never come undone underway.

We sat and waited in anticipation of what would happen next. None of us knew exactly what to expect. Another first, out of nowhere a giant wave had covered the ENTIRE deck of the boat. I can’t remember if we had the jib out or not since we’d lost the main, but I was facing the stern and we all got wet under the dodger and bimini. The AIS got wet as well, which was inside a locker in the cockpit. This led to some creative thinking by the Captain as to how we could continue steering for two more days without an Autopilot. There wasn’t quite enough wind to use the Hydrovane.

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Daniel, above, was the Chef on board. He made sure we had three hot meals a day, and was even kind enough to make coffee and tea (and remembered the soy milk and sugar!). I was getting spoiled big time. Watching dolphins as we chowed down was much needed after the long night we had. I woke up around 3 am and there was lighting sprinkling the sky! I had no idea, I could tell the winds picked up but was desperately trying to get some sleep. I didn’t have any ear plugs, so with the noise of the bashing along with the engine it was hard for me to tune out those noises.

Captain Sean had figured out a way to get the Hydrovane to steer us to course, but we had to sit at the wheel and make sure to correct it when it got off course, which was often. It was a hell of a lot easier than hand steering though! I was also freezing when out in the cockpit, so I am glad I kept my gloworm down sleeping bag. People think Mexico is hot, but I can assure you the Pacific Coast is not.

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We arrived in San Diego without issues in the morning a couple of days later. There was quite a bit of marine traffic as it was a weekend (I believe it was a Saturday?). We saw a ton of dolphins as we were approaching the channel, and Sean caught a giant bonita in about two minutes after putting out a line! Fastest I’ve seen a catch snag.

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Captain Sean had arranged a slip at a marina he’d stayed at last year before doing the Baja-Ha-Ha, and I hopped off the boat and did my laundry as they cleaned up the boat as Daniels’ family was coming into town. We all went to a nice dinner, they were a super fun group and I was very grateful they welcomed me on board having literally just met me. I am forever grateful to have met so many awesome people in the sailing community!

Because Daniel had to leave and Sean still had to get his boat back up to San Francisco where his wife and son were waiting for him, I decided to help him out with the sail north as well. I just needed to go back to my boat and get warmer clothes, which gave Sean time to make the repairs on the main halyard and AIS. In a few days we were ready to head further North!

I was getting excited to see my San Fran framily, I wasn’t anticipating seeing them so soon!

Next up, delivery part three: san diego to san francisco!