Categories
adventures

delivery part 3: san diego to san francisco!

sanfran-5

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.

whales-2

whales-1

whales-3

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!

Categories
adventures

a romantic new year

How did everyone celebrate? Party like it’s 1999? Stay at home and watch the fireworks on TV? With a kiss from your special someone?

I only got kisses and cuddles from Bear and Zita, but, the evening somehow was very romantic. When I was having a hard time finding somewhere to live when I first moved to SF, a co-worker asked what I was going to do (month four of having no permanent residence). In frustration and just hours after I’d learned that people live on boats I let out a “I’m just going to sell everything and move onto a boat” sigh of defeat. Her silence said she knew I was just frustrated and that I didn’t really mean that. I certainly did not realize the craziness that came out of my mouth was soon to become a reality.

On New Years Eve three years later: I had the Golden Gate Bridge behind me, the beautiful Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge ahead of me, Ghirardelli Square to my right and Alcatraz to my left. Are you freaking kidding me? I got here on my own. I left the dock, motored, and dropped anchor all with not a soul to assist me. I wanted it this way. How else am I going to learn? It’s scary because I am not used to relying on a motor and this baby can’t sail yet. The engine is brand new, less than 35 hours. I still I don’t trust it, mostly because I have never relied on an engine before. I’d never dropped anchor before either. What if I drift and hit something? How does the windlass thingy even work? Putting faith in something I don’t trust or understand is pretty nerve wracking. Alas, if I’m ever going to get comfortable taking people out on Coconut I need to learn her quirks to ever be in charge.

IMG_7079

IMG_6953

IMG_6941

I made hot toddies and snuggled in the cockpit with the fur babies and watched the fireworks burst out from behind Coit Tower with a huge smile on my face. I shouldn’t forget to mention that bacon and eggs were on the menu, and I had a quick chat with my bestie as the clock struck midnight.

I didn’t really see this as romantic when my former co-worker said that, but it actually really is. I just wanted to keep my family together and this was the easiest way to do so. And bam. There I was hanging out on my boat in the heart of San Francisco enjoying a few days peace in beautiful and sunny (but cold) weather.

IMG_7061

I anchored out for three days total. I actually did drag anchor, like I woke up the second morning with a boat that had been behind me suddenly in front of me. I hope I didn’t hit it in the middle of the night (it was on a mooring ball unattended). I didn’t really want to pull up the anchor and re-set it. How was I going to do it better? Behind me was the pier and I certainly didn’t want to hit that, so, I had no choice. Pulling the anchor up only pulled me closer to the boat ahead of me, which was no bueno. I decided to motor forward gently to the left a little to ease up on the chain and get away from said boat.

IMG_7035

Thankfully the wind shifted and I was able to pull the anchor up (by hand of course, I couldn’t figure out the windlass) without hitting the boat. I circled around in the tight anchorage and thought I found a good clear spot, but I still didn’t quite get it right and pulled up the chain (by hand!) and tried again. A nice man who had arrived the night before waved and after complimenting my beautiful boat said he had to put out 150′ of chain before he felt safe. A nice way to say “put more chain out!”

I played it cool and responded with “I’ve never anchored before I don’t know what I’m doing!” He offered assistance if I needed any, but thankfully I felt something different the third time that I hadn’t felt the other times. I set out a bunch of chain. And then more. And then more. I reversed the boat, to which it instead went to the left and sideways. I let it settle with the engine in neutral and watched the north tower of the Golden Gate bridge to see if I was still moving backwards or not. I felt a bit of a tug and suddenly saw that we moved forward. BAM! Anchor set! Now all I need to do is mark my anchor chain so that I actually know how many feet are flying by as it goes to rest on the bottom of the bay. Honestly I have no idea how much I was putting out. 20′? 30′? Probably not what I should have, but in a small anchorage I didn’t want to put out so much I came too close to the other boats.

I had only previously checked to make sure I wasn’t drifting 2,394 times and as soon as I got a comfortable night’s sleep I drifted. Everything was OK though. What happens on boats happens so slowly, thankfully you have time to react. I also watched my battery usage, I hardly used anything at all. Granted I only have the fridge, radio, and LED cabin lights, I was happy to see the volts meter hardly budged in the three days. I did notice that the engine, however, isn’t charging the batteries. I need to look into that to figure out what that’s about. The first night out I used my awesome oil lamp instead of the cabin lights. But… I’m thinking of dumping the Kerosene and putting something else in there. What is up with the black smudge left behind?! Gross. I was breathing that. Anyone have recommendations for oil to use in a lamp that doesn’t leave a nasty residue?

IMG_7034

Last but not least, a former neighbor from the People’s Republic of Berkeley, who had moved his boat to San Francisco, came out to visit me for a minute. He didn’t know I’d gotten a bigger boat. Oddly enough, the same kind of boat I used to live on was anchored right next to me. What a good feeling to have made so much progress!

IMG_7038

IMG_7059

Initially I was trying to recreate the same lame NYE I had last year. I’d gone over to a friends boat and by 10:30 pm we were both falling asleep, so I went home and called it a night. I had the best year of my life! SO I had to be lame again, which was what I was aiming for. I don’t think anything I did was lame, actually it was awesome! I did feel guilty when friends were asking if there was anything fun going on just hours before midnight. No, no, nothing happening over here 😉