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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monterey to San Francisco

Monterey is a cute place to stay, but weather conditions were ideal for a Saturday through Sunday departure. This time, hopefully, the forecast would be a little more accurate. To meet favorable current in San Francisco, I had to leave, so after coffee and a French croissant on Saturday morning, I left just a few minutes before. I didn't fill any of my tanks as this was the last leg, and I was in sprint mode.

With little seas and a light boat, I had a good start and immediately set a pace at 6 knots. In the beginning I motorsailed, but eventually the wind died as predicted and I took the sails down and powered on with my trusty Yanmar. This leg went exactly as planned, and by 3 am I passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and a few hours later made it to Westpoint Harbor Marina, our new home.

Location:San Francisco, CA, United States

Morro Bay to Monterey

Originally, I expected to be in Morro Bay until Sunday, but the forecast had changed, predicting winds of less than 10 knots for Thursday evening and night. I saw an opportunity to get away from Point Conception and the Santa Barbara channel, where there's 30+ winds predicted for at least a week. Morro Bay is close enough to get some of these winds and Friday was not a good day for Morro.

Thus, when I woke up 6 am on Thursday morning and was met with calm winds and waves and favorable forecast for the remaining day, I got the boat ready. It took me a good hour to transfer fuel from my new auxiliary tank to the main tank. My brand new pump was broke, so I came up with a MacGyver solution to manually pump it into a 6 gallon jerry can, and the siphon it back in the main tank. Success, and by 9:30 I was underway.

My first two hours were quite nice, but then the winds picked up and so did the waves. For 2 hours I tried to sail, to ease the ponding into the waves, but wasn't making much progress so I finally gave up. As the night approached, the winds and waves continued to pick up and by the time it was dark, I was pounding into wave after wave with massive force and noise. This forced me to slow down, although the waves and currents against me had already slowed me considerably. At throttle speeds, when I usually make 5 knots through the water, I was now making less than 3 and effectively 2 knots overground.

My bashing continued through the entire night and made for a miserable passage. Finally, after sunrise, the winds and waves calmed down and I picked up speed. I was now just passed Carmel and was instead seeing large swells as a consequence of a Tsunami from an earthquake in Japan. I finally arrived in Monterey around 1 pm, well after the Tsunami had hit ravaged through the west coast marinas. Luckily Monterey had no damages from the Tsunami. Santa Cruz on the north side of the bay was not so lucky.

It was foggy as I left Morro Bay.

Just passed Carmel. Monterey is just around the corner. Nice sunny day, and I even spotted dolphins (too far away for a picture).

The point south of Monterey Bay. Te large swells don't show up on camera, but you can see the spray as the swells hit the rocks.

Finally safely moored in Monterey harbor. It was still surging from the Tsunami.

Location:Monterey, CA, United States

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Santa Barbara, Point Conception and Morro Bay

After riding out the storm in Ventura, Bella Marina was covered in sand and I gave her a quick wash. It was very satisfying to see a brown boat turn to pearl white. The same morning I took off for Santa Barbara, my last stop before rounding Point Conception. The best time to round Point Conception is during the night, as the weather is often calmer at that time. Thus, my plan was to go to Santa Barbara in the morning, get a few hours of sleep and then leave for the Point right after sunset, for an early morning arrival at Point Conception.

Like they say in A-Team: I love it, when a plan comes together. I got my few hours of sleep and left Santa Barbara around 19:30. The ride to Point Conception was almost glass smooth (as predicted by the grib files) and I rounded Point Conception with favorable conditions.

However, after rounding point Conception, unlike the predicted light winds coming into Morro Bay, I was instead hit with heavy winds on the nose and accompanying waves that Bella Marina was bashing against. I eventually arrived in Morro a few hours later than expected and very tired from bashing against waves all morning long. I was surprised after having such a smooth ride around Point Conception only to be met with strong headwinds, currents and cold weather. I guess that's the wakeup call telling me I'm no longer in Southern California.

There are lots of oil rigs in the Santa Barbara channel.

Santa Barbara harbor is small and cute packed with boats, but I had no time to explore, I had to focus on my mission.

It's comforting to know that the Coast Guard is ready to come rescue you, if things go wrong. I always carry a personal EPIRB, when I'm single handling. If I push the button, these guys will show up within hours (hopefully less, if they have a helicopter ready).

More oil rigs. It's important not to hit these guys, but they are lit like Christmas trees and not to hard to spot. These guys might be using more energy than they produce...

It's a little hard to see, but those are whales only a few hundred feet from my boat. I couldn't tell what kind, since they barely breached the surface.

Finally arriving in Morro Bay. That's Morro Rock, marking the entrance to the harbor.

A closeup of Morro Rock after entering the harbor. The harbor is calm, even though it's blowing 15+ outside.

Morro Bay Yacht Club. I was the only boat at the guest dock. Last time coming south, the dock was full with boats rafted two wide.

A Sea Otter was hanging out in the harbor working on cracking a shell.

Boats moored inside the harbor.

Location:Morro Bay, CA, United States

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Marina del Rey to Ventura

Marina del Rey reminds me of Lake Union in Seattle. It's the largest man-made marina on this coast and is located right next to Venice Beach and is a short cab ride away from LAX. Marina del Rey is possibly my new favorite place on this coast, and I would love to live here for a longer period.

During my stay, I had a chance to rollerblade all the way to Santa Monica Pier. I kept a keen outlook for Pamela Anderson or any baywatch lifeguards, but alas, no luck. I also had the opportunity to visit some friends in the marina (after fixing my outboard) and had a great time here. But the goal presses on, Point Conception is waiting, so early Saturday morning I made my passage to Ventura, to be just a little closer to round Point Conception.

The trip to Ventura was fast and easy. I even got to sail the last hour, before arriving in Ventura. Ventura is a very quiet place, well protected and I was very warmly received by members of Ventura Yacht Club. I had dinner and drinks at the club with yacht club members and I think Ventura Yacht Club might just be the friendliest yacht club on this coast. I stayed here for 3 days, while waiting for a gale to blow through.

Santa Monica. That's the Santa Monica pier in the background. Always a very crowded place, but it was impossible to rollerblade on the pier (it's made of large wooden boards).

Santa Monica's version of Venice' Muscle Beach. This is more of the yoga/Thai chi crowd. Is that Pamela Anderson's watchtower I see in the background :).

More Santa Monica Beach. They also had a gymnast wanna-bees section. I'm not impressed, because I'm married to a Romanian :)

Leaving Marina del Rey, the sun had just come up. Like I said, my new favorite spot on the West Coast.

Rowing teams practicing in the morning. Brings back memories of being young and physically capable. Also reminds me of Newport.

Definitively a cute place.

According to Wikipedia (the world's most trusted source...) there are 19 marinas here with a total capacity of 5300 boats.

Underway, I pass by Malibu. I tried to spot Charlie Sheen's house (Two and a half men), but I have no idea what it looks like or if it even exists....

You can see the Channel Islands in the distance. If you look closely, you can also see the outlines of an oil rig.

Yes, I actually got to sail my sailboat for about 1 hour before arriving in Ventura.

A cute model of the Channel Islands that was on display in Ventura.

From a watch tower in Ventura I had a pretty good view of the harbor.

Here's a view of the Ventura breakwater from the same tower.

Location:Ventura, CA, United States

Thursday, March 3, 2011

San Diego to Marina del Rey

It's the final chapter of Bella Marina's adventures.... Volume one.

I left San Diego three days ago. My mission: to bring Bella Marina to our new home in San Francisco.

After more than a year of cruising and having fun, Octavia and I are returning to normal life (aka the Rat Race). We wanted to switch it up a little, so we ended up settling on San Francisco. It's warmer than Seattle and quite frankly after 1 year south, we can no longer handle cold weather.

For the time being, we live in temporary housing courtesy of Microsoft. For a while, it was a nice change to live in a house, but it didn't take us long to miss life aboard. The plan was always to live on the boat, so while Octavia is on a business trip in chilly Seattle, I'm tasked with bringing Bella Marina to her new slip in Redwood City. Thank you Paul and Kathleen for helping us secure a spot :)

Coming to San Diego to pick up the boat was like going on vacation. Sunny, a pool and a jacuzzi, Octavia and I had a blast on our little mini vacation. Then Octavia left and I took Bella to the yard and work began. After a 7 day week of hard work and project after project, I was exhausted. However, I got a lot of work done, and the boat was ready to go just in time for the planned February 28th departure.

It had been such a long time since I last sailed that on my first leg to Newport Beach, I almost got a little seasick from the unruly seas. Luckily, as predicted, the seas calmed down a few hours after midnight, resulting in a smooth sail with arrival in Newport Beach at sunrise.

After one night in Newport Beach and some much needed sleep (Redbull really does give you wings, but you still can't fly), I left for Marina del Rey at dawn and had an even smoother sail, arriving well ahead of schedule. I was well received at California Yacht Club, and even more so at Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, that I moved to the following day.

With spare time I decided to walk to Venice Beach for a cup of coffee, which turned into a proper 3 mile walk along the Beach. On my way back, I stopped by the Chart House restaurant and had a beer, while chatting with the locals at the bar. Turns out everyone there had something to do with boats. Either they owned one, or they worked on one. Good times!

A weather front is coming down and it looks like I might be stuck here for a while. Weather permitting, I will try to make it to Ventura on Saturday morning and hold out there until the gale passes by, hopefully before end of next week.

Here are some pictures of the trip up here.

The windlass had rusted really badly due to water making it into the ball bearing in the middle. The old ball bearings were gone and I had to have a machine shop in Shelter Island drill out the rusted shell. Now it has a new ball bearing, which should hopefully give it another 5 years of life. Btw, even though our boat is only 5 years old, this windlass and the maker has long been discontinued. :(

Bella Marina on the hard after a fresh layer of ablative paint. She looks good, no?

Our 4k prop looks rather dull after 2 years of use, but she still does the job of both powering and gliding through the water. That's right, she feathers and you can see the blades are lined up to give as little resistance as possible. It doesn't really make her faster as her limiting factor is the hull speed of about 8.6 knots (according to on-the-water tests), but it does allow her to come to speed faster, and since the shaft isn't spinning, it makes for a smoother and quieter sail.

Back to the water again. It's a little strange seeing your boat fly instead of float.

Home sweet home. Our niece made this plaque for us. Indeed, the boat is our home.

Our marina in San Diego is right next to the naval yards.

Bye, bye San Diego

Bye bye, convention center.

This one turned out quite nice for a one-handed shot, while steering with the other hand. Did I mention I took it from a moving boat? :) Whatever, I'm not planning on quitting my day job. I already did that long time ago...

Bye, bye Midway museum (which by the way was an awesome tour). If I reincarnate (after a magnificent death in either an epic sail or motorcycle accident), I think I'll become the Captain on an aircraft carrier.

Two-foot-itus. There's always someone with a bigger boat, but really c'mon!!! I think their dinghy might bee longer than Bella Marina.

There's always action in San Diego. It's almost as if you're living on the set of Top Gun, sans Tom Cruise (or at least I didn't spot him at my 6 ft + level...)

Point Loma. Last piece of land, before leaving the San Diego channel.

Arriving in Newport Beach. This is possibly the cutest place on the US Pacific coast.

Yes, there's definitively something charming about Newport.

Safely on a mooing ball after a while night of sailing. The lines to the mooring ball had 2 inches of nasty muddy growth on them and made for quite a mess. I should have anchored. Incidentally I had the same conclusion coming down here more than a year ago, but forgot to blog about it, and history repeats itself....

When leaving Newport Beach, I was followed by several Crew team practicing rowing in the morning. Of course, I wasn't awake enough to remember to take a photo, so instead I'm showing you this boring picture of a dolphin, who was among many escorting me towards Marina del Rey in the morning.

LA has smog because everyone drives an SUV... Also, it was slightly overcast.

Arriving in Marina del Rey, the stench from the bird droppings was almost unbearable. That says a lot, since years of allergy medicine has made my nose less sensitive to smells. Comes in handy, when doing certain type of boat maintenance tasks.

I wanted to top off the tank to be ready for the next leg, and was reminded why I have a sailboat. The next few legs better have a lot more actual sailing in them.

Unless this one passed me in the dark of night, Californians seems to have a liking to very expensive boats fro Italian designer Perrini Navi. Again, just a few feet longer than my boat.... :)

Safely in a slip in Marina del Rey. So far, so good.

Location:Panay Way,Marina del Rey,United States