4 October 2017
Welcome to San Diego! Minimal wind so it was a more of a motor sail again. It seems there is too much or not enough wind. In our case, it was mostly not enough. Our sailboat, with a displacement of 26,500 pounds really sails best around 20kn. However, it has been said that there is no bad day on the boat, just a bad day at work.
When we arrived tonight at approximately 2200, we had to first check in with the Harbor Police to fill out the necessary forms. Boats in the A-9 anchorage are only allowed 30 days and meet certain requirements. They were very polite and very busy on a Wednesday night. When they finally made it to us, they checked for safety equipment (life jackets or PFD’s and fire extinguishers) and to pump our head to see if it worked. Odd. That was the extent of it. It was my understanding they would be looking at more. He mentioned what a beautiful boat we had that many of the boats they board are trash. He used a more colorful acronym. That made me feel a little better as it was not picked up and ready for guests, however brief the visit. Little did I know where the bar was set for what they see. They shared with us that probably the craziest and more common call that they receive is domestic violence! They took our information and bid us a good travel. After we completed business it was off to the free anchorage. Fairly shallow, we had about 6 feet under the keel. What a beautiful city panorama at night. We found a sweet spot, set the ground tackle (mud holding) and couldn’t believe our view.
5 October 2017
Well, well, well. For being allowed thirty days at no charge, a magnificent view of the city, surely there must be a downside? I mean, look at this day/evening and night view of the city! There were very few boats where we were. One sailboat was in the process of being scuttled, usually at night. Hmmm…… Sure that beautiful bay that we sit in, is right next to one of the busiest airports in the country- and it evidently only has one runway. With low clearance, the jet engines are very clearly audible with take-offs and landings. The noise factor is not a large issue as it seems there are very few flights at night, if any at all. Or maybe we are that tired at night! The rolling waves that come from the visiting cruise ships and frequent Coast Guard vessels (we are next to the USCG station) can certainly liven up any afternoon! It is probably the fact that there is little to no room to take a dingy in. There are four-five dingy docks but most are surrounded by dinghies that have been locked to the dock long enough that some are sinking. The others should probably sink. The trip from the anchorage through the rented mooring field (which are typically full and reservations must be made well in advance) is interesting as there are some boats here that have not moved in years and never would move on their own power. Missing masts or bottom growth of six or more inches (making them almost their own artificial reef system) suggest this. As we pulled up to one dock, some guy ran down and asked us to take some water to the sailboat closest to the dock (less than thirty feet away) as they have been trying to coax the male inhabitant off the boat for a few weeks. He has no water on board. They said “you don’t need to talk with him, just give him the water”) and we zipped it over there for him to reach out and take it. He did, nodded and returned inside his boat cabin. His kayak was split in half lengthwise and all but the stern (held by the painter line) was sunk in a shallow ten feet of murky water. I am guessing his head (toilet) doesn’t work either.
Okay, time to get serious. While love helps the trip, it doesn’t fight the hunger. We will need to find a grocery store. Also there are various assorted forms that Mexican Customs are going to require. As we did not have exact dates of entering Mexico, we did not initiate the process online while we were in Washington. It may have helped, it may not. That remains to be seen. The internet is loaded with anecdotal stories of entering or “checking in” to Mexico. Each with enough variance that you almost want to just “wing it”. However , knowing how frustrated John gets with ineffecient processes, I hope that this is one that go does not go poorly. I have experienced Mexico processes and am ready for “mañana”! We do not carry a printer onboard as some other boats do, it is simply one more electrical occasional use apparatus that struggles to survive the saltier climate, let alone keeping it running with the right ink cartridges, the right ink cartridges etc. We have printed off everything we think we need except for the TIP card and the FMM Tourist cards that we will get when we enter Mexico. We have read anywhere from five to twelve copies each of the forms we are to provide. We will keep you posted as to what that exact number is. Then again, it may depend upon how the Mexican Port Captain feels that day. We walked the boardwalk area and past the Maritime museum with the possibility of maybe seeing the Star of India or a Russian submarine. Mickey and his Disney Wonder cruise ship is in today to let off passengers and turn the boat over with supplies and cleaning. Now that is a ship I would go on a cruise with. Then we have the USS Midway, also another opportunity to see a rich piece of history. However, today we must focus on all our tasks. A Mexican Fishing License for each of us. If you have one pole onboard- then EVERYONE must have a license. No questions. You can do this online and print off your receipts, or you can go into the Conapesca office and purchase. We opted to pay our $94 cash in person so we would not have to “print” off something. The Mexican officials evidently have not moved into the technology phase where we can politely hold out our cellphone and have all of our documentation show up on a small screen and is considered adequate.
We found a grocery store in the city, Ralph’s. It is a rather nice if not a bit trendy grocery store. Perhaps a little higher price, or maybe this is typical California price. It is within walking distance. We were able to pack around $100 worth of groceries into our two dry bags that are backpack style. 20L is the exact amount and we found them on Amazon. We are hoping they provide a dry travel on the dingy as we carry cameras and phones and important papers. Who knew they could carry about forty pounds of groceries…or that I could. So far, we have loved them. We logged over six miles walking our errands, and the final portion with a forty pound back pack. Back to city’s dingy docks that have been overrun by derelict dinghies interspersed with an occasional nice dingy that is obviously used for transportation. Guess which one is ours.
6 October 2017
One of the “tourist” options we use to start a trip in these cities is the sightseeing tour busses. For an entire day, you can hop on and hop off at various sites, choosing what you want to visit now or return to later, and also keep an eye out for those services that you might pass (grocery store, postal annex) as well as restaurants. Meanwhile, with a good guide, you can learn something while your ride. We have not been disappointed yet. Today we “hopped on” to see Coronado Island and the infamous Hotel Del Coronado. Before we would arrive there, we would pass the Seaport Village (cute, but more of a “tourist shopping area”, learn about Mr. Horton and how he built San Diego’s history and saved his health. The Gaslamp Quarter looked interesting and certainly the Barrio Logan would be great to come back to if we chose to.
Over the spanning Coronado Bridge. I would see the Naval Station San Diego to my left however the Navy is prolific all through out San Diego. I have vague memories of visiting San Diego as a child and a brother in the Navy. The naval air station consumes almost half of Coronado Island with the naval amphibious base on the other side of the town. Ahh, the Hotel Del Coronado. Certainly as picturesque as any postcard. Beautiful now and I am sure she was quite the exception in her eager years as well. The beach was beautiful, clean and there were many families out enjoying the weather. You cannot beat this weather! We “hopped on” for our return and rambled through Balboa Park, home to San Diego Zoo through Little Italy (okay, now we are starting to think food), through Old Town and past the haunted Whaley house before returning to our start. We were pleased to find that Little Italy wasn’t far from us and why yes, Italian food sounds great for tonight! There were two other sites that we drove past that we plan to return to as we would be doing more walking.
One would be to the Chuck Jones Gallery. This unique gallery owned by the family of Chuck Jones is home to his original works. You may not recognize Chuck Jones by name but you do know his art! Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and of course, Bugs Bunny! Did you also know that he and Dr. Suess were also very close friends as they collaborated on many projects after they were both in the service. Can you imagine their hand drawings? No computerized, digitized animation ideas. No flash drives to send, instead they wrote letters and mailed their work to become the artists we know them as. We spoke with a very close family friend hosting there and indeed, both men and a few others honored there (Charles Schultz) were extremely creative and talented individuals that thought outside the box. As we meandered back to San Diego Bay, we walked through Little Italy to enjoy a nice dinner. We do treat ourselves occasionally although we are mindful that we could have enough groceries for almost a week on what we pay for an indulgent meal. We are on a very tight budget. Tomorrow will be a boat day- relaxing and any maintenance. And naps.
8 October 2017
I couldn’t wait to come back and see the “kissing statue”, modeled after the famous end of the war photo “Unconditional Surrender”. We found out the the nurse who was swept off her feet by the unknown soldier at that time, has recently passed on. We had lunch at the now famous Kansas City Barbecue where Top Gun’s bar scene was filmed. Food was good but it was more for the reminiscing and ambience.
We walked back through the Seaport and shopping area and just enjoyed the boardwalk. It was much breezier today. Much to our surprise as we returned, one of the sailboats in the anchorage had lost its holding or anchor and made its way into the rocks before the tide went out. If that doesn’t make you check and recheck your anchor, I am not sure what would. It was strange as it was not that windy or more windy than usual.
9 October 2017
We are touring the USS Midway today. This is history that you can feel. You can feel it by touch and you can feel it in your heart. As I walk on board, I immediately reflect back to earlier this year when I boarded the USS Michael Murphy, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in Seattle. I wasn’t just walking on to a US Navy ship. I was entering my son’s world. As a mom, I couldn’t be more proud, or more scared. I have always supported the military. They are asked to live and work under conditions that most of the population would complain and refuse to work under. At the end of their day, which is a misnomer, it never really ends, the pay even with healthcare benefits does not compare to the private sector. They serve for our freedom by giving up their own. And they do it willingly. Today I am now on a retired USN aircraft carrier on the same day that my son goes out to sea on his ship as final preparations for deployment. I have entered another era of young sailors being tasked with the same ideals. It is much larger than the previous ship. We are able to go in to the racks, the galley, the sick bay. My admiration swells.
Still used in the early 1990’s, this beautiful large ship was a floating city. The coordination of efforts to keep that many service personnel and their needs afloat is tremendous. There are hallways everywhere and as one docent who served here said “you knew where you worked, eat, and slept. That’s all you needed to know and all you would get to see.” They have done an amazing job of turning this well know aircraft carrier into a floating museum. From live talks to a fifteen minute feature, to the audio tour, it was four hours well spent. It is hard not to come away with an appreciation.
We have been doing a lot of walking in San Diego. When we are off the boat, we walking over five miles daily. Yesterday we logged eight miles. Our legs are sore and seemingly, this would be an easy few hours on the USS Midway. Not quite. We logged another almost three miles walking in and through all of the areas that the USS Midway offers. We also had the equivalent of fifteen flights of stairs. We have a lot of movement on our sailboat, short steps and distances so it is nice to be able to really stretch our legs.
12 October 2017
John has been having deliveries of items we still need, to a local marina. One of the ladies in the office was most gracious and gave permission as long as we picked up our packages daily as they would arrive. This did not set well with the other lady in the office who scowled every time John came in and initially threatened to send the packages back. We have met a great group of people in the cruising world. I am unsure what might have been her experiences that caused her to have ill will towards other boaters, however working in a marina might not be her cup of tea. I am sure there are those few that always seem to leave a poor impression. I am going to meet John at James and Joseph as we are adding a tool to our cache- a spear gun for fish or lobsters.
We are heading off for Shelter Island to see our friends Julie and Chris from SV Lorien. We thoroughly enjoy their company and the bonus is they have a shower we can use! Hooray! No boat shower for me! If the sea and wind gods are kindly to them, they will be splashing shortly after us and heading the same direction. They are full of fun stories that just when we think they have given us their best, they find more to top off the previous story! I don’t think I have laughed that hard in awhile! A few beers and great stories and then its off to Mitch’s seafood. I have no idea what “poutine” means, but in my world- it was the carbohydrate binge of my week. Colder states version would be Chili Cheese Fries where you have piping hot chili poured over heaps of French fries and then covered with melting cheese. You really don’t know if you should use a fork or your fingers. If you eat it all then you feel that carbohydrate high that makes you want to crawl into the nearest cave and sleep off the winter. Now, same concept but let’s change the chili topped with cheddar cheese to a Jack Cheese sauce or almost gravy. Throw some cooked crab all over the top like a furry hat. Decorate the sides with deep fried cheese curds. I can only say that somebody created the nemesis to all diet plans. Wow.
13 October 2017
John spent the early morning working on emails, contacting marina’s in Ensenada.
Happy 242nd Birthday US Navy! Now, of course I won’t tell my age…(hush people) however, if I were 242 years old and looked as good as you, then I would boast! Fleet Week is starting! Today we had an opportunity to tour the USS Anchorage (LPD-23), a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock vessel. This mighty ship has the ability to flood the rear portion to allow sea craft to enter as well as air craft and supports the marines to where they need to go. The USS Anchorage recently came in to public notice for relieving the CO and XO of duties. The Navy does maintain holding high ranking officers accountable. It did not detract from our visit, in fact, it simply makes you appreciate even more what our service personnel do to protect our freedom. Not that I am collecting ship visits, however, this did add to my recent USS Midway tour as well as USS Michael Murphy, a DDG-112 Arleigh-Burke guided missile destroyer (Seattle). The USS Michael Murphy was touching as it is the same type ship my son serves on. USS Midway was less personally emotional but still whelming as it serves to remind us where we were as well as what may be in the future. I did not get tearful up while on the USS Anchorage (For my kids reference!) and was able to appreciate it’s massiveness and the job that it does to serve. This wonderful afternoon walk, and add a detour to the postal annex again, made sure we had our six miles in for the day. The tours were free and so was the exercise! Add the sunshine and a sea turtle crossing our path upon our dingy return to the boat, and it was a great day. We did not get any photos of the turtle (but there was two of us who saw it so it counts!) as both of our cellphone batteries were dead. Of course. The turtle not only popped its lovely little head up but it remained up for quite some time, swimming idly towards us! We circled around and came back and it came up again! Of course it would! We had no way to photograph him.
14 October 2017
We dingy’d over to Shelter Island to join our friends from SV Lorien and with the Sea & Air Parade as part of Fleet Week and the Navy 242nd birthday celebration. We saw several airplanes that were difficult for the untrained eye to make out with long time spaces in between. There might have been a better way to each it, but thats what we had. We did sea the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) vehicles and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and the others were just a bit hard to see. With the weather as great as San Diego, it was merely a great way to set in the park and people watch as well as view unusual aircraft. While they would head off to Balboa Park, we would bring our boat over to the yard’s dock and prepare for our final two days including provisioning as well as boat maintenance. Perhaps we will find some jigs or tips for his newest toy- a Hawaiian Sling (spear) which we also picked up at West Marine.
15 October 2017
Capt’n John is a machine. Today we need to grab provisions for our trip to Mexico. We will check in at Ensenada, MX knowing there will also be food there. People have to eat everywhere, right? Everything we have researched, read, heard (how did people survive before the internet?) guides us for preparation. This is tough when you live with a minimalist such as John. Knowing that we can not bring in fresh fruits or vegetables, meats, nuts (possibly) or plants (not that we were going to eat them), we have utilized all of that for meals. We do have a few peppers, half an onion, half a tomato and those will be used during our transit tomorrow. Then we can buy new food! New labels and new kinds! (more on bringing food on to a boat later). Since he is a minimalist and we have to limit what we take in, then what in the heck did we spend $150 at Von’s Grocery on. Canned goods (keep this in mind for the next story), coffee creamer (can’t live without flavoring for the elixir of life), paper products, cheese, etc. Enough food to fill two medium sized dry bag/backpack style and two reusable grocery bags. Now here is where everything becomes a logistical nightmare and why John is a machine. We have ridden our bikes. We had to go to three stores and we didn’t want to walk 30-40 minutes one way, nor did we want to Uber. This is why we chose to keep and carry the bicycles with us. John took the lion’s share as he had both grocery bags balanced on either handlebar as well as his backpack (it surely must have weight 20-30 pounds as did mine). The young baggage clerk was so willing to help however, it is unlikely that he had every seen anyone pack as much as John did into backpacks and bags so methodically that everything fit! I waited outside the grocery while he picked up a filter from Ace Hardware. People would walk by and see the bags, and bikes and several commented on the interesting sight it would make. Indeed, but did anyone offer a ride? Hmmm?? I really should have taken a photo of that extravaganza!
Back at the boat, we unloaded our purchases and began working on the boat preparation. If you remember, Bella Nave had a very nice bath and I cleaned all the stainless around the boat. The saltwater is a harsh environment. Here it is, two weeks later and the rust is already starting to build up on the stanchions and everything that is stainless. So that is where I started again today. All through the cockpit. John began another application of oil to the teak. We have chosen not to varnish as the sun and salt water are so harsh on it as well and we can achieve the look we want with just oiling and protecting the wood. However, now we are at an impasse! I can’t go forward to the bow as he has oiled forward and I can’t walk on the oil or I will track it all over when I wash down the stanchions. He can’t come any further back to finish oiling as I have washed everything down and the wood is wet. Perhaps tomorrow…. wait…tomorrow? Tomorrow morning we leave for Ensenada!
As I prepare dinner, our three smelly and noisy friends have returned. I asked John if they had otherwise I might be fearful that he was talking to the voices in his head. Before he could answer, one of the males started his throaty barking. Our friends from SV Lorien stopped by for a beer as they will be following us in approximately four days. We have really enjoyed getting to know them and have them entertain us with their stories.
16 October 2017
It’s early. Way to early. I saw the flash of light from his watch and knew he had been awake for awhile. I held my breath but I moved. That gave him reason to start talking. In the darkness. Of my sleep. I could pretend to be asleep but I knew it was pointless. He had asked for the alarm to be set at six. So I set it for a quarter until six. It was currently five thirty. In the morning. Before I could roll out and get dressed, he wanted the coffees made before he disconnected the shore power. Before I brushed my teeth, he had the oil and transmission fluids check and engine running. Before I could fill the coffees, and clammer up the companionway, he was chasing off the sea lions and throwing dock lines onto the boat. The sea lions were not happy about being woken and kicked out of their bed either. Especially since they were laying on the dock line. I wasn’t happy they were laying on the dock line. They pooped on the dock, rolled around in it, and rubbed it into the dock lines. (I just know they did it on purpose! Haha!). Now we have horribly smelly lines on the boat. It appears it will be ten hours to Ensenada. Winds will pick up in the afternoon and it should be a nice down wind sail. The sun is just barely deciding to get up this morning too. As we are heading out towards the breakwater, John was charting our course on the chart plotter. Things did not appear to be going well. It appears that in all of his methodical step by step preparation, and quite a bit of his “we don’t need it” attitude, he forgot one little thing. A chip for the chart plotter. A chip of the Mexico maps we would need to be able to effectively plan our waypoints and have the autopilot navigate to. WHAT?!? Whoops. Big whoops. We tossed about several options. Going back to Shelter Island and pay extra to purchase at West Marine and still leave today, but traveling through the night or stay one more night and leave early tomorrow morning. I voted for option two. It would not mean I would get to go back to bed and it would mean another early morning tomorrow. However, we could finish oiling the teak and cleaning the stainless which was still a chore we had to do. So we turned around and made way for the Visitors Dock. We had already been cleared by the Harbor Police when we arrived in San Diego. The police on the dock said to pick a slip and call the office. I left a message on the voicemail of the morning office. We did have an over achiever next to us as he came in with a much older Lancer 25 with a 115hp outboard motor! Hull speed? I guess it truly is just a guideline for him! He seemed like a nice enough fellow, pleasant and nice conversation. However, before he left, his female companion went off on him with a slurry of unkind and colorful adjectives and nouns. I never saw what sparked her tirade and he remained calm throughout her loud scene. She did not leave with him, needless to say. It reminded me of our check in process when the police officer said one of the more frequent calls they receive is domestic violence. Then we met G.G. (she introduced herself upon our arrival) and she wanted to know if there were many available slips. I told her I had just left a message at the office phone number and I truly had no idea. John busied himself with resetting the boat and I prepared the oil. At eight o’clock, I began calling the mooring office again. On the fourth try I was able to speak to a live person. Evidently check in for a slip is not until 1:00pm (it is now 8:30am). If we want to stay in the slip for four hours, it will be an extra night charge! And we would need to move to another slip as this one could take up to a 65 foot boat and we were only 40ft. Yet there is no reservation for this slip tonight. The winds are starting to pick up. She wants us to move to a slip along the other side, almost directly in front of us. Where G.G. has her boat. Her boat has no motor. Her main and halyard sheets were “cut and tied in knots” by someone while she was in the hospital. She is supposed to be in that slip. Oh, and her sailboat is 26ft!! Does any of this make sense to you? She was on the phone to the same person I spoke with, whom she knew by name. John and I had to make a trek to West Marine and shared we would be back and would be happy to make the switch at 1pm. When we arrived back, a friendly police officer arrived (and G.G. was by his side, although he referred to her as Maggie….) to discuss the situation which has now grown to almost six boats being in the wrong slips. It became a shell game and it was obvious that it would be impossible to shuffle everyone, so he made a call to the office and happily, we would all be able to stay in our current slips. By now it is past 1pm. The wind is whipping up to a solid 16-18 kn into the slips, and even a larger sailboat than us had great difficulty coming into the slip due to the wind on their stern, pushing them into the neighboring fishing boat. G.G. was quite happy to remain in her spot and as some sort of appreciation, brought me a beautiful arrangement of flowers- missing the vase but still set in the green styrofoam. Compliments of a wedding that just took place and these were simply tossed in the trash. Thank you. I think. It is more about the gesture which I will take in good faith. We did not get to meet “The Mayor” as he calls himself, of this dock “village”. It would seem he represents himself as the manager to the various characters we met and helps to shuffle them around. Now, let me back up just a moment. We are on a public reserved dock. It costs $1/per foot per night. You are supposed to make reservations to an office that is no where to be seen. You are only allowed, even if you pay, fifteen days out of forty at the dock. During the month of October, it is anticipated that the Ba-ja-ha-ha Cruisers will be using it. There are maybe three other anchorages. Each has a limitation of staying- one is for 72 hours, another is 30 days etc. You are supposed to have working holding tanks (think what you flush out) with no oil residue and working bilges. Safety equipment such as fire extinguisher and life jackets. There was no condition you have to have a working motor or sails, and anything else. So are you getting a picture that this interesting group of people, have figured out the system? I don’t know if we put a crimp in their shell game or helped their game today. We did meet some nice “normal” cruisers today as well. You know, come in for a night or two, pay and leave. It certainly made for an interesting day. We did get the teak all oiled. We did get our maps. We had a great Thai dinner and more laughs with our friends (and used their shower again!). Life is good and we have more stories! What’s another day in the life of a cruiser, right?
17 October 2017
Okay, it is still early. But it isn’t 5:30am early. It is 6am. Still early. Again, before I can roll out of bed and get dressed, two more coffees and the engine is running already. The sun is already rising so we don’t have the contrasting black and orange with a dash of moon and star. This is seeming a deja vu! We pass the submarine dry dock and John notices that it is out. It was in dry dock when we first entered San Diego. With all the wonderful Navy and Coast Guard ships we toured, the air and sea parade, we did not get to see a submarine. John noted that a USCG tugboat was heading out as were four police boats with lights. “Wouldn’t it be great if…” The boats split up and we continued on our way. Then I hear “Deb, get your camera. But keep it low. I will tell you when”. He is beside himself. We are about to pass by a submarine! With a police boat at each quadrant, we maintained our course and waved to the police boat. We really weren’t that far off the submarine and we could see the sailors walking on top. That was insane! His day was made. In fact, it made the delay all worthwhile to him now. We are on our way to Ensenada, Mexico!
We arrived around 5pm. It was a 10-11 hour trip. Immigration has already closed. We have our “Q” flag up and will stay on the boat until morning when we can check in. Bienvenidos a Mexico! Have I really lived on a sailboat for two years? Did I just have a life changing event where I left great friends again to sail down the west coast of the United States? I have to say that it feels very unreal still. Perhaps once we check in to immigration. From the water, the ground in the distance all looks relatively the same. Maybe I am just tired. Buenos noches Amigos!