Thursday, January 27, 2011

In Ensenada Mexico

We arrived yesterday afternoon, after the Port Captain's, Immigration and Customs offices were closed. We had a reservation at the Baja Naval Marina so we tied up there and walked a short way down the waterfront. Krister and I were both tired from our over night passage, and from all the excitement in San Diego so we put on a movie while we ate dinner and turned in early.

Today we had the last real shower we'll see in a while. Check in wasn't too difficult, although the amount of forms filled, copies of original documents and the back and forth between the bank, immigration and customs was silly! Now we're all checked into Mexico and ready to sail to Islas Todos Santos. We hope to find a quiet anchorage there where we can relax for a couple days while we wait for the wind to pick up.

Also, I've been working on remodeling our blog- so please be patient. I know it can be hard to read and the photos aren't always near the text like they should be, but soon it will be awesome!

Monday, January 24, 2011

More California Coast Photos

Our galley
The Navigation Station
Our Transom
Smoochie Poo
Sun on the water
Hanging out in the Cockpit
Sunning on the deck
Thanks for the rum Dashal!
The sleeping indian princess at Catalina
At the top of Catalina
Anchored in Catalina Harbor
The boom over the water at sun set
Krister and Rick navigating
Shipwreck south of Point Conception at Cojo Anchorage

Friday, January 21, 2011

San Francisco to San Diego

Deep breath.... I'm always running late, even when I make my own schedule. Krister and I had planned on leaving Emeryville for our big adventure on Sunday, January 10th, but as time pasted by we found there were too many things to do and we were too tired from getting them done to leave on time. As such, we began late... and if we aren't on time at least we're consistent!

I've been hustling from the time we pulled into Misson Bay in San Diego until now. I finally came to rest on Krister's Aunt Lisa and Uncle Mag's couch in Del Mar. When we dropped anchor here we thought that leaving late Sunday night and arriving in Ensenada on Monday morning was the best plan. But true to form, we didn't accomplish as much as quickly as we anticipated. Leaving the U.S. involves cutting and untangling several logistical things. As we crossed things off our to-do-in-San Diego list, another would pop up or be remembered. Even now I'm waiting for my subconscious to remember that last thing that I can't forget to do before we go. (I thought that worrying about forgetting something important would leave me once we were out of the Bay) I don't mean for it to sound like it's been all work. We've had more fun visiting with friends, family and surfing than we've had in a long time. The sun has been shining on us and filling us with feelings of well being and hopefulness. Unfortunately we don't have the tans to match yet.

So here's the long over-due blog post about our trip down the coast...
We had a heart-warming small gathering around Britannia on the morning we left- lots of hugs, tears and we'll see you later's. The day passed quickly- sunny, with perfect wind, an out going tide- we made 8+ knots on our way to Half Moon Bay. That's fast for us!

After dropping our Rocna for the first time, we blew up the dinghy and launched it from the boat for the first time. As Krister wrote, the outboard died and we rowed to pick up Suzy and Rick for dinner. It was great to see Suzy one last time- but having two good byes from your sister in such a short time was tough.

The next day we tried to bash our way south to Monterey with little success. It rained, it gusted, the swell grew... and then we looked at how far we'd come and how far we had left to go and made the call to return to Half Moon Bay. That was a good decision- we made it back in just two hours. After dinner I PTFO'ed- sleeping a grand total of 12 1/2 hours! Guess I was tired huh?

Wednesday we made real progress. Sailing and motoring, we arrived in Monterey in the dark and dropped the anchor for the third time. (I only mention it because our anchor is awesome! If you have a boat you should get one too).

Thursday morning our friends Mark and Sherry met us outside the harbor master's office with 5 bikes to go for a ride through town. After a fabulous shower, awesome brunch, lots of catching up and 3 loads of laundry, we headed back to Britannia for dinner with the whole gang. The kids especially had a great time- sailboats ARE cool! I'm so glad it all worked out so well. We're hoping to meet up with them again during our trip.

The next day and through the night we sailed and motored. The winds did not cooperate with us. As I went below, off watch and ready for bed the boys were motoring. After a few hours I heard things banging around on deck- and tired to sleep through it- all the while wondering if I should go up and help. By morning the mainsail was flying with the second reef and the foresail was 60% furled. The morning wore on this way, with Rick clenching the dodger and ducking every time the seas threw water his way. Lucky for him by the afternoon the typical Northwesterns were on hiatus again and instead we had variable light winds from the south and east. This bummed Krister out because he absolutely hates to motor. But on the other hand, having to motor around Point Conception was a relief. (I had some anxiety about rounding the point. For those of you who don't know, Point Conception is usually one of the gnarliest places along the west coast to try to sail around).

As soon as we rounded the point the wind blew in warm as a midwest summer night, and dolphins surrounded the boat. We arrived in Cojo anchorage less than an hour later and went quickly to sleep- or almost. As I have said, our anchor is awesome- but apparently I still don't trust it completely. I have been a worrier all my life so of course I woke up at every wind shift. Maybe it was because this was the first time we hadn't anchored in a harbor with other sailboats near by to let us know we were in a safe place... or maybe it was because we anchored in the dark and I could hear the sounds of breaking surf on the shore... or maybe it was just too good to be true- We had made it to Southern California!

In the morning Krister woke refreshed and ready to get out for a dawn patrol surf session. I was too groggy for anything more than a quick snap shot to commemorate the occasion and to fall back onto my pillow through the V-berth hatch. When the sun was good and up I decided it would be fun to have a little Bowman style brunch ready for Kriser when he got back. So with coffee in hand, enjoying a plate of home fries and egg scramble, Krister told Rick and I about his morning adventure. The surf was fun- of course, but there were also two shipwrecked sailboats on shore there. The hulls were whole and rigs were still standing so it's anyone's guess as to why they were washed ashore, but I did take it as a reminder to always exercise caution and good judgement.

In the afternoon we continued our journey past the Channel Islands- we wanted to find an anchorage, but the wind was blowing and no safe place could be found. We sailed on into the night, arriving early Monday morning at Catalina Island. We took the opportunity to hike to the top of the island (man I needed to get out and move my legs!) and do some sight seeing. As it was the off season, there we only a few people around town. We grabbed a beer and a snack at the general store and walked/rowed back to the boat for dinner. (Delicious marinated tofu, brown rice and brussels sprouts- it's been hard giving up our vegetarianism.) And with the last remains of ice from the blocks we bought before we left, we drank aged rum by candle light in the cockpit. What a great day!

After freshening up (read: sponge bath/bowl of warm water over the head), we weighed anchor and aimed for San Diego! Sounds great, but the flukey 5 knots of wind didn't take us very far or very fast. By three in the afternoon the island was still shadowing us. The water was smooth- rolling like oil and reflecting like mercury. The sunset was spectacular- and the full moon rose opposite it. I don't think the scene could have been better set. A short time later I saw a splash in the water off the beam of the boat and went forward to see what it could be... With the moonlight sifting through the water, a white-ish form appeared under the bow of the boat and came splashing out! Soon we had a pod of at least 20 dolphins playing around and circling the boat. It was magical- I had an indescribable feeling of connection, well-being and mysteriousness surrounding life force of the ocean.

We motored through the night and as dawn approached fog surrounded us. Thankfully Krister had the radar fixed just before we left. We also had the AIS system on and giving us the location and time to closest approach of all commercial vessels. When the fog lifted, La Jolla was just off to port. The breakwater was just head of us, and as we watched the swell broke across the rocks on both sides. Daunting. But it's a break water right? We motored forward- me on the bow watching for kelp, and Krister at the helm. There was a kayaker in the middle of the channel- what was he thinking... and there were waves breaking there too. Just to calm your nerves- we did make it into the marina safely, but afterwards Krister thought we probably should have sailed past to a different anchorage, as it was definitely NOT safe to sail with breaking following seas, and we were probably lucky to not have had an incident coming in.

So we made it! Time went fast and I can hardly believe we're so far from home. And we sailed here... in our boat... I've had a lot of moments inside my head and inside my heart. Things are evolving and changing slowly.

San Diego has been great! We meet up with Kevin for dinner at his place in Ocean Beach, finally met his girlfriend and got to play with their new puppy. Krister's college friend Mike took us out for a tasty dinner and lots of catching up. We took the Magnuson's out for a sail on Saturday and they've feed us well the last three nights. It's been great to have them see our boat and finally seeing their place and sharing the "stoke" of our adventure. We're hoping that Krister's cousin Nick will be able to joins us in French Polynesia.

So it's Monday and we're still here- true to form, in the Steen-girl fashion, late but finally ready to go.
Many thanks to all our fabulous hosts- we love you guys!
See you south of the boarder!

Leaving San Francisco Bay- We'll miss you!
Rick and Krister in Catalina. We've ditched that huge, heavy outboard and now row where ever we go. After days of sitting on the boat the exercise felt good.
Oops- I meant to post the one where Krister was smiling... but check out that sun set!

We have been in San Diego since Wednesday morning and every day so far I've said that I need to write a blog post... well things have been pretty busy and the internet connection has been iffy- so while it's here I wanted to at least post a few pictures. I'll add the details and fill in the story part as soon as I can.

Our boat looks tiny fro way up here! (Hike up the hill on Catalina Island)
The full moon rising as the sun sets with our partially furled genoa.

Dawn patrol at Cojo Anchorage

Oh here's that smile!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Look closely- yes those are jelly fish. Just like the ones inside the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, except these are wild and we sailed through them for hours along the coast.

One of our first sunsets out on the pacific.

Cannery Row Monterey

Oh what a pretty dinghy! My what a big outboard you have!

Cruising Monterey

As I've imagined the first leg of this sail, I'd always figured that we'd sail nonstop straight to San Diego. I'm not sure exactly why... maybe because I assumed that the sailing this far north would be pretty cold and miserable.

The last few days have been neither cold nor miserable.

We woke up from Half Moon Bay a little unsure if we should sail - the winds were forecast to be much lighter, but still from the south at least for the first half of the day. We talked it over and ended up in the end deciding that the day was too beautiful to be spent at anchor. Unfortunately, beautiful days don't always equate to fair winds - we were able to sail at about 3.5 knots for the first hour or two, but then the winds totally died and we ended up motoring all the way into Monterey. It was a long day (I hate motoring - I've been told I should get used to it, but the constant noise, vibration and faint diesel smell aren't my favorite), but it's sweet to be here and we're well positioned to sail down the Big Sur coast.

The purgatory of motoring was offset considerably by the (endless) school of jellyfish (do jellyfish travel in schools? do jellyfish travel at all? what do jellyfish think about, I wonder...) that we sailed through. Amanda noticed them off the bow, and they were EVERYWHERE. We'd watch them for a few minutes and then be amazed hours later when we looked over the rail and found that we were still sailing over more and more. I kept being reminded of the jellyfish scene in Finding Nemo. That, and the time in Nicaragua that I came out covered in stings after a (not very long) day of surfing.

We've got amazing friends in Monterey - back in the good old days we used to come down here almost every weekend (took less time in the car...) and I've got fond memories of good food, good surf and generally good times. Today turned out to be no exception to that rule. Our friends Mark and Sherry met us a the dock with bikes and we cruised the Monterey waterfront, took showers and Sherry made awesome brunch while Mark made the best coffee I've had since Convivia (Tucker, Mark was impressed that you roast your own... you're now famous in Monterey). I'm not missing my desk yet.

Spotty rain and another day of calm winds are keeping us in Monterey for the night, but we'll be leaving tomorrow morning with a forecast of northwest winds for the next couple of days. Assuming no surprises, we should be leaving Monterey for our first overnight sail.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sailing into Half Moon Bay. Twice.

Out boat's fast.

We left the dock on Monday morning and made 9.5 knots under the Golden Gate (yeah, so we had some help from the current, but still). Even when we were out of the Gate and heading south toward Half Moon Bay, we were averaging well above 7 knots. Turns out dolphins are pretty fast too - we had a school following us and playing in our wake. It was beautiful, sunny, and a pretty sweet way to start our trip. They gave us a nice bon voyage.

That put us into Half Moon Bay earlier than we'd expected, which was nice - we had plenty of light to pick a good anchorage, blow up the dinghy, figure out some basic stuff like how to get the blown up dinghy off the deck and into the water (should we have figured this out BEFORE leaving for our cruise? Maybe.)

We've got a 9.9hp outboard which is pretty huge as dinghy outboards go. So, it was fun to haul ass from our anchorage to the fuel dock (where Rick and Suzy were going to meet us). For about 50 feet... then the outboard cut out and I couldn't get it started. We had about 300 yards to go. Luckily, we'd thought to bring the oars with us for just such a possibility. "Good thing I thought to bring the oars" I said to Amanda. "I'd never leave without the oars" was the immediate response. She wasn't impressed with my quick thinking I guess.

Luckily, in addition to quick thinking, I'm blessed with quite the mechanical aptitude... I got the outboard working by the time we were at the fuel dock to pick up Rick and Suz - my secret? Pull the starter cord. A lot. That's right. You can't buy intelligence like this.

So if you're tracking us, you may have noticed that we're still in Half Moon Bay.

We set sail yesterday into winds that turned southeast pretty quickly. We were bashing into 20 knots and making almost no progress. Even with the engine on, our VMG wasn't over 3 knots. We checked the weather again, and these winds were forecast all night. We were busy weighing three options: 1. get into Santa Cruz in the dark, 2. Sail all night into uncomfortable conditions making no progress or 3. take refuge in Ano Nuevo's minimally protected anchorage when Rick looked back and said "wow - there's Half Moon Bay... we've gone almost nowhere". He was right - we were about 14Nm from where we'd started 5 hours ago. If we turned around, we'd be back to a protected and comfortable anchorage. That was the winning secret option 4.

And here we are the next morning with slow internet I've managed to poach and winds that are turning.

Hopefully we'll make it a little farther today than we did yesterday. The tentative plan is to sail through the night tonight and get into Monterey tomorrow AM. More then.


Monday, January 10, 2011

On Vacation and Saying Goodbye

The last 8+ years have been a little short on downtime (I'll sleep when I'm 30 was a refrain - that doesn't seem to be working out...), so it was in keeping with that theme that my plan for the last three days has been as follows:

1. Go to work for a full day
2. Get rid of my car
3. Get rid of Amanda's car
4. Sell extra spinnaker
5. Go to the bank and ready finances for two years at sea
6. Be a rockstar (the last Dynamite Truck show!!)
7. After party until 4AM

1. Cure hangover
2. Say goodbye to Grandma
3. Say goodbye to Frank
4. Say goodbye to Bradfords (more to follow on these guys)
5. Ready boat for round world tour (don't forget this one)
6. Say goodbye to Suzy
7. Say goodbye to Mom
8. Get to bed early.

1. Wake up rested and ready
2. Leave dock at 7AM.

So somewhere mid Saturday, exhausted and somewhat frantic Amanda and I realized that we're ON VACATION - no need to shove off quite so ridiculously early after all and schedules are for people with jobs... That was sort of a liberating realization. Saturday night was therefore much more mellow (asleep at 11, droopy eyelids at about... 8AM? Friday night was FUN!), and Sunday was great - we had a chance to ready the boat at a much more reasonable pace, and had more time to just relax. In a lot of ways, yesterday felt like our first day cruising even though we didn't go anywhere.

But, now it's 24 hours later, and departure is immanent. We were planning on waking up slow, but I'm beyond sleep at this point - I've been staring up out the hatch in the v-berth for the last hour, so it seems better to take advantage of the last bit of internet connectivity while I've got it than to go over mental checklists for the thousandth time.

The plan right now is to push off and head to Half Moon Bay for the night tonight. It should be a 6-8 hour sail depending on wind conditions, which gives us time (in theory) to anchor in the daylight and go pick Rick and Suzy up at the dock. Rick will be joining us to help crew (or barf off the side - time will tell) down to San Diego, and Suzy will be spending one last night with us before she meets us in Cabo. I'm happy that we'll have family visiting us as soon as day one :)

I'm not sure when we'll be able to post again, but thanks to my best Game Ready friends, you'll be able to track our progress as we head south - see the link on your right.

Ok, time to take the last shower for awhile...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Provisioning and saying goodbye

Well today was the first day that I didn't follow my normal work schedule... so I guess this plan must really be happening! Krister and I started out the day together (which was awesome!), enjoyed coffee on our friend's boat, Convivia (more on the Bradford's later), and then divided to conquer our list for the day.

Krister went to Svendsons with Tucker to pick up DC fans, para-anchor rode and boat odds and ends. I drove over to Berkeley Bowl, the busiest- because -it's -the -best grocery store. Two hours later and after much deliberation and the biggest grocery bill I've ever paid, I emerged almost victorious. Now we have to find space on the boat to fit eight grocery bags of goodies, snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner! It seems daunting, but I've seem an enormous amount of crap disappear into the so- called wood work of Britannia, so I'm not too worried.

After errands, Krister joined Dynamite Truck for a little practice session. They will be playing their last gig at the Brit in San Jose this Friday. I know he'll miss the band terribly while we're away sailing.

As for me, I joined Suzy and Kathie for a scrumptious lunch of ethiopian food! We sank into the couches to watch Harry Potter triumph, drink hot tea, and talk about relationships. Then as it got late, and I knew I had to be going... we ripped-off the good bye band-aid so quickly that the tears didn't have time to fall. I'm so sad that I can't take the girls with me! My heart is too tender to go on saying goodbye and having "lasts" of everything here. In my leaving, I am truly appreciating all the good stuff; all their love, listening, helpfulness, smiles and laughs... there is nothing in the world like good friends. But I will have to let go for now so that I can live more fully, knowing that, because they are good friends they will always be here for me- here in my heart.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year & New Life

It's an hour past midnight on New Year's Day... I just finished my last shift and Crogan's. I'm typing in dim light, listening to the rain on the cabin top and to Krister's restless tossing from the V-berth as he waits for me to come to bed. I'm sure I'm tired underneath the adrenaline...
I can't believe our new life is starting to take off! I'm done waiting tables! Deep breath...

I hope now I can focus on what's going on, be able to catch up and finish the last minute errands before we leave. The weather does not look to be cooperative, and that's fine for now. Krister has another week of work and one last Dynamite Truck show.

To all my favorite Crogan's friends and regulars- Thank you for the gifts and support. I hope to write many entertaining blog entries to keep you from having to ask Suzy how we're doing. Best to you all in the new year!

Good Night,