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!


  1. Beautiful pics guys! Happy to see you're having so much fun.

  2. Ah Yes - Steen girls are always late - it would be too strange not to be! It's cause you can always squeeze one more thing in before you're REALLY late, lol. But you guys are on vacation - so who cares! Mexico will be there tomorrow. Love to hear about the dolphins - sounds magical - like Disney, I want to live in that world. I love you guys and love to read about how you are feeling as you are experiencing new places and sailing adventures. So excited for Mexico - I can't wait to be there too!

  3. Amanda
    Great pictures and blog. Your website/blog will be my virtual vacation.

  4. Amazing. These images have now added more excitement for my next week visit in san diego. It looks so close to nature. I have found about san diego zoo in one of my close friend's san diego blog recently.