Saturday, 29 September 2012

Five Ports of Call and Sea Life Beyond Our Wildest Imagination

We were supposed to round Point Conception this morning.  The alarm went off at 6 am and Tony crawled out of bed to shut it off and turn on the VHF weather channel for a final check.  Point Conception can be a rotten place to be in the wrong conditions, and although we researched the weather a dozen times yesterday, it still needed to be confirmed before we would pull up anchor and head out this  morning.

Good thing we did check because the forecast was revised and now they were calling for 20 kts of wind off the point, with possible gusts to 30.  Oh………too bad… horrible.....we’d better go back to bed and think about going tomorrow instead!  Snzzzzzzzzzzzz..... Snzzzzzzzzzz.........

At the much more reasonable hour of 10 am, we were woken by the repeated sound of WHOOSH right beside our bedroom porthole.  This time Kathy dragged herself out of bed to see what could be making such an annoying sound and reached the salon just in time to get a text from Tarpan, which was anchored near by. “Look outside!”  Surrounding the boat were dozens and dozens of dolphins and sea lions, all trying to outdo each other in the speed swimming and crazy-jumping-out-of-the-water department.  Man, what a sight.

We have been to some wonderful places and seen so much sea life since leaving San Francisco, almost 2 weeks ago:

1.  Halfmoon Bay - about 3 hours, mostly down wind sailing, from San Fran.  It was still cold and the anchorage was super windy, but we tucked into a corner and enjoyed some nice hiking up on the bluffs.

2.  Monterey -  We had a great sail to our next anchorage in Monterey.  The trip took about 10 hours and although we tried very hard to catch Tarpan (even to the extent of flying a full main long after a reef was called for!) we never quite made it. We wish that we hadn't given them quite as much of a head start!  The town itself is very touristy, but beautifully laid out and we had a nice lunch out on Cannery Row.

3.  Stillwater Cove - Just around the corner from Monterey and the only real BC-like anchorage we've stayed in for a while.  The yacht club had vacant mooring balls and we were allowed to pick one up for free, which was really nice.  We were excited to be there as it is just a long iron shot from the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.  We had in mind a walk along the golf course and into the town of Carmel by the Sea.  Sounds great, but by mid morning the next day we had huge swell in the anchorage and some surfer style breaking waves developing.  So, in pretty quick order, all three boats in the cove high tailed it out of there.

4.  Morro Bay - Our first solo overnighter took us about 110 nm to Morro Bay, mostly under power and in the fog.  We kept about 4--7 nm offshore and really had nothing too exciting go on.  Kathy had a nice long chat with a tug driver in the wee hours of the morning, but it was more out of boredom than for any real navigational issues.  We arrived mid morning, very tired but feeling proud of ourselves, and anchored in the harbour just a stones throw from a sea lion rookery.  Not even their constant barking, “singing”, and growling could keep either of us awake!

5. Port of San Luis - Three hours of motoring in light winds brought us into PSL and Avila Beach, where we are still waiting for a weather break to carry on.  We believe it will be tomorrow.  This is another great Californian Beach area with fabulous kayaking, walking, town touring and ice cream (only Kathy's second cone on the entire trip....honest!).  The sea life here has blown us away, with sea lions, sea otters, harbour seals, dolphins, and numerous types of sea birds checking out Vakasa.  We'll be sorry to leave here but are looking forward to getting to the Channel Islands!

Vakasa from the bluffs at Half Moon Bay

Lunch out in Monterey...we believe that's Smokey Robinson behind Tony, playing guitar

In some pretty swanky company in Monterey

The local surf club (all 20 of them) just had to paddle between Vakasa's hulls

Breaking waves coming into Stillwater Cover...not sure where they got the "still" from

Rizzo, the wonder dog, checking out the sunset by Morro Rock

Port of San Luis old lighthouse on the left (beautiful) high tech light on the right (not so nice)

Rizzo getting ready to ascend the ladder at the pier in Port San Luis...yes, she's in the pack.

Going back down the 25 ft ladder....the only way to get Rizzo to and from land...what a trooper!

Anja is now hooked on kayaking

A bit of a dunking getting to the beach in the soon as the first wave broke over the kayak, Rizzo jumped dog!

Anja and Bram....our friendly Tarpanians! 

Doesn't look that comfy, but he didn't seem to mind

Sea lion rookery just behind Vakasa in Morro Bay...noisy devils

Egret using a kelp bed as a fishing platform

Pelican and Cormorants parading down the beach 

Sammy the sea otter...wrapped in kelp and too lazy to be worried about us

Sorry there are no dolphin pics....we have hundreds of them, but none of them actually show a dolphin!  They all just show where the dolphins once were.  We just aren't quick enough to catch them on film!


Monday, 17 September 2012

Impressions of the Bay Area

1.  San Fransisco Bay can be COLD….FOGGY…WINDY…..and LUMPY.
After sitting out a few cold days in lumpy anchorages (Sausalito and China Camp) in the North Bay we realized that this area can be somewhat unwelcoming.  Isn’t it supposed to be sunny and warm every day in California?  There are a ton of marinas in the area but good anchorages are fairly scarce and mooring balls are expensive.  On the other hand, the ice cream is delicious and the wine is really cheap!

2.  Californians have a WEIRD PERSPECTIVE on dogs.
It baffles us that dogs are welcome on restaurant patios but not allowed in any of the Californian Parks.  You can take your dog out for lunch or dinner and they’ll actually get served their ice water before you……but don’t try to take them for a walk in any “official” outdoor space.  Does that seem backwards or what?

3.  There are a GAZZILLION boats blitzing around the Bay.
When the afternoon wind starts to blow, the Bay gets covered with every type of boat you can possibly imagine (including really big ones, like freighters and ferries)….all trying to get in your way and most of them oblivious to the rules of collision avoidance.  But man…we have had some rippin’ rides on the Bay!

4.  The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta are a little piece of HEAVEN.
An 8 hour trip up the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers took us to Potato Slough and we simply never got any further…nor did we want to.  It was so nice to just sit in flat water, soak up the sun (90 degrees most days), and swim, swim, swim!  Rizzo was welcome to walk the dikes, which we did most days, and even learnt to kind of enjoy a cooling off session in her “pool”.

5.  Dragon boaters make GREAT birthday entertainment.
On our return from the river to SF Bay….yes, the long undies, toques and gloves came back out of the closet….we headed to Treasure Island to celebrate Tony’s birthday.  To our surprise, the San Fran International Dragon Boat Festival was on and we anchored right beside the finish line, providing some real excitement to our celebrations.  We also enjoyed a pot luck dinner with friends Denis, Holly (also celebrating a birthday and who brought a fresh Tuna to the feast!), Bram and Annya, all of whom spent the winter moored with us in downtown Victoria.

6.  We are ready to head further south to more WARMTH and SUNSHINE!
Our 3 weeks in San Francisco have been a wonderful start to the adventure but it’s time to move on. We will leave tomorrow as the weather looks good, and harbour hop our way to the next big layover in the Channel Islands.  There, we expect to  find a myriad of birds, sea and wildlife, and undoubtedly some more “No Dogs Allowed” signs.  Poor Rizzo!

Would that bridge be as famous if it was green?

Someone's getting a great ride across the bay to Alcatraz

Down town SF in the fog.....surprise!

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog....surprise again!

The pointy one is the Embarcadero

A wind farm on the way up the Sacramento River

Doesn't this guy know that he's supposed to be in salt water?

Potato Slough sunset

River Rat #1

River Rat #2

We know it's just a bin, but don't tell her that....she thinks it's a pool

Out for lunch at Pirates Lair in the River Delta

Vakasa at anchor in Potato Slough

Taking a walk on the dike

Tony rockin' it on his birthday....8 knots across the bay

A BC boat came in 4th at the SF International Dragon Boat Festival...we cheered loudly from our mooring just off the finish line at Treasure Island!