Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When the Sun comes up on the Santa Monica Boulevard....

We docked at the swanky California Yacht Club, in Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, California only to find we had been given a slip too small and were now wedged in like sardines in a can! A good chap next door helped us find another more suitable slip and we headed up to the 'Chartroom' (a euphemism for the bar in boatspeak), to call the Irish contingent, Colin, and Dora, to meet up with us. On the return to the boat we noticed a sign, 'FOUND: Westie with Red Scarf wandering the Docks'! We quickly recovered the happy wanderer, and thanked our fellow mariner, Bill, for his troubles. Back on dry land, we stayed a couple of nights with Colin and shared a sunny day sail and delightful evening and BBQ with neighbours Mike and Leo.
        Next day we were off to Redondo Beach,CA.where we felt the concrete-car-consciousness closing in on us. After the solitude of sea travel the noise and traffic of the streets and highways seems a little crazy at times. However, the bike paths are wonderful and we peddled to the Santa Monica Pier, and Venice Beach where you can see anything from roller-bladers in drag to hippy Peace nics, all enjoying the vibe and selling their wares including 'medical Marajuana'!
         Our next port of call was the stunning Newport Beach harbour community of gorgeous waterfront villas, all with their own dock, and of course, personal yacht tied up outside. All the best toys! Now we know how the other half lives!  Catalina Island was our destination for the weekend. We picked up Colin and the UK Princess, Dora, at the dock, and cruised over to this most idyllic of spots. Tucked away on this tiny island is the seaside town of Avalon, reminiscent of a traditional European village. Once moored in the bay we set out to explore the village by motorized golf cart, with former race car driver, Colin, at the wheel. Yikes!( Fortunately top speed was only 16mph)   Later we celebrated Dora's birthday at a local steakhouse and toasted the day with a bottle of bubbly all round.
          Unfortunately, all good things must end, for on our return trip home in the dinghy we went to disembark on Chantey and all went ass-over-tea-kettle straight into the drink! Luckily, we made a quick recovery and were back on board wringing ourselves out a joking of our misadventures, thanks to our good-natured and resilient friends Colin and Dora.
          Back in Newport Beach, toasty warm and dry once more, we peered out the hatch and there sat Sea Whisper, with Barbara and Lionel aboard, our Bluewater pals from back home in Victoria. What a pleasant surprise! It is great to explore this beautiful coastline of ours, but home is where the heart is.
 With Lionnel's expertise we were able to resurrect the outboard motor, which had also taken a dip, in readiness for future predicaments! And so we sail off again for more of life's rich pageant
 "There is nothing, absolutely nothing,
   half so much worth doing,
   as messing about in boats"

   Kenneth Graeme, Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monterey Musings

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The fog has lifted, and we sailed into Monterey Bay, buddy boating with our new sailor pals, John and Nikki on SV Seychelles. We spent the day touring the stunning coastline and visiting the world of Steinbeck and Cannery Row (more sardines), and the street market filled with earthly delights. A beautiful part of the world to hang your hat, or sou'wester, for that matter. It is also the home of the Monterey Pop Festival, where Jimmy Hendrix lit his fire on stage and made rock history!
Morro Bay
     The next stop was Morro Bay, literally 'The Rock', named for a monolithic rock at the entrance to the harbour shaped like a giant steaming Christmas pudding. Once inside, we were in a lovely sand-dune encased estuary, and tied up with the very good folks at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. Later in the evening we joined our local mariners for a convivial Happy Hour, which turned into two and then some, with our most gracious hosts.
      Next we prepared for the dreaded crossing of Point Conception and dropped the hook in Port San Luis (Obispo) for a very lumpy night at sea. Three a.m. saw us hauling anchor in the dark, ready for a long day (18hours), around the point. As fate would have it, it turned out to be the calmest day so far, with virtually no wind, sunny skies, and a slow, uneventful passage into Southern California and the land of warm breezes.  Daragh breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived in Santa Barbara harbour after dark, a bit of a challenge with the lights of the city blending with the red and green harbour markers.
    Santa Barbara is a gorgeous setting amidst swaying palm trees and the elegant streets lined with the traditional Spanish architecure and inviting lush courtyards.We splurged out and dined at an excellent bistro a few blocks down on the main drag. Of course, one must sample the fine wines of the region,and we can verify they are all fabulous! We wished a fond farewell to this charmed place, and reluctantly headed out to more distant shores, notably Ventura, and Santa Monica's, Marina del Rey where Daragh hopes to meet Angelina Joli roller-blading on the Venice Beach boardwalk. A last note to the Bluewater cruisers; you will notice that Georgie has abandoned his signature red scarf for the blue and orange burgie of the BCA's!

"The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began,
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet,
And wither then I cannot say."

Bilbo Baggins, JRR Tolkein

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I Left My Heart...

   Here we are docked center-stage with the whole glorious bay of San Francisco at our feet. We have taken in all the sights including Fisherman's Wharf, The Museum of Modern Art, and Market Street. It has been great fun except for the general cacaphony of noise from Pier 39 due to the tour boats and the mosh pit of sea lions flaked out at the dock next door. We left a day early for the Alameda Yacht Club (Oakland) on the canal. There we received a warm welcome from the local sailors in the bar, especially seasoned sailor Jolly, Geena Sunshine, and newlywed husband John, the barmistress and club chef. We will always remember their warm hospitality when thinking of the AYC
A blustery sail across the bay landed us at the very posh San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere/Tiburon township. We meandered the quiet streets and admired the elegant architecture at every turn. Later we treated ourselves to a bevvy at the very grand Corinthian Yacht Club and prepared for a sail down the Napa River to Benicia with it's beautiful, sunny marina and a lovely community with lots of cutsie shops and coffee houses to stroll, and a great bike trail.
Master  and Commander
       Sausalito has been a highlight of our trip so far. This trendy, bedroom community of San Fran has a stunning waterfront with many nifty shops and eateries. We cycled up a windy roadway to the San Francisco Bridge where we were literally blown away by the windswept hillsides and misty vales. Back in the marina we met up again with  John and Nicky from Seychelles, and George and Tuuli, and kitty aboard  Albion, and planned to buddy-boat down to Halfmoon Bay. Our jolly threesome anchored in the harbour and arrived at the Halfmoon Bay Yacht Club in time for a BBQ and live music. The guidebook described it as a 'Steinbeck' experience, which we interpretted as down to earth, homey,and friendly, which proved to be all of the above thanks to Commodore Ray, wife Krista and the hardworking folks there!  We especially got a charge out of the hand-pull dock/ferry from the dinghy dock to the clubhouse. Another gem along the way!

     "went into a church, I passed along the way,
       I got down on my knees, and I began to pray,
       I'd be safe and warm, if I was in L.A.
       California Dreamin', you got me in a daze".