Archive for November, 2005

Marina Del Rey

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

Marina Del Rey is a weird marina—we already knew this because we used to live there as sneakaboards on a 34-foot ’49 Stevens. It is chock full of ginormous yachts that never leave the dock and the guys who do live aboard legally flaunt their status with potted plants, bikes, and general debris stacked all over the place. We pulled up to the transient dock and found out that the overnight fee was $15 and so we figured it was worth it for the showers (aaahhh, more showers) and electricity and water. We also called up our friend Kurt and showed him the meaning of excitement doing things like laundry and grocery shopping. We needed a computer cable so we ordered it to be Fedexed to the nearby Fedex location. All was well.

At the municipal dock Marina del Rey, California

The next day began with coffee at the Cow’s End on Washington St. and then a ten million-mile walk trying to figure out where the Fedex place was and if we would ever get our package because it turns out that it was shipped UPS to the Fedex office and Fedex will refuse UPS packages (well, oops). We figured our only hope was to chase down a UPS truck and get the package off him in person. In LA. We did too: turns out our package was on Ed’s truck and he just happened to be the best UPS delivery truck driver on the planet.

We get back to the marina, pretty much ready to take off and there’s a shouting match going on between Ann, the marina lady, and a guy named Brian, who is towing in some funky-looking boats with a beat-to-hell Whaler and tying them up at the transient dock. Supposedly the coast guard just announced a “Red flag” day, which presumably meant the weather was going to be bad, and he could bring in the boats (they were anchored just outside the breakwater) until it calmed down. Within a couple of hours, Brian had towed and secured his entire “fleet” (derelicts that others had given him to “restore”) to the transient dock and was busy hosing them off and recharging his batteries.

Brian gave us the scoop: “Hey! You guys lawyers? Any family members lawyers? Anyway Red Flag. Means I can come in here and tie up and the day’s free—did you know that? So don’t pay for today ‘cause it’s free. Red Flag day. They don’t like me in here—all these boats are mine, people give them to me to fix up and I let these homeless cats live on them and they help me fix them up. See I got kicked out because they are trying to weed out the little guys; you know, guys like you and me with boats smaller than 100 feet, there’s no room for us. I got two boats they repoed but they won’t give me a trial—now I know there’s a little slip of paper nailed to a wall in DC called the “Bill of Rights” says I am entitled to a trial but they refuse a trial here. That’s illegal. Blatant. Names Brian, by the way. They have a shortage of slips and were supposed to put in 3000 more slips but they instead—and see this is the logic around here; it’s all moneymoneymoney—take out 2000 slips, make room for only five 200-foot megayachts and then when they can’t fill those slips, make a big deal how there’s no demand for slip space in Marina Del Rey and fill it in to build a 15-story luxury apartment building ‘cause that’s where all the big bucks are. You sure none of you aren’t lawyers or anything? You know they say you can work on your boat while at the dock, but they are not so smart you see. They interpret it to mean you can do work, but it has to be ON the boat. Like physically ON THE BOAT. Like, you’re in a car part shop and you tell the guy ‘I’m working on my car,’ but it doesn’t mean you’re working on top of your car, see? But here, they don’t want the work on the dock—they want you to work ON YOUR BOAT. You in publishing? Magazine? Journalist? Any of you? Well, this story is big and it’s getting out…”

Ann gave us the scoop: “This guy here is my biggest headache. Brian and all his boats. I don’t know, they said it was a Red Flag day and every time that happens, he hauls all those boats in here and takes up all my dock space. He’s a warm person, really, but he’s got like ten other people inside his head and you never know which one is going to come out.”

Brian: “Hey Ann! Want to buy a boat? Which name do you want to call it—“Bill of Rights” or “Civil Disobedience?”

We drank some wine that night, had a Kinkos experience that nearly caused Joshua’s head to explode getting some color printouts made, and went to bed early. We got up at 5 and took off just as it was getting light.

It was some mellow sailing:

Reading becalmed

Wind was light (“Red Flag!”) out of Marina Del Rey and we headed on to San Diego. During the day we tried out some of our fishing gear and learned that while fish were not forthcoming, we were in fact remarkably adept at catching sea kelp. The intrepid kelp fishermen of the Time Machine. We caught kelp all day long and finally pulled in the line after it got dark because you know how that kelp is particularly active at sunset—good time to catch some kelp. I had first watch again and tried to keep from totally losing my shit every time I saw another ship way way off in the distance. We hadn’t seen too many ships after leaving the area around San Francisco and suddenly they were everywhere. We were getting close to San Diego too so the radio was full of teenaged voices saying stuff like “This is US Navy Warship 48 running some artillery drills and requesting all vessels to stay clear of my vessel” and basically hailing themselves over and over all night long. Kids.

Coyote Point to Santa Barbara

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

Sailing under the golden gate bridge. San Francisco, California

We made our big escape from the San Francisco bay at 11:45 Wednesday morning and sailed under the Golden Gate bridge at about slack tide; we thought we’d be out of Coyote Point by 6am and have plenty of time to get to the bridge but of course we didn’t get out until 9 or so. Unfortunately the slack tide heralded the incoming tide and not the outbound tide and so after about an hour of tacking around, the waves got all wonky and choppy and the inbound tide created eddies and all sorts of general ickiness. Wind was strong and we were able to fight our way out, but it was not a comfortable ride. Welcoming us to the Pacific were a couple of dolphins (oooo!) and then some gnarly patchy downpour, dark, and a lightning storm (bleargh!), during which I probably asked eight times: “So, is this something we should be worrying about?” (Answer was something like this: “Probably. Don’t touch anything metal.”)

Finally the lightning went away and then so did the wind. After flopping around off Pacifica for 5 hours, someone had the bright idea to start the motor.

We saw lots of wildlife. Seals! They like to hang out in groups out in the middle of the dang ocean with their flippers and noses up in the air; they look like some weird kelp forest until they notice you and totally go haywire swimming around and around in manic circles about your boat jumping in the air and barking their heads off.

large group of seals offshore

large group of seals offshore

Sunfish! We saw two of these because they like to swim at the surface of the water on their sides with one fin flopping back and forth out of the water. They are also really really strange looking fish capable of disconcerted expressions. I know this because in order to get a better look at the guy, we swung the boat around to circle him and all hung off the rigging trying to get a better look; he stopped flapping and sort of regarded us with unease.

Humpback whales! We saw several of these guys traveling in groups, some far off so you could only see the spouts, some closer and doing that thing they show you in whale calendars where they jump halfway out of the water and then make a big splash when they come back down (wheeee! Fun! Get the camera!), and then we saw one of them 30 feet up in the air and 20 feet off our ama. This means that the entire whale minus a bit of tail was completely OUT. OF. THE. WATER. Gets you a really good look at the thing. Also scares the crap out of you and has you looking around for things to hold onto because after all, there were two of them to begin with. Seeing a whale was impressive enough since I had never seen one before; seeing one just up in the air and giving us the eye like that is wholly unreal. When she (we decided she was a she) came back down, we all got splashed and the boat rocked. We all began wondering out loud, “Where’s the other whale” and “She knew we were here, right?” “Where’s the other one?”

The other one surfaced over on the other side of the boat and they both moved on. We were all spazzed out and spent the next few hours talking about it and discussing how marine mammals use sonar and cell phones and all that stuff to navigate and not come up under boats or possibly land on them when jumping completely freakin’ out of the water.

Humpback whale breaching

Humpback whale breaching

Jeff was the only one with any sense to actually hit the “take photo” button on his camera when the whale jumped out of the water. Seems he was still zoomed in from the last shot when the whales were a 100 feet or more from us.

Almost collided with a humpback whale

We went across Monterrey bay and around Pt. Sur with reasonable wind and relatively comfortable seas. Monterrey bay started off with some confused seas but mellowed out once we got a bit south. Night watches went with everyone crashing around 6-6:30pm, me staying up until 10 or so, then Joshua and Jeff the rest of the night, me again early morning. We had an almost-full moon and lots of light most of the nights so that was great. Weather reports were saying that a strong storm off Alaska was sending some big ol’ swells our way (15-20 feet but with 12-second periods), due to hit Friday. Weather was good so we decided to skip Morro bay and San Simeon and all that and get south of Conception asap (like, before 18-foot seas hit us). Friday wind was perky and swells were maybe 10 feet at best. No 18 footers. My seasickness began to go away—did I mention I was seasick? Bleargh. That chop off the GGBridge did me in. Felt better after barfing but didn’t really eat much for four days. Joshua was the rockstar and made egg tacos every morning and spagetti and stuff every evening for dinner.

We were going to hit Conception around 3am Saturday morning and still our Alaskan swells had not hit (disconcerting); they never really did either—we saw maybe 15 feet at best but not consistent. The 30+ knots of wind the weatherbot mentioned, however, did arrive around midnight and turned the ocean to glowing green foam (I was trying to stay in my bunk at this point listening to the scary scary noises). Things quieted down when Joshua and Jeff dropped the jib and ran under only the reefed main. By the time I was roused to drive again, winds were back down to 20 knots maybe, the seas were mellowing, and we were right at Point Conception. That morning in the channel we hit some 30+ winds and clocked in at 13 knots speed and then the wind died. Completely. We motored the rest of the way to Santa Barbara after drying out and flopping around some oilrigs for a few hours. It was Saturday evening, 3.5 days after leaving San Mateo.

Santa Barbara, aside from being spectacularly located with steep green mountains and blue ocean, has the nicest public shower I have ever laid eyes upon and we had some rockin’ showers. We anchored one night and then headed on to Los Angeles.

Here’s the sunset we saw en route to LA.

the first of many sunsets at sea

Marina Del Rey

Monday, November 14th, 2005

USGS aerial photo of Marina del Rey, California

Arrived 5am Burton W Chace Park, Marina Del Rey

Last Minute Projects

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

mahogany shelves

Some nifty projects we finished, amazingly, when space could be cleared long enough to focus on screwing in screws.

bamboo cutting board table in the cockpit Searunner 31

Here’s a picture of the awesome cockpit table Jeff and Joshua put together; the table is made from one of those groovy bamboo cutting boards.

And away we go!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Day of departure. Well, after consulting the internet weather sites, Joshua and his dad made the decision that that big dotted area with the word all in caps “GALE” smack between us and Baja meant we’d wait an extra couple of days to leave. This was probably for the best since I still hadn’t completed construction of a second story to the boat in which to store all the crap we desperately need for this trip. Things like the twelfth extra flashlight and whistle-thingy that barely makes a sound but seems like we might want it or something and so I therefore have to add another wing to my second story to store it. You know those pastel sticky tabs you get at office depot and use to mark important passages in business documents? We have some on board. And I know exactly where they are.

Day two. Weather still wonky and coming from the south (!!!), which is super weird (!!!) for these parts and so we’re staying put for another day. Bleargh. Rainy day/South wind projects = finishing the soft storage cabinets in the galley (yay—now I can put away all those lightweight bulky items like the salad spinner). Going to Home Depot, which always takes two trips because we either forget something the first time or else end up returning the item we bought because we found it elsewhere for $1 less and therefore we must make a 10-mile trip to SAVESAVESAVE. And driving around in our Volvo reminds us that we still have to sell it before leaving. So we can’t leave anyway. We also drank probably three bottles of wine in an effort to lighten our little boat’s load, so at least something got accomplished today.

Day fiftybillion. The previous evening had us fielding calls from excited hippies from places like Sevastopol and Petaluma about the Volvo. Every person who called wanted us to drive the Volvo to him because (duh) he didn’t have a car but (duh) we’d no longer have one and damned if we’re hitching back from Petafreakinluma. The great compromise had the buyer catching a ride with a friend to Oakland where we (actually Jeff, because he volunteered) would meet at the corner of 9th and Broadway to make the big deal, then the buyer driving Jeff back to SF to catch the train back to San Mateo where he would have to walk back to the marina. Of course Joshua ripped the end off the delicate wee antennae cable that morning so a trip to Radio Shack/CompUSA/Fry’s had to be made (carless) so Joshua walked to San Mateo to meet up with Jeff and set out on a most excellent electronics adventure. I stayed here, completed not only a second story but a third and got the last of the stuff put away.

So we thought we’d maybe get out tonight with the outgoing tide but the wind is totally dead (what the) and Brigid is visiting so we’ll take her out for sushi in exchange for shamelessly taking advantage of the car situation.

We’ll get out of here tomorrow.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell