September 5, 2010, San Francisco, CA
Having the kids back on board is awesome. We are forever grateful to Honey and Grandpa (Tami's parents) for watching them for us for the past 2 ½ weeks. Wednesday night the 1st, we all went to a San Francisco Giants baseball game. They played the Colorado Rockies and won 2 to 1. We all had such a great time. The weather was amazing and we had great seats in the upper deck.
So we bought tickets online. Ticketmaster was "sold out" so we had to go directly to the Giants website. We tried to buy the cheapest $6 tickets, but the website claimed these tickets were "unavailable". So, we opted for the next available being the $13 tickets which isn't that bad for a major league game. We did have a great view of the stadium and the bay after all. After purchasing the tickets, we had the choice of "print at home", "pick up at will call", or "send to mobile phone". Since we don't have a printer and didn't want to stand in line at will call, we decided to have the tickets sent to our mobile phone. Shortly thereafter, we received a text message and email confirming our ticket purchase and instructions telling us to simply show our phone to the ticket agent at the stadium for gate entry.
Off to the ballgame we went. After paying $25 for parking in this overcrowded city, we finally made it to our first stadium gate. That's right, our first gate.we eventually tried about 5. Each time, we were turned away because the ticket agent didn't know what to do with our mobile phone tickets. So finally, we gave up and went to stand in line at the will call window. When I finally got to the window (the game had already started by now) I told the agent my problem. She just smiled and said "oh this always happens" and gladly printed me a set of tickets that got us into the game. What? This always happens? Now for a little background.
.the San Francisco Giants stadium used to be called Candlestick Park. Since the banks and large corporations own everything from the west coast to the east coast, most stadium names have been changed to advertise for their financial giant owners. So, Candlestick Park has been renamed to AT&T Field. How ironic, we have Verizon cell phone service. Coincidence that the cell phone option for tickets for the AT&T stadium don't work on Verizon cell phones? I think not! Just our conspiracy theory at work.
Anyway, after getting into the stadium and into our seats, we looked over at the $6 section and were surprised to see it only about 25% full. "Sold out"? Is this a marketing scam? Well, I guess it worked, we bought the next price tickets and Im sure others did as well. But it was a little disappointing to see empty cheap seats.
Nonetheless, we had a great evening. We spent more on food than we did on the tickets. A hot dog costs over $5! But it was worth it.well not the hot dog, it stunk so $5 was a rip off, but everything else was great!
September 1, 2010, Sausalito, CA
After a little over 2 weeks without our kids, Tami and I were ready to pull our hair out. We missed them like crazy! Finally, they flew into San Francisco airport last night with Tami's parents and we were there to meet them. We were so happy to have them back. It was late, so we made a mad dash to get some dinner, then headed back to the boat.
On a side note, we rented a car for the day for only $45! After doing the math, it was the cheapest way to go. We would have had to pay about $8 each to catch the ferry from Sausalito to San Fran, then about $4 each for the BART train to the airport, then we would have all (6 of us) would have had to pay for the same return route if we even made the last ferry at all. Had we missed it, we would have had to pay $60 for a cab ride from the airport back to Sausalito. So in the end, we would have been out well over $100. So, $45 for a rental car was a no brainer! We even kept it for one more day and made a trip out to Richmond to pick up some used charts and cruising guides for Mexico that we found on Craigslist.
For lunch today, we ate at the infamous Salsalito Taco Shop. It was awesome and the service is great. We all shared a great watermelon margerita that was to die for.
It has been a great day of having the kids back home and having the grandparents visiting for a few days. The weather has been warm and beautiful. Tonight, we are headed to a San Francisco Giants baseball game. We'll try to blog about that tomorrow (cheap seat tickets are still cheap).
We are having a great time here in the bay area, but it's EXPENSIVE! You have to pay for just about everything you do and every bridge you cross, and if you don't own a mercedes, audi, ferrari, lexus, range rover, or jaguar, you are out of place. We are trying to keep our money in our wallets and are eager to continue our trek southward. We can't wait to get to some more "cruiser friendly" grounds. It's nice here, but we could run out of money very quickly. We have to be careful not to get caught up in the spending hype.
It's a joy to have the kids back and we are eternally grateful to Honey and Grandpa for taking care of the munchkins for the past two weeks.
September 1, 2010, San Francisco, CA
We've been in the San Francisco Bay area now for about a week. Andiamo has been tied to a ball in front of the Sausalito Yacht Club with great views all around. Thanks to the great club members here for being so generous and welcoming. We are thoroughly enjoying our stay.
On Sunday, the 29th?, Tami and I decided to take a long walk and go see the famed Golden Gate Bridge. We set out on foot early Sunday morning before the touristy weekend crowd and headed towards the bridge. We walked through Fort Baker (Golden Gate National Recreation Area) and made a quick stop at the Presidio Yacht Club/Travis Marina. We finally made it to the north end of the bridge and walked across and back. What a great walk we had together. After a short break on the San Fran side, we headed back eager to find a good place to eat lunch.
We returned to the Presidio Yacht club and ate a nice burger at the small grill there. We savored the beer and views of the great bridge. We finally made it home around 1300 and rested our tired legs. All said and done, we walked a little over 10 miles. It was a great day.
August 29, 2010, Sausalito, CA
To make a short story really long...
...while tied to the relative security of the dock at the Clipper Yacht Harbor, we decided to take off our jib and do some much needed furler maintenance and forestay adjustment. In the process, I had to remove the long stainless steel pin that holds the bottom of the Harken furler to the forestay. I got it out no problem and placed it gently in my pocket. I did a few other things then stood up for whatever reason. At this point, time stood still and I remembered I was wearing the shorts with a hole in the pocket...the very pocket I put the pin in. As all this is going through my head, I feel the cold cruel steel of the pin slide down my leg and fall right into the water. It was in slow motion so I should have been able to catch it, but I was paralyzed just watching the thing fall.
After some screaming and shouting, I reviewed my options. I could walk over to the rigging shop right down the street and see if they had any extras. I could hire a salvage diver to dig around on the murky bottom and see if he could come up with it or I could put on my wet suit and scuba gear and go look for it myself. I decided on the latter. So, I spend the next 30 minutes digging my scuba gear out from under the v-berth and putting it all together and on my body. I slip into the water and head towards the bow of the boat where Tami had lowered our lead line right in the vicinity of where I thought the pin had dropped. This would help with my orientation and search pattern.
After a few minutes trying to get used to the 55 degree water, I was ready to dive down and look for the missing part; however, my wet suit was so buoyant that I could not seem to get down - even with 15 lbs of weight on my belt. So, back to square 1. Tami suggested that we lower the anchor a bit just so that it touches the bottom, then I could crawl my way down the anchor chain. This worked great! I pulled myself back together and slowly began to lower myself down the anchor chain hand over hand. The water was only about 12 feet deep but visibility was less than 1 foot and it got dark and murky very quickly. Besides, there was a bit of a current running and the silt was just flying by. Once I reached the bottom, I rested my knees in the silt and held onto the anchor with my left hand. I removed my glove from my right hand so that I would have more dexterity and feeling while searching through the soft sand and mud. I mentally calculated my position in relation to where I thought the missing part was, and put my hand out to touch the bottom and begin searching. Keep in mind, I couldn't see a thing. As soon as my hand hit the soft bottom, I felt it! The palm of my hand landed right on the part! I couldn't believe it. I quickly scooped it up, brought it close to my goggles to verify that I indeed had the right part, and then tucked it safely in my zippered vest pocket (no holes in this one).
Ecstatic, I worked my way back up the anchor chain and to the surface. I had been under water a total of 3 minutes and it didn't cost me a cent. Now, I just have to get the furler back together without dropping the critical pin in the water again.
Oh, the life of a sailor.
August 26, 2010, Sausilito, CA
After a wonderful road trip back east with the kids, Tami and I returned to the boat and took it up to Friday Harbor where we spent a couple days visiting with our friend Susan. We made some final preparations and picked Susan's brain for every piece of sailing information that we could. She gave us a few necessary charts and some sage advice. The morning of the 16th found us all standing on the dock getting a little misty-eyed as we said goodbye to our good friend.
Having said goodbye to Susan, we motored Andiamo back across the Straits to Port Angeles where we picked up our friend and third crewmember, Marcy. We spent the night at the public dock and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at The Haven restaurant. The morning of the 17th, we began our 55 mile trek west to Neah Bay, WA. It was foggy and the wind was off the nose, so we motored the entire way and monitored the radar closely. We finally made it into Neah Bay around 2100 that night. We enjoyed a good dinner together and went to bed eagerly anticipating the next day.
The weather forecast was good on the morning of the 18th, so we committed ourselves to heading out into the north Pacific Ocean. The sun was shining and the winds were calm as we rounded Tatoosh Island and Cape Flatery. It was 1500 hours. We were excited but a bit nervous. We motored for a couple hours until the wind filled in and we started making good headway toward our offshore waypoint. Our initial course from Cape Flattery was southwesterly (192 degrees magnetic) for about 125 miles. We settled in on a nice beam reach. The sun began to set and we realized we were getting ready to spend our first night at sea.
Our watch schedule worked out pretty well. We began 3-hour watches with a little overlap. Each person stood a 3-hour watch and the first and last hour were spent with someone else, but the middle hour was spent alone. This seemed to work great. The first night was nice. The winds picked up to about 15-20 knots from the north/northwest and the waves grew to about 10 feet out of the north. The boat sailed along nicely under reefed main and staysail. The moon set early so it got dark pretty quick. However, once our eyes were adapted, we were still able to see pretty well. We were all alone. Not another ship in sight.
The next 3 days seemed to progress the same way. The winds were anywhere between 10-25 knots. Sails were full, then reefed, then full again. Seas were always following and ranged from 4-12 feet. The boat handled them nicely and we saw consistent boat speeds between 6-8 knots. The crew seemed rested and well-fed and remained in good spirits. Our route kept us about 100nm offshore so the wind and waves were solid and remained fully developed. We enjoyed these conditions for quite some time. Our anxiety was still high, but we were settling into a good routine. On a side note, we have been working with our SSB and weather fax for the past two months just trying to get a good weather printout with very little success. Nonetheless, I still tried it at sea. Ironically, the only good printout I got, was the 96 hour surface forecast. It showed "Gale Developing" near Cape Mendocino directly between us and San Francisco. This of course put a giant lump in our collective throats.
As we pressed on, we enjoyed sunny skies and favorable winds. We read poetry, played card trivia games, tried some fishing, dabbled with some celestial navigation, and silently worried about the weather that lay ahead.
As we passed our waypoint which marked our turn to the southeast, we began experiencing increasing winds and larger seas. Our nerves stood on end. The mainsail came down to its deepest reef and the staysail was rigged ready for heaving to in case it was needed. The sun went down and the wind and waves grew intense. The boat was approaching 9 knots as she surfed down waves so we did our best to slow her down. The wind rose to gale force (35-40 knots) and the seas seemed monstrous. We estimate they were between 12-20 feet and following. We tried not to turn around in fear of what we would see building behind us. It was a long night. No one slept and we all stood watch together hoping to make the right decisions concerning boat handling. The boat continued to float as we watched the clock tick by. We took several boarding waves from confused seas but the water drained quickly. It wasn't much fun.
Sometime during the night, we heard a distress call on the VHF. A small sailboat had lost its rudder in the heavy seas and its single crewmember was calling the coast guard asking to be rescued. The coast guard issued a call asking for any mariners in the area to lend assistance. After plotting the position of the vessel, we saw that it lay directly on our course line about 15 miles ahead. Even though we were struggling ourselves, we called the coast guard and let them know we could be to his position in about 3 hours and would be willing to offer any assistance that we could. We had no idea how we could help this man, but we were obligated to try - it's the rules of the sea. Fortunately for everyone involved, the coast guard was able to rescue the lone sailor with a helicopter before we made it to his location. We were all relieved.
The sunrise was a welcomed sight. The wind began to decrease and the seas grew smaller as we continued our southeasterly run towards San Francisco. We were all in one piece and the boat was in good shape. We discovered some leaky portholes and some gear that could have been secured a little better, but other than that, our nerves were the only victims of the gale. Later, we would come to learn that this "gale" lives off the coast of California near Mendocino and most sailors experience it sooner or later.
We finally rounded Point Reyes, CA on the evening of August 23rd. It was too late to try and make it into the bay area so we anchored in Drake's Bay for the evening. We all enjoyed a great dinner and some much needed deep sleep.
The next morning we weighed anchor and pointed our nose towards the Golden Gate. The wind and seas were calm so we motored under the Golden Gate Bridge at 1245 on 24 August 2010. Andiamo and crew finally came to rest at the Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausilito that same afternoon. We had traveled 786 miles in 6 days. Walking on land was a bit of a challenge but we adapted quickly. Our arrival was exhilarating. We were so happy that we had made it. It was a great day!
All said and done, we had a great trip. We learned a lot. We gained some much needed confidence and are eagerly looking forward to our next leg. We plan to remain in the San Fran area for a couple more weeks. The kids should be here next Tuesday and we can hardly wait. In the meantime, Tami and I are enjoying our time together, meeting some wonderful people, and enjoying the California scenery.
August 24, 2010, Sausilito, CA
Well, we made it. We left Neah Bay, WA on Wednesday August 18th at 1400 hours. We sailed (well motored) under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, CA at 1245 today (24 August 2010). We actually rounded Point Reyes, CA last night, but anchored in Drakes Bay for the evening so we could pass under the bridge and get into the bay during the daytime.
We had a wonderful trip...more to follow in another blog, but we wanted to get the word out to our friends that we are here safe and sound. The crew and the boat did amazingly well. Thanks for the prayers and well wishes.