09/07/2011, Marina Village, Alameda
For those of you whose knowledge of geography in the Bay area is limited, it is interesting to know that Alameda is a small island, separate from the East Bay mainland making up the city of Oakland. Thus, it was only befitting that I circumnavigate the island on my bicycle since all of the surrounding water is not navigable by Murar's Dream. That was the basis for my major exercise activity today while Debra did her run-walk program, but only after doing laundry and a pump out of the holding tank. We culminated the day with brick oven chicken at Zuni Café, one of our favorite SF restaurants. The trip was more eventful than the dinner-dinghy to Jack London Square, walking 12 blocks to BART, BART to Market Street in SF, and finally an additional walk of 7 blocks. Of course the return was the exact opposite. Now to bring you up to speed since our last blog when we first arrived in Alameda.
We awoke Saturday morning to the gloom that seems to have taken over the Bay in the mornings. Nevertheless, we went to Dave and Lisa's boat for a sail out to the Bay. Fortunately, the fog began to lift and, by the time that we left the estuary, the sun began to break through. We sailed under the Bay Bridge before returning to the marina-the first trip west of the bridge by Dave and Lisa as they are just beginning the process of learning how to sail their new boat. It was nice to be the passengers aboard someone else's boat as we could just sit back and enjoy the day. After returning to the dock and regrouping, it was dinner aboard their boat before calling it a night.
Sunday was the day for sailing on Murar's Dream with Dave and Lisa. They came over for breakfast and, despite another dose of "gloom," we headed out for a sail further into the Bay. After passing under the Bay Bridge, we continued sailing west through the "Slot," the area between Alcatraz and Angel Island notorious for strong winds. Fortunately, it was a fairly tame day, as the "gloom" hung on longer than usual, keeping the winds down. We did slightly "reef" the mainsail as a precaution, but really could have sailed the "Slot" under full sail without difficulty. We rounded Alcatraz and passed along the San Francisco piers before returning to the marina. Again after regrouping, Dave and Lisa came to our boat for dinner, culminating our Labor Day weekend activities with them.
Monday was basically a "down" day, as we both needed a little recovery time. I did manage to get out for a small bike ride to check out the location of the dim sum restaurant I remember from my last trip to the Alameda Boat Show so that we would know how to get there for lunch on Wednesday. It was just where I remembered it, and it is only a short walk from Jack London Square, so we will take the dinghy across the channel to the square and walk to lunch tomorrow. Tomorrow night is the first Baja HaHa activity- an informal get together of crews since the event is being sponsored by a Bay area sailing magazine-Latitude 38. It is at an adjacent marina to ours so we can walk there.
We have decided to head for wine country on Thursday, so I have rented a car, and we have a reservation at a bed and breakfast in the area. We have scheduled enhanced tours at two wineries, Benziger in the Sonoma Valley on Thursday afternoon and Duckhorn in the Napa Valley on Friday afternoon before returning to the boat Friday night. Saturday we will relocate the boat to Sausalito as a jumping off spot for our return trip to MDR. We will probably be at anchor for that location, so we will use the dinghy if we decide to go ashore. Look for our final Bay area blog the night before we head under the Golden Gate Bridge as we start our journey home.
Debra and Andy
09/03/2011, Marina Village
We have finally escaped Pier 39 Marina for a calmer and more quiet environment. Although the location of Pier 39 cannot be beat when it comes to access to the San Francisco experience, the waves, surge and sea lions in the marina make the liveaboard experience somewhat less desirable when compared to what we have in MDR. Listening to the sea lions fighting for space on the piers to get out of the cold bay water and swooning their female compatriots makes for a long night when compounded by the constant surge which causes the boat to continually test its securing lines as they creak in their cleats. We are now in an environment much more like what we enjoy when at our home base in LA. The only difference is that we are trading the noise of jets departing LAX for the whistle of the passenger train which passes regularly across the channel from where we are docked.
Yesterday was our most taxing physically as we started with a bike ride through the Presidio to and around Golden Gate Park. We were gone for about 3 hours with a brief stop at a sports outlet where we were able to purchase long johns for the cold we are anticipating for our overnight legs on our trip home later this month. If that was not enough execise, we then walked about another 3 miles roundtrip to the Ferry Building for a quick, early afternoon snack. The Ferry Building is full of individual storefronts of various gastronomical items, and we purchased assorted goods to re-provision the boat. After returning to the boat, it was my job to give the boat a thorough washing to the exterior since it had not been done since we left MDR. We then decided that we still had not had enough exercise so we walked to the House of Nanking, a restaurant in Chinatown recommended by one of Debra's friends, for dinner. The walls were covered with various "best of Chinese" awards including being Zagat rated, despite the fact that it was a semi-hole-in-the-wall. On our way back, we stopped at Trader Joes for additional provisions for the weekend which we are spending in Alameda. With the 3 additional miles of walking, we were totally exhausted, and we fortunately had the calmest night at Pier 39 yet where the boat did not rock or surge for about 4 hours from midnight to 4AM.
This morning began with a walk-run along the Embarcadero. After last minute preparations, we cast off and passed all the tourists watching the sea lions which proved more of an annoyance to us than a tourist attraction. The next stop was at the pumpout station where Debra and I got to play sewer cleaners-not our favorite job. Once leaving the harbor, we quickly sailed under the Bay Bridge before adjusting our course for the entrance to the channel which separates Oakland from Alameda. We first passed the docks where the huge container ships are being loaded, and 2 miles later we were able to locate our reserved slip at Marina Village and successfully docked the boat. After checking in with the harbormaster, we went to find the slip for Dave and Lisa with whom we will be spending time this Labor Day weekend. They were just arriving so we connected and went to see their new Catalina 470. They then came with us to see our boat. We decided to launch our dinghy for a trip across the channel to Jack London Square for dinner after some wine and cheese on our boat. We returned to the boat under cover of darkness, although were are enough lights to help us find our way back to our slip. Everyone is now back on their boats, and we are about to turn in for the night. Tomorrow we will be going for a sail on their boat with Sunday being a day for sailing on ours. TTFN (That's all for now). You should expect the next blog at the end of this holiday weekend.
08/31/2011, Pier 39, San Francsco Bay
Well it is time for an update now that we have settled into our slip at Pier 39 Marina. Although it is a great location for access to San Francisco activities, it is more like being anchored than in a shelterd marina as one side is only pylons which allow waves and swells to enter from the west. At times, usually once a night, we experience serious rocking probably from some freighter which has entered the Bay headed for some port to the east. Otherwise, we have interim rocking depending upon wind and wave conditions. The dock lines are continuously being tested and adjusted to keep us from contact with the floating dock.
After settling down upon arrival, we were off to showers and then dinner at the Stinking Rose. As the name might imply, garlic is the featured basis for the cuisine, including garlic ice cream which none of us dared to try. It was early to bed, as we were all working on catching up on the sleep which we missed during the passage.
Monday brought misting fog in the early AM (no surprise), but it finally began to lift by about 11AM. We all walked down to Union Square via Chinatown. Bob was then off to do his own thing, and Debra and I headed back to Chinatown for dim sum which was mediocre at best. Later that afternoon, Debra and I launched our bikes for our ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito with a ferry ride back to Pier 41. We again rendezvoused with Bob and headed off to dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant for a good but nothing special dinner. Upon returning to the boat, Bob began getting ready to depart, as he had his return plane trip scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Bob left relatively early on Tuesday to do his own thing before heading for the airport for his 2PM flight home. The day was centered on Debra's and Andy's trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art where they were having a Picasso, Matisse and contemporaries exhibit based upon the collections of the Stein family (including Gertrude, the author of Alice B. Toklas). We started with a one hour video presentation of the collaboration of Picasso and Matisse, which was very informative. It helped us understand the art that we were about to view: a large collection of art from these artists as well as Cezanne and others from that period, all from the collection of the Stein family. Debra finally started to show the wear and tear of our adventures so after a tram ride back to the boat, I made sweet and sour chicken for dinner onboard.
Today was clean the interior and laundry day so the day was pretty well shot with these activities. Four loads of laundry and a thorough cleaning of the galley, salon and heads made for a very nice feeling onboard, but it was definitely alot of work, especially making up both beds which are neither rectangular nor totally accessible from all sides. Once we were finished with those tasks, it was time for showers before we headed off to the movies to see a late matinee showing of Midnight in Paris. It was definitely Woody Allen's best work, and a top-rated movie in our books. We highly recommend it to all. Following the movie, we rode the tram back to Fisherman's Wharf for a dinner at Cioppino's where, as you would expect, the featured item is Cioppino. Debra had that for her main course while I went for the local Sole. The Cioppino did not disappoint, and the fish was also quite tasty. We are back on the boat and about to turn in for the night.
Tomorrow is dedicated to cleaning the outside of the boat. We also hope to ride our bikes to Golden Gate Park via the Presidio-a bit of a climb but very scenic. It is supposed to warm up (mid-70s) with sunshine, something which we experienced today for a full day for the first time since leaving MDR. Friday, we change marinas to Alameda where we will spend the Labor Day Weekend with Dave and Lisa who have a Catalina 470.
08/28/2011, Pier 39, San Francisco
We have officially made our final destination at almost exactly noon, California time, but there is alot of information which we wish to share since our last blog.
We spent Friday in Monterey Bay waking to misting fog which enveloped us for most of the morning. When it finally became tolerable, even though the overcast never lifted, Debra and I unloaded the bikes for a ride around the peninsula to Pebble Beach while Bob launched the sea kayak to tour around the harbor. We finally made it out to Cypress Grove before turning back with a short detour where we saw them breaking down the tents from the annual car auction where they sold a Ferrari for $16M! Bob cruised the harbor, playing with the sea lions and otters which dominate the harbor (We learned to place a fender along our bow at the water line to prevent sea otters from using the sharp edge of the bow to crack open clam shells, thus doing serious damage to the hull. Sea lions are also thick and covering anywhere suitable for lounging before trips into the cold water for feeding time). Upon returning to the boat, Debra and I took a short kayak trip around the harbor, as well. It was then off to dinner and then the lowlight of the trip-I had discovered a small actor's theater on the wharf which was doing the play "Broadway" which featured songs from many of the past and current plays. The singing was marginal and the choreography and dancing were so bad that we left at intermission. We all agreed that we had seen better quality at some high school performances. Besides, we were leaving the next morning at 6AM to make our next desitination, so sleep clearly outweighed any entertainment value to what we were watching.
The next morning again greeted us with misting fog. Nevertheless, we were lucky enough to come across some whales during the early part of the journey. The first was a pair which surfaced only feet away from the boat, diving to go under our hull. We then saw a pod of whales at a distance. Not only were they spouting, but they were kind enough to show us their tails as they dove. The remainder of the day was continued fog and overcast, but it was definitely the calmest seas which we had yet experienced. We arrived ontime at Pillar Point Marina only 20 miles from our final destination, SF. We had decided to spend the night so that we could time our passing under the Golden Gate Bridge under the best inflowing current at 11AM. Pillar Point Harbor clearly has the best "character" of any of our stops, as we observed several fishing boats selling their daily catches to Asians for reasonable prices. We were soon joined on the boat for Margaritas by Les and Marion Earnest who live a short distance away in Los Altos Hills. The four of us (Bob stayed aboard to have some down time) went to Barbara's Fish Trap, a true fishhouse in the classic style. The meal was highlighted with a unique, dairyless clam chowder, using what appeared to taste like a potato based soup stock. It was quite good, and the remainder of the meal was excellent seafood of all types (calamari, shrimp, halibut). When Debra and I returned to the boat at around 8:00PM, Bob had already started "counting the Zs," and we joined him shortly thereafter.
The next morning we were again greeted by misting fog-no surprise. The trip to the Golden Gate Bridge was totally uneventful, as the seas were very calm until we reached the approach which featured some mixed and confused seas. They were not particularly dangerous but very interesting to experience, especially the eddies as we passed under the bridge span. Once in the Bay, the water was totally calm with minimal winds (less than 10 Kts.). We soon found our marina and docked the boat for the next five days of exploring SF. Bob leaves us on Tuesday, and we join some of Debra's friends in Alameda for the Labor Day weekend.
08/26/2011, Monterey Bay
For those of you worried about our rounding of Pt. Sur after reading the last blog, our apology for not blogging yesterday upon our successful trip to Monterey Bay. We made it in similar conditions to Pt. Conception: fog, wind and waves. We experienced fog for almost the entire 17 hour journey, but Andy did have about an hour of watching the lights onshore, as we sailed about 2-3 miles off the coast.
We left Morro Bay at 6:30PM in fog, but the seas and winds were cooperative. The wind and waves increased about 6 hours out to sea (This was during Bob's 4 hour watch from 12Midnight-4AM as Debra and I tried to sleep as the nose of the boat continued to pound into assorted large swells and waves) but calmed again for Debra's two hour watch from 4-6AM as we approached Pt. Sur. I joined Debra ondeck as the winds quickly built to 20 knots and the seas demonstrated the presence of the wind with increasing waves on our nose. At one point, the autopilot was not particularly happy so Andy steered for about an hour. Once we were about 10 nautical miles past the point, the winds and waves subsided for the remaining sail to Monterey Bay. We did experience fog with about 1/2-1 mile visibility, but the GPS and radar worked flawlessly guiding us safely into the harbor where we are securely berthed.
I took my bicycle to swap out Debra's phone at the Verizon dealer as the warranty replacement that they had sent us was totally possessed-the camera came on and just started snapping pictures with no way to stop it. The new phone now seems to be good.
We went to a local Thai restaurant for dinner. A picture of Clint Eastwood with the proprietors greeted us at the door, so we figured that it was a good place to eat. It was very good, as we tried dishes of chicken, duck and curry. I could not resist the Tempura banana and homemade coconut ice cream dessert which topped off a great meal. We were all "fried" from the last night leg of this journey so it was back to the boat for a long night's sleep. Today, Bob will go sea kayaking while Debra and I bicycle to Pebble Beach. It remains cool, but the sun is threatening to stick its wonderful head through the low clouds as I write.
We should be in the Bay on Sunday, as we will leave Monterey early tomorrow morning with a final stopover along the way. Look for a report of our final legs on Sunday from Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf.
08/24/2011, Morro Bay, California
We are safely and securely docked in Morro Bay after a a successful night rounding Pt. Conception in 4 foot swells and 20-25 Kt. winds. We will spend the night and tomorrow in Morro Bay, leaving in the early evening to tackle the next hurdle--Pt. Sur, on our way to Monterrey Bey. Now to catch you up since the last blog.
We spent a busy day in Santa Barbara beginning with a 30 mile bike ride along the coast round trip to Carpinteria and back, passing through Montecito and Summerhill. On the way back, we stopped at the Santa Barbara Polo Club where the Duke and Dutchess attended a polo match while in the US. It was then lunch in Summerhill before returning to Santa Barbara to await the arrival of Bob Emerick. We enjoyed Maine lobster at a local seafood restaurant before rendezvousing with Bob at Stearn's Wharf, a short walk from our berth in the harbor. Bob had not eaten dinner, so Andy accompanied him to Brophy Bros. on the harbor where Bob enjoyed a grilled fish sandwich before showering and off to sleep.
After readying the boat for the next part of our journey, we set off for Cojo Anchorage, just short of Pt. Conception to await the proper weather window to round it. As expected, it was motoring all day as the wind built to 20+ kts. on our nose. Even in the shelter of the anchorage, we experienced high winds, but at least the seas were calm.
At 11:30 PM, it was time to lift anchor and meet the challenge of the "Cape Horn of the Pacific." We took 2 hour shifts all night, trying to catch some shuteye in the off times. Fortunately, after about 2 hours of pounding into wind and wave, things began to calm down, although we were to experience periods of dense fog throughout the night. Thank goodness for electronic charts, GPS and radar. We did not encounter a single vessel within radar range for the entire night. It was cold and damp, so seeking refuge in the salon or under covers in bed was the order of the day when not on watch. The autopilot did its job flawlessly, but we were always ready to jump in if it decided to do what had happened to us around Pt. Conception on our sail from San Francisco to MDR on the Beneteau 58.
The light of day brought a certain ease despite the continued periods of fog. We finally made port at Morro Bay about 11:30AM and found our berth for the overnight stay. We were then all hungry so it was off to fish and chips along the docks followed by a walk to the base of the large "rock" (about a 100 foot high mountain. We are off to Monterrey Bay due to the fact that the good weather window may start closing tomorrow PM. We had hoped for a day of bicycling, weather permitting, with a cast off for Monterrey Bay at about 7PM hopefully after the afternoon winds would have settled down for the night, but winds are predicted to grow tomorrow and tomorrow night. If all gooes well, we should reach Monterrey Bay mid-afternoon tomorrow after another long night at sea.