Tuesday, 27 September 2011

san francisco: a photo essay


View of the Golden Gate and the breakwater, from 
Aquatic Park, our first anchorage in San Francisco


 Left: Rick, stunned by the deliciousness of the beer at the
Rogue Pub in North Beach (Little Italy)
Right: It ain't all fun and games... Nyon needs attention too!

The Rogue Pub, it was recommended to us by twenty-something locals. They serve micro-beers from Portland, Oregon. Our favourite: Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout. Good casual atmosphere, and great beer, what more could you want in a pub? Oh yeah, our pals. Then it's up the mast. (No, not on the same day!) Maintenance doesn't end, not even in San Francisco.


Thank goodness Nyon didn't need that much love!
The latest project in the small-boat shop

Hyde Street Pier. We enjoyed visiting there, as it meant we got to talk boats with John the ranger who was also a sailor and we went aboard Balclutha, a three-masted barque. Rick the tall ship junkie was satisfied.


Balclutha

Near Haight and Ashbury... lovely shapes and colours

Walking fiends take a break
We love exploring cities on foot. We went through a number of neighbourhoods, taking in their energy, checking out the architecture, finding little out-of-the-way galleries and a Salvadorian restaurant.







 On the hunt for cool murals in the Mission District


Salted Caramel and Malted Vanilla, 'nuff said
 
Okay maybe we'll let you in on it: Bi-rite Creamery at 18th and Dolores, (in the Mission District, near Castro). It was recommended by a local. Now we know why.

Chilling out in Lois (?) Park, 
between Mission and Castro.
That there, is a highschool. 
No, really.

On Castro, enjoying the sunshine and the vibe


Monday, 26 September 2011

the feel-good locker

The September Box
We have what we call, a feel-good locker. What is a feel good locker you ask? Let me tell you. It's a locker, (to be honest, two separate lockers), where we've stowed little packages. These little packages are wrapped in brown paper. 

Some are labelled: To open when one of you is feeling down or, when one of you is sick or, when you're having a fancy dinner. Some are more general: To be opened sometime in September. These were given to us by a variety of friends, just before we left Canadian shores.

Will the unicorn make Kyra's eye
all better?
We have resisted the temptation to explore the treasures of our feel-good locker until yesterday. We want the surprises to last. We want them there when we really need them... Later, when we've been away for much longer, perhaps when we're feeling  a little homesick. Luckily, one of the packages was labelled The September Box. We figured waiting until September 24  for that one, was more than reasonable. 

The twenty-fourth was an overcast day. We were both feeling a bit ho-hum. I am battling a painful eye condition (ugh), and we needed some cheering up. So when Rick said, "Let's open our September Box!" I literally jumped up and dug out the first treasure.

This treasure made us smile, laugh and the warm fuzzies abounded. Our peeps know us so well. It doesn't take much. But it's like a mini-burst of goodness. Thank you Dana, Karina, Jeff and Ali. We love the doodles, the yummy recipes, the chocolate, the music, the poem for Rick, and the felted unicorn. (Okay, who made the unicorn? We're confused, Ali says she can't take credit for it.) And Jeff, your quote is up on our midship companionway door.

Rick can't help smiling either,that chocolate is good! And
our friends feel ever so much closer

Just so you know, the unicorn is Nyon's new mascot. We need a name for her. Any ideas?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

to market, to market



The San Francisco Farmer's Market
I love Farmers' Markets. Small markets, big markets... I love them all. I think it's because it's in my blood.

On my father's side, I come from a family of maraîchers. (Vegetable farmers, or market gardeners in English). That was the family business. Needless to say, I am very appreciative of the farmers who bring their goods to city dwellers and sea gypsies with a craving for juicy cherry tomatoes.

Patterns of figs and cherry tomatoes
I also have fond memories of going to the Kitchener Farmer's Market with my older sister, when we both still lived in Ontario. And until recently, I relished my forays at the Moss Street Market in Victoria. I would pick up canned goods from that lady who made the most awesome pepper jelly. And the produce. Oh the produce. My mouth waters thinking about it. So of course, when I heard that San Francisco had a Farmer's Market, it immediately went on "the must-see-do-smell-touch-taste" list.


Saturday morning was cloudy and the wind was a little chilly, but it wasn't raining. We rowed to shore, hopped on the cable car, (from Aquatic Park, the F-Line takes you to the Ferry Terminal which is where this market is situated).

A medley of peppers and eggplant
There's an indoor section that has little shops. You know, where they sell gourmet olive oils, artisan cheeses, and the like. Then there are tents in front, beside, and behind the Pier Building. The place was crowded. We weren't the only ones excited by the prospect of spending time at the market. Tourists and locals mingled while sampling pears, cheeses, falafel...

Rick suggested we start from the left and go to the right. He has a very systematic way of navigating these kinds of environments. (Just like his father, when we'd accompany him to the flea market, (swap meet).

Flowers for you
Mm, juicy grapes

Rooted
"Kyra, you can't zig-zag like that... Kyra! Where are you going?" Soon, Rick gave up and followed me as I went this way and that, retracing my steps, getting caught up discussing this peach with another customer, or those potatoes with the vendors. My nose tends to guide me, no system can beat that. I mean, this is a foodie's heaven after all.

We're on a budget. A tight budget. This is a market in the city. It's not cheap. Still, we found small bits of delectables to make a very respectable picnic, that we are about to enjoy. With some cheap red wine of course... We have to cut   corners somewhere after all!


Lucious purple
In the basket





And as we (half) French say:

Bon Appétit!

Crusty bread, stinky goat cheeses, salami, salad and
cheap wine with Rick. (Oh, and the sun reappeared)
One happy gal.
My Dutch side, says "Lekker!"

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

a 10,560 foot red milestone

As we neared the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, we turned into official bridge nerds… It began with Rick’s rendition of Mungo Jerry’s “San Francisco Bay Blues” and went on from there. I was killing myself laughing, so I asked if I could film him. For a shy guy, he knows how to ham it up. And is it me or did he Muppet-ify the song in the end? You tell me. (For those of you who don’t know us, we love our Muppets. Love them. Our wedding song was The Rainbow Connection. I kid you not.)




We were one cheerful crew after our mini-break in Drake’s Bay, and as we traveled the last 30 nautical miles to San Francisco, our grins grew wider. Rest and sunshine will do that.

The bridge seemed like a hazy mirage at first. As we rounded Point Bonita, it finally appeared in all its glory.

As we rounded Point Bonita, there she was

Approach

Sailing under the bridge: An iconic moment
Rick is the architecture and history dude in our family, but even I was excited at the sight. It is rather majestic. (Did you know that the about to be defunct Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria was designed by one of the designers that created the awesome Golden Gate Bridge? Neither did I.) There were sailboats everywhere, the wind at first fickle, funnelled us through as we passed under the bridge. All of a sudden, we were sailing at 8 knots.

So this is sailing in San Francisco Bay!
And then we saw all the boats. Holy cow! Dodging sailboats left, right and center, we found our way to Aquatic Park, our first pit-stop. And took a deep breath.

You can't see the multitude of sailboats in this shot, but it felt
like we were dodging bullets, there were so many!

Dousing the main in
San Francisco Bay

Hello San Francisco!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

turning left: our first passage

Sailing for adventure on the big blue wet thing... (Fozzie Bear)

Cape Flattery, Washington: Where we turned left

The first two days out, we were grumpy. Not just mildly grumpy, but g-r-u-m-p-y. There were only light winds, and the swell was unforgiving. Fatigue certainly played a role. At first, it was hard to sleep while off watch. In spite of cocooning ourselves into the sea berth like sausage rolls, we got very little rest. The snapping sails and constant rolling could drive any somewhat sane sailor completely mad.

On day 3, we found our groove.

See? We like each other again!
It was as if a switch was thrown. The wind had freshened and the boat’s motion had eased. (And when it got rolly again, we handled it much better.) We finally both got some sleep, and ate a warm meal. Rick started looking cute again! We settled into a routine. We would hang out together in the afternoon, eat dinner and watch the sunset. The first evening watch was from 20:00 until midnight. One of us would sleep, while the other stood watch. Then we would switch places for the next 4 hours, and so on, until noon the next day. We found that for us, a 4-hour watch worked well. It was enough to get some rest when we were off watch, and not too long that we would start losing consciousness while on watch, especially at night. Watches were more casual during the afternoon. Whoever was in the cockpit would keep a lookout and deal with sail changes. We got into the habit of cooking one warm meal a day, sometimes two. We had been told by experienced offshore sailors that it takes something like 3 days (the magic number?) to get into the rhythm of a passage. That was indeed true for us.

We just soaked in the sun and the motion of the ocean became second nature. Mind you, that motion could be a little inconsistent to say the least. Sometimes we were taken by surprise. For example, during one of my first night watches, I got dressed in my foulies1 and settled down in the cockpit. Of course, within a half an hour I had to pee. Off came the PFD2, the foul weather jacket was next, the extra wool sweater was peeled away so I could pull down my bib pants, only to have an unexpected roll make me lose my balance. And there I was, my face plastered onto the head’s door, my hands still gripping the waistband of my foulies. All the while I had to be quiet, because my mate was off-watch and finally asleep. I’m happy to report that my skills improved throughout the passage. No, really, they did. I have very few bruises.

Before we left, we were having issues with our shortwave radio receiver – something is wrong with it. We were going to use it to get weather information during the voyage. We don’t have a sat phone (yet), or an SSB radio. We had decided to sail closer to shore than the Jimmy Cornell crowd. We ended up listening to the VHF for weather reports, and that was adequate. We had discussed our route with sailors who have done the same passage many times. They suggested we go 35nm offshore, stating that they found it much better than going way offshore, (after trying both). During this voyage, we were between 30 and 50nm offshore. We enjoyed very little traffic, the water was too deep to worry about prawn traps and the like. And once the wind picked up, we sailed in mostly reasonable seas. Sailing further inshore can be problematic though, as the coastline is fouled by reefs, rocks, and breaking swell. Traffic becomes a bigger concern as well. This was a happy medium for us.

Our friends are back! 
On day 5, we had visitors. A large pod of dolphins came along and entertained us with their cavorting. Two jumped out of the water, others seemed to strike a pose for our cameras. Soon, we both stopped photographing, and just enjoyed the moment.

There is a lot of that on a passage. You sit in the cockpit contemplating the waves, the sky, the birds. It’s very beautiful. We spent many serene hours doing just that. 


Check out our awsome lee cloth3
Thank you, thank you Dana!
It was very interesting to observe what became important as we settled into our passage. The sea berth was a coveted prize. Nothing could get between that berth and the off-watch crew, (not even the whimper of the crew about to go on watch for “Just 15 more minutes… Please?”) We were both very protective of our down time. When a watch was over, the person going on watch had better get out of that berth quickly. The bliss of sliding into a warm sleeping bag, your weary bones humming with joy, was exquisite. Rest was luxurious, obviously, it was also a necessity. A tired crew can make poor choices, or be more accident-prone.

A warm meal also makes a difference to a crew’s morale. Once my initial queasiness disappeared, I became inspired to feed us well. I made quesadillas, pasta with Chorizo sausage, (um, eating spicy food is either brave or stupid). Rick prepped a chickpea curry, I baked bread… It was the epitome of comfort food. Fruit and raw veggies were also craved, especially after the first couple of days. Music is another aspect worth mentioning where this crew is concerned. We listen to a lot of music. We’re both fanatics. (I’m just more vocal about it!) We had a great soundtrack accompany us on our passage. Here is a sample: Hey (I love you) – Michael Franti /Duties of a Lighthouse Keeper – Human Highway / Long Walk Home – Bruce Springsteen / Early in the Morning – Cindy Lauper (feat. B.B. King) / Things That Scare Me -  Neko Case / Hold On – Tom Waits /  Wisdom -  Mother Mother / Bein’ Green (Muppet Cover) – Andrew Bird / The Orchids – Califone / Devil’s Paintbrush Road – Wailin’ Jennys / King of Spain – Tallest Man On Earth… and the list goes on.

The seas are beginning to look more interesting...
The last 2 days of our passage, were utterly different. The wind picked up, the waves grew bigger and we were flying! It was exciting. It is such a strange sight, to see a wall of water when looking up into the cockpit from the cabin. We were confident in Nyon, and even with a small kerchief of a foresail, (we had reefed long before the winds reached 30 knots), we were still zooming along. We arrived in the San Francisco area, too early to go under the Golden Gate Bridge, (tides, and therefore currents and contrary winds can be a concern). We tucked into Drake’s Bay and are taking a day to catch our breath and then head into San Francisco with a flood tide tomorrow.

We made it!

Land Ho!
Lessons learned:     
  • If the forecast says light winds (5-10 knots), stay in port. We were too attached to our departure date. (And I thought we knew better than that!) Although, we are guilty of the reverse of most newer sailors: We didn’t go out in bad weather and get into trouble. We went out when there was not enough wind and nearly killed each other instead.
  • It’s not scary out here. (So far.) Of course we haven’t been caught offshore in a storm, that would change things. But in spite of that, there’s a certain magic to being out in the big blue on a little boat.
  • Small pleasures go a long way: There’s nothing like a dry pair of socks, a hot water bottle. A warm meal cooked by your mate, dolphins cavorting with your boat. Another sailboat off in the distance, a hug after your watch is over…
1Foulies: What sailors call their foul weather gear, which consists of a heavy raincoat and rain pants, among other   accessories
2PFD: Personal Flotation Device, in other words, a life jacket or inflatable life jacket
3Lee cloth: This refers to a piece of cloth attached on the sea berth to prevent yourself from falling off the berth when the boat heels or during rough conditions

Most of this post was written underway, we wanted to write about our experiences when they were still fresh in our minds.

Friday, 9 September 2011

poised for the leap

Juan de Fuca Strait
Once we left Port Angeles, we motor-sailed, and then simply motored up the Juan de Fuca Strait for 8 hours, as there was practically no wind. What a difference from our last trip this way! Our brand-spanking new auto-pilot, who has yet to be named, did most of the work. Rick kept raving about it throughout the day. (I don't look forward to the day it breaks down. Because it will.) Among sailors, the old adage has been taken for a little spin: If it ain't broke, just wait!

Catching up on sleep...
Standing watch is much more relaxed. (This is reminiscent of when Wendy steers to the wind.) And we both admit, the auto-pilot keeps a better course than we do. I mean, it doesn't get caught up in a discussion and steer toward the person being addressed, I could learn a thing or two from this gizmo...

Among sailors, Neah Bay is known as a stop-over where boats leaving the Pacific Northwest stay, while waiting for a suitable weather window for the trip south. It's also where we're tackling our last projects necessary for our offshore trip. 

Neah Bay, upon our arrival
We are tired of writing and talking about leaving. We just want to take the leap, damn it! We plan on leaving tomorrow morning, weather dependent. That will always be so. Mother Nature is our guiding force. But first, we're preparing meals, fighting with the Shortwave Radio, and tackling all kinds of jobs that keep cropping up. We plan on going ashore this afternoon, to check out the museum and pick up more fruit. 





Neah Bay, two days later, shrouded in fog

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

day 1 - in pictures


The morning of September 6, 2011

Nearing Clover Point, on our way out. Rick saw them first.

Our peeps bidding us farewell... That made Kyra cry, and Rick
smile. (Oh how we cope differently!)

Here the wind hasn't picked up yet, but check out those
 awesome pockets sewn by Karina. Does this mean
sunglasses won't ever be misplaced again?
Stay tuned

Mixed emotions all rolled into one tired gal

And then... There was fog. Thick, milky fog. We took down the 
sails. Kyra got a little, huh, shall we say, frantic when she heard
the Coho ferry's horn as it was leaving  Port Angeles. We got
the hell out of the way. We just could not see ships or land, even
when depths got to 25 feet! (Good thing for GPS.)Thank you AIS
and thank you Puget Sound Coast Guard who told us how  far we
had to go to get to the Customs dock, we really could not  see
anything. Incredibly, the sun was shining in all its glory when our
friendly customs officer Mitch checked us in. It was surreal how
quickly the fog cleared.

Later in the day, in Port Angeles. Where is everybody?

Editor's note: As we travel, time, opportunity and inspiration will vary, but we will endeavour to update our blog fairly regularly. This blog was started to let our loved ones know how we are doing and what we're doing with our good ol' boat, and now that includes other readers as well. We hope you enjoy it, and don't worry if you don't hear from us for a while. We are busy adventuring!

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