Sunday, October 14, 2018

Boarded at 11pm.....

No, we aren't in Mexico yet......  We are in a posh yacht club marina in San Diego.  After enjoying the hot tub one evening, we gorged ourselves on You Tube Videos (the things cruisers do when they get wifi) - then went to bed.

When all of a sudden, around 11pm, we were woke by some weird noises outside our boat.....  then it sounded as if someone was knocking or banging on the deck.

Greg popped his head out the hatch just above our bed and there's a drunkish homelessy looking dude just about to open the companionway (our front door) and go below.

Greg yells, "HEY!!!!" which he promptly ignores...  then another "HEY! What are you doing?" from Greg.  Then dude turns around.  Luckily he's not threatening, he says "I mean no harm, I'm just drunk".  Greg says, "Get off the boat" because dude is making no move to leave our boat. 

He then tries to continue talking when Greg says again louder, "Get OFF the Boat!"...... and dude gets off, then comes to the side of our boat and starts asking us questions.....  Greg just says, "Move along"...   And he grabs his backpack and walks off.

Weird...... and what a way to wake up.

We're still cranking out work on the projects. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fun and then boat projects

Highlight Photo: Waves of Newport Beach

Cruising isn't cruising without boat projects, right?  This photo is of Greg replacing our anchor/running light combo at the top of our mast while anchored in San Pedro.  Luckily it was still under warranty - so a quick switcharoo with the company and we were able to get it delivered while we were in LA.  

I thought before we left that it would take me months to get into the swing of things - not going to work (well full time at an office) and spending most of our time at anchor, and of course, watching our pennies. But I feel like I'm already there, mentally.

We spent about 5 days at Newport Beach in the Harbor anchorage.  It was so much better than I remembered.  I remembered a super crowded anchorage....  and although it was still crowded at times, I felt so much more comfortable there.

I know that's going to sound weird, especially when I mention they regularly had lessons in the anchorage with kids coming within inches of our boat - or when I mention the beer can races one evening with 3 starts and finishes just off our beam with the entire fleet tacking past our boat at times.

Of course, those who know me are certain it's this racing crew who calmed me and made me forget about the closeness.

I was rooting for them.... And no, I wasn't zoomed in at all to take this photo.  

Daily we would take jaunts around the Bay to explore - walking through neighborhoods and city streets on the way to run errands.

Greg decided to break out the sewing machine to replace our BBQ cover:

And what a great addition:



We also got out to explore the boardwalk and checked out a surfing competition.  I didn't even know this was a thing - but it was pretty cool to stumble upon.

We also meandered around Balboa Island and discovered this guy: 

When describing why he's doing it?  Hobbies gone out of control is his answer.   There are lots of other people with worse hobbies - so bring on the sand castle hobbyists - we need more of them.

After 5 days we were pretty ready to move on.  So with Thunder in the forecast for the afternoon, we left early in the day to hop on over to Dana Point.  I have no pictures except for this guy:

We hooked him up along the way - yep, that's a baby shark.  we got him off our hook, but it was a  carefully orchestrated maneuver to avoid all those teeth.

After 3 days in Dana Point - we did a long day to San Diego.  It was a pretty boring sail/motor - except for about 20 - 30 minutes of high activity.  Because we started so early, the wind was slow to build - but finally we were able to sail.  As we were approaching San Diego, off in the distance we (Greg) saw a Saildrone (  One of our friends works there, so we did know they were in the area potentially - and it's pretty obvious once you know what they look like.  So Greg altered course so we could snap a good photo to send to Mike.  As we are coming up to our closest point of approach, the fishing line goes off - of course.....  So I roll up the genoa, as I get our fish subduing equipment, and as I keep an eye on the saildrone.  It all works out - we get our photo of the drone, but forget a photo of the fish till it's filleting time.... 

So, now we are in San Diego doing the anchor/yacht club shuffle.  We've been at the La Playa Anchorage, Southwestern Yacht Club and at the Silver Gate Yacht Club.

We also got our cruiser anchorage permit because we'll have a few odd days to spend out there.  I'm kinda looking forward to the location since it's closer to sightseeing stuff.  

I mention Projects...  so thought you would like to know some of the bigger ones.....

Fuel transfer pump issue.....  we have 2 spare fuel tanks along with our main tank.....  our fuel transfer pump takes fuel from our spare tanks, runs it through a filter and puts it in our main tank.  Well - it's been leaking, so the good plan has a flaw.....  in comes lots of little parts to get it to work right.  This "job" has been bugging us since LA - so I'm going to skip ahead and let you know that the little darn connectors were so specialized, they now get to be a spare pump.  We purchased another pump and now we finally have a fuel transfer pump working. YAY Greg!

I mentioned the 2 spare fuel tanks....  One is under our bed and we've used it in the past, another is under one of the setees (Like a couch) and used to be a water tank, but was changed over to fuel by the last owner.  We didn't need all this fuel while being in SF Bay, so it remained empty the past 11 years.  But just before we left, Greg went to install an inspection port over the fuel pickup areas and when he got the hole cut, what does he see at the bottom of the tank - a pinhole with daylight peeking through.  NOT GOOD FOR A FUEL TANK.....   Arrrgggghhhhh......

So, while here, we stopped by the yard, who referred us to a tank guy..  who had a little window with space to make us a custom tank for a reasonable price.  OMG.....

Bye Bye tank......  

The next big project is the watermaker - which Greg is in the process of plumbing and getting all set up.

Oh, and how dare i forget:

Where could this be?  So many things are wrong for this picture to be in the US....  yep, we hopped over to Tijuana to kick off our health insurance.

Which led to a fun experience.....  See that salsa on the right (the red stuff) - that's the salsa for gringos, not very spicy and very sweet.....  So, I asked for salsa that was spicier in Spanish.....

This got us the salsa on the left, specially made and a great conversation with a Mexican guy sitting next to us having lunch.  I even got a mini Spanish lesson and a compliment on speaking in Spanish - a great reward. 

Next week will bring us to the Cruiser Anchorage, Glorietta anchorage and a few days at the police docks while Greg heads to the Bay Area to spend time with his mom and I entertain myself in San Diego.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Why organize?

So, I'm not a spreadsheet of my things kinda person.  I take an approach of keeping things organized by type and generally knowing where that stuff lives in my environment.  But I read that a lot of cruisers live by their lists and writing things down that they have/what they use and therefore what they need to replace.  Everyone knows that space for storage on boats is premium.  Not wasting it makes complete sense.  Retraining my brain/habits... another story.

Anyway, Greg convinced me to tackle organizing our storage of bits and bobs.  So I went at it. Look what I found in our cleaning bin (see picture above).   Those are all the same type of swifter duster pads......  I even have 4 handles for 3 of my best friends to come over and we can all dust together.  I think maybe I've used one once or twice.

This is why you organize, I don't need 20-30 specialized dusting thingys...... so even though boat space is premium - they are crammed into a ziplock and I dream of the added space when I actually use all these good ideas...Not really, I don't think much about it.

And by the way, Greg and I made a compromise, we don't have an organizing spreadsheet, but we have bins with "subject bins" and the bins have a list of what's in them.  Now we need to just keep those lists updated - that's the hard part for us.

I do have to admit, I'm loving my pantry bin.  I have a light over it and I think of it as the "grocery store"  And a list with a pen nearby for updates.  I really hate shopping, so having a grocery of my favorite items makes me content.

When we do need to add to our stores, we have a whiteboard which becomes our shopping list.  That's how we do it aboard Pura Vida......

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


We've spent some good time in Catalina in the past, but while back here in So Cal, we wanted to visit again.  We thought what a great trip it would be if Greg's Dad Len joined us.  Especially since we hoped for it to be a fishing trip - all of us would enjoy that.

So, as previously mentioned we did an early detour to San Pedro, picked up Len and headed out.

About 20 minutes outside of the LA Harbor breakwater, the fishing line went off.  Who Hoo......  and we landed a nice Bonito again and had dinner for the 3 of us and a nice serving of Ceviche for a couple of days.

No pictures, but it was slightly bigger than the last one we caught and a better fighter as well.  Awesome.... About an hour before the islands we were able to turn the engine off and move right along.

We ended up getting a mooring that night and take a walk around Two Harbors.  Boy, have things changed in the past 11 years....  Two Harbors went and got herself all spiffed up with the pricetags to show it.  You can rent a Cabana to hang out on the beach for $200/day - and a beer will set you back about $9.50.  Most of the beach area where we remember seeing picnic tables covered with folks showing off their biggest lobster catches is now a private section with food and drink service. We are not big fans of these changes.

We pretty quickly made our way back to Pura Vida to enjoy the Civiche and night afloat.

Enjoying Kim's Oreo Beer with Len....

The next morning, we had wanted to head to Hen Rock, but the wind had a southerly component which would have made the anchorage a little uncomfortable, so my memories of the most fabulous anchorage on Catalina where you can fish from anchor catching a variety of fish will live on in my memory untarnished - YAY to Hen Rock!.

We instead headed to Emerald Cove and picked up another mooring.  This cove has special importance because Len's Brother was a member of the club who rents space in this cove - so family memories reside here.  And the place is pretty darn awesome.  That name Emerald Cove isn't for nothing - the water is beautiful.  At the entrance to the cove is a reef which you avoid when entering but head to once settled.   Bright gold Garibaldi cover this place along with other reef fish - a living aquarium, in which we enjoyed a nice long swim after giving Pura Vida a bottom cleaning.  This was my first time seeing Garibaldi so plentiful.  I loved swimming with them.

Greg and Len took a walk ashore while I stayed aboard doing Melissa stuff.  After another fantastic night, we woke to another day to meander the morning away and head back to San Pedro in the early afternoonish.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

LA Harbor Shenanigans

** I just noticed I forgot to talk about our Catalina trip....  It's coming, right now, we are going to get some groceries..... 

The long-anticipated reunion with this little girl was while we were in LA.  Though we did get a preview dinner/visit with her in Marina del Rey when Rick came to visit.   It was wonderful to spend the day with her.  Rick arranged a swim playdate with her BFF, Roger - so we got to meet him and his family.  We also got included in Rick's Bro's night which is a weekly dinner with his best buddies who all love Clewie.  They meet for a Bike ride in the hills followed by a BBQ at Rick's place.  Every Thursday night, you can imagine Clewie attending the BBQ with the Bro's - and they put on some good meat eats.  We also buried Tack's ashes on the property so he can keep on eye on his sissy.

Underwater swimming here:

Clewie and Roger playing here:

Also while in LA, we spent some good quality time with Len and Carol and Greg's Aunt Dorothy.  It was just great - we got some projects and errands done, Len got to sharpen all of our knives with his professional sharpening tool, and we got stocked up on limes from their garden.  Oh, and we got to also pick up all the packages we've been having sent to his house for the past month.

We also spent 3 days at the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club......  these guys are super friendly.  A member walked out to greet us as we pulled up - then introduced us around at the club a little later. where we got to meet a few people also sailing to Mexico.  Then we got invited for a sail (which was really a motor with the jib up) around Alamitos Bay with some beers for the sunset.  Good Times!

We learned the tricks of getting around, so there were trips to West Marine, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Ralphs - all by dinghy.  Sweet - we didn't even need to get a key to leave the yacht club since everything was in dinghy distance with a dinghy dock.

I also took this time to plan out our stays in San Diego... so we have our anchoring/docking reservations all set up through when we drop into Manana-land.

After our 3 days in Alamitos Bay, we returned to San Pedro to stay a the guest dock at Cabrillo Beach Marina.  They have been super cool to us.  Although we only get 2 days reciprocal with them, there is a nice easy anchorage in San Pedro that we can use and visit Len and Carol and even see our boat at anchor from their house.  The view from the hot tub on the deck is pretty sweet as well.  So some salty sailors got some pampering here.  But there is one problem with the anchorage which is a dinghy dock - there doesn't seem to be one and local businesses we contacted weren't too warm to the idea of us using their space (beach included).  Thank you CBYC, because they set us up with a key card to the marina so we can leave our dinghy and come and go to the boat out in the anchorage.  It's a small thing - but very much appreciated to the cruising sailor.

I'm reminded again about the yacht club community - it's great having a welcome place to pull into when away from your home port.  I'm not sure this will be super useful in other parts of the world, but in the US, it's good.

We finally left the orbit of LA Harbor and are now at Newport Beach.  We'll be here a few days before heading to Dana Point - then to San Diego with everyone else getting ready for Mexico while we determine when we'll roll the dice on whether hurricainne season has ended for 2018.

I'll leave you with some favorite photos from the past couple of weeks and prior as I forgot to get photos off of our cameras for previous blog posts.

Pura Vida anchored at Santa Rosa Island:

Think it's windy here?  The trees say YES!!!!

Cool looking shoreline on the beach at Santa Rosa:

Pura Vida in the Bay by herself: recovering from the passage from Half Moon Bay.

Irving Johnson (or Exy Johnson) on one of the mornings headed to San Pedro.

Crew training aboard on the bow:

Lighthouse just before entering LA Harbor:

A Dolphin fly by:

And finally - Clewie and Roger:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Channel Islands

We stayed nicely hunkered down for 2 nights while the winds blew 30 - 35kts through the anchorage at Santa Rosa.  They would die down overnight only to start building in the afternoon.  We had a nice hike ashore, but after 2 days, we had had enough and decided to start heading to Santa Cruz Island.

After about 3 more days tooling around the island, we met some nice folks also heading down to Mexico who I'm sure we'll see more of down the way.  We checked in with Greg's dad who was interested in a Catalina trip with us and we arranged for 3 nights of reciprocal at the Pacific Mariners YC in Marina del Rey - so we decided to start making our way further south.

About 30 minutes after pulling out of yellow bluff anchorage, the high water alarm went off....Glad for the test that we can hear it clearly in the cockpit.  Also, glad we quickly saw a stream of water which led us to learn that a hose had popped off of our hot water heater and we pumped about half of our port freshwater tank into the bilge. But it was a few serious minutes on Pura Vida while we located the source.  Whew - YAY, for already heading into a dock to refill tanks.  And Greg (and I) was glad to learn when the high water alarm goes off, a focused calm comes over me, not an internal freakout.

After that bit of drama, the wind slowly filled into the best spinnaker ride we can remember.   Flatwater, broad reach, 15 kts - OMG, so good.  As we headed into Paradise Cove for a night at anchor for us to learn another valuable lesson.  If we think we might need the flopper stopper, we should put it up before going to bed.  Getting up around midnight to set it up while fighting seasickness is just not preferred.

By now we are at a Friday and we head to Marina Del Rey to squeeze into their guest dock.

We don't look out of place at all..... HAHA

The club was super friendly and welcoming, all volunteer run.  Reminded me of BYC in a lot of ways.

Marina del Rey - lives up to the reputation....There was a powerboat on the dock behind us who decided to have a party on Saturday.  There were maybe 4 guys and about 20 girls all in bikinis - and high volume dance music going.  I did think of that song "I'm on a Boat", in a contradictions sort of way as I was walking up the ramp with my dirty laundry while young girls were dancing down the ramp holding liters of vodka over their heads.

They ended up joining forces with another sailboat and did a lap around the marina and out the breakwater a bit.  Above is a photo we snapped of them coming back into the marina.  we were on another boat chore - dingying to West Marine.

Fortunately, the music didn't go on into the night and we were able to have a nice dinner and spend some time with Rick and Clewie....

I was so happy to hold this little girl again.  And also happy she didn't bark and me, was well adjusted to life with Rick, but still happy to see us and the boat. It was a fabulous reunion.  I'm looking forward to the next one.

So after the weekend of refilling our tanks, We headed to another night to visit the King Harbor Yacht club, then anchor at San Pedro and pick up Greg's dad.

Here's a photo as we left Pura Vida for her first night at anchor by herself while we slept at Len and Carol's.

Today we're finished up our second night at Catalina and heading back to LA today. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A whale of a day

Recap of last night..... both tired, ready for the rolicking to stop, me still getting used to overnight passages again and Greg just plain tired from being the superman sailor I'm glad he is at times like this.  A sliver of a moon not due to start rising until the 5am hour, we creep into our chosen anchorage on Santa Rosa Island using radar overlay on our charts and me on the bow with a strong flashlight.

3am, finally we are able to relax.  But our bodies are still amped up from the adrenaline of the past couple of days.  It's been quite the ride and just what we were looking for to get us to Southern California.

Backing up to Half Moon Bay, we had been waiting for wind to start blowing, topped up fuel and water, when finally Thursday morning our departure window opened up.

While motorsailing out some distance from shore, Greg commented, "bring on the whales" in anticipation of seeing these beautiful beasts.  By noon we were with full sail sailing wing and wing down the coast, stretching our distance from shore.  Off in the distance, a spout - followed by another, to be followed over the next few hours with breaching, tail flukes, back shots surrounding our little home from every side.  Our best was a half breech of an adult humpback whale a mere 4 boat lengths away.

As the day grew on, the wind picked up (nothing over 25kts) and seas got a little messy - in the new formation of waves kinda way.  We settled in for our first significant night passage since cruising 11 years ago.

It was rough, but I know will get easier.  During the afternoon the speedo stayed around 7 to 9 knots. The second time we hit 11+ knots peaks, we knew it was time to make those sails smaller. We spent most of the night zooming along at 7 kts with a single reefed main. As the next day started, we would pole out the genoa when the wind eased to keep us in the 6-8 kts boat speed range.

The next day brought more mature seas with the same reliable wind speed, and my mind relaxed as we headed south with favorable wind forecasts.  Though my mind was relaxing, we were super tired from the lack of good sleep, but pressed on to avoid higher winds forecasted over the coming days.  Pt Sur was behind us, and Pt Conception was to come.

Toward the end of the day, we had our first visitor, a booby bird - I didn't even know they lived this far north.

He tried out a couple of perch spots, finally "landing" with the paddleboard.  He preened and recovered all night even staying with us as we raised the main, lowered the main at the anchorage (Very loud banging) and got ourselves anchored and settled with full spreader lights and walking just past him back and forth.

He was almost like having a little pet for a few hours - we loved the company, even came with some poop cleaning duties today.

So the night crept on with us feeling like our now 6-7 kts was very very slow....  but eventually, we did finally cross the shipping channel at Santa Barbara, the night crept on.  It's amazing how slowly a boat can seem to move at times.

Greg had researched Bechers Bay on Santa Rosa, which was wide open, we have 4G radar which we can overlay our chart, so we felt confident in entering this first time to us Bay.  As I mentioned earlier, it was pitch dark, no outline of land, no lights besides our running lights and stars in the sky, and we sleepily continued on pumped up on adrenaline.

As we entered the Bay, I spotted on the bow with a bright flashlight looking for Kelp.  We measured depth to determine how far in to go, finally, we reached our target depth and dropped the anchor.  No drama, everything went smooth and our little booby friend just sat there with us, watching.  Probably ready and happy to be settling down.  These birds are so trusting.

Then that was it, we collapsed with thoughts of imagining the beautiful scene we would wake to.

Today, we'll do some hiking, and start exploring the channel islands for a couple weeks.  We got super lucky with some surprising internet, but no guarantees for that at other anchorages.  We're looking forward to getting our fishing game started - wish us luck....

Melissa and Greg