Wednesday, September 29, 2010


***Photos to be added later. We are currently in an Edge zone so uploading pictures is a struggle. I’ll update when we get to better coverage.

We are currently motorsailing back to San Francisco Bay. It’s about 7:30am and we left the Santa Cruz marina just a little over an hour ago. We’ll try to make the Gate by the evening slack before the Ebb at 5:21pm. Though I did just hear Greg increase the revs…perhaps he wants to be there sooner? My hunch is he’s already bored with the long period swells and light wind. Too bad we can’t just snap our fingers.

The reason we want to get back to the Bay is this Friday is the kickoff of the Winter series of entertainment. Greg and I started this at our yacht club a couple of years ago and this Friday is the last one we are doing. Our club manager will be taking over from here. But we have a fantastic band – so it should be a fun show. Anyway – because of that – we absolutely cannot be stuck somewhere along the coast. This week has people’s hair raised due to large swells coming down from a storm near Alaska. The swells are supposed to lay down on Thursday – but the wind slacked off today and Thursday is too close to Friday. So far the swells aren’t too bad. The period is long.

Leaving this morning just as nautical twilight was beginning reminded us both of my first time up the coast from Santa Cruz. I guess we had been dating a year or so – maybe less. We had done a lot of night sailing on the Bay – but never a night passage. It was a three day weekend and we needed to be back to work. We also thought it would be fun to try out a night passage and trade doing watches. Unfortunately the conditions were not as benign as this morning. We left about 10 pm thinking the wind would lay down a bit overnight. Instead it started to build. Greg was sitting with me in the cockpit trying to calm me down – I was so scared. I decided to let Greg have the first shift and I would take a nap. When I laid down, instead of going to sleep – I imagined the water passing the hull and focused on figuring out what it was doing. This as you ocean sailors know is a recipe for disaster. Yep – I slid down that slope….I won’t get into the details, but suffice to say Greg single-handed most of that passage. Finally about 6am maybe around Half Moon Bay, I stumbled out ready to take over just as Greg was about to head us off shore so he could sleep.

I mentioned earlier about the benign conditions – and they really are, but there is a swell. I wanted to point this out because this is the first time I can recall leaving a harbor in between waves breaking across the entrance. Now they weren’t as treacherous as it sounds – if it was the Harbor patrol would certainly have closed it down. But waves were breaking half to ¾ across the entrance. So imagine heading toward a narrow opening and seeing white water…a little weird. We just favored more to the side away from the initial break and revved up the engine. Depth wasn’t an issue.

So just to catch you up a bit and because I think it’s a funny story…when we were in Monterey we took a day to just take the boat out to go fishing. Sea Bass was the target and we were stocked with Squid. After joining the fleet – they drift while dragging their lines, we discovered Pura Vida was sculling along with her Keel in the swell. At least we were perpendicular to the waves and not rolling – but we were really moving through the fleet. I could actually steer us around other boats we were “passing”. Some boats had sea anchors out to slow their drift.

It was very strange fishing among sea lions. Strange as in scary. Soon – we had a couple of sea gulls become interested in our squid and our hearts sank when they dove down and picked it up – hook and all. Greg quickly reeled in his line and fortunately the sea gull was just doing a “mine” tug of war with Greg and not actually hooked.

Our final straw was a couple of sea lions swimming around us….Greg had enough – we couldn’t deal with the fear of actually hooking a sea lion. I wonder if it ever happens. We were thinking that it must.

After returning to the slip – and later in the day walking all around town on a history walk following little dots through Monterey (like a yellow brick road). We left Monterey the following morning.

Believe it or not, it was another beautiful sail to Santa Cruz. The anchorage was a little rolly this time and we were hoping to catch up with our old neighbors Ted and Melissa Biggs, so we headed into the marina.

On the way in, we were flagged down by a kayaker who recognized our boat as a Hylas. There we met Ken who had a Hylas 44 and now has a Hylas 49. The 49 he has is the same hull as our boat with just two feet added and much more modernly outfitted. Since we were docking at the end of his dock, a visit ensued later in the evening.

We also did get a chance to catch up with Melissa and see Eva (her daughter) – but Ted was in class and by the time he returned home at 10:30, we had already stayed up as long as we could.

I guess that about catches you up. We aren’t sure yet whether we’ll go to our slip tonight or just anchor somewhere in the Bay – probably anchor, but we’ll see.

Now – I think it’s getting to be about breakfast time…

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We’re in Monterey

Hi – we made it to Monterey. Yesterday we left Moss Landing very very early. After a night of being entertained by the seals feeding around Pura Vida (very interesting sounds). We headed out in hopes of fishing…well – our hopes were more on the catching part of fishing… We ended up motoring all the way to just outside Monterey to where the fishing fleet was. We joined them – though the depth was about 200+ feet and we were expecting to bottom fish in about 50 – basically we had some false starts – then we moved over to a calmer place (out of the wind and swell). There we noticed everyone was fishing on top of the water…hmmm. We figured we would go in and get some more information before setting out again.

After contacting the Harbor master and trying to wedge Pura Vida into a too narrow slip, we were booted to the guest tie on the wharf. This space was a little bothersome because we felt like we were an attraction at the aquarium. The dock that we were on had two levels for tourists to gawkstare view the scenery (us). There was also no Gate. It was a little dis-concerning leaving the boat with our stuff aboard with strangers standing there staring at you and your home. Imagine leaving your house with someone standing in your front lawn staring at your house and you leaving. Then there was the surge which made you feel like you were at anchor. Oh and should I also mention that we weren’t able to plug in?

I know what you are thinking…why did we stay? There was a perfectly good anchorage which didn’t seem rolly. Well, I don’t have a good answer for you. Most of the annoyance was little and just grew larger with time.

Anyhoo – it wasn’t all bad – were were here in Monterey. We ran into some friends from our season in Mexico who are bringing their boat back up to SF Bay. So we had a couple of bottles of wine and munchies on their boat yesterday evening. Matey got to romp on the beach. We had a fabulous lunch at Lou Lou’s. Greg and I hung out with music and a bonfire on the beach. We got some more of our favorite smoked salmon.

This morning we stopped into the harbor Master’s office again to see the status of a slip for us and they were able to shuffle things around to get us in. So now – we are in the marina, doing laundry of all things. Though we did spend the morning walking around Monterey. This evening a couple of friends from Cal Sailing Club days happen to be in Santa Cruz this afternoon so they decided to drive the extra hour to have dinner with us. Good fun…

Not sure about tomorrow (we’ll probably try fishing again) – but we’ll be heading to Santa Cruz on Tuesday. Planning to head from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay or Berkeley depending on how we feel on Thursday after the seas along the coast settle down.

Serenity and Reflection (part 2)

So back to Moss Landing and to finish up the Kayak trip we took into Elkhorn Slough. We were with a Naturalist who gave us history about the Slough and wildlife that has called it home. We were on these amazing kayaks. Now when I say amazing – please remember Greg and I have ZERO kayaking experience. The ones we were on were about 14ft, hard and you sit inside. They even had little rudders that you control with your feet. They were super fun and sporty. I opted for a nonskirt, I figured I’ve done the dragonboats in the marina with the cold wind and survived – I could handle the warm Moss Landing wind. Since I was the only one, I was a little concerned – but it ended up not being an issue. Unfortunately our group was a little slow and safe. Greg was more bothered by it than I was probably because I spent a lot of time taking photos and then kayaking back up to the front of the pack.

The Slough really was beautiful and there was tons of wildlife. There are a lot of Jelly fish (Nettles) in Monterey Bay at this time for some reason. In fact the guide said it was the most he could remember. The jellies are everywhere and there are a ton of them.

Here are a pack of sea lions creating a ruckus because they were just kicked off the guest dock by a harbor worker. But when the harbor worker left the dock, they were back up there. It was funny to see them try to get up – they sure don’t give up easily.

Just wanted to show you some views of the Slough…

Here is a seal getting some quiet time in the sun to get warm. He is in an area that used to be an old salt pond. There are even old bollards that boats used to use to tie up still standing.

So that about sums it up. Moss Landing was a stop not to miss – we highly recommend it. We’re surprised it took us so long to visit.

Melissa, Greg and Matey

Friday, September 24, 2010

Serenity and Reflection (part 1)

We last left you in Santa Cruz – We were enjoying the SCYC race just outside the anchorage. Beautiful. Colorful. Peaceful…

A little afterward, or maybe during (wine/margaritas tend to fog the time-lines of memory) we were treated to the beautiful moonrise. We didn’t even realize our trip coincided with the full moon.

After a peaceful sleep at anchor, we woke at a reasonable hour – probably 8ish as Matey doesn’t usually let us sleep much past that before she wants to go potty and eat breakfast. We then, to the music of barking sea lions (or seals, didn’t get that close to tell) readied the boat for the sail to Moss Landing. The crew was ready for wildlife sightings, but beyond a single dolphin visit at anchor, we didn’t get any visits.

I say sail, but at the time, the wind hadn’t woken, so we motored – but not too long after we left the wind started to pick up. At first we ghosted with Genoa, Staysail and Main and enjoyed the motion of the ocean (stealing that from the title of the book by Janna Cawrse Esarey). When Greg first brought up the idea of raising the Spinnaker, I didn’t want to raise it because it would mean the sail would come to an end sooner (sometimes it’s not about going faster). But eventually I gave in to wanting to move a little faster.

Even though we didn’t see wildlife (and by wildlife, I mean dolphins or whales), we had a fantastic trip…but I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad sail across Monterey Bay. I wished more than a few times that day that I could trade SF Bay for Monterey Bay. By the time we reached Moss Landing the spinnaker was no longer appropriate because of more than enough wind. After dousing sails we were greeted by a popular resident and probably my most favorite sea animal (yes, even above dolphins). I don’t know if I will ever get enough of these guys….

These guys are literally everywhere. They are like puppies – they wrestle on the water, they poke their heads up looking at you curiously. Matey initially barked at them, but I think she’s getting used to them being around. Another batch of guys that are everywhere are these guys:

This was taken just across the dock from us. – literally, I was in my PJs this morning snapping these photos…

Those of you who know us and know Matey – know that she is very serious about loving her dinghy. Her dinghy is her chariot to fun. I hope she never sees anyone trying to take our dinghy – I don’t know if we could hold her back. Here she is letting us know she’s ready for action (while keeping an eye on the seals)….

A little later yesterday, we took a little walk outside the marina and this is the sort of views we get:

I know I sound like a dork, but the wildlife here is amazing. the seals and sea otters – you practically stumble over (well, if your traveling in a dinghy). We took a walk today to the fishing/liquor store and got a fishing rod – so tomorrow, we’ll start fishing. Hopefully we’ll have fish tales and photos to share. Don’t worry – nothing will go to waste.

Earlier this morning we took a kayak tour with a naturalist into Elkhorn Slough. I haven’t downloaded the photos yet – so they will be included in Part 2….but the trip probably leads me to the title. I couldn’t think of anything else to describe this place. The town is just cute as a button, the fishing harbor is full of characters and full fledged working boats, and the marina office seems to be just out of Mayberry.

We’re heading to the Yacht Club for appetizers and live music – I’ll leave you with one more parting shot from this morning, or yesterday afternoon, or this afternoon – I don’t remember, I think they always look like this…

Peace and Love to you – we’re relaxed and happy aboard Pura Vida…

Melissa, Greg and Matey…..

PS – In case you guys see this – Congrats go out to our Mexico friends Peter and Ginger aboard Marcy( They just returned home (to Seattle) yesterday from completing their circumnavigation. We truly envy you guys…You are awesome!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


What could be cooler than anchoring off the Santa Cruz Boardwalk? This is one of my favorite places and makes me very happy.

Our day started fairly early with a light breeze out of Half Moon Bay – we flew the Spinnaker for a few hours this morning until our speed started to drop into the 3 kt range. Then the engine came on until just past Pt Ano Nuevo when the breeze started to pick up again. So we poled out the jib and eventually pulled in a reef in the main.

The rest of the trip we had a sunny and rollicking ride. Take a look here as were we reaching Santa Cruz – we were moving along at a good 8 kts.

Pura Vida moving along with GUSTO…

As we rounded Pt Santa Cruz, the breeze suddenly turned warm. We pulled into the anchorage at 7kts under main alone to check if it was too rolly. Fortunately, it looked to be pleasant with a slight rocking to remind us we were on the hook. Our backup plan was to pull into the marina for a slip – but when eavesdropping on others arriving, we learned the marina was already rafting up boats. But I would much prefer to anchor….it just feels easier, we can save our pennies for something better and we like the feeling.

Anyhoo – we’ll be at a dock tomorrow, Moss Landing doesn’t have an anchoring option and we’ll be visiting the yacht club there. Though we do have one crew member who would probably prefer to be at a dock. She’s our furry one…

But she’s been a trooper – we can tell, she’d prefer easy {some} access to land. I guess Astroturf isn’t as satisfying as real grass.

So, the sun is about to set – there is a race off in the distance and waves breaking on shore….simply wonderful.

We are having a grand time – until tomorrow….

Melissa, Greg and Matey

s/v Pura Vida

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Half moon Bay – here we come

We’re taking off…

The Ocean – What kinda woman was she today?

I always find the ocean has many moods – Mother Nature is always changing – at least it seems to me. Sometimes she seems very friendly and welcoming, sometimes it seems like she’s a bull trying to buck the rider off her back, and sometimes she’s feeling like she’ll have you over, but she wants to make it very clear she’s the boss. That’s what she was like today.

Passing under the Gate about an hour into the Ebb, our initial introduction to the Pacific was shocking so much so that I actually asked Greg if we should be out here today – the seas suddenly got very steep. But this was just due to current hitting the strong winds of this afternoon. Gusts I might add were hitting 35 (ish) inside the Bay, there was probably sustained winds of 25, high normal for the Bay….but the gustiness on top – well – it was a good test for Pura Vida and she did well…we are very happy with our girl. I don’t think I could be more comfortable on a boat in 30 kts.

So backing up, we started out of Berkeley around 12:30, whitecaps had just quickly started to form. So we had windy conditions with very little chop. Nice…. Started off with a single reef, and a mostly rolled out Genoa. By the time we got to Alcatraz, we had a double reef with a staysail. We also ran our new running backs which Greg installed before we left the slip.

OK, back to the Gate….my nerves were on edge. Strange since just 4 years ago this was our life – we cruised every day. But due to Greg’s schedule…or due to mine – we don’t get out much anymore…at least not for coastal adventures. So I’m rusty. Greg – he’s so well greased to the sailing life – I don’t think he could rust. This makes me happy…safe…

Well – we made it out – short tacked a bit near Mile Rock while letting a tanker pass. Took a good solid water wall over the bow, down the front half of the boat crashing into the dodger – from the tanker wake.

Matey, hid… that may not seem like a good sea dog, but I contest – a good sea dog knows when to stay in her bunk. She had her shoes on, but that didn’t matter much since she didn’t leave here little snuggly bed, even when it slid side to side when we tacked. She slept. Or she pretended to.

After the tanker wake, we tacked again to head south over the Bar, the seas flattened out and Mother Nature decided to finally welcome us into her home. She arranged for the sun to come out, the wind eased till we gradually shook everything out to come into Princeton Harbor with full sail wing on wing. Most of the trip we were moving along comfortable in the 8 kts range.

We found a nice place to anchor among the batch of cruisers heading South for their big Mexico adventure. Man are we jealous….

Tomorrow morning we’ll head out early (ish) for Santa Cruz. We’re hoping to track down a fishing pole either tomorrow or the next day, we seems to have misplaced ours from our trip a few years ago.

Tonight, we’ll have dinner and watch a movie…doesn’t feel like we’re cruising yet…maybe tomorrow when we turn left instead of right for home….

Good night – here’s a tip of my glass to you!