Hurricane Blanca

windyty screen grab of hurricane blanca screen grab of hurricane blanca 6/8/15 12 A.M. 

Hurricane Blanca, aptly named for the light colored dust she spewed on every available surface of our boat, was a tropical storm by the time she passed above our slip in La Paz.  Her highest wind speed was clocked at 47.8 kts at 2:52 am at the Costa Baja weather station near the entrance to La Paz.  Luckily with the lighter than predicted winds, every boat that weathered the storm with us at Marina Fonatur was completely free of damage.  The only injuries I am aware of was my own small puncture wound, the result of stepping on a tack while shielding my eyes from the incessant onslaught of driving dust, and several cases of complete and utter boredom.  Instead of seeing the days of diligent preparation as a waste, we are chocking them up to excellent practice for the storms to come.  Most importantly, having learned that it takes approximately twice as long as we thought to prepare the boat for a storm and about three times as long if the temperatures are above 95 degrees F.

The highlight of the days leading up to the storm came in the form of an impromptu pot luck bbq, where several of us weary storm preppers gathered around the marina pool munching on a random assortment of delicious finger food and allowing ourselves to forget for a fleeting moment about a storm named Blanca.  The strong sense of community ever-present in the cruising lifestyle is amplified during difficult times, and Blanca was no exception.

blowing dust hurricane blanca

Blowing dust across a nearby empty lot


spider web of mooring lines

Spider web of mooring lines


baja insider weather for hurricane blanca weather data for hurricane blanca


Crossing the Border

Ensanada Harbor customs

Ensenada shipping harbor and port of entry


We woke at 1:30 am still nestled in our slip at the transient docks in San Diego.  One snooze alarm later we dragged ourselves out of the v-berth and brewed some coffee, undressed the sails, took Nikka for a stroll, and lashed the few things on deck not already bolted down.  An hour later just as we decided we were as ready as we were going to get, Erik started in on a lot of last times talk.  “Say goodbye to the U.S. may be the last time.  May be the last time at a dock…”  I’m pretty sure he meant the last time for awhile, but he left off that end part and the stress of his last time business mixed with my heavy apprehension over the border crossing ahead created an unsettling concoction in my gut.  I about lost my nerve when Erik marched Nikka and I over to the wide grassy area near the docks to touch U.S. soil, for you guessed it, “the last time.”  For a change of pace and practice we switched up the routine and I reversed us out of the slip while Erik shoved us off.  We were out of the channel and back in the Pacific before I handed the reigns over and shrugged off the tension of the morning, losing myself in the dark nutty aroma of my coffee, which up until that moment lay untouched in its thermos.

Several miles before we crossed, the border ominously peered through the darkness to the east.  Even at night we could clearly make out the large lighted fence with vast no man’s land dividing the sprawling city lights of the north from the south.  Crossing the border by boat was surreal.  Less than 5 nautical miles off the coast we nonchalantly motored past under the cover of darkness, with no passport checks or customs forms to fill out.  I couldn’t help shake the feeling we were crossing illegally, and as the sun peaked above the arid Baja hills I caught myself scanning the horizon, half expecting to see the Mexican border patrol speeding after us.

As we neared our point of entry, I hastily grabbed a copy of Charlie’s Charts and decided to do a last minute review of immigration requirements.  While skimming the opening paragraphs I came across the typical hours for Mexican businesses which are apparently 9-3 Monday through Friday.  Our anticipated arrival was 3 pm, and did I mention it was Friday? Shit!  My tongue hung heavy at the base of my throat making it difficult to swallow as large beads of sweat began multiplying on my forehead.  The clock was ticking, Nikka’s health certificate was signed almost 18 hours prior and we had to be in the immigration office, certificate in hand before the end of 72 hours.

Through the commotion of finalizing boat projects, buying last minute provisions, and checking off requirements to allow Nikka entrance into Mexico and later Hawaii, I had completely neglected such a minuscule thing as business hours.   I tried to hide my immense oversight from Erik, but by this time the sweat had started dripping down my cheek and pooling at my collar bone.  He took one look at me and knew the news was not good.

We soared the rpm’s, finally gliding into our slip at Baja Naval around 2:30 pm.  With potentially half an hour left until close of business I hastily lofted our starboard bow line to Carlos, the Baja Naval employee who met us on the dock, and attempted to explain our need for haste through an embarrassing barrage of rusty spanglish.  He looked at me for a moment then smiled as he informed us in excellent English that the offices had closed early that day and we were mere minutes too late.  Seeing the harrowed look on our faces, he quickly continued to explain that lucky for us, the offices are open one Saturday a month and we happen to be there the day before just such a Saturday!

By the time we finished checking in with the marina and took Nikka for a short walk we were exhausted and ready for a well deserved night’s rest, but unfortunately the good luck we had earlier dissolved with the setting sun.  At 11:30 we were startled awake by the jarring whine of the propane sensor alarm.  Annoyed and exhausted, Erik closed the propane tanks and reset the sensor.  Although we were not about to go lighting matches, we did feel safe enough to eventually drift back to sleep.  Not more than an hour later we woke again, this time to the screeching of the CO detector, “beep, beep, beep, CARBON MONOXIDE, CARBON MONOXIDE” it repeated over and over again as we groggily grabbed Nikka and fumbled through the companionway into the fresh, salty air of our cockpit.  Realizing that our heavy eyelids and throbbing heads were the result of mild CO poisoning we stayed topsides and waited for the boat to sufficiently air out enough to silence the alarm.  Both of these alarms sounding off in similar succession was eerily reminiscent of a night we spent in Half Moon Bay at the very beginning of our trip.  In both instances our boat was filled with exhaust from a neighboring boat either idling their engine or running a generator, causing a false alarm on the propane/gas monitor and a very real, very accurate, and very scary alarm to go off on our CO monitor.

The morning after our night of alarms we woke early and arrived at the immigration office as they were opening their doors.  The check in process was surprisingly painless and although we ran back and forth between offices like a pinball, we were done with the entire process before noon.  It turns out the customs official was not even interested in the fact that we had a dog with us.  When I thrust Nikka’s health certificate at him, imploring that he at least glance it over, he just smiled a toothy grin and shook his head from side to side as he motioned for me to remove the paperwork from his desk.



San Diego Provisioning


San Diego Night Skyline

San Diego Skyline


We arrived in San Diego at the end of March, two days after tearing ourselves away from beautiful Catalina Island.  Upon entering the San Diego channel, a Navy RIB abruptly sped toward us as one of the men called out to us over the loud speaker asking us very kindly, but very directly to exit the channel we had just moments ago entered.  Unsure and slightly apprehensive, we thought to ourselves, “Less than a minute into San Diego, could we really be getting boarded already?” Without question we promptly did what we were told, having left our rebellious spirits slain on the shores of Twin Harbors.  From our vantage point outside the channel the reason for their request quickly became apparent as an enormous partially submerged submarine filled our view to the north.  At the top of the submarine a large American flag flew and several uniformed men stood waving.  Impressed and in awe of such a marvel of human invention Erik and I stood gawking and giddily waving like two children at a parade.  Once the submarine and its entourage of RIBs passed we proceeded back into the channel, on our way to the police docks. We were required to undergo an inspection which would mean the difference between permission to stay at the cruiser’s anchorage for free for up to 30 days, or tie up at the transient docks for a maximum of 14 days shelling out 36 dollars per day.  Suffice it to say we wanted to pass that inspection.  We motored back and forth through the channel attacking the difficult task of locating all of our non-expired flares and doing our best to make Resolute presentable down below.  Turns out we had little to worry about and we passed with flying colors, dropping the hook at the cruiser’s anchorage just in time to see the last of the sun retreat below the horizon.  While still on deck buttoning up Resolute for the night we watched, transfixed, as three large military crafts soundlessly motored past and stop a short distance off.  All but two of the men from each vessel slid quickly into the frigid water and even in the darkness our eyes followed them as they swam below the surface out of the tiny cove, their little red lights floating above them as they swam.  Later we learned that we had most likely witnessed a Navy Seal practice dive, common in the area because of the proximity to Naval Base San Diego, the largest US Navy base on the west coast of the United States.

Although access to the cruiser’s anchorage as well as the incessant noise and swell caused by a constant barrage of boats coming and going through the channel was at times almost unbearable, even looking back now the view still takes my breath away.  To the east the city skyline stretched out before us in an unobstructed view of sharp angles and twinkling lights.  Above the cityscape planes lined up for their final descent into San Diego airport and from our bobbing paradise we could follow their descent all the way to their landing strip less than a mile to the north.  During the day the view included navy war ships, commercial barges, and a plethora of various types of sailboats from schooners to racing trimarans, including a surprising number of restored tall ships.

My mom flew in from Florida on the second day to help us with some provisioning.  She rented a 19 foot RV for the week and we put her to work.  We loaded the RV with a craigslist outboard, ten foot paddle boards, Costco bulk items, and a million other odds and ends.  It was quite impressive to see her managing that RV on the city streets of San Diego.  Both of us were unfamiliar with the town and although she had my help navigating, I was recently separated from my smart phone and cherished google maps app for the first time in over 6 years and at times was so lost in a clutter of scribbled directions and small scale paper maps I was of little help.  Even when the craigslist outboard we were hauling spilled a gallon of gasoline in the RV bathroom I never heard her complain.  The fumes were so bad by the time we drove back to the dingy docks we were feeling pretty woosy and well on our way to substantial headaches.  That night she had to stay with us on Resolute to give the RV a chance to air out.  (Thanks Mom!)

After my mom left and we took care of some of our “real life” duties like taxes and fishing licenses we hung out with more family and friends.  Erik’s cousin Dana lives in San Diego and our friends Dalon and Heidi, from Marina Village in Alameda moved back down to San Diego a few months ago.  We all spent an amazing Easter weekend in Coronado which involved a lot of good food and some extreme paddle boarding.  We may have looked crazy doing it, but we had a great time, all of us lined up behind their Boston Whaler, grasping at the tow line and trying desperately to balance on top of our partially inflated paddle boards while Coronado Bay whizzed past at 5 knots!  There was rarely a night we spent in San Diego that we did not enjoy a soak in the hot tub of Dalon and Heidi’s marina.  Yes, their marina has a hot tub and yes, it was fantastic.  I know what we will be looking for in the list of amenities next time we decide to forego the anchor for a set of dock lines.

San Diego arriving by boat

Arriving in San Diego


boat friends

San Diego friends Dalon, Heidi and Scarlet


boat dogs

Boat dogs!


Catalina Island continued…

The rest of our time in Catalina was like something out of a dream.  We sailed from the quiet solitude of Small Harbor Anchorage to a mooring ball in the raucous town of Avalon on the southeast side of the island.  Our first glimpse of Avalon was obscured by the towering Princess cruise ship parked just offshore.  The large ship dwarfed Avalon harbor and intimidated those of us who hadn’t seen more than a handful of boats in the better part of a week.  Except for the hundreds of tourists milling about, the town itself was fairly quiet.  By weeks end it was a different story, Avalon had metamorphosed into something that I have a very difficult time describing, but think MTV Spring Break meets Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and you’ll be on the right track.  From our vantage point near the coastline with the other “small” boats we were mesmerized by a sea of drool worthy yachts with more than a sprinkling of enormous mega yachts complete with working deck hands and dinghies so large they made Resolute envious.  Up until that weekend we had never so much enjoyed just folding ourselves into the cockpit and watching the cinema that unfolded around us.  To starboard there was a 30 foot power boat with so many partying 20 somethings that it looked like it might capsize, off our stern quarter there were surfers attempting to backflip off the back of a sailboat and land upright on their surfboards tied off a few feet away (they didn’t come close but it would have been pretty impressive if they had), and to port there was an intoxicated young woman floating by in what looked to be a human sized hamster wheel.  The astonishingly elaborate, impromptu St. Patrick’s Day dinghy parade rounded out the weekend nicely.

While we weren’t people watching from Resolute we were enjoying Catalina’s wildlife both above and below the waterline.  Although Erik and I may not have enjoyed our encounter with an adolescent rattlesnake on a hiking trail after dark, we did enjoy the jolt of adrenaline that accompanied the encounter sending us scurrying down the trail, and shaving at least 20 minutes off the hike.  Below the waterline the fish were plentiful.  It was our first  time diving since getting certified over a year ago and to call us a little rusty would be a mariner’s understatement.  But after we finally got all of our equipment together and pulled on our full length wetsuits in the 90 degree weather, we waddled over to the waters edge and jumped (or awkwardly fell depending who you ask) into the sea.  To live like a fish for even one hour was worth any effort and we look forward to many more dives, in hopefully warmer water as we move south.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise flowers lining the streets of Avalon


St. Patrick's day parade

Surprise St. Patrick’s day parade put on by fellow boaters


Mooring balls

Nearly all full over the weekend


Avalon, Catalina island

Avalon’s casino and mooring field


Dinghy Dock

Dinghy dock full and not even the weekend yet


Our trip has begun!

Yesterday we shed our foul weather gear for bathing suits and something about that gorgeous sun on our sickly white, translucent bodies just made it feel official.  Our trip has begun!  Until yesterday we had been sailing day and night fully clad from head to toe, with only a little slit for our eyes between where the winter hat left off and the collar of our fully zipped foul weather jackets began.  Unlike Erik, I had the luxury of my finger tips basking in the sunlight since I had decided on fingerless sailing gloves, but still you get the point, not a lot of warm weather on the way down.  Due to the timing of our departure, the first of February, we have had a painfully slow trip down the California coast dodging storms, crab pots, and a severe lack of wind.  The one thing that San Francisco did not prepare us for was how to sail in such alarmingly light air.  Our tried and true response to the incessant luffing of a sail has always been to turn to the iron genny, but that method is not going to work for much longer.  If we keep feeding Resolute diesel the way we have been our own food budget is going to start feeling the sting.

We arrived in Santa Catalina four days ago, after a brief stop over in the rugged, breathtaking northern Channel Islands.  At their closest point, the northern Channel Islands are a mere 30 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, however, we had them all to ourselves.  Well, not entirely to ourselves if you count the large pod of playful dolphins that escorted us both into our anchorage and out two days later.  Our first stop in Catalina was the small town of Two Harbors.  We arrived just as the sun was rising, which made a surreal scene that much more otherworldly.  Laid out in front of us was approximately 200 mooring balls with a backdrop of soaring cliffs, and a small Mediterranean looking village with skinny palm trees reaching skyward.  Our gawking abruptly transitioned to full on go mode when we saw the location where Charlie’s Charts directed us to anchor.  A tight little beauty with cliffs on one side, partially submerged rocks on the other.  It turned out to be quite spacious with the use of a bow and stern anchor to prevent any swing, however, a couple days later when we woke up to 4 other boats trying to share the 200 square foot anchorage, we knew it was time to go.

Another reason for leaving the quaint little spot came the night before in the form of harbor patrol steaming up to our boat.  We waved a friendly hello to the rapidly approaching patrol boat, naively assuming they were there to welcome us to the area similar to the gracious greeting we received by harbor patrol upon arrival in Morro Bay several weeks earlier.  As the boat pulled along side of us the man behind the wheel quickly revealed the bad news.  We had been banned from the island.  Yes, you read that correct, we had been banned….from the island.  My jaw dropped to the cockpit floor, then remembering my gullible tendencies I began to laugh, I had been duped again, harbor patrol must be having a little fun with the newbies.  But unfortunately, I was wrong, again, it took him several minutes to convince me he was not joking. I abruptly stopped laughing and he explained the reason for our banishment.  It turns out the outdoor beach showers that you see littered along public beaches across Florida and California, were on Catalina privately owned and were only to be used by people staying at the campgrounds.  Ooops!  After a long talk with harbor patrol and a couple trips to and from our boat, we lessened our banishment to only the campground itself, like I said before, it was time to go.

Following our bathing suit clad motor sail yesterday we arrived at the indescribably beautiful Small Harbor anchorage on the south side of Catalina.  There is a small campground along the beach (with showers we will not use!) and a vehicle pull out, but overall the place is pretty empty and we are the only boat for miles.  We are trying to enjoy a little of the slower more relaxed lifestyle we came on this trip to pursue, but so far has just felt like another to do item on the list.  As I sit here in this pristine cove I am reminded the daunting list of boat projects to be completed, phone calls to be made, and trip plans to be finalized, all can wait.  The sun here will set at precisely 5:56 pm and it will rise again at 6:13 am tomorrow morning bringing with it a whole new set of things to do.  I will let them wait…

Leaving Golden Gate behind on the second day.


Sailing California coast

Half Moon bay pier


Sailing California coast

Hanging by the Neptune pool at Hearst Castle


Sailing California coast

Our first overlook with lonely Resolute below


Sailing California coast

Amazing Morro Bay!


Sailing California coast

Morro at night


Sailing California coast

Sailing wing and wing in the Pacific


Sailing California coast

Santa Cruz island, WOW


Sailing California coast

Isthmus bay, Two Harbors, Catalina Island. DO NOT use the showers!


Sailing California coast

Remembering friends and good times with a little taste of Alameda


Sailing California coast

What we have been searching for. Remote anchorages with breathtaking views.



Cascade 36 no longer for sale

I’ll introduce you to our new boat. Her name is Resolute. She is a finicky girl with a young heart and a strong weathered body. She was born in Portland, Oregon in 1975, 36 feet long, 13,000 pounds.  She is a Cascade Yacht who has spent the last nine years circumnavigating the globe. As our yacht broker so eloquently put it, she’s proven.

She has not the flash of a new polished Jeanneau, but she carries herself in a way that says, “I can cross that ocean, can you?” There are many projects to keep us busy over the next few months and I will be trying to document most of them here on the blog. My Dad has flown in to San Francisco to help out while the boat is being pulled out of the water for bottom paint and new thru hulls, etc. So busy busy is the buzz.


The brokers motoring her in for the survey



First views of the under belly



In the slings for the survey


2014-04-02 11.08.52

View from the top of the mast


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Buying a boat and other setbacks

Sooo, Meagan and I have been keeping quiet lately but for good reason. We have had a lot going on. It’s a wonder we have any hair left on our heads and that not all of it is grey yet! Not all of it anyway.

Over the last few months we have made a lot of changes. Getting accustomed to the fast paced, traffic dominated lifestyle of the Bay Area, not the least of them. After the holidays and the many great visits with family and friends we had early in the new year, we faced our first major setback. What felt like food poisoning soon revealed itself to be something much more sinister. After seeing my text, “I Need Help. In  Bathroom”, Meagan ran to the Marina’s men’s restroom and found me nearly incapacitated on the shower floor.  Even without health insurance it didn’t take us long to decide a visit to the nearest hospital was in order. Especially when the symptoms I relayed to Meagan matched word for word the symptoms of appendicitis in her trusty WebMD app.  A short but excruciatingly painful car ride and a few tests later we were prepping for surgery. It only took a whopping six hours from the first grumblings of stomach upset to laying on a gurney counting backwards to oblivion with a tube shoved up my nose.


When I woke, we knew we were in a world of hurt (financially). Luckily I now had my health back and that was a relief. Our healthcare system being what it is, we had to wait several weeks for the multiple bills to start circulating in. $1668- surgeon, $632- ER doctor, $570- lab work, $1620- anesthesia, $35,000 hospital, wait, WHAT!! Yup, in all the total bill was looking like it would be near the $40,000 mark. Hmmm, Fuck. So began the work of finagling with all the billing agencies, pleading for assistance, and luckily receiving some. In the end our bill appears as though it will be significantly reduced, but still enough for a down payment on a modest home. Below is the inside of our MacGregor during some tiring evening trying to figure out how to not end up in the poor house. (Or are we already there?)

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The more exciting news is that we have taken this time to buy, yep I said it, buy, another larger boat and fix it up. In the mean time Meagan has successfully landed a project geologist position at a localish environmental engineering firm and I have begun recovering physically and am currently looking for work while doing all the prep work on the new boat. Life sure keeps us on our toenails!


Spoiler alert, the new boat is below. It’s a Cascade 36 cutter. More to follow…



Real-time Global Wind and Ocean Current Map

Earth global wind patterns


Want to be mesmerized by global wind patterns? No? Well maybe you will change your mind after taking a look at this great site. This nifty tool can be used to view earth’s wind patterns in real time using visually stimulating graphics. Not only can you view surface wind, but you can also take a look at ocean currents and temperatures by simply clicking on the earth logo in the lower left. Want a better way to visualize trade winds? Need to see how global wind patterns influence local weather? This may help.


I have just stumbled across this site but can already see its potential as a very useful tool for planning on our upcoming sailing adventure.  By getting a global view of weather patterns and wind intensity, it gives you one more tool to add to your weather toolbox. It’s not like you couldn’t do this before, just not in such a fun way! Have fun and enjoy this great tool…


Earth wind navigation


Windy Mountains to Windmills

Driving all the way down from Alaska to Florida in nine days is a form of time travel. In the beginning we found ourselves in the middle of the winter’s first snow storm. And at the end we had successfully navigated through all the stages of fall and into the perpetual summer of Florida.

One thing I have heard said a lot and never agreed with is that wind generators are ugly. Hopefully this image helps to change people’s minds and shares the beauty that I think wind farms create. Taken around sunset somewhere in Kansas.

wind generators at sunset

A beautiful promisealaska mountainsWinter is comingsnow on the spruceSnow between spruce