April 8, 2005

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Voyage from Ensenada to Oakland Boatshow - March 30 to April 8

Oh my gosh, we're here in Richmond at KKMI Boatyard getting prepped for the boatshow in Oakland next week.  We made the trip last year as part of the delivery crew for the previous boatshow's Hylas 49, Creola.  At that time, Mike was still working and had to disembark in Santa Barbara, but Linda went the distance.  We thought it was tough with 4-5 people crewing.  But this time, we did almost the entire trip by ourselves.  We're starting to feel like "old salts"!

Here's the story.  We knew that we were due for our Yanmar diesel engine 50-hour servicing.  We wanted to have this first service done by a certified Yanmar mechanic, and we couldn't find anyone in Ensenada.  We realized that we would need to get it done in San Diego, and we were running out of time if we were going to get up to Oakland by April 6.  So on March 29, we decided to leave the next morning and head to San Diego.  Coincidentally, the boat in the slip next to us was also leaving in the morning for San Diego.   During that afternoon, he casually mentioned to us that he was going up to the dock master to see if his documentation for departure was ready.  Mike and I looked at each other with a blank stare, then we got that "uh-oh" feeling.  It didn't occur to us that we couldn't just sail away.  After all, we were coming back.  We hot-footed it up to the dock master and were told that it takes a full day to get cleared.  We could not leave in the morning ... that is, unless we paid extra to expedite the paperwork.  So we paid.  And we felt like idiots for not even thinking about the fact that we were planning to leave one country and enter another without the proper clearance.  It would have been a rude awakening for us if we had pulled up to the Customs Dock in San Diego without the paperwork.  By 7 p.m. we had the documents for $62.  I'm not sure what the regular fee is, I think it's something like $30.

March 30 & 31 - It is about 70 miles from Ensenada to San Diego.  We estimated that we would average about 5 or 6 knots per hour, so we knew it would be a long day.  We started out at 6 a.m. and began motoring to San Diego.  It was kind of fun at the beginning.  We were both snuggled together behind the helm, with the wind in our faces.  Feeling like sailors (even though we were motoring).  But it didn't take long before the conditions got uncomfortable.  The ocean was very choppy.  The swells were large and the wind waves sprayed up over the bow because we were heading directly into the wind.  Linda went below to stay dry and fell asleep.... all day.  It was weird.  I just couldn't get the energy to lift my head!  Must be some form of seasickness.  I wasn't queasy, just incredibly tired.  I miraculously sprang to life as soon as we reached the Police Dock in San Diego.  Big help I am!  Mike was at the helm all day, taking water in the face, bouncing all over the ocean, with a great big smile on his face.  He was lovin' every minute.  We arrived at the Police Dock in San Diego at about 5:30 p.m., got cleared in, and tied up to a spot on the Public Dock for $10 a night.  We hooked up the hose and gave Aquila a fresh water wash down, then walked over to the Blue Wave Grill for dinner.  Our original plan was to have the Yanmar service done the next day, but he couldn't get us in until Friday morning.  That was going to throw off our schedule because we wanted to leave first thing Friday morning in order to reach Catalina Island by evening.  But we had no choice, so that gave us Thursday to just goof off.   So we got up and washed the boat with AwlWash and polished the stainless steel until she looked pristine again.  (Be sure to check out the pics in the Photo Album)  Then we walked to the grocery store and to West Marine to buy a few items, then walked to lunch, and later to dinner.  All totalled, we walked about 7 or 8 miles.  That felt good to me after all the sleeping the day before.

Lance arrived Thursday evening about 9 p.m.  He took the Amtrak from Moorpark.  He will sail with us up to Ventura Harbor.  He was planning to bring Blake and Garrett along for the experience, but after the rough ride on Wednesday, I recommended that he leave the boys at home this time.  I think it will be better when we have a dodger and bimini, so the kids won't be so exposed.  Lance completely agreed.  He was already concerned about our delayed departure on Friday because that means we will have to sail at night in order to reach Avalon.  He wasn't comfortable bringing the boys sailing at night.

April 1 & 2 - After the Yanmar service was completed, the three of us departed San Diego for Catalina Island at noon on Friday, April 1.  The sea was completely calm and we cruised to Catalina easily.  We picked up a mooring ($27) in Avalon at midnight, slept a few hours, and headed for Ventura at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Most of the day was calm and easy, but as we got closer to Ventura Harbor, things got rougher.  The last 3 hours were tough, with 20+ knot winds on the bow and confused seas.  We arrived about 5:30 p.m. and got a slip at Ventura Isle Marina for $49.  Kimberly and the kids came to spend the night on the boat with us.  We all walked over to Milano's Italian Restaurant for a fun dinner.  Mike and I were able to enjoy the left overs in the days ahead.

April 3 & 4 - We all enjoyed hanging out on the boat on Sunday.  The kids helped us get ready.  We had to get fuel, do laundry, buy groceries.  The toughest part of the voyage was yet to come.  Mike and I took off alone that evening, so we could round Point Conception (eeek!) by daylight in the morning.  We anticipated a rough ride and we got one!  All night and all day Monday was rougher than anything we'd experienced on this trip so far.  We had sustained 25 knot winds on the bow and large seas.  Mike stayed in the cockpit with his foul weather gear on, getting absolutely soaked, until about midnight.  I slept a lot again.  I poked my head up a few times to see how he was doing and offer him coffee or soup, and he just grinned and said he was fine.  I think I gave him an orange soda and a water.  I'm glad he didn't need anything else because it was impossible to do anything but hold on.  Then it became just too cold to be out there.  Mike finally came down below and monitored by radar from the nav station, just poking his head up to do a visual check occasionally.  I relieved him at about 7 a.m. and he slept for a couple of hours.  By 9:30 a.m. he was up and dressed and outside again.  I relieved him again at 1 p.m. and he slept until 3:30 p.m.  We finally reached Avila Beach at 7:30 p.m. and picked up a mooring for the night ($12).  It was a fairly exposed anchorage, so it wasn't completely still, but it sure felt good to just be stopped for the night.  We were getting weather information that sounded frightening for the remainder of the trip.  I knew it was going to get worse and since I've proven to be pretty worthless, I wanted to make sure that Mike got lots of sleep.

April 5 & 6 - We wanted to get an early start because we had about 24 hours of motoring before we reached the next stopping point at Monterey Bay, and things were supposed to get pretty ugly.  A storm, 35 knot winds and 14 ft seas were on the forecast.  Things looked calm when we started out and we enjoyed a beautiful morning, sipping our coffee in the cockpit and listening to music as we motored along.  Then the wind moved to our starboard beam at 15 knots.  Perfect!  We set the sails and turned off the motor.  We had a glorious 2 hours of pure sailing doing about 7 knots SOG.  That means "Speed Over Ground".  The boat was sailing at over 9 knots, but the ocean current influences how much ground you actually cover, and it was working against us.  But it was fun and it felt good!  We were disappointed when the wind shifted to the bow again.  We had to furl the sails and fire up the motor.  We were tempted to sail off course a little, just to keep the wind off the bow and continue sailing.  But we were concerned about the impending foul weather and wanted to make a bee line for Monterey Bay.  After reaching Monterey without encountering rough conditions, we decided to continue on to San Francisco.  I wasn't sleepy since Avila Beach, and was trading off watch duty with Mike, so we were both doing great and feeling rested.  We unfurled the sails so we could "sail" under the Golden Gate Bridge, at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.  The tide was on the way out, so we had the motor at 3000 rpms and were doing 8 knots, but only making 3.5 SOG.  There were really large swells that turned into waves, so we felt like we were surfing the boat toward the bridge.  If it wasn't such a weird experience, I might have been a little scared.  But instead I was intrigued.  It was fun.  We reached Richmond Point a couple of hours later.  Then a few hours after we arrived and got tied up at the boatyard, the storm blew in.  I just can't believe how lucky we were to get there before it did!  Kyle (from Hylas) took a group of us out to a great Mexican restaurant for dinner and we ordered pitchers of Margaritas to celebrate our successful trip.

I'd like to say we slept like babies that night.  Well, actually, I think Mike did.  The wind was howling so loudly with the rain pounding down, it kept waking me up.  But I really didn't care, I was so glad to just be there.

April 7 & 8 - The boat will be prepped for the show while it's here at KKMI in Richmond.  Then it's about a one hour sail over to Jack London Square in Oakland for the boat show, which starts on April 13.  Linda rented a car for the week and drove to Kimberly's to spend a long weekend.  Blake and Garrett have softball games on Saturday.  Linda's mom turns 80 years old on Sunday, and they'll celebrate her birthday at Kimberly's.  Mike is staying on the boat at KKMI to watch and learn stuff, and he'll sail Aquila over to Jack London Square on Sunday or Monday.  Linda will drive back up to Oakland on Tuesday to be there for the boatshow.

See the pictures from this trip in the Ensenada to Oakland Photo Album.

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