Monday, October 28, 2013

True North October 3-28: Port to Port Along the Southern California Coast

October 3-18 Alamitos Bay & Long Beach, Newport Beach & Balboa Island, Dana Point, Oceanside

It's been a continuous stream of sunny coastal So Cal ports 'o call since we left Catalina Island. At Alamitos Bay we were fortunate to find TLC Electric through a recommendation. They came quickly, checked our ailing house batteries, determined they were ancient and replaced them, all in less than a half day. 
Never before seen on True North - Full Charge from new batteries
We had a fun catch-up visit with our niece, Christine, and Michael, and met the intrepid cruisers Lisa and Lief on Finistera, experienced sailors with suggestions for great places to stop along Mexico's coast, and leaving shortly for their own new adventures in Panama.

Newport Beach and Balboa Island were quite colorful. Large houses and smaller cottage-like homes with tiny sandy beach-fronts lined the waterways. Instead of docks at each house, boats were tied to moorings along the waterfront beach, bow and stern, and hundreds more resident boats at moorings in the center of the harbor. 

"Backyards" on Balboa Island
Unique to this area were the resident “Duffy” boats. We saw them everywhere and thought they were public water taxis but, no. These little 16-footers with a canvas roof, clear vinyl sides and 8 to 10 seats inside cruise the waterways with friends and neighbors, especially at sunset and quite possibly with a martini or two. A blast from the past included an evening out with Bo and Florence from Anne's New Mexico road warrior days. Note: no red wine was even consumed.

Anticipation at reaching Dana Point was building, being a fan of author and sailor Henry Dana.
Anne with Henry Dana
Dozens of sailboats under full sail played in the wind just outside the harbor with the famous high cliffs in the background. There was a long entry into the harbor with a palm lined breakwater, all very neat and inviting. We settled into one of the very narrow slips for several days while hiking the high trails and along the same cliffs from which Dana and his fellow sailors threw the animal hides below to be carted out to their ship for transport back to Boston. A replica of Dana's brig Pilgrim resides at the dock in front of the Ocean Institute.
Dana Point Marina with Pilgrim square rigger
It was a festive marina and one of our favorites! A mariachi band played from just across the fairway against a golden sunset. People were hanging out on their boats, kids were swimming. Our slip neighbors were a fun couple living aboard a 32' sailboat. They had sailed with their young kids, now grown, for several years in the Caribbean, and were almost more excited about our coming adventure than us! My brother John visited from nearby Carlsbad and brought us a “boatload” of gear that we had ordered online and had sent to his house, including a watermaker and solar projects.
John playing Santa
We stole a break before digging in to see Mission San Juan Capistrano with John. Sorry to report that the swallows left when the mission walls were last stabilized. Meanwhile, two other Ha-Ha boats arrived at Dana Point: Dawn Treader from Olympia and Sunshine from B.C..

Dana Point to Oceanside was easy-going at 3-4 knots, jib only for a most enjoyable day on the water. We spotted several pods of bottle-nosed dolphins along the way but they were too busy fishing to visit with us. We were graciously given space at the guest dock of the Oceanside YC by the friendly Port Captain David and Commodore Karie, as well as invited to the YC Monday night pot luck chili dinner. 
Surfers on beach in Oceanside
While in Oceanside we made the acquaintance of Dan Feltham, sailor and author of the e-book Tradewinds Calling which we read along the way – good stories from sailing in the South Pacific! We had corresponded with Dan a few times regarding which marinas might be good stops along the coast. Then, back to our projects! For some background, we already have a small manual watermaker for emergencies and had decided against adding an electric watermaker until meeting Lief and Lisa at Alimitos Bay. They gave us a dose of reality: it isn't likely that we will pull up to a dock with a hose connected to potable water at many of our stops in Mexico, and carting 5-gallon water jugs through the streets to that potable source and back to fill a 90 gallon tank painted an unpleasant picture. Both my brother John, and cousin Paul, newly relocated to Oceanside, supported the project by taking us to and from hardware stores to find the right fittings.
Gregg working on watermaker plumbing
San Diego! Last stop before the Ha-Ha! All good projects and final provisioning come to an end in San Diego...ready or not! We chose to stay at Harbor Island and were assigned to D dock at Cabrillo Isle Marina. We quickly found yellow Ha-Ha flags on a few other boats, three of which we had met earlier. More Ha-Ha boats arrived along with an array of mainsail for Cool Change, dodger for Ebenezer III, rigging check, new anchor rode for Winterhawk, haul out for Sunshine, shorten the anchor chain for Paragon, and for us? Final hook-up of the watermaker, wiring for a solar panel, and a head repair. Or an attempt at a head repair.  Don't ask.  On the dock, excitement was high in between frequent visits to West Marine. For us, visits with Gregg's old grade school pal, Tim, provided a respite from the stress of repairs.  It was fun to catch up after twenty years, and Tim was a very gracious host.

We left our projects for a few hours when my brother John, sister Mary, and brother-in-law Tom arrived (with dinghy wheels, another project!) to tour two tall ships on the waterfront, including Star of India and a replica of HMS Surprise.
Anne, Mary, Tom, John

Reiko, Mary, Anne

None of us dared to climb the futtock shrouds! Later, we picked up our friend and crew of one, David from Albuquerque, and continued on to Carlsbad for a family bon voyage at John and Reiko's. It was awesome to have our family participating in our adventure by visiting for this terrific send-off: Al and Holly, John and Reiko (beautiful meal!), Mary and Tom, Christine and Michael, Gabe, cousin Paul and son, Michael...with a champagne toast to us! The following evening, John, Reiko, Mary and Tom brought some of the incredible party treats to the boat for an impromptu dinner aboard.

The big Baja Ha-Ha Halloween departure bash proved to separate the uber-creative from the rest of us mere clever mortals. We may not be brave enough to publish a photo of our costume as it bordered on the ridiculous. But what the heck:
David, Theresa and John from Cool Change, and Gregg

Winterhawk crew does it right, winning group costume
Now, with just hours until departure, our schedule for the morning looks like this: Between 0930 and 0945, all 164 boats gather for the kick-off parade at 1000. At 1100, the America's Cup starting gun begins Baja Ha-Ha XX. Feel free to follow our track while at sea by clicking on the link at the upper right, “2013 Route”. We'll update with pictures from the past three weeks and with events of the passage after we get to Cabo!

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