Friday, October 31, 2014

October 30, 2014 - BF - A typical day on the boat

A typical day on the boat is like this…….
If it’s a school day we get dressed, brush our teeth, and get our school books out. Then we start school in the pilothouse (where dad or mom drives the boat inside) or in the salon (the living room). Cindy and I switch which spot we have school every day. At 10:00 am we get a good snack with a tiny break. School is usually 3 to 8 hours but it’s mainly about 4 to 5 hours including breaks. There are about 10 subjects but I don’t do them all every day.
After school we go eat lunch if we haven’t done that during school. Then we go to shore by dingy. Most of the time on beaches we boogie board, make sandcastles, make sand chairs, and chase birds. At other times we ride bikes, get ice cream, go to aquariums, go to museums, and go shopping.
Once we get back, we have dinner if we didn’t do it in town. Cindy and I take turns washing dinner dishes (not that we want to do it). Then we usually play with Legos and after that we all play games or watch a movie. Finally we all get ready for bed and read.
That’s a typical day on the boat.

By Kevin E

October 25, 2014 - Santa Barbara CA

We spent 4 great days in Santa  Barbara.  It is a great biking town with dedicated bike trails along the waterfront, as well as bike lanes in most of the major streets.  Our bikes saw a lot of use here.  One of our first stops (as usual) was to the visitors center/chamber of commerce where we picked up maps and tips about places to go and things to see.  We rode a few miles to the old courthouse, which was quite impressive.  Our next stop was up a long hill, through residential streets, to the old mission.  It was established in 1786.  That was enough biking for one day, with the big hills.  There was a wedding going on so we did not tour the mission since it was poor timing and parts of it were closed.  It is still an active Franciscan mission.

Over the next several days we rode to grocery stores, parks, a playground, several beaches, the old pier, and more.  It was a very pleasant stop, and we enjoyed our time there.

Here are some pictures from Santa Barbara:  

One morning I slept in and came up to see laptop people!  Guess we are not disconnected yet.

Biking around town, to the old Courthouse and to the Mission.  The Mission
was up a LONG hill.  It was a good workout for all of us.

At the Old Courthouse.  We went to the top of the clocktower
and the view was spectacular.

Our slip in the marina surrounded by some big (nice and posh) boats.......

Steve did a video conference using his smartphone,
with his friends back home who had gathered in Woodinville
one evening.  Steve says "great to see you Mike, Brian, Ted, and Ron!"

Sunset fun. Beautiful Santa Barbara

A whale of a tail from the back

A whale of a tale from the front.  Quite a unique bench.

The seawall keeping the marina safe.  The next day waves were crashing over
this wall.
The sandman arrives! A Cindy and Kevin creation
Every port town seems to have weekend sailboat races, fun to see!
All of these boats are getting ready for launch.

Great bike path along the waterfront.

Sometimes home school starts after washing the boat in warm weather at 9am!
This was Adagio's first bath since leaving two months ago.  She was dirty.

We extended our stay here by a few days due to weather, and we always found something to do.  Our next stops will be in the Channel Islands of Southern California.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014 - Port San Luis and transit to Santa Barbara

We wanted to post a couple more pictures from our great time there.  We spent every afternoon at the beach, except one entire day we spent on the boat due to high winds.  We lifted our dinghy prior to the winds and put out 250 feet of anchor chain so we felt comfortable with our anchor "scope" and the expected winds.  The winds were blowing a constant 30-35 knots, and the strongest gust was 38 knots (43.7mph).  That's gale force, which is defined as 34-47 knots).  But all was fine on our vessel.  After the windy day, and since we had lifted our dinghy up to be safe, we took the free water taxi back and forth to shore for two days.  What a great service by Port San Luis.  They do have a schedule though so you need to plan accordingly.  The one thing we missed here was our bicycles which were nearly impossible to get to land.

The big pier near the beach we like was closed during the storm, and it remained closed for most of the next day even though the seas were calm again.  Yesterday divers were inspecting the pilings all day.  Perhaps the storm damaged the pier?  It was a pretty significant storm with big seas that made for some impressive breakers on the beach.  The breakers just about reached the bottom side of the pier!  The roar from the crashing waves on the beach was also quite impressive.

Kevin and Cindy on the water taxi, ready to boogie board
Most afternoons were spent on the beach, boogie boarding, and getting ice cream.  Every sunset was beautiful and the pelicans were so much fun to watch.  They were around every day diving for fish from quite high.  You could see them dive downward, fold in their wings, roll 180 degrees, and then completely tuck in their wings just as they hit the water.  They would completely disappear under water and reappear several seconds later, usually followed by a big gulp, indicating a successful mission.

Beautiful sunsets while at anchor 

Hanging out on Avila Beach.  This is the pier that was closed during the storm.

Working on a sandcastle, in the warm sun.  Avila Beach.

Steve and Zappa.  Steve is working on quieting our anchor
bridle, which carries the load from the anchor chain to the
big cleats.  The bridle's lines made a lot of noise during the
 storm, making sleep a bit more difficult.

Kathy and Kevin boogie boarding

Kathy and Kevin boogie boarding
We left at 3AM this morning for Santa Barbara.  We had originally wanted to go to the Channel Islands but there are very high winds forecast for Sunday (gale force again).  You have to anchor in the northern Channel Islands (no marinas), and apparently most of the anchorages have just marginal holding bottoms.  We don't want to take a chance in an unfamiliar anchorage with gale force winds coming.  So, to be safe, we are in the Santa Barbara marina instead.  This is a large marina with about 1200 slips.  It's also very busy with paddle boarders, kayakers, small sailboats (kids sailing classes), and the regular marina traffic to contend with.  It was a different experience coming into this marina.  We are not used to dodging novice paddle boarders in the main fairways.  Once the winds have passed we expect to head to the Channel Islands.

A couple notes from our transit which was smooth and easy today.  We did not see any whales but saw a huge pod of dolphins.  They had a great time playing in our bow wake.  We have some good video but it's too large to upload, so here are some pictures.
Dolphins with the bow of our boat in the picture  calm seas!

more dolphins and bow of our boat.  The water is very clear down here.
They swim within inches of the hull, and they make it look effortless.
Very fun to watch!!!

Cindy and Kevin watching the dolphins

More dolphins.  Yes, this is the open ocean!

One of the Offshore Oil rigs near Santa Barbara.  There are dozens of them.
Finally coming up on Santa Barbara and after passing an oil rig we smelled something like creosote.  The water for about 5 miles, just before turning into Santa Barbara, was covered with a sheen of a smelly and oily substance.  How can this not be an environmental issue?  We saw no one trying to do anything about it.
Oily sludge on the water

More oily sludge on the water.  It had a very strong creosote-like smell.

A few hours before Santa Barbara, we saw a Nordhavn heading south towards Santa Barbara like we were.  We decided to speed up a bit and get to the marina prior to them.  It is first come first serve at the marina (they won't take reservations) and they only had one open slip left for a boat our size (and the Nordhavn 46' is roughly the same size as us.  The race was on, and we won.  When Steve went to the office and registered, the marina staff said someone else was coming for the one remaining slip, but again said it was first come first served, so we got the slip.  As we untied from the registration dock to move to our assigned slip the Nordhavn arrived and tied to the registration dock.   We felt bad for him, but lucky for ourselves since we got the last slip in this huge marina.  Later when we walked to shore to check out our new surroundings we saw that they did find the Nordhavn an end-tie, so we both got what we wanted!

They are closing the main street tomorrow for the second annual Santa Barbara Open Streets festival.  Someone in Avila told us how great it was last year, and as luck would have it we are here for this years event.  This is a busy weekend in Santa Barbara with lots going on.  Tomorrow we get the bikes down and will ride the streets without cars (Open Streets Festival) and have some fun ashore.  It's supposed to be in the mid 70's tomorrow, and today the water temp passed the 70 degree mark for the first time - perfect.

Another 95 miles completed today, and we are now in Southern California!  Mexico is getting close.

October 28 update:

We have found out that the oily sludge on the water is a constant problem here in Santa Barbara.  It is actually coming from leaks in the sea floor, and they are natural leaks (not man-made).  Here is more info:

Thanks Mark N. for sending me info about this!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 20, 2014 - Avila Beach - Port San Luis

We left Monterey at approximately 5pm and spent the evening and overnight motoring to this wonderful bay. The water is getting warmer, we are now seeing a steady 62 degrees Farenheit at a minimum and upwards of about 65 degrees.  This is warm for us.  It was for the most part a calm and uneventful transit once again.  Cindy however, did not feel well and she and Zappa both got sea sick.  She recovered quickly though.  We saw only one other boat overnight heading the opposite direction.  It does feel lonely out here with no other boats  but at the same time nice not to have to worry about dodging other boats and trying to determine everyone's path.

Dolphins swimming the bow at night

Dolphin taking a breath at night
More dolphins riding the wake

Steve, Cindy and Kevin coming up from the mooring

Cindy and Kevin boogie boarding.  Adagio in the background

Dolphins playing in the bow wake

We would motor by what appears to be kelp beds but look more closely and you will see! First picture and second below.

Sea Lions in reality!
Coastline in Port San Luis by dinghy
The kids have had fun here, playing in the surf and boogie boarding.  Avila is a small beach town and quaint.  We arrived Friday afternoon and have had some nice weather.  The ocean swells do come in here but we mostly just go up and down without much rocking, the anchor stabilizers are of course helping.

Going to shore here is a bit different so we have not done any bicycling.  You need to drop people off at a platform and then bow tie the dinghy and drive in reverse to tie it to a ladder.  You then have to climb up and over this vertical ladder.  Wow!
Cindy coming up over the ladder and Steve finishing tying up the dinghy

Boogie boarding fun.  Broke one that was styrofoam.  Luckily we brought 3 with us!

Pelican fun

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 16, 2014 - Monterey CA

Incredible Monterey!  Wow, what an awesome week, and it seems I say this with every new location.  We stay in these port towns for 5-10 days and get to experience so much but still we miss some of the items on our to do lists.  Monterey is a place you should not miss.  With bicycles aboard, we were able to go near and far.  Of course there are bike rentals here that for sure could give the cruisers without a bike a way to go a bit further than walking. Monterey is a town that is excellent with bikes.

We were able to explore much of the town, and waterfront along their excellent bike path that must run at least 20 miles.  We found a grocery store just one block off the trail, and also found a
trader Joe's several blocks away from the marina.  Between those two stores we were able to restock the boat at the tail end of  a couple of bike rides.

We did and saw quite a bit of things here, so we won't cover each one.  The highlights include seeing a friend of Steve's from college and her family.  We had dinner with Heidi and her husband Ken and son Kevin.  Heidi works at the Monterey Bay aquarium and she was able to get us in there for free.  Thanks Heidi!  The aquarium is fantastic.  We also rode out to to the Monarch Butterfly sanctuary where thousands of these butterflies return each year.  We rode our bikes along the coast bike trail well past Lover's Point, and the views were spectacular.  The kids and Steve played on the stairs (on their bikes) in a very nice commons area almost every time we passed it.  Cindy and Kevin are gaining a lot of confidence on their mountain bikes and are now willing to ride down stairs, and even managed to conquer riding up a 3-step challenge.  Good job kids!  We also meandered through the old fisherman's wharf and out the Coast Guard Pier to observe hundreds of sea lions on the breakwater.  We spent some time walking around Cannery Row, the setting for John Steinbeck's famous book "Cannery Row".  We also visitied Dennis the Menace playground, named after the creator of Dennis the Menace who lived in Monterey and donated the park to the town.  We can't forget about some beach time on a lovely sand beach adjacent to our marina where the kids boogie boarded for hours.

The marina was very nice, but like San Francisco the sea lions were quite noisy, and smelly!  There was some wave action in the marina and we were on a mostly commercial dock so at first light the tour boats/fishing boats would get ready for work so we could hear them fire up their big diesels and motor past us before we were ready to get up.

We have put a lot of miles on our bikes so far and they have proven to be a great asset so far.  As a family we like biking and the freedom the bikes give us from tour buses, the public transit system, taxis, and the slow pace of walking.  But we are seriously contemplating how much use they will get once in Mexico, where roads are not as nice and bike paths are likely non-existent.  The kids will enjoy rough paths and trails, but the bikes will be almost useless on a sand beach.  We have heard from a few cruisers that their bikes got almost no use, yet others have told us their bikes were in use a lot.  So, maybe it depends on if you were a biker before you went cruising, or not?  If that is the case, our bikes will continue to see use, as we got out biking quite a bit back home before we became full-time cruisers.  Cindy and Kevin have been enjoying the "urban jungles" they have been conquering; riding over curbs, riding off the cement paths into the dirt, skidding and sliding almost constantly, riding up and down stairs and even off some substantial ledges.  They certainly want to keep the bikes onboard.  They consume precious space on deck, and make getting to our kayaks all but impossible.  Perhaps if we change their storage location once we are done with coastal cruising (and the need to have everything extremely lashed down) we can figure out a better solution.

I (Steve) did some required maintenance changing engine oil and filters while in Monterey.  It's a messy and time taking job, which I really don't like.  The engine oil needs to be warm to get most of it removed, and to make sure the junk is suspended in the oil, not sitting on the bottom of the oil pan ready to mix in with the fresh oil.  So, the engines have to be warm, which means working for hours in a 100 degree engine room.  It's just not very pleasant.  Now it's done and we shouldn't need to do it again until La Paz, Mexico.  I also changed the engine-mounted fuel filters.

Whales off the port bow

A stop at Lover's Point

Sea wall waves and fun

Dennis the Menace Playground - just one of the many things in it!

Beautiful coastline. Point Pinos shoreline
Fixing a flat tire.  Homeschooling isn't just books!
Ken, Heidi, Steve, Kevin, Kevin and Cindy on our way out to dinner.  Yes, two Kevin's is correct.
Steve, Cindy, and Kevin at the Kelp Forest tank

The Living Ocean tank at the Aquarium

Cindy and Kevin at one of the Jellyfish tanks
Cindy and Kevin at the Living Ocean tank

Sea Otter Mom and baby in the marina

Sea Otter Mom holding her baby, again in the marina

Monarch Butterfly on a Bottlebrush plant

Hummingbirds also.......

Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains migrate to Pacific Grove CA for the winter.  It has a perfect climate.

Another Anchor picture at the favorite bike riding place for step practice