Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mexican geography

In case you don't have your atlas handy and you wonder where we're going, here's a little map of the Pacific coast of Mexico. Credit for this goes to Latitude 38's First-Timer's Guide to Mexico.

On our way to Cabo, we're stopping in Turtle Bay and Bahia Santa Maria. John will do position reports, so check out the "Find us here" link on our home page.

Most of the other Mexican ports listed in our cruising plan also appear on this map. Hope it helps. (Click it to make it larger.)

Excitement is building

Friend Derek Lee arrived last night. He’s really psyched about the trip, and his excitement is contagious. Today I’ll be helping a couple of other boats get their blogs going. John has the “skippers’ meeting,” and then there’s the costume party/barbecue. The official start of the Baja Ha-Ha is tomorrow morning at 11:00 at the Coronado Roads. I don’t know where that is exactly, but they say it’s about 90 minutes from where we are. So we’ll be weighing anchor about 0900 tomorrow. The next blog entry will probably be via SSB radio. I consider that truly cruising.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pushing off the dock

The past week has been a whirlwind of activity in preparation for leaving the dock. We’ll anchor two nights near the San Diego Yacht Club before we and the 177 other Baja Ha-Ha participants head for Cabo Monday morning. We still have a few important to do before then – and a party.

The fires near San Diego have only been an inconvenience for us. The smoke made the air difficult to breathe, and ash and soot made the decks of the boat filthy. I missed the worst of the dirt since I flew to Portland early Monday morning for my one-year follow-up with the orthopedic surgeon and a short visit with Mom and the Stocks. The smoke from the fires hadn’t merged to black out everything then, and I could still spot individual fire sites from the air. When I returned Wednesday afternoon, it was a different story. The smoke was a blanket between LA and SD, and the smell of it even crept into the airplane’s air system.

Thursday we had lunch with our friend and former real estate agent, Josh Bottfeld. Josh says he’s retired now, but he still had to go into the office Thursday morning. It was fun to meet his partner, Brent Butler. It turns out that Brent went to South Eugene High School, was in the Junior Symphony, and had Dick Long as his band teacher. Small world.

Yesterday my friend Martha arrived from Austin, TX. Her skipper was still on his way back from a quick run to Phoenix, so I met her at the train station. We figured out that it’s been 10 years, more or less, since we last saw each other. We’ll have fun catching up, but we haven’t had too much time to visit yet. There’s still too much work to do!

This morning is final cleaning while we have running water and electricity. Then we’ll top off the water tanks and move to the anchorage. The wireless connection here at the dock hasn’t been very good for the past couple of days. Maybe it will be better there.

At anchor: We’re between Hiatus (Portland) and Ketching Up (Astoria), behind Beyond Reason (Alameda). (Click on the photo to open a bigger version. The satellite shot was obviously taken before we arrived.)

Yes, the wi-fi is much better here. I can even post this blog entry now.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

San Diego is beautiful

After the rain the first morning we were here, the weather cleared up, and it has been beautiful here in San Diego. We haven’t been working too hard on the boat; we’ll do that our last couple of days on the dock. Instead we’ve been taking it easy, exploring a little in the dinghy, and relaxing. We haven’t used the West Marine shuttle yet. Instead we’ve taken the bike when we needed to go somewhere. This afternoon is the welcome party for the Baja Ha-Ha group, and we’re looking forward to that. We’ll probably shuttle with others on the dock.

When we got back from our dinghy ride the other day, Jammin had arrived. It was fun to see someone we knew. Hiatus is here on the dock too, and one of the other Sceptres came in yesterday. We’re also getting acquainted with the other Ha-Ha boats here, of course.

Most exciting is that my friend Martha is going to join one of the boats here for the Ha-Ha. I haven’t seen her in years, but we went to the U of A together and became pretty close. I did see her once since then when she was back in the States from Hungary, where she taught after grad school. She’s been living in Austin, TX, the last few years.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In the heart of the action

We found it, and it’s right where we are, at least, part of it is. I’m not sure how many transient slips the Port of San Diego has here, but they’re filling up with Baja Ha-Ha boats. I just paid for our full 10 days here, and on my way back to the boat, I saw the West Marine shuttle and flagged him down to get the scoop. The driver said most of the out-of-town Ha-Ha boats will be either here or at the Glorietta Bay anchorage.

West Marine is working hard to make sure that transportation is coordinated to get us where we need to go without renting a car. Very nice of them. The West Marine shuttle is available seven days a week from 0900 to 1800. The driver was shocked that we walked to the grocery store yesterday (it was more than two miles judging by the cab fare we paid for the return trip); we should have called, and next time we will.

John and Märzen are both 100% well again, and I’m fine too. At the moment, I have my own wi-fi connection, but I could lose it again at any time. After the rain yesterday morning, it cleared up nicely, and the sun is out again today. The temperature is just right, and we remember why we’ve always liked San Diego.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It’s raining in San Diego

I’m not sure they’re calling it rain, but it’s definitely wet, wetter than the usual marine layer. We arrived here early this morning and stalled until the Harbor Police office opened at 0800 so that we could check in. As part of the Baja Ha-Ha, there’s a free anchorage we could use, but it seems pretty far from the heart of the action. Of course, we aren’t sure where the heart of the action will be yet, but other cruisers think it isn’t there. All of the facilities in San Diego seem really spread out to me.

For now, we’re at the transient dock on Shelter Island. We can stay here for a maximum of 10 days. So far, we’ve only paid for two. The wi-fi here is dodgy for John with his amplifier and antenna. For me, so far, it’s not happening at all. There is power and water on the dock, restrooms and showers on the shore, and the cost is extremely reasonable. That’s all good, except our power isn’t working, but that's OK because the generator is fixed again. When it stops raining, we’ll go out and see if we can find the action.

Monday, October 15, 2007

An extra day in Newport Bay

Yesterday our generator quit working. Due to a combination of factors, John suspected the worst: a burned-out alternator. When he climbed into the lazarette to investigate, though, he discovered that a connector had broken (due to metal fatigue from the vibration, we suspect). That’s a much easier fix, so we’re spending an extra night on the mooring here to take care of it. We’ll head on to San Diego tomorrow afternoon.

This morning we got up early to have breakfast with a former colleague and friend, Cam Woods. Cam grew up on Balboa Island, and from his stories, it sounds like living here really is as great as it appears to be. I met Cam years ago when Epiphany acquired his sales force automation company, Moss Software. The Moss guys were some of the most impressive engineers at Epiphany and they were really fun to work with, as well. Now Cam and another former Moss guy, Ryan Reid, have their own small company. I’m happy to report that they’re doing well, as those who know them would expect.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

You get what you pay for in Newport Beach

Today we learned that you can’t expect much in the way of facilities when you only pay $5/night for a mooring buoy. This is the first time that we’ve paid for mooring in a town. Otherwise, we’ve anchored out (as we did in Gig Harbor, WA) or we’ve been at the dock. Our only other mooring buoys were in parks in Washington State. So when we asked about public showers at the harbor patrol office when we checked in, we kind of assumed that there would be marina-like or park-like facilities. Today we discovered that wasn’t the case.

This morning we took the dinghy and our shower gear back to the harbor patrol offices, where the showers are. Our first difficulty was determining where we were supposed to tie the dinghy. What we thought was the guest dinghy dock was full of dinghies that looked like they’d been there for months. We tied up at an area that was marked for sheriff’s impound, and I ran into the office to check. We were right the first time, so we squeezed our dinghy up against the derelicts and headed for the showers.

Only one door was marked “shower,” and it was occupied. John discovered an unmarked shower, and we decided we could share it. No, it wasn’t romantic. It was all concrete with no hooks to hang clothes or towels. John gallantly spread his foully jacket over the sink to give me a place to set my stuff. (Oh yes, I forgot to mention that we had rain this morning, and it was cold enough that we needed jackets when we set out.) There wasn’t much water pressure, but at least the water was warm. John noted that it was our worst shower so far. I can’t disagree.

On the fun side, John’s cousin Sheri and her husband, Pete, visited us this afternoon. They live in Irvine. Sheri’s daughter, Katrina, and her friend Pat also came along. We had a nice visit, and then Katrina and Pat had to leave. Sheri and Pete took us to find an amplifier for John’s wi-fi antenna, and then the four of us had some really good sushi. Tomorrow they’re going to take us to their house, and I can do laundry there. Tonight we had to get home to give Märzen the last of her antibiotics.

Friday, October 12, 2007

On a buoy in Newport Beach

My post yesterday didn’t say where we actually are: Newport Beach. We got to the harbor patrol office around 1600 yesterday to find it flooded with guys in camouflage. I don’t know how you tell which branch of the military guys in camouflage represent. Do they have different patterns? Anyway, we know this was the Navy because we asked. They’d been doing drills.

Our buoy is between the mainland and Balboa Island, right by the bridge. It was a long, slow motor to get here from the office, but I think it’s a good location. It’s very close to a dinghy dock, and there are stores on either side of the bridge. We kept postponing a trip to the grocery store earlier, but now we’re out of essentials, like Diet Coke.

Our location is the red dot on this Google hybrid map.

John’s feeling better today. I don’t know what was wrong with him, but he sure was sick. My Internet connection is a little dodgy here, and John hasn’t been able to connect at all. People in Newport Beach have security on their routers. Guess they don’t want to share with the riff-raff.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What we did in Long Beach

Since this morning was devoted to the roll-out of the new blog, I didn’t talk about what we did in Long Beach. It was kind of interesting in a blast-from-the-past sort of way.

Kevin and a couple of his friends had an appointment to brew a batch of beer, and he invited us to join him. We went to a place in Huntington Beach (our friend Arlene’s old hometown) called Brewbakers. They help you brew the beer, and then you come back a few weeks later to bottle it. It isn’t a homebrew supply store. They don’t even sell supplies to take away. Instead you pay to brew there, and you can also drink there. The beer we tasted was, for the most part, pretty good, but one variety had some kind of infection going and was off. It was sort of like old times in Arizona: kind of fun but kind of boring too.

Then the subject of Oregon’s state-wide land use planning came up. One of Kevin’s friends is a lobbyist for the Oregon State Home Builders Association. I was always kind of proud of Oregon’s laws, even when they made our lives of real estate developers more difficult. I think all of the planning that was done back then really contributed to the quality of life in Oregon now. This especially hits home with me when I see the kind of urban sprawl and strip-mall development that is so prevalent here in southern California. So Chip (Kevin’s friend) and I really got into it. I usually try not to get into arguments with friends of friends, and I passed on the ASU vs. UA thing with Chip, but I spent a number of years on this question back in the day, and I couldn’t let it go.

No doubt the old urban growth boundary is pinching these days. It was only supposed to be good for 20 years before it was revised. I don’t know if the new planning hasn’t been done or what, but I sure don’t think that Oregon should do away with the whole thing. Of course, the home builders have to ask for more than they really need so that there can be compromise later with the no-growth people, and I’m certainly not one of those. But I do think that planning is good.

John is sick today. He thinks it’s his system rebelling against all the brewer’s yeast he consumed last night. I hope that’s all it is. We were going to stay put here until Monday anyway, so he’ll be able to get some rest.

Welcome to our new blog

We changed blog hosting services because we needed some features that were premium (cost money) on our old host. Here they're free. The most important of these is the ability to update the blog when we don't have Internet access.

Another feature is that you can now subscribe to our blog so that you'll know when we've updated it. Just click the "Posts (Atom)" link at the bottom of the page, and it will take you through the steps. (This feature is more important to our casual readers than to the family members who check daily anyway.)

In the "important links" to the right, you'll find a link back to our home website and the old blog. We've also added a guest book and a link to our Yotreps position. All of the links open in a new browser tab or window. If you have trouble with this feature, please let me know by email.