Keith and I are prepping for our trip down the coast, we are planning to make it to Santa Cruz in two hops, to Half Moon Bay for the first leg and then on to Santa Cruz the second leg. We'll have our two youngest on board and I don't want a repeat performance for them (i.e. stressful situation) so we are trying to determine the best weather window that aligns with the ebb at the Golden Gate. Our new backstay and lower should be back from the shop tomorrow so we need to get that back on the boat. We replaced all the line for the dinghy davits so that we can hoist the inflatable much more easily...this was on my wish list.
At work I've got a butt load going on with a production launch of a new application and the stress that comes along with that not to mention keeping the other half dozen projects all which seem to require a lot of tender loving care (and meetings!) moving forward. Sometimes I describe this as pushing boulders uphill and there is me running around catching each one as it slips backwards. Quite a vision huh?
On the home front I've been trying to find more dedicated family time. What is that you might ask? Well, since I work from home a great deal I tend to work ALL the time....like non-stop morning till midnight....to the point where my kids don't know what I look like without a headset on my head or a laptop in my hands. My children have told me they need me more and I'm trying my hardest to listen to them. Today we went bowling, the activity chosen by my oldest and cheered on by his brothers. We had a fun time and ate some really unhealthy food which the kiddos adored. The whole way back my kids kept saying over and over how much fun it was. Just a reminder that sometimes I need to stop, look around and just breath - and laugh a little with my kids.
The weather finally broke here in Alameda (that rain is a real drag on motivation!) so we've been hopping on our boat projects which makes this ol' PM just giddy!
Keith started work on the fresh water system yesterday and finished it up today so now we have the city water pumped directly to the boat rather then having to fill the water tanks. Not a big deal but it's a nice to have. Mason and I hoisted Keith up the mast today and we took down one of the lowers as well as the backstay off the mast and delivered it to West Marine's rigging shop to have them build new ones. We are also discussing which furling unit we want to put on the jib, either a Harken or a Schaefer and will be replacing the forestay at the same time. Quantum Sails came out again to measure and sent the measurements off for our main and small jib and we expect to have them delivered on August 1st.
In the meantime, the boys have been enjoying the area a bit going for dinghy rides, checking out the marine life, playing soccer, checking out a local used bookstore and trying some local restaurants. Overall they've had a pretty good attitude...even my teen which is always a pleasant surprise. I think everyone is anxious to be heading out of here soon though...
Since the moment we pulled into this slip we knew that we were dealing with some grumpy old men. Not a one of the 'locals' stopped to say hello or ask where we were from. Even when I would go out of my way to say hello they would barely give me a nod. It was fairly obvious that they didn't like our presence on this dock which is primarily big powerboats.
Today I received a call from the harbor office, one of the grumpy old men had complained that our kids were swimming in the water. Um, yah....has he looked at this water??? Talk about nasty! In fact, Loren had fallen in yesterday while playing around on the dinghy with his Dad. It was a fun moment that had all three boys absolutely in stitches....a rare moment to be sure. To have it tainted by a dorky old fart really ticks me off. I guess I'm glad we won't be staying here for an extended period of time.
Part of our plan for the early summer was to head to Alameda where West Marine has their rigging shop so we could get some repairs completed and also just to enjoy a different venue. I called around many places in the area for guest berthing but was told that our boat was too large, either by length or draft, for their harbor. Ultimately I found Ballena Isle Marina which is on the West side of the island and they had a slip available for us to use for an extended stay so we began planning for our trip down the Napa river and into the San Francisco Bay. It was a little hectic as I had a full day and night of meetings Thursday, my last one ending at nearly 11pm. Meanwhile Keith was working to setup lines and sails for the boat and move any items from the cars that we might need on the trip. We had glanced earlier in the day at the tides and found they were not very favorable except early, early in the morning, leaving at 5am or leaving after lunch. With our slow boat it is always important to catch at least the slack tide or better yet to catch it going the right direction...in this case the ebb towards the gate and the flood towards Alameda. With meetings finally over, we double checked the tides once more and I checked the timing for the Mare Island bridge and then we decided to hit the early morning start so that we wouldn't get hammered with too much wind in the bay during the middle of the day. We thought we had a great plan in place. Key word to note here....."thought".
Our oldest was visiting cousins this week so we only had our two youngest on the trip and they were soooo excited that they decided to wake up at 4:30AM!!! Ugh! I heard them up on the deck excitedly talking to each other. Loren says to Elliot, "Look it's the sunrise. Isn't it beautiful?". I rolled out of bed nearer to 5AM and we began prepping for our stroll down the river. We made perfect time to arrive at the Mare Island Bridge at 7AM, the time I had read they began monitoring for river traffic. Alas, they didn't answer their hail on channel 13 and didn't answer their phone so we checked once more on the internet and found that I had screwed up and their hours were 9am to 7pm, not the reverse. Lesson here? Don't do your navigational planning late at night after an exhausting day! Keith wasn't particularly happy with me because we were already pushing the limits of the tide but there wasn't much we could do but keep on keeping on. We dealt with it by anchoring for the 2 hours till the bridge opened and then finished our jaunt down the river.
We headed into San Pablo Bay still with the tide still slightly in our favor and managed to chug along at about 6 knots for a short while. After a bit Keith checked the engine and it smelled like diesel fuel. Another Ugh! It seemed we were leaking a bit of diesel and our fuel level was much lower then we wanted but no big deal we are, after all, a sailboat. So we turned the engine off and just went on sail alone for awhile and though pretty darn slow it seemed to be fine. Keith pulled out the charts to look for marina's with fuel and you wouldn't believe how few there really are. I called the closest marina on the phone because the charts seemed to say it was pretty shallow and found that we definitely couldn't make it...their clearance was a mere 4 ft in some areas and we needed 7 to be safe. So on we went at a total crawl until the tide turned and instead of crawling forward we were drifting backwards. We decided to kick on the engine and get us further around the point and headed towards Berkley and our ultimate destination. After a bit we turned off the engine again and seemed to be making our way at a leisurely pace without too much issue other then a couple boys who seemed to be endlessly hungry. Keith noticed that the wind line ahead looked dark and the boats in the distance were all reefed or double reefed. He decided to put a reef in the main while it was still mellow and I'm sooo glad he did for not 20 minutes later we were hit with gusty 25 knot winds and the little guys weren't very happy or hungry anymore. We battled the wind and the current for a few hours before managing to tuck in behind Treasure Island and the home stretch towards Alameda.
We arrived at Ballena Isle Marina around 4:30 and pulled into our shiny new slip for the week. Ballena Isle is an older marina, a little dilapidated but the people at the office are super friendly and it does offer some nice amenities like on site laundry. The most significant issue we are having so far is the lack of internet. It appears to be a cell phone hole and the marina doesn't offer any wi-fi which makes it really frustrating for this technology girl.
Family and friends have been anxiously awaiting those words I think! Yes, it's been a bit longer then I had wanted but Steadfast has finally splashed. Fresh bottom paint, fresh zincs, new thru hulls and Steadfast was ready to go in. The kids (and adults too) always get a kick out of watching this process.
So we are hanging in windy Napa Valley Marina working on a few other items above the water line. Today we had the fuel tanks polished and the fuel cleaned to remove any algae in preparation for heading south.
View From the Top
That is what I hear all the time when I mention we are working on our boat. It got me to thinking about it because as home owners I would think we'd have a good comparison between the two. I've been noodling on the idea for over a week now as it seems I've gotten this comment more then a dozen times over the past few weeks.
It's true to a certain extent that you always have projects in your home that need to be done but to me they seem less worrisome then those on our boat. I guess it's just my perspective but I kinda feel like I'm putting my life, and those of my children, in the "hands" of this boat. After all, every year we take it into the open ocean off the coast of California which at times can be a little inhospitable. Granted you try and pick your optimal weather window but there is never a guarantee.
While continuing along this thought my mind then thinks about all the bad things that can happen in our home, like electrical fires & carbon dioxide poisoning but for the most part I just can't compare them. After all, we have smoke and carbon dioxide detectors all over the place to ensure that we receive enough warning to get out of the house. Perhaps if I spent enough money on a fancy emergency life raft I might feel like I had that level of "out" on the boat too but I don't have that so instead we keep working to make things as safe as possible with the money we have available to spend.
This past weekend found us back at Napa with all the kids in tow, making it a true family adventure. Keith and Loren had been up there for a few days and Keith had managed to check off a few more projects on the list. At this point we are working to finish up the plumbing in the head area so that the boat is solid under the water line and we can drop her in the water. By the time we called it quits, and headed towards the hotel and the much anticipated swimming pool, we'd made excellent progress. This weekend looks promising for a drop, provided the yard is available to support the request, and then we'll work on getting the gang moved aboard...I can't wait!
We spent last weekend working on the boat again and making very little progress, or so it felt. Seems that every project we worked on ended up needing parts from West Marine (a lovely 1 hour drive at minimum) or we ran into a snag that meant going backwards and having to rethink things. We ended up dinking through small things trying to make headway and then just doing some cleaning. Mason came along and helped out on things that needed more muscle, like hauling Keith up the mast to clear some line that had tangled and to check the fittings.
At this point our score is looking much like a recent Giants baseball game....not so good.
Finished Projects - 1
Unfinished Projects - 5
On the positive side, the sail maker came out finally and measured our boat. We are waiting to hear back from him on the final details. I also managed to track down the guy to polish our diesel fuel tanks and filter out the algae. He can get us in as soon as we are in the water. So now that we have all thru-hulls replaced we just need to finish up the related plumbing (sea cocks, hose, y valves, etc). Keith is heading up later in the week and I'm hopeful he can get wrap up the thru-hull project.
I'm the wife of the captain, a mother of three boys and a PM in the corporate world. This blog is my view of life and activities related to our boat.