In preparation for moving the boat up to Napa, Keith and I shuttled one of the cars up to Napa Valley Marina today. We are now looking at the tides for going under the gate to determine what our departure time should be. I always prefer taking enough time to be rested with a stay in Half Moon Bay but this time might be a bit of a challenge since the tides aren't quite in our favor. Keith and I talked about our options and since we are just going to double team this trip and leave all the chicklets with Auntie and Uncle we might just go the whole way up and do two hour sleep shifts to keep rested. I prefer to keep it flexible and not set anything in stone. If we get to HMB and I'm exhausted then I'm going to suggest we pull in and rest and then assess our next best tide window. The tides are so very important for us, not just for going under the gate, but also for our whole trip up the bay and into the Napa River. If we hit it wrong we can literally end up going backwards!
So that's where my mind is lately. Coordinating the move of the boat as well as figuring out when we are leaving for the drive back to Colorado to get settled into our Fall activities; soccer, piano, horseback riding, school.....ahhhh....overwhelming.
Keith and I were headed back out to the boat yesterday evening and Keith said, "Wanna go for a sail?" I said sure! So we quickly tucked stray items away, took the motor off the dinghy, hanked the jib and pulled anchor for a sunset sail. All through the years, sunset sailing in Santa Cruz was our favorite. In this area, when the sun starts to set the wind shifts to coming off the land and it flattens the seas and provides a warm breeze. This, in addition to a beautiful sunset backdrop, makes for a really relaxing end of day treat.
We headed straight offshore with Elliot as our mate since Mason is off in Colorado at soccer camp and Loren was already asleep down below. About 4 or 5 miles offshore the breeze was still light, maybe 8 knots or so, and Keith suggested that he get into the dinghy and take take some pictures while I sail around him. I laughed! There was no way I was going to be responsible for managing to get this boat back to pick him up so I volunteered to hop in the dinghy. Neither one of us thought what was going through Elliot's head and as they sailed away I could hear him saying to his Dad "Are we doing man overboard drills? Are we going back for Mom? When are we going back? I think we should turn back and get Mom now." He was a little nervous. Personally I was having a nice time floating in the middle of the big blue. I took some photos and some video which Keith will likely use this winter as he starts a new video project. They tacked and jibed by me a few times before picking me up, much to Elliot's relief.
As we start heading back in Keith says he sees something and proceeds to tack back to check it out. He doesn't see it again but swears it was a great white. I laugh...there I was sitting in a dinghy looking like a good snack. (I thought he was joking). A few minutes later I see a fin go by the boat. Then again a few minutes later. He wasn't joking!
...we continue our bounce between anchorage and harbor. We are back in the harbor for a few days, this time I was rather anxious to pull anchor as we had a new neighbor move in next door on the anchorage and they were camped right on top of us. I'm totally confused by this....with ALL that space, why would they set anchor just over a boat length away??? I was chatting with Anna in the harbor (who has done a great deal of cruising over the years) and she just nodded and said it has happened to them many times. It just seems so odd... I mean, that is one of the reasons I enjoy being on the hook...the privacy. So we decided it was a good time to go in and fill and empty all the tanks again.
The kids always enjoy being in the harbor. Mason's first order of business is to grab a burrito from the Palomar. Loren likes talking to all the locals...endlessly...and they both enjoy the calm. Elliot is currently off at Uncle Todd's attending sailing camp through Morro Bay Yacht Club which Mason attended last year. I'm sure he's a rock start in the making.
Keith had an epiphany this week and realized that, other then our jaunt down the coast, we hadn't sailed at all this year. While he goes off to work and teaches sailing on all these fancy plastic boats (Catalina's, Beaneteau's etc) we tend to just go day-to-day living and forgeting that we have this big beautiful boat that we live on...and it actually sails. So we invited the Gardner's down for a short jaunt out on the bay this past weekend. Turned out to be a great day for a sail, flat water and mild winds let us put up a Genoa that we'd never tried out before. It reminded me of the 'Whomper' from the movie Wind (and yes....I realize I'm totally dating myself with that comment!). We had a lovely time until we got a little too far offshore and the swells got a wee bit big then we had some quesy tummies and we decided to head back in. We managed to tuck back into the flat calm and tummies settled enough for my nephew to smile once again. Good news was that not a single one of my boys got a sick tummy...guess they have their sea legs!
I was working in the galley this evening getting dinner ready for the troops, relaxing with the roll of the swell, listening to the screams of the Boardwalk, watching the pelican's dive bomb and I realized how lucky I am. How many get such an amazing view outside their kitchen window when they are cooking? Not too many!
This morning as we were toodling into the harbor on the dinghy we saw a mama sea otter and her pup, some harbor porpoises and a few pacific white-sided dolphins. Keith takes every moment to explain some nuance or another to the boys, whether it's about whales, baleen and the size of their esophagus (this mornings topic) or migration patterns of sea lions...the kids suck it all up. How many get to have a sea life adventure with a biologist geek every day? Not too many!
So I'm feeling pretty lucky. In my husband and my lifestyle and my kids that go along for the ride. It's all an adventure!
On our way out from Colorado to California Mason received the phone call saying he made the coveted soccer team he wanted with the coach he wanted. Thrilled is an understatement...he was ecstatic and we were pretty proud of him for working hard to get what he wanted. Then I find out at the end of June that he had a mandatory team camp in Boulder the third week in July. Fortunately our family friends The Blessings graciously offered to host Mason and we are flying him back. This past week it got even more complex, he has not one but two tournaments before August 15th when we had expected to be back in town. Ultimately what this all means is that our plan to sail south to Catalina is out the window.
I've heard people say many times that parenting is the most challenging job in the world. As a new parent when you hear this you think about temper tantrums, sleep deprivation etc (or at least I did) but what I find the hardest is constantly questioning whether you are making the right decision. This was one of those moments that I find myself questioning. In some ways I want to just flip the middle finger to life and all its complexities and yet sometimes, as in this case I know it's the right thing to do for Mason since he worked so hard to get here. Doesn't mean I have to like it though...and I do not! :(
The debate is on for how and when we will take the boat back up to the San Francisco Bay and Napa Valley Marina for winter storage. I would like to wait till the last possible moment, Keith is so disheartened by the change of plans that he wants to take it up tomorrow. Somehow we'll figure out the happy medium we can both live with. In the meantime I plan on enjoying my summer home as much as possible.
We've been hang'n out in front of the Boardwalk and I'm really getting to like that location. I love the peace and quiet in the mornings and the background noise of the Boardwalk in the evenings. We've taken advantage of a couple of the Friday night bands on the beach...last week we saw Modern English and that was a blast. On Wednesdays they have a movie on the beach so I think we might try that out this week. The only drawback seems to be we still get rock'n pretty good when the wind pushes the boat parallel to the surf and the ride in on the dinghy early in the morning (which is infrequent luckily). I think the kids are also adjusting as they opted to stay on the boat last Saturday and just hang out vs whining to go or do something. They read, played Lego's or watched Mason play his computer games. One of the funniest things they do is play hide-and-go-seek on the boat. For that type of game you wouldn't think that there would be many choices of places to hide...after all the boat isn't THAT big. Amazingly they find hidey holes and more then once given up on the find. I love when they play like this as it makes for great memories they will always share.
I had scheduled a rigger to come take a look at our standing rigging, our water tanks were empty and we felt like dropping some cash (not!) so we came back into the Santa Cruz Harbor for a few days. Seems our timing was good as they had just completed replacing the dock and there were a few end ties available. So here we sit on the end of N dock all by ourselves and barely moving at all, with the exception of the boats that go by a little too fast sometimes. Oddly enough I find this a little disconcerting now. Do I sound mad? I thought I would sleep like the dead last night but in actuality I slept a bit restless because I was missing the rocking motion. The other thing I miss when in the harbor is our privacy...it's especially weird when people walk up and peer inside the boat windows.
Hanging in the harbor definitely has some perks. We love eating burritos from the Palomar, we have easy access to endless hot water for showers, and getting to and fro for kid activities and work is so, so, so much simpler. The kids get a kick out of hang'n in the harbor because they get to wave to all the people going by and they especially love yelling at their Dad when he goes by during one of his sailing classes or team challenges. I laugh when they do it over and over and over again...it never gets old to them...not sure Keith feels the same way.
So as mentioned, we had The Rigging Shop come take a look at the rigging and there weren't any real surprises. He was pretty pleased with the overall rig and supported Keith's plan to first replace the backstay, then forestay, etc etc. We are still waiting for the estimate but I'm sure it will be a pretty penny. Everything on a boat is a pretty penny! One fun thing I have again in the boat is a radio. I think Elliot's non-stop off-key rendition of Katie Perry's Firework was the final motivator for Keith to get it installed again. And for those that know me so well...no...I did not bribe Elliot to sing....I wish I'd thought of it! :)
Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, nor born to rich parents, and didn't marry a sugar daddy with bundles of cash... which means that while living our funny boat life I remain employed. Generally I work out of the office while we are in California but I have many evening and night calls which make working 'from home' a necessity. When I mention to folks that I work off the boat I get funny reactions, most are amazed I can do it...I guess it seems extreme. It's not hard really, the technology available makes it an easy adjustment.
Personally I have a laptop, a cell phone, a wireless data connection (AT&T Momentum) and the ever important inverter to plug in my laptop when it runs out of juice. The Momentum is a new addition as I previously had a MiFi which would provide up to 5 people with access but only provided 4 hours of connectivity before the battery died and, get this....you couldn't charge it at the same time you used it!?! Last year I managed, this year after multiple drops during key conference calls I decided it had to be replaced with something else...hence the Momentum which is working pretty slick other then it tends to suck my laptop battery life pretty quickly.
For the most part the quality of the connection, both internet and cell has been pretty good. I've only had one person ask what the strange noise was in the background. It was during heavy swell in the harbor and our dock lines were squeaking like mad. Fortunately it was one of my team mates who laughed when I explained the odd sound. I love the fact that I can work a job that doesn't require me to be 'at my desk' or rather that 'my desk' can be anywhere I have a phone and an internet connection. Looking back just a few years and this wasn't an option - I'd be out looking for a starbucks or trying to find someone dumb enough to leave their Wifi unrestricted. Slick tech means that we can live our crazy boat life - the ulitmate work/life integration.
We took a few days off the boat last weekend and went camping at Pinecrest Lake...because that is soooo much different then our current living situation. It was nice not to have to think about all the things that have been breaking, or in some cases, breaking again...such as our refrigeration. I keep reminding myself that this is all an adventure but some days are a little too adventurous for me. For example....
We decided to leave Capitola and head out to anchor over by the Boardwalk for the Fourth of July activities. While completely illegal, there is generally quite a show off Main and Seabright Beaches and the water is the best place to watch it. The kids were also looking forward to another trip to Marini's on the wharf and some jumping off the boat. But first we had to pop over to the harbor and grab some fuel, fill up our water tank and empty our holding tank. That's where our first adventure of the day began. Note to self: Do not try to get fuel on Fourth of July because every fisherman, woman or wanna-be is also wanting fuel. We waited an hour at the dock for our turn and I was grateful we had a spot on the dock because the number of boats circling was a bit crazy....almost double digits. We managed to fill our tanks and walk the boat forward to the water hose and pump out where our next adventure began. The holding tank, with all new hoses and pump out deck fitting wouldn't pump out. Keith tried everything that he could think of while the vultures continued to circle waiting for a spot on the most popular dock within 20 miles. Finally Keith said he just couldn't think of anything else to try at the moment and the pressure of the vultures wasn't helping so we finished filling the water tank and left for the anchorage where we started to smell a lovely smell....adventure number two.
We set anchor and Mason goes below to announce "God it smells in here!!!". With a sinking feeling Keith and I realize that somewhere, something isn't quite right. Keith starts lifting floorboards and doesn't see anything untoward...no visible leaks but decides to put some duct tape (man's best friend) on the top valve of the holding tank and low and behold a bubble forms. Seems the water we had used in the process of trying to get the tank to empty just filled her up and she was leaking gas from a crack in the top seal. Super nasty-ville! Keith did a major duct tape job to keep it sealed for now, we opened all the hatches and headed for some retail therapy at Marini's candy. After filling up bags full of sour gummies, candy building bricks, mini jaw breakers, milk chocolate hay stacks, milk chocolate sea foam and caramel apples (we had a lot of opinions on what we needed to get!) we headed back to a much less smelly boat. The little guys donned their wetsuits and proceeded to jump into the water...Elliot showing off for the crowds with a high dive from the davits. They had a blast and the day seemed to be slightly improving. Happy kids go a loooooong way with making a day seem brighter.
We enjoyed a fantastic fireworks show brought to us by the law breaking citizens of Santa Cruz County. There were hundreds of people on the beach and we were wowed by the Burning Man bus we saw on the cliffs by Seabright with the thumping music coming from it. Impressive! The whole time the boat was sitting calmly with little rocking so it was a bummer when around 10pm the boat started to swing and we lost our ideal viewing position. We decided to call it a night and tucked into bed only to be woken around 1am because our boat was swinging side to side so much. The boat had shifted with the breeze and was now sitting parallel to the swell coming in and was literally swinging 15 degrees to each side....a 30 degree swing back and forth. I was laying there thinking about what it felt like last night, the best comparison I can give is when someone else is pushing you really hard on a hammock...to the point where you feel out of control. That was where we were at. Keith decided enough was enough and adjusted the boat back perpendicular to the swell with the inflatable and set a stern anchor to hold. It was heaven! Mason woke up this morning saying he had the best sleep and the best dreams.
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.