Ever since we got back to Colorado Keith has been watching Craigslist for a new boat. Not because we don't have one here, we have a Laser and a few El Toros, but mainly it's something fun for him to do. He would point out a boat to me and I would nod my head and say "That's Nice" while in my head thinking "we have more then enough boats!". Then he pointed out this cute little red boat to me and I was finally intrigued, what can I say...I'm a sucker for red! Turns out the boat was a Daysailor, which we have owned in the past and loved for a family lake boat because it has a large comfortable cockpit. Keith and I drove down the same day to check it out and became the proud owners of boat number six (if you count dinghies and all).
Immediately Keith started to work on fixing up issues with the boat, it was built in the 60's and though it was originally race rigged and kept in pristine condition, it seems it fell into disuse these past few years. We put together our list of items we needed, new blocks, new shackles, new line and started to clean up what we could with the spare parts we already have around the house (scary how much that is!). Keith and I decided to step the mast and rig the boat to make sure she had all the parts needed to hit the lake - vs finding out once already there. First time trying to step the mast and the mast step breaks due to corrosion, luckily the mast is pretty light and nobody gets hurt....so off Keith goes online to order a replacement. The one thing I love about small boats is the price for replacement parts. For Steadfast, a broken item means a thousand dollars or more....for the Daysailor it's less then the price of a family meal! After a few weeks of dinking we were ready to take her out for her maiden voyage.
We dropped the boat in the water and amazingly it didn't take on water or have any other hidden nightmares that old boats can have. She was dry and her centerboard easily dropped into place. With sails up and kids on board we were off and going within just a few minutes.
One thing this boat came with that our previous DS did not have was a nice spinnaker, red of course. The majority of my small boat sailing has been aboard a Hobie and we didn't really need the spinnaker for speed, especially on the ocean where we'd be more likely to stuff the back of a wave, so I have not had much experience. Keith has been having fun teaching me how to use it and fortunately the wind has been very light so I've had some time to get acclimated to all the additional lines, blocks and rigging required for it.
Just like all boats there is always more work to be done, but it's fun work. There are some repairs to the glass - ie fixing the patches that have been done previously and we need to add the foot straps back. Someone took them out but with just Keith and I sailing we need the extra leverage....and it's so much fun hanging off the side! All told I'm pretty happy about this new addition to the family. Now we just need to come up with a name for her....
After this last jaunt up the California Coast, Keith and I got to talking and decided that we were ready for a change. Not sure what that change will be exactly but what we concluded is that it won't include our Spindrift 43 for now so we are putting her up for sale. It's a hard thing to do after putting so much heart and soul into her, not to mention blood, sweat and yes, even tears. We spent the last few days of our trip cleaning out our personal belongings and getting her cleaned up to sell. We've detailed out all the upgrades & additions that we've completed over the past four + years.
Steadfast Photos and Steadfast Specs
I've got very mixed feelings but the primary one is excitement. Excited to see where we go next, bigger? smaller? East Coast? Only time will tell! What I DO know is that we will continue to sail steadfast....even if it isn't on 'Steadfast'.
We were hoping to be able to stay on through the 4th of July in Avalon as it is well known to be quite a show of people and fireworks but on July 3rd we received notice that we were losing our mooring and had to be out by 9am. The harbor offered us a spot in Descanso Bay but Keith and I decided just to pull the plug on Avalon and began stowing for the trip. We headed out of Avalon right after 9am and saw hoards of large power boats heading in. We decided to head up the coast of the island and check out Two Harbors, we noodled on the idea of seeing if they had a free mooring but decided to just continue on towards Channel Islands Marina where we have been before and which we knew had a fabulous pool and hot tub. We motor sailed up the coast of the island and then put the jib up for awhile as we headed back to the coast of California, unfortunately it wasn't quite enough wind to get us there in decent time (the difference between arriving around 7pm and almost 10pm, so after a short time of sailing we furled the jib and continued to motor sail. The weather cooperated for most of the way until the last few hours where the wind picked up on our nose and it was a wet ride. All of the boys hunkered down below in our bunk or near the dodger to keep dry while Keith and I took turns exposed to the spray and wind. It's times like these that I think a full dodger plus full cockpit canvas setup would be quite nice. All four boys were troopers though and after pulling into our designated slip at Anacapa Isle Marina we promptly sent them all off to the pool while Keith and I proceeded to rinse down boat and gear.
Turns out we had just pulled into one of the hot spots to be for the July 4th, with a front row seat of the fireworks set off by the military. Keith and I walked down to the store to stock up on traditional fare in preparation for a fun filled evening. Loren was in total BBQ food heaven - he is the meat eater in the family. Keith took the little guys out for a dinghy ride on the basin during the big show and was able to grab some fantastic shots of the fireworks.
We spent the next few days enjoying the weather and the beautiful marina amenities: steam room, gym, hot tub, pool and cabana's pool side (no cabana boys with umbrella drinks though...bummer.)
I think Avalon will always hold a special place in my heart because as a very young couple Keith and I spent quite a bit of time on the island while Keith worked at CIMI. It's a bit different now visting without being dirt poor and we had a great time sharing the area with the kids. We went back to Jack's restaurant for brunch and everyone enjoyed filling up on pancakes, crepes and eggs which was good fuel for the guys as we packed them all into the dinghy and tossed em overboard for some snorkeling in Lover's Cove. Keith guided the teens all along the coast where they saw all kinds of sea life, Mason even spotted an eel. They were pretty jazzed when they got out an hour later. The little guys had a blast just floating and checking things out.
There is a lot more to do in the area now as they have built up the whole Descanso Bay Resort area and it looks like additional construction is happening along the beach front there. The older boys took an adventure on the Eco Tour Zip-Line Adventure which was 2 hours of zipping down from the top of the island. After eating sandwiches from the boat the group then headed to the historic Casino to catch a movie. The little guys were excited to hear it was Transformers, Keith and I groaned but agreed to go along with the crowd for the experience. (Note: The movie was as horrible as we had anticipated. Even the teenagers spent the majority of the time counting how many ads they could spot.)
I was glad that we had packed as much into the day as possible because we lost our mooring the next day and rather then take one at Descanso we opted to head north towards the Channel Islands Harbor, taking the scenic route along the coast of the Island before heading off on a straight shot towards Oxnard.
After four months off the boat - visiting family and back at our home base in Boulder, Colorado - we are back at the boat. Feels wonderful being back and honestly the boat looked pretty darn good. First thing I noticed is that it didn't stink, thankfully, there isn't much I dislike worse then a boat that stinks like a nasty bilge. It was definitely stuffy but we opened all the hatches and welcomed the crisp breeze to blow the dank away. We brought along not three boys this time but four, so I'm even more outnumbered then usual. We are checking the boat over and if all is good we are looking to take off and head north up the coast in the next few days.
More and more lately I've been getting the itch to move. Chula Vista has been nice, it has a great pool and hot tub, convenient access to the park, but honestly I'm getting bored, b-o-r-e-d. I know Keith has that same feeling and it would be really easy to just weigh anchor and move on out if it were just the two of us. Unfortunately I think the kiddos have enjoyed the little bit of consistency and so I'm loath to shake things up yet. Doesn't mean that I'm not looking online and planning ahead though. I would really like to spend a little time in the northern end of San Diego Bay and I noticed there is a really nice luxury marina there that has all sorts of resort like amenities.....private sand beach, pool, hot tub, steam room and a spa! Beyond San Diego Bay....what next? There are a lot of harbors on the southern coast but not all of them welcome transients and many don't have slips available for our length of boat. I'm really hoping we can catch some of those spots we skipped on the way down. Wherever we end up I'm anxious to be on the move again.
Meanwhile we are trying to take advantage of the area and all it has to offer. One place we are really enjoying is Balboa Park...what an amazing place it is! It offers over a dozen museums as well as many gardens, fountains etc and they have this new Explorer package which is an annual pass that gives access to all the museums. We are having a fun time taking on a few museums at a time. First the Science Museum with endless (and I DO Mean endless) amounts of things for the boys to touch, spin, build, and manipulate. Museum of Photographic Arts where we were able to see a presentation from local San Diego High School students, fun to see the area through their eyes. Mason's choice was the Japanese Gardens which, honestly was a little disappointing but as they are literally quadrupling the size of it I suspect in Spring it is going to be mind blowing. This past week we checked out the Air & Space Museum which the boys all loved as well as the Hall of Champions which just happened to have a presentation on Sailing. The nice thing about the Explorer Pass is that we don't feel any pressure to "get it all in" or that we might miss something. If the kids are starting to melt down we can leave without feeling we are wasting money. Makes for some very enjoyable family moments.
Our plans for Christmas this year have always been to spend it with our friends, The Blessings, in Ensenada. Whether we actually got the boat there or not didn't matter, we had rented a house on the beach and intended to get off the boat for a much needed space break and enjoy the water, the friendship and the area.
The Blessings drove out from Colorado and met up with us in Chula Vista where most of their boys hit the pool and spa with our sons while the Mom's hit the grocery store to stock up for the week. While we fully intended to take advantage of the local food and support the local economy, we also had a total of eleven mouths to feed - seven of which were growing boys! We stocked up on lunch meats, cheeses, breads and cereals which we would not be able to pick up down south as well as some specialty items Kathy needed for some recipes she had planned. We stocked the back of the suburban and picked up the rest of the gang for our drive south. The check-in time was between 3-4 which proved to be impossible for the family driving across four states to get there. This left us getting in after dark to a strange area and home. Luckily Keith and I had scoped the area out fully last time we drove to Ensenada and felt fairly confident in our ability to get there after dark...at least to the right neighborhood. We managed pretty well, with a few variations, and pulled into the neighborhood right after 6pm, the cut off for the caretaker to let us in. Fortunately she was sweet and accommodating (not sure what we would have done with two families otherwise!) and let us into the unit. As it turns out, it was really two homes connected with a patio and, with very little discussion and no disagreement on the part of the teen group, we gave the back house to the older kids and the parents and the two young ones took the front house. It was a perfect setup to give the teens some independence and space from us old folks. We settled everyone into a spot, unpacked our groceries and fed the troops. This was followed by the first of many, many, many hours of board games!
Our week in Punta Banda started on the beach and that is where we spent the majority of our time. The boys were thrilled to be able to surf right out the front door, and the beach was also terrific for skim boarding and boogie boarding. Lots of options and lots of toys available to try them out with. I even managed to catch a nice wave before my shoulder went out of socket and I played my old lady card.
Being away from home for Christmas can be stressful and one of my primary goals was to make it less stressful but yet maintain some of the traditional things we do for Christmas. I was grateful that Kathy and Dave had a similar goal and between the two families we were able to make some great memories. One big concern Loren had was regarding Santa Claus and his ability to find us. Fortunately for us Hallmark came out with the Santa Stop Here ornament and it was heavily advertised - Loren decided he had to have that ornament so that Santa would understand where to stop (since we were not only NOT in Colorado but also NOT in our second home - the boat). This, along with our home strung popcorn, cranberries and decorations all went onto the Christmas tree that we were able to pickup in Ensenada a few days before Christmas. The Blessing's shared some of their holiday traditions like the crepe feast on Christmas morning - cheese, chorizzo, fruit, yogurt, pudding....so many different options to try...it's no wonder this holiday did not see me shedding any pounds!
The one field trip I really wanted to take was to La Bufadora, which was a short drive from where we were staying. The blow hole itself was rather neat but I enjoyed the local flavor just as much if not more. While it was touted as a tourist spot - we actually saw very few Americans and many more locals, many large families with Grandparents and small children both. I also enjoyed some fantastic fish tacos here - yum yum, one of my favorites! The whole street from the parking lot down to the site was lined with shops and shops and shops, I thought for sure we could pick up a couple trinkets but alas the prices they were charging were serious tourist prices. In one wood carving shop we stopped to check out a pelican which we thought would go nicely with the dolphin Mason brought back from Oaxaca. The price? $65 US. Ouch! Mason paid $10 US for his dolphin. By the time we left the shop the guy had brought the price down to $20 but I was not really in the mood to buy at that point. Throughout all the shops we saw the same inflated price tags - obviously a tourist trap meant for those willing to pay top dollar (i.e. not me). We had a great time though and did purchase name bracelets for everyone, "Elliot" for Elliot, "Loren" for Loren, "Captain" for Keith (our Captain) and "Shabloips" for Mason because he's a Key & Peele nerd lately.
We culminated our trip with a bonfire on the beach where we danced around our burning Christmas tree and sang campfire songs or whatever tune Kathy and I could think up (sometimes just the two of us). Of course, Dave had at least three cameras going and lots of fun to be had with the crazy lights. All in all...an amazing, fun-filled week with great friends and wonderful memories to last a lifetime!
Hard to believe but we've been in Chula Vista nearly three weeks already. We brought a car down the coast and, at first, it felt weird to have a vehicle again but it has turned out to be a nice to have in this area because the harbor is so far removed from the rest of the world. This is a good thing for day to day living but a bit of a challenge when it comes to restocking the refrigerator, getting haircuts, picking up medicines, or other key essentials that you don't think twice about normally. Overall we are really enjoying our stay here, primarily because it has such great amenities like parks close by, a pool and hot tub, laundry facilities and really nice folks both at the office as well as liveaboards all around us. Our plan was to be here a few weeks and then keep heading south to Ensenada, Mexico for the winter to give our kids a bit of culture, because the slip was dirt cheap and because it offered the full amenities of a resort and spa.
As I started to prepare things for our continued trip south I realized we were up against a few more challenges then I had anticipated. First concern was internet and cell phone coverage. I had assumed that AT&T would offer some type of coverage, and they do....for an arm and a leg. That left me relying 100% on internet at the marina which has been a total nightmare the whole way down the coast in the US, I couldn't count on Mexico being better. At the urging of our neighbors, the Lyon's, we decided to take a drive down to check it out first (a 1.5 hr drive vs a 15 hr boat trip). We left Mason home with Molly and took our two youngest on a day trip down into Mexico. We arrived at Marina Coral in Ensenada a few hours after departing Chula Vista and actually drove by it the first time because it was so small. We talked to the facility manager who welcomed us with open arms. We talked with him about internet and found that the dock had WiFi and so we walked over to check it out. As it turns out, it was rather consistent with all of our other marina WiFi experiences....pretty spotty. With a sinking feeling in our hearts Keith and determined that the final leg would have to wait for another day/month/year when I could cut the umbilical cord to work. We headed back towards the US and had quite an adventure at the border for the three and a half hours it took to get back across to where the boat, Mason and Molly awaited us. The next day we had to say goodbye to the Lyon's as they headed south to Ensenada and then on to the Sea of Cortez where they are spending their winter. The kids, all of them, are feeling the loss of the Lyon's and the camaraderie.
We finished our registration today to stay for a few months in Chula Vista while the winter sets in and the holidays approach. They have a huge harbor "light up" coming up that the kids are excited about and we've started to talk about how to decorate the boat. Also looking at other community things the kids can participate in as it's obvious they are all missing some social aspects. Meanwhile we continue with our homeschooling curriculum, some days seem to go better then others depending on the behavior of the kids which I cannot for the life of me gauge from day to day. Yesterday we managed to make it through Math, Grammar, Literature and even made it to an art project. Today....we are still at the starting line. I guess this is the advantage of doing it on our own schedule, we can adjust each day as needed.
Another one of those questions in my mind when we started this nomadic adventure was what holidays would look like. I did not want the kids to feel they were missing out on anything. We got a bit of a sample this week with Halloween and we were really fortunate to have the Lyons family on Dawn Treader still in the harbor to share it with. That coupled with Loren and Elliot's boundless energy and excitement (Loren counted down the days for nearly two weeks!) made for a really fun evening.
We ordered in pizza and the older boys and dads settled in for card games while the younger crowd trick-or-treated the harbor and the attached RV park. I was totally shocked by how many boaters there were prepared with candy in hand, their boats lit up and decorated to attract guests. The crowd was mixed young and old in the harbor itself but it was the RV group that I got a real kick out of. Much older crowd who complimented the kids on their creative costumes and really seemed to feed off their energy. My favorite moment of the night...the gentlemen who said he had been visiting the RV park for 18 years and had never had a trick-or-treater. He felt really bad that he didn't have any candy but Elliot and Loren wished him a Happy Halloween and shared a piece of their loot.
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.