This past weekend we decided to head out to Santa Cruz Island, we'd been watching the weather all week and were a bit concerned about the hurricane brewing off the coast of Mexico. The local weather stations were making all kinds of dramatic predictions about surf conditions and flash floods and Keith and I were a little worried about having to deal with too much weather. At the marina where we keep the boat, they were hosting their annual rendezvous and many folks had declared they weren't going due to the weather. Keith and I kept monitoring daily and decided to go for it, our biggest concern being sick kiddos since the wind prediction was near zero. We had Mason's buddy Tyler on board and all six of us, along with Molly, headed out early on Saturday morning expecting to motor sail a good portion of the way. The wind didn't show up at all and we pulled into Prisoners Harbor well before noon. The anchorage was pretty full, with many boats already packed into the "prime" spots for traditional NW weather. Fortunately we were dealing with nothing close to normal, the hurricane and swell pushing in from the south meant that almost anyplace was a good spot to anchor. We settled in about 40 feet of water between two other boats of comparable size and kicked back on deck.
With the teens still asleep below we debated heading on shore but decided to just chill on anchor a bit. Loren and Elliot were busting to get off the boat and explore so we suited them up in wetsuits and dropped them off at the beach to snorkel on their own. The weather was moist and sticky and eventually Mason and Tyler woke and were ready to get off the boat themselves. They set off to check out the beach - in the opposite direction from the younger ones! Eventually the little guys got bored with the beach and waved to come back on the boat so we scooped them up and they had fun for awhile jumping off the side of the boat, playing catch in the water with the football and just hang'n out. After a bit we collected the teens and watched the clouds form as folks who had gone to shore for the rendezvous potluck started streaming back to their boats a little earlier then the planned finish time of 4pm. Both Keith and I looked at the clock and shrugged it off then decided to head to shore and explore on our own, chatting briefly with a local Navy guy who was wondering if we were going to weigh anchor and head out too. Keith and I debated heading back, wondering what weather we might be missing but opted to keep heading down the beach just as a crack of thunder was heard overhead. I looked out on the water and saw rain heading our way so we quickly headed back to the boat to shut all the wide open hatches and listen to the weather on the radio. The weather station said there was a lot of activity expected on the mainland but nothing too much where we were at and we decided that sailing INTO a storm didn't hold much appeal. The sky continued it's deluge, with intermittent cracks of thunder off in the distance as we hunkered down on board and ate an early dinner.
Soon enough the sky overhead cleared as it moved inland and we headed off for a hike up the hill to the Nature Conservancy permit only side of the island where we got some great photos overlooking the cove and the kids all got to see the Island Fox. That night we played games before packing it in early for another early wake up to head further up the coast to check out The Painted Cave.
Six thirty in the morning and we weighed anchor on an ocean smoother then many lakes I've sailed on. We made good time heading the additional 10+ miles up the coast to see the famous Painted Cave. As we got within a few minutes we again woke the teens and they waited while Keith took Loren and Elliot into the cave in the dinghy - they weren't gone very long and it wasn't until I went into the cave myself that I realized why. Dark, stinky and spooky sounds are the stuff of nightmares. Even Molly, who went with Keith and I, tried to bury under Keith's jacket to hide from all the spookiness! Everyone seemed to enjoy and yet be a little freaked out by the cave, overall a fun stop over before heading back to the mainland.
The trip back was uneventful. Zero wind and flat water saw us motoring at near 8 knots to get into the harbor in the early afternoon.
Seems as if January in Colorado is about the time I start to get anxious to get back to boat life. This year, with all the kids in regular school it's unfortunately not possible to just pick up and move back aboard. So we are looking at March as the next option for getting out there. So I'm relegated to working on the boat vicariously through an update to our website design.
At my own company we are in the process of a major overhaul of the web presence to a cleaner simpler design so I guess it's natural that as I start to look at our site it seemed kind of old school with rotating images that are soooo last year. <grin>. So I've updated the site to a cleaner, fresher look, tell me what you think!
Meanwhile, since the boat hasn't sold yet we are planning a trip out to her in March and will be doing some upgrades (of course!) to some rigging and electronics. Ultimately, if she doesn't sell by Summer I think the plan is to move back aboard and head somewhere. I'm voting for warm water and weather in Mexico this time, I'll figure out the logistics of staying connected to work even if it costs me more then boat itself. Keith, on the other hand is thinking of taking the boat back up to the yard in Napa. That beat to weather to head to the cold waters of San Francisco Bay just doesn't appeal to me.
Who knows, perhaps by the time summer comes the boat will be sold and we'll be scrambling to come up with a plan B.
So I guess it's pretty obvious by now that we love sailing. In particular Keith and I enjoy sailing together, without kids, as we did for so many years before the kids came into our life. We had planned on spending our Sunday doing just that but there's one thing that makes sailing even better and that is sharing our love with others.
On a whim today Keith called our neighbor Markus to see if he wanted to go sailing on our little red boat. Markus is one of many people who have expressed interest in going out with us but it seems we never get around to planning it. Keith decided to see if he was free last minute and we were glad to hear that Markus was available to hit the water with us. The winds were expected to be 10-15 with gusts to 20...perfect for dinghy sailing.
As we headed towards Longmont the wind was blowing a steady 10-15 and we were pretty anxious to get on the water. So anxious in fact that we forgot sunblock! Our past trips on Union Reservoir have been met with puffs of breeze in between light 5-8 knots but today we were looking forward to a little more fun on the rails and we were not disappointed. Fortunately for us Markus also has a need for speed and we spent a few hours tacking back and forth riding the rail and pushing the envelope a little bit. We also did a bit of bird watching, with Keith onboard you don't really get an option and when he shares his passion he just lights up making the day that much more enjoyable.
After a few hours of solid wind it turned off and we drifted back towards the launch ramp to pack her up for the day. Just as we were leaving four other sailboats/sailors showed up and asked how the wind was. All of them looked a little bummed that the wind had turned off - one guy even said "I think you got the good stuff". I totally agree!
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.
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.