Friday, Sept. 20th....EJ turns One.....Decade! Leaving mom and mace asleep aboard Steadfast, the little guys and I sneaked away for an early birthday breakfast. We didn't have to walk far. Maybe 200 or 300 feet from our dock gate was the popular Lou-Lou's on the Wharf. We ordered french toast and a pancake the size of a hubcap (NO JOKE), ate, then walked back to the boat with a little more ballast in our bellies.
Saturday the 21st Steadfast motored out of Monterey Marina at 0800 headed for San Simeon about 84 nautical miles south. The NWS issued a marine forecast of light southerlies in the morning backing to light westerlies by late afternoon. 25-30 knots had been playing out of the NW for the past few days and more windy advisories were expected for Sunday and beyond. We decided to take a light breeze on the nose instead of the the previous and forecasted wild rides for our trip along the remote coastline between Monterey and Morro Bay. Plus a weekend trip is always appropriate when Erika has to work during the weekdays. By 0930 we were on the weather side of Point Pinos and the light morning breeze had grown into a stiff 15 knots dead ahead. With the motor on and the mainsail raised we clawed along the Carmel coastline. Fortunately just beyond the point the wind died down to the expected 5 knot southerly. Plus the seas were relatively flat making for a pleasant motor sail down the exposed mountainous region called Big Sur ("Point Sur" pictured above).
As Erika mentioned in her blog we witnessed a few types of marine mammals during this leg south. I was most impressed to see the two Orcas off our port beam also heading south (at the time). Elliot and I were treated with a quick show of a dolphin riding the bow while we watched from the bow sprit above (Pictured: Elliot and Ren on the sprit). At one point Erika and I were sure we spotted a shark with its classic dorsal fin breaching the surface.
By about 5pm the fog began to form, thickening as Steadfast charged past Cape San Martin. I asked Erika to switch on the navigation lights. We continued to hold our course parallel to the coast, closing in on a GPS waypoint off Point Piedras Blancas to indicate a safe turn left for San Simeon cove. Our plan was to anchor for the night and leave for Morro Bay the following afternoon. At this point the "sun had set" and we should have seen Piedras Blancas light flashing every 10 seconds. Our approach into San Simeon would be electronic dependent with our ears on full alert. Luckily the boys had been entertaining themselves quietly down below so Erika and I could focus on getting the boat thru the fog safely.
Fourteen sailing hours and 8 anchored hours later ... Below, if you look real close you'll see Steadfast anchored in what many believe is a true example of California Gold!
Sunday Sept. 15th. WNW winds 10-12 knots, seas 1-3 ft, sky clear, temp warm. Departed Santa Criuz Harbor about 11am and arriving in Monterey Marina by 5pm made for probably the longest time logged across the Bay for me but, wow, it really felt like the shortest due to the ideal "cruising" conditions. You'll notice our track on the chart there is a loop into the wind. That is where we doused the mainsail. Erika would have liked to drop the sails a bit earlier but I really was enjoying myself too much. Just outside the jetty Erika radioed in our request for a slip and was warned we might have to standby on account the weekend guests hadn't departed but...the harbor master remembered a 60 foot charter boat was to be away for a few weeks and radioed back immediately to let us know we had a spot.
Upon docking, our soon to be neighbor, Marty shouted out a greeting and an offer to help us dock. I declined but thanked him. In no time we caught up with Marty and his little mascot Morgan (pictured) for some good ol' fashion dock chat.
A day or two later our neighbor Carla came by to introduce herself. She,her husband Casey and.their three kids are cruising south from Seattle, WA aboard their sailboat Dawn Treader. Wow, right out of the gate we find another big cruising family. For the next few days all the kids are hitting the beach (5 minutes away), or playing games and watching videos aboard Steadfast. They are headed out tomorrow, during the next weather window, (it was blowing 30 knots the last couple of days) but we hope to see them again.
A trip to Monterey wouldn't be complete without stopping by to see Catalina Mary and Baja Joe, and their three kids. Mary invited us up to their place (10 minute walk from the marinia...cool) for fish tacos (double cool). Thanks Mary, that was the best meal...Mahi Mahi and Anchor Steam!! Later Mary and her boys walked down to Steadfast to deliver a freshly made treat. Ren had so much fun at Mary's he was hoping for an invitation to move in with her boys. Thanks for the white boards too! Today we walk to the Aquarium. Another Monterey treasure :)
After spending the day ashore Erika, Loren, Elliot and I dingied out towards the slowly setting sun and Steadfast, our sailboat, laying at anchor between the Santa Cruz wharf and the Beach Boardwalk. Within 10 minutes we arrived along the port-side of our home on the water. And like a posey of cowboys pulling up to a hitching post in front of a saloon, we climbed up and over the stern rail, threw a couple half-hitches around the rail to secure our ride and headed below for a nightcap before bed. But before I took my first step down the companionway I turned southwest, towards the open ocean and decided it would be blasphemy to deny the serene calling of a cool breeze on a calm sea. Luckily Erika was on the same "boat!" We stowed the few groceries we picked up in town, got the little guys tucked in their bunks (7:30 is bedtime for a couple very active boys) and headed back on deck. In no time Erika was at the helm and I was weighing the anchor. Within a few minutes Steadfast was sailing slowly southwest with an 8-10 knot breeze on the starboard bow. I didn't have a destination, just an expectation...to enjoy an evening on the bay at a moments notice. As Steadfast passed the mile bouy on her starboard side Elliot popped his head out of the companionway. Unlike his brother he hadn't immediately fallen fast asleep. Erika asked him to grab a blanket from below, put on his life-jacket and lay down in the cockpit. Elliot would enjoy the evening sail with mom and dad. The situation beckoned us across the width of the Bay (20 nautical miles). But I quickly threw the idea overboard. Our presence in Santa Cruz the next morning was imperitive. We would slip over the horizon another day. I ingested another panoramic view about an hour into our whimsical journey and reckoned we were about five nautical miles from our anchorage. It was time to head back. But before we would tic off those same miles homeward A thought occured to me...I've been wanting to grap a few long shots of Steadfast underway. With the Santa Cruz Mountains off our stern and a light marine layer a few miles off our bow as a back drop, I helped Erika into our dingy. Casting her off in a 10 foot inflatable boat, all alone, five miles offshore with just a pair of oars and watching the blue-grey ocean grow around her as I sailed away made my imagination wander. Little did I know the "evil husband prank" was far from the worst scenario lurking right under our hulls. (story cont. next post)
After seven months of fruity slumber, Steadfast awakens among the wine vineyards of Napa. Sunday morning I drove the 110 miles north from Santa Cruz to Napa Valley Marina to check on our Spindrift 43 dry. Steadfast has been out of the water since September and probably won't go back in til May.
The other day I was checking up on the Volvo Ocean around the world sailboat race and read the top story on their website,
“Sickness and Slamming Take Their Toll.” The fleet sailed into heavy weather inside the South China Sea and the
bumpy conditions were taking a toll on the stomachs of several crew members aboard the Open 70 sailboats.
Reading quotes like “Down below looks like a war zone. Several people have been sick already, and the rest just keep swallowing” and “Today I had a hint of seasickness for the first time ever” prompted me to examine that time honored tradition of avoiding the Binnacle List (traditionally, the sick list posted near the binnacle for the use of the officer of the deck containing the names of men unable to report for duty).
Ninety percent of all people suffer from some type of motion sickness during their lifetimes. Sea-sickness is truly an
international debility. You might hear mal de mer or nauseeux aboard a French frigate. If you were consigned to a Spanish Galleon on the high seas, the word mareado might apply if you were “under the weather on the leeward rail”. And my personal favorite, seekrank, the German word for seasick, says it all. However you say it, “gastrointestinal distress”, “nauseogenisis”, “travel travail”, “feeling green” and its potential follow-up act “feeding the fish”, “gastric emptying”, “donating your breakfast to Neptune” or “losing your lunch”, being seasick is no fun. But there is hope. Dozens of prescribed, over-the-counter, and natural remedies are available in the US. The trick is to find your panacea before you are in a pickle. Therefore early research and self-testing are vital days or weeks before one can confidently embrace the briny deep. Some preventatives will work for
some people and not others and with varying degrees of effectiveness. Medications should be explored in advance either by ingestion or research and side-effects should be noted. For example, last summer one of my sailing students downed an antiemetic (drugs effective against vomiting and nausea) the morning of her lesson without previously “testing” it. By 9 a.m. she was experiencing a rare side-effect from the medication; moderate to severe dizziness. She was “seasick” even before
stepping on the dock and was relegated to her car to sleep off the effect while her husband enjoyed a beautiful day sailing on the bay. Motion sickness (a.k.a. kinetosis) is a conflict between your senses. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, contributes to balance and the sense of spatial orientation. Kinetosis occurs when the vestibular system doesn’t agree with what is visually sensed, fouling-up the central nervous system (CNS) and nausea, fatigue and dizziness ensues. If the
symptoms aren’t relieved the body may think, in theory, it has been poisoned and jettisons its contents. It reminds me of an ol’ truism, “If your systems are out of whack, your meals may come back.” Below (see Quick Reference Table) is a table of the most common state-side treatments for seasickness. Note that most of the antiemetics in the table contain an antihistamine which frequently causes drowsiness and dry mouth. Dry mouth is usually mild and tolerable. An extreme few find it quite severe and require an alternative form of treatment. For most, sucking on a hard candy will counteract that parched palate
feeling. Again, the degree of drowsiness should be measured before departure. Feeling sleepy or useless under way is
frustrating for all parties aboard. Over the years, the military has studied the threat of throwing up among their young, healthy but seasick recruits. In general, the research proved the medications listed in the table were the most effective with the least
side-effects. The Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus (Latin for "Always Ready" or "Always Prepared") So it isn’t surprising that they concocted the“Coast Guard Cocktail”, a mixture of promethazine, a strong sedative that quells nausea, and ephedrine, a stimulant, taken to counteract the sedation caused by the promethazine…whatever it takes to keep your sea-legs for 20 hours in 20 foot seas on a 44 foot cutter.
If you don’t want to go “military style” there is always the “natural” way. Both ginger root and acupressure are becoming popular substitutes to preventing or easing seasick stomachs. In the past I have downed a ginger ale or two prior to sailing into heavy weather just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, many ginger ales on the market today do not contain "real" ginger. Smooth
Sailing, a beverage advertised to“sooth and settle the stomach naturally” contains ginger. Most people take ginger in capsules form, many reporting fewer symptoms of nausea and vertigo. Research has shown that certain compounds found in ginger may influence gastrointestinal function and noted ginger to be more effective than placebo for treating nausea caused by
seasickness. It doesn’t hurt to keep some type of ginger product aboard just in case. Ginger snaps and soda don’t go to waste on our boat weather it is sailing or not. Another “natural” cure for nausea that has been gaining in popularity over the last decade is the acupressure wrist-bands. With the help of an elastic or adjustable wrist band a plastic button applies slight
pressure on a point just on the inside of the wrist, called the Nei-Kuan point. Here the signals to the brain that cause seasickness are blocked. One band must be worn on each wrist to be effective and can be put on before departure or during the trip. The acupressure wrist bands have no side-effects and are appropriate for adults and children. In our ASA/Charter office in Santa Cruz there is usually someone talking about how the wrist-bands saved them or their crew from another “gastric-disaster.” Like wrist-bands, homeopathic remedies are big on the market and affect everyone differently. Trial and error, trial and error. Developing sea-legs, aka “vestibular rehabilitation,” may take some time. Don’t make things worse from the get-go. There are many factors that contribute or accelerate the onset of seasickness or seekrank, if you will. Avoiding or eliminating these factors before or during your voyage can greatly decrease or prevent the storm in your stomach: get plenty of rest, don’t eat greasy or acidic foods but don’t sail on an empty stomach either, drink plenty of water before and during your voyage, avoid
alcoholic beverages, avoid diesel fumes, stay busy but avoid going below, avoid looking through binoculars, and don’t read. Following these tips, conducting a little research and experimenting with natural or traditional medication before
setting sail should help you stay off the “Binnacle List” for good.
It was a beautiful breezy day trailer-sailing in my... drive-way! The new owner of my Snipe arrived today so I showed him the "ropes." The wind was beam-to and quite gusty so the main wasn't up for long. I set the Snipe up last night and everything was there, no missing pieces. I threw on a brand new tire on the trailer I've been meaning to do since last fall. The owner drove it away with his Ford ten-ton "dualy". A little overkill, to say the least, but hey....we are in Colorado man!
Looks like our sailig club has nailed down the date to rally across to Catalina Island. The members from the Boulder Valley Sailing Club established August 13-17 as the best time for most of the members to participate. After some research, Marina Sailing and Blue Pacific out of Marina del Rey are the two likely candidates to charter from. They seem to have the largest fleets so everyone has a few boats to choose from. And, conveniently, MDR is only 10-15 minutes from LAX. Those who are driving, both charter companies have free parking for the duration of the trip. It is a good time for the memebers that haven't officially documented their sea time do so ASAP so they can reserve a boat and schedule a "check-out" time prior to departure, be it the morning of, or the day/ week before setting sail. Members holding a ASA 104 certification and a "sufficient" sailing resume shouldn't have a problem reserving a boat and completing a quick 30 minute checkout (included in the charter package) the morning of the charter. Those who are relying on their sailing resume alone may have to complete a one, two or three hour check-out/ test sail and will have to schedule that time separate from the charter time with an additional fee (usually $75/hour). Steadfast is planning to sail down to the northern channel islands in early August and, possibly, rendezvousing with the club boats prior to crossing San Pedro channel. If the latter plan doesn't work we might meet the fleet in Avalon or Two Harbors. It is still a little early to tell. Either way we plan on cruising the Channel Islands in August and September. So, book your spot on Steadfast quickly, before all the "seats" are taken ;)
I hosted "cat chat" yesterday. "Cat chat" is a group of BVSPS members interested in bareboat sailing to Catalina Island this summer.
Jack London Square, Oakland, California, April 12-15, 2012. Where will YOU be?
A UCSC graduate in Marine Biology, Keith holds a 100 ton USCG Capt. License and is an ASA/US sailing certified instructor.