Monday, July 28, 2014

Northern California to Northern Oregon by sea

July 24, 2014

It’s now the end of the day on the 24th. We’ve been going for four solid days now. As you could likely tell from the last entry, I had planned to write a quick entry with each watch I took. Out of mercy for my readers, I’m not going to do that. As anyone that checks this blog knows, I can be a little verbose when I have no constraints set upon me. Plus, the conditions of our trip haven’t been terribly conducive to writing. There’s certainly been time, but when there’s been time there have also been waves and rain, and when I have time I’m generally on deck on watch, creating a terrible combination for my poor old MacBook.

So, instead I thought I’d provide a series of observations of the trip as we go. Some things we’ve done. What I’ve seen. And maybe a rambling thought or two.

What we’ve done. We’ve motored along up the coast. In the four days we’ve had two stops, once to try to get fuel, and once to successfully get fuel. But other than that it’s just been a constant trek heading north. And since the wind has either not been blowing, or blowing the wrong way, we’ve been under power the whole way. We’ve had sails up, but only for stability, not for speed. We’ve been doing between 4.5 and 6.5 knots, depending on wind and waves. Right now I’m plodding along at 4.5 knots due to a nice little northerly.

Speed kills. And slow speed kills slowly. Going at 6.5 knots I can compare it to running. For me running at that speed would be a real challenge for more than a few hundred meters, so it feels like we’re moving. In the grand scheme of thigs we’re still moving slowly, but it still feels like your going. 4.5 knots is just frustrating.

It’s a long march. We set our course, we set the engine to 1800 RPM, and we go. The autopilot steers a course far better than I can. So we maintain a lookout. Sometimes I’ll spend the whole watch just watching the ocean and enjoying its beauty, caught up in my own thoughts. Sometimes I’ll turn to a book (more on them later) or, if near shore and conditions are just right and I can make a connection, have a text chat with my sister or friends. But it’s just a long march of several days. It’s beautiful, and I’m loving it, but it’s a long way to go.

It’s three hours on, three hours off. As a guy who likes his sleep this can be a bit challenging. Waking up at 1:00am, to pull on your gear and head out to on watch is not unpainful.

While on watch I’ve seen some beautiful things. There have been dolphins playing beside the boat, or leaping through waves about 50 meters away. There have been 4 whale sightings, breaching and waving their tails. There are numerous crazy birds that squeal and squawk at us as we go by. Some can’t get out of the water and sort of swim-fly across the tops. But by far the most beautiful and entertaining are the birds that swoop across the sea, dodging between wave, with their wings almost touching the water. They are my greatest form of entertainment when I’m out here on the march.

Sunsets. Of course there are sunsets. And they’re beautiful, although perhaps not spectacular, if one is to be such a thing as a sunset critic. Which would kind of make one a dick, wouldn’t it. In my current state though, I think I prefer standard sunsets. The spectacular ones mean something’s up in the atmosphere, and I don’t need that.

The main point of being on watch, particularly since we’re motoring, is to ensure that we stay on course and that we don’t hit anything. I’ve been amazed along this trip by how little is out here to hit. (Knocking on wood.) There has been remarkably little traffic. On my watch right now I’ve had several boats go past, and that has been a rarity. In fact, a trawler just spent the past hour climbing up my backside, and I just spent the past several minutes changing course to get out of his way. It’s one of the few times that we’ve had to do anything like that over the past week. I’ll add that I was the stand-to vessel, but he seemed determined to come right up behind me, even though he’s not actively fishing. Very annoying.

Night watches are a different ballgame. They’re a little spooky. You’re still hurtling forward, but you really can’t see what’s in front of you. You’re reliant on other boats’ lights, or radar if you choose to use it. I expect that you become more comfortable with night watches with experience, but right now it’s more something to be endured than enjoyed.

There’s a system called AIS that will show you where everyone else is, or at least where everyone who has an AIS transmitter is, but we don’t have that on board. It would be very nice for night watches.

When not on watch I sleep, cook something, read, or just hang out and talk to Cuno. My cooking has been pretty limited since we’ve been in some pretty big waves. So it’s just lighting the stove and putting something in, or trying to cook on the range without creating a disaster. Frankly, I’ve been happiest with ham and cheese sandwiches so far. Cuno still doesn’t eat much, but he’s been willing to have whatever I’ve been making. He just tends to have very small portions.

Cuno is a great guy. Easy going. Happy to teach. And a good teacher. But we’re in very small quarters with one another. Things I’ve learned about Cuno include not offering him food when he’s just gotten up, and to not be too chipper in the early hours. Sometimes on the boat I tend to get a little euphoric and happy. I like it out here. Some people sometimes don’t want happy.

The weather is constantly changing. Even though it’s late July we’re getting showers and rain fairly regularly. And hour ago it was a sunny sunset, now it looks like I’m heading for a nasty cloud. I’m just hoping it moves before I get there. My rain gear has held up well, although I’m happier with my Musto pants and Dubarry boots than I am with my Gill jacket. The jacket is chaffing around my beard when I put the foul weather collar up, and it’s kind of scratchy even though they’ve put a soft fabric in there. Also, why aren’t there any loops for hanging your wet weather gear on the inside of the jacket. That seems pretty obvious. We’ve got a couple of days left and I think it’s going to be sunny. I’m hoping so…

This is not my Puget Sound protected Pacific. This is open Pacific. So the waves are constant and they’re big. I mean really big. Wave height estimates are always exaggerated, so I’m not going to try. One the one hand, it’s so frustrating trying to cook or get dressed. I’ve got bruises all over from being thrown against the wall. On the other hand, I love sitting in the cockpit, riding up and down, hitting the crest of a wave and dropping into its trough. That must mean my waves aren’t that big though, because I do understand that, if they so desire, they will pick me up and slap me down.

Cuno has taught me that having a sail up will dramatically reduce the impact of the waves on the rolling of the boat. Even if it’s not powering us, having the sail up dampens the yacht’s tendency to rock from side to side, by providing some resistance in addition to that provided by the keel. Last night without the main up was pretty sleepless. Cuno and his mattress were rolled out of their bed at least 5 times. I fortunately have a V-berth, so that can’t happen. Tonight, with the main up, I think we’re going to sleep much better.

I just took a break and am back out on a 2:00 to 5;00 shift. Our speed is much better now. Almost 6 knots. But it’s also much colder out. If I were to do this trip again I’d bring a heavier sweater and a toque. I came with a ball cap for my head and have been wearing it constantly, but it was originally just for sun protection, so it’s really not heavy enough. I’m wearing 5 layers on top right now and need every one. If I really get cold I’ve got a couple more that I could add.
Safety gear. We’ve got a very nice life raft that the owner bought just for this trip. Prior to that all they had was a dinghy, which wasn’t going to suffice if it got really nasty out. I mentioned before how disappointed I was with the life jackets. I can’t believe anyone would go to sea with a boat with this poor of jackets. If we’d started or stopped at any point somewhere where we could purchase them, I would have picked one up. A really good one can be had for $250, and it’ll do what it’s supposed to, save your life. We’re also missing safety harnesses, which is ok because there’s nothing to attach them to on this yacht. I suspect the owners never took it out in weather where they might be needed, but I’d always want to have that option. Once you’re on the water you can never be sure what might come up. In fairness, it’s not the new owners’ fault, since they just bought the bought.

I believe in an earlier post I mentioned that the fuel gauge was broken. That was unfair of me to Groovy, and I apologize. She’s just incredibly efficient. After noticing no drop in fuel levels for the first day plus we got a little concerned, so Cuno went hunting for the fuel tank. We found it in his cabin, right under his bunk. We were able to open it and confirm that it was, in fact, still full. After 30 hours or constant running that’s pretty amazing.

By Wednesday afternoon, or around 60 hours of constantly running, she was down to a little over half full and we neeed to refuel. We had selected a few potential harbours to stop at and chose Charleston Marina at Coos bay for the duties. I’d heard a lot about Coos Bay before and was looking forward to getting in there and checking the place out. We turned in off the ocean at around 4:00 and went through the very long entrance way, motoring down and around dredging crews. We finally spotted the fuel dock and pull in. But it had no signs of life. Another boat tied up to the dock was also wondering how to get fuel. I got the harbor master’s office on the phone and they said that they thought it was closed for the day, but they gave me a number to try. I tried that number but got no answer. Another person near the dock said that they thought that they ran at odd hours, opening at 7:00 or earlier to help the fishing vessels and then closing by 3:00. It was now 4:45. Fine for them to close when they want to, but not terribly helpful to anyone else wanting to use the marina.

We checked our charts and timing. Newport seemed like it had good potential for fuel, and it was far enough away that we could be there the next morning when it might be open. Knowing how good Groovy was on diesel, we were pretty sure we could make it. So we headed out again, back through the long entrance way, and had wasted about two hours on Coos Bay and their lack of fuel.

80 miles later we pulled into Newport, Oregon. There were massive rollers at the entrance to the breakwater, that crashed impressively onto the rocks there. But once through everything was nice and settled. It was hard to find the fuel station, since it’s hidden in a marina within the harbor, but we found it. We docked, bought fuel, dumped our garbage, filled the water tank, and set off again. Out through the break water and we were back on the march.

Are there any things any readers of this blog are interested in finding more out about? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll happily respond.

Books – I’ve read a couple of books while on this trip. So good to pass the time while on watch. (I would have been a poor military watch keeper.)

Gulp by Mary Roach is a complete tour of the Alimentary Canal – aka your body’s digestive system. I saw this woman interviewed on The Daily Show a couple of years ago and loved her sense of humour. The topic seemed so odd and yet interesting, particularly when combined with her voice, that I decided to pick this one up. The book itself is entertaining and fun. It’s filled with stories about the researchers and quirky characters who have dug into topics from taste and saliva to the colon and rectum. These are things that I’ve never read about before and, hopefully, never will again. Roach’s sense of humour makes this a fun read, but I felt that the book missed out on taking its biological side more seriously. I came away with a lot of anecdotes, but not enough solid understanding of just how things work. How does the body get nutrients out? How do we generate energy from the consumption of food? If I’m going to read a book on this topic I’d also like to get some further hard data. Overall, a recommended read for people who don’t mind having a bit of poop and fistula in their literature.

The other book was A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols. This is the story of the 1968 Golden Globe sailing race to be the first person to circumnavigate the world solo without stopping or receiving assistance along the way. This was a great read while out on this trip. The concept of almost a full year at sea, alone, going through the incredible hardships that these men faced is amazing. To read about this while bitching about a little rain and an early morning watch is humbling. Nothing says “Man up Hawes” like someone achieving a challenge like this. I personally wonder if I could take something like this on. It would be an amazing personal challenge. I believe that you could probably get a boat these days that would be far better suited for the challenge and, while you’d still run into mechanical difficulties, you’d have a vessel suitable for the task. But could I mentally stand to be alone, at sea, for 9 or 10 months? It would be an amazing challenge.

The book is well researched and well written. I was fully engaged throughout, able to get a view of the mindsets of these 9 very different competitors. The sentimental favourite has to be the eventual winner, Knox-Johnston, and the wonderful Frenchman, Moitessier. While I probably have more in common with Knox-Johnston, one has to admire Moitessier’s approach to life and the artificial competition that he found himself engaged in. If you enjoy sailing, the sea, or just epic human adventure, then I’d recommend these two.

Underway - Leaving Bodega Bay and Northern California

July 21

We were set to get underway this morning. The day was started with coffee and yesterday’s breakfast burrito. The microwave went on for a couple of minutes, and no heat was generated.  A few minutes more and nothing. Various settings were tried, and nothing. So, it appears that we’ve got a dead microwave. A microwave on a boat is a bit of a luxury, but a dead microwave on a boat is annoying. Interesting how quickly perspective changes. I had been hoping to use that to heat up a coffee or a tea before a chilly watch.

We slipped our lines and headed over to the gas bar, where we topped off our tanks with diesel. A lot more went in than expected, which also causes me concern with our fuel gauges. We won’t trust them until we have been able to properly verify their accuracy. The tank is supposed to hold 55 gallons, and we’ve got a 55 HP engine. (I’ll have to check those numbers. Seems a little too pat.) Cuno says a good rule of thumb is that an engine uses 5% of it’s horsepower in litres of fuel, at a moderate RPM level, per hour. So we’d be looking at 2.75 litres per hour, or about ¾ of a gallon. So our engine should be good to go for a bit over 70 hours. But we’ll fill up well before then.

We had done weather and navigation planning the prior day. The weather over the next few days was looking fine. Not much wind, which means we’ll probably end up motoring a lot of the way. And that wind that there will be will likely be coming from the North, which isn’t a lot of help when we’re trying to go to the North. In about three days some strong winds will hit, perhaps a little stronger than we’d like to be out in. We’re going to keep a close eye on things and remain aware of where our back-up harbours are.

We left the dock and set off, out of Bodega Bay, which is a lovely place after all. There’s not much complex navigation here on the West Coast. Head out of the bay, turn right, and keep going. That’s the way North.

The day before Cuno had calculated all the waypoints on his plotter. Once on the ocean we input all the points into the ships GPS and autopilot. There were about 20 waypoints required between Bodega Bay and Victoria.

Did I mention that our final destination had changed? I’d been told we’d end up in Vancouver, but it appears that our delivery is to Victoria. It’s close, but not quite. I’m not sure if it’s the standard confusion between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, or just a bit of misinformation. That, the lack of third crew-member, and the life-jacket situation have been my three surprises so far. Not much you can do about it, and none of it intentional or Cuno’s fault.

Once underway we made a few more discoveries of things that weren’t working quite right. Our speed measurement is down, as is our windspeed indicator. It’s spinning, but the numbers aren’t making it to the cockpit. Also, our log showing distance travelled isn’t working. It’s connected to the speed indicator, so something’s going wrong with those two. Fortunately, none of those three are dealbreakers. We can, and do, primarily measure our location with GPS. There’s the ships GPS, failing that there’s Cuno’s iPad plotter, and failing that there are iPhones. Failing that there’s dead-reckoning and charts. And the wind direction finder works fine, we just don’t have speed. But if we can’t handle that then we’re probably not very good sailors. So it’s fine.

So now we were at sea, motoring along with little wind, with our nav plan input for the next week or so. Nothing to do now but go. We switched into our shifts, alternating 3 hours on and 3 hours off. Cuno took the first shift, and I went to sleep in the cockpit, enjoying the sun.

A while later it was my turn to drive for the 1:00 to 4:00 shift, and Cuno took a nap. It was a lovely day, but we were a fair bit off the coast, so there’s not that much you can see. I discovered towards the end of my shift that I had 3G coverage, so I sent off a few notes and instagrammed a few photos. I wrapped up my shift, as I will all shifts, with a log entry, giving location, heading, speed, conditions, barometric pressure, and all the other things required in case we need to sort out our location due to failure of other systems. It’s just good practice.

After my shift I took a nap while Cuno drove. I then took over for the 19:00 to 22:00 shift. We’re cruising along about around 5.8 knots on average. 1600 RPM. The seas were calm overall, but some big rollers. Very little wind. Very little 3G access too, which was too bad. But time to do some reading, and some writing. We had turned on the lights at the start of my shift, and by the end they were really needed. Cuno took over at 22:00 and showed me how to turn down the blinding light on the GPS display. Much better. I went in for some sleep.

The next shift was graveyard. July 22, 1:00 to 4:00. Ugh. We wake one another up 15 minutes prior to our shift to get ready. I grabbed a water and an apple and headed out. When I had come off the night before you could see the lights of towns on the coast and even the light in the sky from San Francisco in the distance. Now it was pitch dark out, with no visibility of the shore. That probably meant that there was fog or low cloud out there, but we couldn’t really tell. It had also gotten a lot colder. I was now using all my foul weather gear. Boots, jackets, pants and helmsman gloves. The one thing I didn’t bring was a good hat. (Colleen, the toque queen, would kill me.) I know where it is, ready to be packed up, but somehow it didn’t make it into my bag. All I’ve got is my white baseball hat, which is great for the sun but not so good for the night shift. Frankly, the shift was dull. You can only look out into pitch black for so long. We now had our radar on, which was great because we couldn’t tell what our visibility was like. I would check it and the GPS every few minutes. And I’d read my kindle and write a bit of a blog entry.

Three hours is a good amount of time for a shift. It allows the guy not on to get some proper sleep or do something else, but it’s also short enough that the end eventually comes. Having a third person on board would be great, but with just the two of us this will do fine.

Cuno took the 4:00 to 7:00 shift and I slept. At 6:45 he woke me and it looked pretty wet outside, but wasn’t really raining. It had just been misting through the night. The ocean was dead calm and there was little wind. It was still pretty socked in and we couldn’t see shore. The grey of the sea blend into the grey of the sky. It wouldn’t make a great picture, but it’s incredibly beautiful. Very peaceful.

There’s been a bit of wildlife so far. Yesterday Cuno pointed out some dolphins breaching in the distance. Beautiful, but a bit far away. And there are seabirds, skimming the water and seeming to play with the waves. It’s a beautiful sight. 

More to come...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Prep work in Spud Point

After waiting for several hours the folks at the Spud Point Marina decided to give us a hand again and take another look in their office. Surprise – the keys were easily found. And we were able to get into our boat.

It’s a Hunter 44. Humbly described by its prior owners in their online post as the equivalent of a Dodge or Ford. It’s pretty decent and gets the job done, but nothing fancy. As  you can guess, the 44 refer to it’s size – 44 feet, which is a decent size. It’s got a v-berth in the bow and a nice room in the stern. Cuno took the stern, which is good because it makes him more accessible if anything happens when he’s sleeping at night. The boat has a nice galley, with a  separate fridge and freezer, although not a lot of storage space for bowls and dishes. And it’s got two heads with showers, one for Cuno and one for me. Very nice.

The yacht’s name is Groovy. Not the best name for a sail boat in my humble option, but it connects to sailing “in the groove”, and it’s not my boat so who am I to judge. Upon arriving at Groovy I also noticed that she has a furling mainsail. This means that the sail slides in and out of the mast, instead of rising from the boom. It’s a nice luxury, because it makes it very easy to get the sail in and out, which appeals to the lazy guy in me. It also perform less well than a normal sail because it isn’t shaped in the same way, in order to fit it in the mast. Plus, it doesn’t have horizontal baffles to give the sail shape. Plus, it’s one more thing to break down, which can be a pain if  you’re trying to sail. (That’s a little literary technique I like to call foreshadowing…)

So we were finally on board. We spent some time exploring Groovy to see what we had on board. It was just a preliminary check, as the big review was to be done the next day. We made our beds. And we settled in.

By this time it was time for us to get some dinner. The food onboard was the owners, and not for our consumption, although the next day the owner kindly told us to have at it. There were two restaurants across the street from the marina. Cuno and I walked up at around 6:30 to find both of them closed. A helpful person at one of the restaurants said that you could get food across the bay, it was just a bit of a trek. We also asked for directions to a grocery store, but were told that there was nothing in the area, and that a taxi to the closest town was $50 plus. He recommended we use the deli across the bay, which also carried some groceries.

Cuno wasn’t very hungry, so he decided to pass on dinner. He hasn’t eaten much at any point so far, which is a bit odd. He’s a fit looking guy, but he doesn’t really eat anything at all. It was still early, so I decided to make the walk to the deli. It was a nice evening, and it only took about 20 minutes to get there. It turned out that there wasn’t just one deli, but three or four places to get some dinner. I did a preliminary scouting of the deli, and then chose a fish and chips place that came recommended on TripAdvisor.  The fish and chips were very good. I’m not sure what kind of fish it was, but it certainly wasn’t your standard cod or halibut. I picked up a bottle of Blue Moon beer for the walk back to the boat and headed back.

It was a nice evening on the harbor when I returned. Cuno and I hung out on Groovy and had a chat, then called it a night. Earlier that evening I had been texting with my sister and she had wanted to know if I was OK, because there seemed to be a lot of issues. I had told her that even if it sounded like some things were challenging, I was very happy. It was good to be on the water and in this beautiful place.

The next morning, July 20, started, as all mornings do, with a pressing need for coffee. However Cuno isn’t a coffee drinker. He sticks to tea. And in all my searching through our kitchen I hadn’t come across any tea. An odd thing, since Cuno’s preferences aren’t actually all that odd. Additionally, the only coffee was of the Folgers variety, and we didn’t have a coffee maker, so I went off to get us beverages at the nearby restaurants. Bodega Bay in general and Spud Point Marina are big commercial and recreational fishing areas, and the fisherman were already out telling their fisherman’s tales. Coffee was easily found. Tea, not so much. The first restaurant’s spigot was broken, so they couldn’t pour hot water. The second had green tea, but had to search for some black stuff after he made me a couple of breakfast burritos. After a good search, no tea was to be found. I went back to the broken spigot place to ask if I could just have a tea bag, no water. After a good search their they gave up too. Cuno would not have his tea. He’s a good natured type and took it in bewildered stride, but still, you’d think you could get a cup of tea. A few minutes later I had an epiphany – there was a gas station a few minutes further down the road. I told Cuno I had one more option to try and headed down the dock. This gas station was the most beautiful example of a small town gas bar, broken down and beaten up, but with two super friendly and helpful people behind the cash register. And, they had tea. I bought a couple of bags and made my way back to an appreciative skipper. He didn’t eat the burrito I brought back for him, a recurring theme, but he embraced his tea heartily.

The day was to be spent checking, testing, victualing, and generally just giving Groovy a good run through prior to setting sail. We dug through every locker, hatch and opening on the yacht to ensure we knew exactly what was there. A note to any potential smugglers out there who want to hire Cuno’s company to get stuff across a border – don’t even try it. He’ll find it. Cuno has the longest check list I’ve seen to ensure that we have reviewed every aspect of the yacht. Everything may not be on the boat or in proper working order, as we discovered, but at least we know what we’re dealing with.

We spent a good amount of time with the engine, since the winds are not looking in our favour so we’ll be under power a lot of the way. It appeared all good, with lots of spare filters and impellers. Cuno also had me go through every hatch from stern to stem of the boat, to inspect all the hoses and the various places where there are, essentially, holes in the boat, to make sure that everything was properly clamped and secured.

Next up was an inspection of the rigging. We reviewed every line, to make sure we knew what it did and that they were all in good order. Since winds in the harbor were very light we were able to let out the genoa and then give the main a shot. The furling main proved tricky, because it kept getting jammed. Then, when thought we’d got it all out, we looked up and it was all bunched up at the top. Something was preventing us from getting it all the way out. Cuno didn’t think twice about it and said “So one of us will have to go up there.” He enquired about my experience hoisting someone up a mast, and I told him I never had. So he decided that he should do the hoisting and I should be the hoisted. A fair decision, since the hoister is more in control and responsible, although now I was going up the mast, not something I’d planned or looked forward to. Cuno was surprised that I’d never been up a mast before. I’m not sure when I would have. It’s not something the RYA includes in their skipper training programs, although they probably should.

Cuno, bless him, had a super bad-ass harness, rather than the standard bosun’s chair, so I had more safety than normal. We had to play around with the lines a bit to ensure we had a good back-up safety rope, but once we did, and he threw a couple of bowlines around the harness, I was ready to go up. Fortunately for Cuno we do have a nice electrical winch, so he didn’t have muscle me up. I ascended perhaps less than gracefully, but I made it around the stays and spreaders, checking out the various attachments on the way up, such as the wind speed indicator. All looked in order. When I made it to the top I grabbed the sail and yanked it out, millimeter by millimeter. Eventually it came free, without me having to do any extra acrobatics that I was dreading. It was extremely creased, which gave the impression that the sail hadn’t been fully out of the mast for quite some time.  Cuno let me down, with me only straddeling the wires connecting to the mast in a most awkward way twice on the way back to the boat. I got my feet back on deck and released the harness with relief. Cuno provided a congratulatory high five, which I appreciated. I was no longer a mast climbing virgin.

After the rigging we checked the lights. Our red port side LED was out, and that bulb seemed like a real specialty item not easily replaced. There were a few other things missing, so I went through the rest of the hatches hoping to find them. I didn’t have much luck. No replacement nav bulbs. Terrible life jackets. Coast Guard approved, but not the very nice inflatable ones that you can wear all the time on board, which I would have been much happier with. No safety lines, for tethering yourself to the boat in case of bad weather. And limited spare lines. So a few deficiencies, but nothing that was going to prevent us from leaving the next morning.

Oh yeah. One element I forgot to mention. I had originally said there were to be four on board including Cuno and myself. It turned out to be just two of us. The fourth never seemed to be in the plans, and the third bailed on the trip the day before. It appears he got cold feet. It’s really too bad, because three people would make for much more reasonable shifts. 3 hours on 6 off, or 2 on 4 off. And much more pleasant at night. I’m annoyed by the guy who bailed at the last minute. Not a very classy move. But I suppose that’s what happens when you rely on volunteer labour.

I also did a quick inspection of the exterior of the hull. We let our dinghy into the water and I paddled about with Cuno’s camera, taking photos of any existing hull damage. The owners seem great from what I can tell of Cuno’s interactions with them, but you don’t want to arrive at your destination with them claiming that there was damage caused on the way. With that documented I next topped up all the water tanks. Two were showing full, with the third empty, but now we were full on all the tanks.

That was about it for our boat inspection day. It sounds pretty straightforward, but it had been a good solid day’s effort. We took a short break and then we were going to head off to dinner to the same area where I’d had the fish and chips the day before. Cuno also wanted to buy a celebratory drink, for my losing my mast virginity. We stopped to eat at a place called The Birds CafĂ©, so named because this is where Hitchcock filmed the movie The Birds back in ’63. I’ve never seen the whole thing, but I know it’s one of his greats. I’ll have to see it when I get back on land. I had fish tacos, which were very good, and juice. Cuno had water. This guy…

After dinner we tried to go for a drink. But none of the restaurants in the area sold anything other than beer and wine. I’m a beer guy, but Cuno prefer’s rum and coke, and the only place to get that was further down Highway 1. We weren’t about to make the walk, so we went grocery shopping instead. We went to the deli and picked up almost everything we needed. The options weren’t great, but we did the best we could under the circumstances. We’re also aware that meals are going to be prepared whilst underway, which makes fancy cooking much more challenging. We’ll be better off with things we can just throw in the oven to cook.

One more deficiency on this yacht that I didn’t mention before. Normally there’s a piece of metal on top of a boat’s stove that allows you to secure pots and pans while underway, so that you can boil a kettle without worrying about the kettle falling off. We don’t have one of those. It’s a little thing, but it may make a big difference.

The little store did have a liquor section, so we picked up a bottle of rum and some Coke for a celebratory drink back on the boat. There’s no drinking once were underway, since we’re on three hour shifts the whole time and you’ve got to remain sharp, but we could have one tonight. We had brought backpacks with us for the groceries, since there are no taxis in the area, and we loaded them up and hoofed our way back to the boat. We unloaded, poured a couple of drinks, and settled into the cockpit to enjoy a sunset and a beverage. It was a very nice ending to a hardworking day.

Some photos of the marina: