Friday, April 30, 2010

Sail To Angel Island

My friend Andy and I had a nice little overnighter to Angel Island the other day. I sailed over to meet him at the Giants game. I hit a pretty bad wind and rain storm on the way with winds in the 30's coming over Yerba Buena with a bit of katabatic wind coming down the hill. Made it over to the game and met Andy. We had seats in right field next to a boisterous crowd. The Giants had this game but after a pitching change they lost. Undaunted we headed for the marina and met a fellow sailor with a new to him Islander 36. We took a look and then challenged him to a race to Sam's in Tiburon. He had a nice head start and more sails up than us in the 25 knot winds. We got to Sam's and had a drink and talked a bit to the locals. Then it was over to the moorings at Angel. We had a nice bbq dinner on the boat and talked about our days growing up in Delaware and the great times we shared. I had planned to take Kona over to the island for a run on the beach but the wind was blowing so hard, I never would have had a chance getting back to the boat. Good thing we were secure on the mooring. Kona would have to hold it. Up before the sun and over to the beach with Kona on our handy kayak. I knew the tide was out and we decided to head out before low tide. We barely made it out and had to plow thru some soft mud to get to the deep water. Ended up in Sausalito for a nice breakfast just drifting in the wind and current. Had a great sail home in about 15 knots. Great way to break up the week with an old chum from my childhood. Aloha!

What Cruising Is All About

Here is a note from a cruiser after four years of cruising:

Today is our fourth anniversary of cruising. And what a long strange trip it’s been! From Chicago to Grenada we’ve covered thousands of miles. From the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal to the Hudson River down the ICW, on the Atlantic Ocean across to the Bahamas eventually to the Dominican Republic then onward to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and finally to the Caribbean Islands - indeed what a long-strange-wonderful trip it’s been.

What have we discovered as a result? Living the cruising life is a very freeing experience. Probably more than we may have realized early on. We rarely look at a calendar. We lose track of the days. We get up when we want. We eat when we’re hungry. We have TIME to think about things. Time to read. Time to watch Gracie and then Mismo chatter at the gulls. Time to look at the stars. Time to plan what our next trip might be. Time to be in the moment and relish where we are and what we’ve done so far.

After some reflection we’ve realized that the freedom that we feel doesn’t have anything to do with sailing per se. It’s more like the sailing and living aboard has flipped a switch in our heads. Real freedom is more than just physically being able to go where you want when you want. Real freedom is a state of mind where you can think anything is possible. We think anything is possible (although Scott’s chances of playing in the NBA are dwindling).

Many times in our past lives we may have put ourselves in a box or a situation thinking that that was the only way things could be. This trip has brought to the forefront the idea that, as Sue is fond of saying, ‘Lots of things are possible’. Indeed. This trip should have been impossible. Little money. Little sailing experience. Lots of curiosity. Lots of time spent thinking of the ‘other’ solution.

Now on this fourth anniversary of being ‘cruisers’ we don’t feel like we necessarily
are cruisers. We feel that the freedom we’ve learned via cruising allows us to think ANYTHING. . . And then maybe try it!

Friday Pics

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ultra Cool Cruiser

Take a look at the innovations of this cool cruiser - The JP54. She is as light as she is fast. A canting keel and carbon everything means she can surf to 20 knots and get you to your destination safe and sound. The coolest part of the boat is the nav station pivots to windward to keep you flat on the water. Need to enter a shallow creek? Cant the keel in one direction and pivot the nav station to the opposite side and you have a flat, shallow draft cruiser. I love the direction this is going to take cruising boats. Now if I could just find that Powerball lottery ticket from last week!

By the by, I am off on one of my favorite sailing sojourns today. A sail to the Giants game against the Phillies and then over to Angel Island for an overnight in Ayala Cove. Going with my childhood best friend, Andy, who is visiting from Tahoe. Should be a fantastic trip!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sail to the City

I headed to the boat about 4pm on Saturday. I had some friends meeting in San Francisco for some drinks so why not sail over and join them. The wind was in the low 20's so Kona and I headed out. My golden of 2 years is getting to be a great boat dog and sailor. We got to Pier 1.5 promtly at 6pm and saw the new $1M dock in disrepair. Someone hit it and damaged it about a year ago. There is now a very small dock that can accommodate only 3-4 boats at a time. A friendly group invited me to side tie. I went up to meet my friends and they were delayed by traffic and lack of parking. We finally met up and everyone jumped on the boat. We headed out for sunset and then over to McCovey Cove to see the end of the baseball game. Well you can't see the game from the water but it's cool to hang there and listen to the roar of the crowd. The Giants won so we headed back. I dropped them at the dock and headed home. The wind was perfect for the sail home with 10-12 knots pushing us along. My wife is out of town and my son was at a sleep over so I decided to keep sailing on this beautiful almost full moon night. The wind died about 1am so I motored home and slept on the boat. Another amazing adventure on the bay under my belt!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Quest Begins - Baja Ha Ha

On Friday evening I headed over to the Baja Ha Ha Reunion at Jack London Square in Oakland. Latitude 38 was hosting the party which took place on the showroom floor of the Pacific Sail Expo. Lots of cool folks mingling and enjoying the libations provided by the sponsor. I spoke to a few folks that had been on the Ha Ha and got a few tips on how to become crew on the boats heading to Cabo. I did meet one couple who own a Hunter 466 and passed them my sailing resume. I will follow up with them and see how it goes. After the show, I headed out for a sunset sail that out of this world. Perfect 10 knot winds and we were slicing by the San Francisco skyline that was just sparkling. What a great way to start the weekend. If anyone out there has a boat heading down on the Ha Ha, please feel free to contact me at Aloha!

Skim Board Highlights

Drifter Movie Trailer

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whale Tales

This is the time of year that the California Gray Whales are heading for their feeding grounds in Alaska. They head up the coast with their new offspring in tow from the warm waters of Mexico. This annual northerly migration is an excellent time to head out and see them from the bluffs or even on the water. From the land, head out to the San Mateo or Santa Cruz coastline and look for bluffs that protrude out into the ocean. A good pair of binocs is a great way to go. From the water there are several companies in Half Moon Bay and San Francisco that will take you out on the water with a naturalist on board to explain more about whale behavior. There is even a kayak group in Davenport called Venture Quest that will take you out on a memorable paddle with the whales. There are no guarantees you will see any whales, but the whale population continues to grow and chances are great this time of year. We have even had a few whales inside the bay recently. They hear alot of sounds from the bay as they swim by and come in to check it out. A few years ago we were anchored for lunch and we had one just off our port bow hanging out and taking a rest. Our most famous ocean visitor was Humphrey the Humpback whale back in 1985. He swam into the bay and stayed several months. He even swam up towards Sacramento, 69 miles away from the ocean and into fresh water. He was eventually ushered back out the Gate at 5pm on a Friday and there was a huge traffic jam and party on the Golden Gate Bridge. He came back for a short visit again in 1990. But thats a tale for another time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Past the 20,000 Mile Mark - Jessica Heading Home

After a weekend of excitement - thanks to flyovers by her parents and brother and sister - it was back to the business of completing the final weeks of her odyssey without incident for teenager Jessica Watson yesterday.

And part of this will involve Jessica sailing what is believed will be a safer passage around Tasmania's southern tip instead of cutting across the Great Australian Bight between southern Australia and the top of the Apple Isle in upcoming weeks.

The longer route will minimise Jessica's time in Bass Strait, a stretch of water infamous for steep seas and potentially boat breaking conditions.

The Strait claimed six experienced sailors during a violent storm in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

As teenagers in NSW prepare to return to school next week, the young sailor will be preparing for what could be one of the toughest challenges of her seven-month trip - her final fortnight at sea in her attempt to become the youngest person to sail round the world solo and unassisted.

Jessica yesterday reached another extraordinary milestone - 20,000 nautical miles of sailing on her own.

"It's amazing to think we have sailed over 20,000 miles because it really does feel just like yesterday that we left Sydney," Jessica said.

"Twenty thousand is also double the total miles I'd sailed before the voyage which is also pretty cool. It's another great milestone to pass."

Jessica and her little 34-footer Ella's Pink Lady are due to arrive in Sydney, possibly on May 2, weather permitting, after sailing out of Sydney Heads on October 18 last year.

The teenager from the Sunshine Coast is expected to arrive to a hero's welcome when she arrives back on dry land just shy of her 17th birthday.

And unlike the Vegemite and crackers she ate to celebrate passing Cape Leeuwin off the southwestern tip of Western Australia at the weekend, Jessica will be able to celebrate with fresh food, home-made cake and her favourite food - chocolate for the first time in months.

The only fresh food the teenager has enjoyed in the last few months was the squid caught from the waters of the Southern Ocean.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Happy Birthday H2uh0 - Five Years!

I started this blog 5 years ago with a post about two boats that had come to a bad ending just outside the Golden Gate on the same weekend. The crew on both boats survived but both boats were lost. The one that intrigued me the most was the two sailors that were coming in towards the south tower of the bridge on a Santana 22 and got caught in a monster wave and had a spectacular roll over in the wave. You can view the slide show here. What was amazing about this accident was there was a photographer on shore with a high speed camera and he caught the whole sequence on film. It became an internet sensation. At the time I was following Horse's Mouth and Wetass Chronicles. These guys were my hero's. When these accidents happened, I realized there was a niche to be filled and why not use these situations as a learning platform for those that follow my blog. I quickly realized that accidents don't happen everyday and that I would need to fill the void with my other interests (surfing, windsurfing, sailing, my own sailing experiences, technology and astronomy). I have really enjoyed sharing the interesting things I find as well as my experiences on our Newport 30 as she sails on the San Francisco Bay. Hope you enjoy my new layout and my posts as we head towards the next horizon. Thanks to Captain Black for his help on the redesign of my blog. We also welcome him to the sailing blogosphere! Cheers to all the sailing bloggers out there and we will see you on the water!!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Billabong Ride of the Year Nominees

The finalists for the 2010 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy were announced today in the wake of one of the greatest years in surfing history. Following 12 months of enormous swell events from South Africa to Hawaii to Australia to California to Mexico to Tahiti and beyond, over 1000 entered images have been distilled down to this year’s elite nominations. Video and still images of all the top rides are now available for viewing on the updated event website at The awards will be presented on April 23.

Scariest Waves of the World

I have been surfing since I was 10 and now I am teaching my son Connor to surf. I have surfed some waves in the 10-12' range and those are big waves. When you get into the waves that break at Maverick's or Ghost Tree, you are on monsters that would scare the devil out you. Respect for those that can do that and survive. Here is a collection of some of the gnarliest waves on the planet. Cowabunga!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Four Pirates - One Dream

Four mates get together and decide it's time to leave their world behind and head to the sea. They are working towards buying a very nice Catalina 400 and setting sail. A voyage of discovery, not only for themselves but of themselves. I'm kind of jealous as these twenty somethings make their plans to depart on a three year circumnavigation of the planet. I wish I had the vision to make this happen before life got in the way. Here are some words from the captain, "I have a love of the ocean that even during my later years in Dallas, Texas can't be forgotten. Everyday I dream about being on the water with my 3 closest friends exploring the world on our terms... no schedule, no one telling us what to think, & no bull. I can't wait to take a break from a society that tells us we will never be good enough without the newest clothing, cars, & flat screen tv's. As one of my favorite musicians, Zach Scott Pohl, would sing... I simply need to Get back to Zero". Please visit their blog and get ready to follow them on the high seas as their conquer their world. You can read more here. If you like, you can support their efforts by purchasing some of their swag. Shiver me timbers!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

One of My Favs - One Eskimo - Kandi

One Eskimo - "Kandi" from KFOG Radio 104.5/97.7 on Vimeo.

Does anybody else love this song? Let it wash over you, let it infect you. And damned if when it’s done you don’t need to hear it again!
This song is a rework from on oldie by Candi Staton from the 70's. So cool!

Bad Day at the Marina - Flooding in Scotland

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Reflections of a Sailor

33 Things I’ve Learned in 33,000 Miles

1. Mom likes to say “the journey is the destination”. She’s right. Although we sailed from point to point on a map, locations were only a skeleton on which to build our adventure.

2. You find what you’re looking for. The cruises who talk about the dangers lurking in each location are invariably the ones who find trouble. Cruisers who make smart decisions and keep a positive attitude somehow manage to find good stuff in the same places and enjoy themselves much more.

3. Cruising is a great investment of time.

4. If I have children, I will take them cruising. They will thank me.

5. There is no shortage of adventure in the world but most of the real ones aren’t easy.

6. For every Paris or Rome there are a thousand hidden corners of the globe where people like you and me make a life. The corners are usually where my favorite memories originate.

7. Cruising let’s you share a back porch with a billionaire. In Turkey we anchored next to a diamond merchant’s 200 foot megayacht for two days. He spent 50 million dollars to visit the same destination as us. Some people buy floating condominiums and some people buy the sailing equivalent of a cargo crate, but we all meet at the same barbecue pit on the beach.

8. There is always something to do on a boat. You are never, ever bored.

9. The Caribbean is high quality cruising. The Bahamas are shockingly beautiful. Who knew there are such awesome destinations so close to the States?

10. Ocean crossing is mostly about persistence. Just point the boat in the right direction, don’t hit anything for a few days, and you’re good to go.

11. Reality TV is stupid.

12. One of my favorite things about cruising is how every day is different. You never know what wrinkles will be thrown into your schedule so you might as well take off your wristwatch.

13. Don’t use pens from the desk of an Immigration officer without asking for permission first.

14. Lost in an arid, desolate land? Shipwrecked on a deserted island? Trapped in a canyon by a pack of hyenas? Never fear. They'll build a new Starbucks at your location within the week.

15. When locals point to the next island as “dangerous”, there are usually people on that island pointing back at them and saying the same thing.

16. Other yachties refer to you by your boat name (for example, if our friends on Duetto were talking about us they might say “Exit Only are brilliant mariners”). Remember this when you get the urge to name your vessel La Cucaracha.

17. There is something wonderfully mysterious about harnessing the wind to travel.

18. Always learn a few phrases in the local language. People appreciate the effort and it’s a great way to make new friends. (NOTE: be sure to know the exact meaning of your newfound phrases before you shout them across crowded rooms at sword-toting strangers)

19. Never overestimate the common sense of charter boats when it comes to anchoring. I don’t want to sound negative but you would not believe some of the stuff we’ve seen in the Caribbean. Usually the accidents happen because they don’t observe the First Rule of Doing Anything on a Boat (see #20).

20. Slow is better than fast. Disasters usually happen because someone is trying to accomplish something too fast. It's similar to operating a chainsaw in this respect.

21. It is OK to say "no, thanks" when pressured to buy something. If the vendor still refuses to acknowledge your right not to part with your hard earned cash, shout newly learned local phrases (NOTE: unless the seller has a which case, buy something from them. Preferably a shield or a larger sword).

22. On the extremely rare occasions when we’ve been pressured for a bribe, a polite “no” has worked. This seems to be the consensus opinion of most cruisers and travelers I know.

23. You find good people wherever you go.

24. God loves every single person on this planet. I know it sounds glib but this thought keeps popping into the forefront of my mind as we travel. That Maldivian lady fishing on the end of the pier? God loves her. The rich Italian punk who ripped by in a speedboat and rocked us with a huge wake? God loves him. The guy in Grenada who snuck onto our boat at night and didn’t see anything worth taking, but left muddy footprints? God loves him. The lady who smiled and gave us extra bread at the market in Sudan? God loves her. The list goes on forever. It is such a mind-blowing idea and it makes me want to treat other people better because we when you get right down to it, we‘re all the same. By the way, God loves you too.

25. Cruising isn‘t always fun. Long night watches, rough passages, boat maintenance, getting trapped on board for days of non-stop rain, living in close proximity with three other adults (two of whom are your parents), lightning storms, relatives who don’t understand, living at the mercy of the weather, frequent discomfort, traveling at speeds which make a snail on a unicycle look fast, and intermittent contact with shore-based friends are all part of the deal. But it’s worth it.

26. All ocean passages include a few hours when ice cream is the sole topic of conversation.

27. It would have been nice to have a freezer on board.

28. A good hat is worth it’s weight in ice cream. I lucked out and found an Australian cowboy hat with enough stiffness and brim width to serve as my personal umbrella.

29. Never trust a strange camel.

30. Every Diet Coke manufacturer uses a slightly different recipe. The flavors range from "Throat-chokingly Harsh" to "Heavenly Nectar". Always check which it is before you buy 12 cases.

31. You know how all the pictures from the 1800s and 1900s show people with serious faces? I guess photographs were too rare to waste on tomfoolery and goofy smiles. Interestingly, many eastern cultures are modern day proponents of “straight faced” photography. People are affable and smiling in conversation until I ask if I can take a photo, whereupon they straighten up and get serious.

It makes me wonder about my natural inclination to act like a goofball whenever anyone points a camera at me. At the very least I usually smile. Why? Am I trying to inject happiness into a memory which might otherwise appear bland? How many times have you seen an arguing couple on vacation stop and smile while a stranger takes their picture, then go right back to arguing? What will they remember of their trip when they look back at their photos?

32. Daily radio nets are a great way to keep morale up on the open ocean. Especially if you are the one with the best fishing story.

33. Humanity has a startling history of warfare. Sometimes I felt like we were touring the world from fortress to fortress. Leading me to my next reflection…..