Saturday, September 17, 2011

That Pigweed event

We were under the Golden Gate bridge just after dawn for our run to Monterey and the conditions were good; a long cautious turn to the south to avoid swells in the shallows in the "Potato Patch" area. Monterey Harbour was busy for the weekend and it was difficult to allocate us a slip, so we ended up on the end tie just inside the harbour. The swell during the night was extreme, and the constant barking of the sea lions in their playpen just a few yards away was just too much, so we hurried to friendly Moss Landing in the morning for a far better mooring option. That put is in a great position to rendez-vous with our best friend from Panama, known to all as K.A.P. It just so happens that in her youth she attended high school with the queen of Chualar Canyon who has a wine label called "Pigweed". Let's deal with the name first. The Californian goosefoot plant was called "chual" by the indians and "lambs' quarters" by the botatinists...........the common name is "pigweed".
JoAnn and her husband organise a substantial fund raising event for the benefit of troops in Iraq. Friends and friends of friends turn up and enjoy one humungous party with music, dancing, food................and, of course, that wonderful Pigweed wine. All we need to do is participate in the good cause (this year's target was $10,000) and we actually bottle the year's production. The bottling line deals with something like 25 bottles a minute; being on the production line took me back to my college vacation work at the Royal Forest factory, Gloucestershire, bottling Ribena! As you can see in the photos one needed to apply quite a degree of concentration to the bottle-filling process, especially by the time we had got onto the red which was later in the day. By then the effects of the white had mounted up! If you lost concentration the siphon effect of the supply dried up and you had to suck the wine through..............this meant that just everyone on the bottling line had a great time!

We had a fantastic day, and our thanks to the wonderful Pierce sisters who made it such a memorable occasion. We ensured that we got completely lost on the way back to the boat, not even the diligence of the designated driver could quite negotiate the twists and turns out there in the California desert. We eventually stopped and asked the way and got perfect directions to Moss Landing. Our good Samaritan then announced that he was an unsighted person, well, that was just another memorable incident of a great weekend. And by the way, if you find yourselves in Moss Landing at supper time, you will need to go to Phil's Fish Market and Eatery for dinner. One of those classic eateries. It is a large fish warehouse and market, with room easily for a couple of hundred people to eat. No table service, you line up at the counter to put your order in with the kitchen. The food is fantastic and the place is packed; the prices are remarkably low. Some people just get it right.

I had been monitoring the weather twice a day and calculated that Sunday night was a good time to round Point Conception. Kathy came aboard and we headed south. The cruise was absolutely fabulous with perfect weather and sea conditions. The swell subsided and seas were 0-1'; wind less than 5 knots. Sunset was followed by moonrise, and we had moonlight all night. Just at the Point, we had a beautiful sunrise. By the late afternoon, after a 236 mile run, we were tied up at Channel Islands Yacht Club, Oxnard, another very hospitable place.

So here we have - Sunset, the Full Moon, and Sunrise. And flat seas.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oakland Yacht Club, Alameda

Here we are at OYC and the picture on the right shows our friends from S/V Estrellita tied up at the guest dock in front of us. They took only six days to sail here from Tofino, Vancouver Island, and they found the sun. With the right weather, everything is possible. OYC's hallmark is to be the "Friendliest Yacht Club on the Bay" and we can vouch for that. Once again we have met great people here and look forward to catching up with them on the airwaves or in a distant place. Also next door is the Encinal Yacht Club, again a great place to meet up. New friends the Rossi family were kind enough to take us out to Berkeley one evening to broaden our horizons and we hope to see them later in our travels.  Alex showed up unexpectedly from his Alaska trip to make sure that we didn't miss the award winning noodles made while you wait at the Ark Chinese restaurant, Alameda. I also recommend the great food at the India Palace.

The island city of Alameda has a gentle pace of life and we brought out our folding bikes to ride most days. There are reputedly the highest concentration on Alameda of Victorian homes which escaped the 1906 earthquake in which an estimated 3,000 people lost their lives. At the time a figure of 375 deaths was fabricated by government officials who feared the truth would hurt real estate prices. Of course that sort of thing doesn't happen today.............of course not. Here are the photos of our bikes ready to ride and another photo of them folded and packed to stow in their cubby hole in the engine room.
Here also is our photo of one of those iconic San Francisco streets, you know, the ones that go up, then up,
then up even more. And you can imagine those police cars coming careering down just like in the old TV series. Yes, we did all watch them, you had better own up. One day we took the BART over to San Francisco from 80 degree Alameda to 65 degree San Franciso; the Admiral was particularly keen to view the bojagi-inspired exhibition at the Museum of Folk and Craft Art. Now I know all about Korean wrapping cloths; if it is educational it is good, right?
We have done boat chores and homework also and are ready to depart tomorrow at 0530 for a long run to Monterey. I have been watching the weather forecast twice a day all week since we have first tomorrow the San Francisco bar and later in the week, the "Cape Horn of the Pacific", Point Conception. I have been monitoring the forecasts for the two buoys Point Argello and Harvest, that is where we will be Sunday night if all goes according to plan. It is essential to get this weather right. You will remember our caution in the down transit to California and that we reckoned we just crept under the wire before last week's gale. S/V Gypsy Soul were not so lucky, the Coast Guard rescued these experienced sailors early Friday morning in 30 ft seas and 60 knot winds; a hatch was stoved in by the seas and they were unable to cope with the amount of water coming aboard. Prepare, prepare, prepare and then be cautious. And good luck would also be very useful.