All posts by Eric Pante

Avalon to Ensenada

Last Look Back at San Diego, California, and the USA

I departed Avalon at 6am on Saturday 27 October with clear skies and stars overhead. A light breeze from the west wafted me towards Oceanside over smooth seas. Soon after the sun rose thick fog descended and I sailed the rest of the day blanketed in fog, sometimes thick, sometimes thin. I arrived in Oceanside at 3:30pm and tied up to my guest slip in front of the Jolly Roger restaurant where I left the boat for a week and flew home fr a quick visit.

I returned to Oceanside on Saturday 3 November and departed early Sunday morning for San Diego. I spent 4 beautiful days there completing my entry paperwork for Mexico, provisioning, and enjoying all that San Diego has to offer.

I sailed out of San Diego Bay on the afternoon of Thursday 8 November for Ensenada, my first port in Mexico. It was a gorgeous afternoon and evening, with just a sliver of the waxing crescent moon after sunset and setting not long after the sun.

Sunset over Islas Los Coronados, MX

The stars in the moonless sky were magnificent. I spent the evening sailing South with Mars directly ahead of me. I sailed slowly with light winds from the WNW pushing me towards Ensenada over flat seas. Then at 4am the Santa Anna winds that were fanning fires further north in California hit me suddenly and ferociously. I put a double reef in the mainsail and furled the jib, but still had the rail buried. At sunrise I was 4 miles from the entrance to Marina Coral and not making much forward progress against the fierce wind. I lowered the mainsail and motored towards the entrance at full throttle. It took 3 hours to cover the 4 miles, and as I entered the marina my outboard made a loud rattling noise and quit. I coasted into the dock and tied up. The wind died completely an hour later.

I’ll be in Ensenada for a few days as I figure out how to get a new outboard in Mexico. It will probably involve a trip north to San Diego. There are worse places to break down. Marina Coral is the most luxurious Marina I’ve stayed in on this trip with pools, spas, gym, excellent restaurant, and feudal service. Ensenada has been upgraded since I was here last, with a wine trail, afternoon jazz concerts, and upscale restaurants.

Going South

Santa Barbara to Avalon

Sunrise Leaving Channel Islands

I had a wonderful time visiting Santa Barbara, one of my favorite towns. The weather was perfect as usual, the harbor is just at the end of State St. next to Stearn’s Wharf, a great central location for exploring. I had excellent Mexican food at Carlito’s, breakfast at the first and last Sambo’s, and great seafood at Brophy Bros. I hiked up to Elings Park and wandered around town.

On Tuesday, 23 October I sailed the 28 miles to Channel Islands Harbor in about 5 hours, arriving around 3pm. Two other boats I met in Morro Bay arrived shortly after me,

Wednesday, 24 October I departed at 6am for Two Harbors on Catalina Island, 56 miles distant, with the setting harvest moon lighting my way. The morning was calm so I motored until 10am, then sailed. It was a gorgeous day with dolphins playing around the boat all afternoon. Zoom in on the photo below to just in front of the boat and there is a dolphin jumping completely out of the water.

Dolphins

I arrived in Two Harbors a bit before 6pm, just as the sun was setting. Two Harbors is on the isthmus, the narrow part of the hourglass between the north and south parts of Catalina. It is a short walk across the isthmus, so I saw the sunset over the ocean and the sunrise over the water the next morning. I hiked around Two Harbors Thursday morning, then sailed to Avalon in the afternoon. I spent Friday hiking in the hills and kayaking in the Bay. I’ve never been to Catalina before. I’ve had an outstanding time.

Sailing to Catalina
Barchetta Veloce at Two Harbors
Barchetta Veloce at Avalon

Tomorrow I sail to Oceanside.

Morro Bay to Santa Barbara

Central Coast Sunset

20 October 2018. I departed Morro Bay in the dark at 6am. I motored for an hour until I felt a bit of breeze, the hoisted the sails. It was an exhilarating day of sailing. With a brisk breeze and gentle swell both from the NW we surfed South at 10 – 12 kph for most of the day. It was a lively ride, but one of the best days of sailing I’ve ever had. In a small ultralight boat you feel very connected to the sea and wind, feeling the motion of every wave and any slight variation in the wind. I flew down the coast past Point Arguello and rounding Point Conception turned East as day became night. The wind and waves died away and soon we were gliding along on a warm gentle offshore breeze.

21 October 2018. What a beautiful night. The waxing gibbous moon casts a shimmering light on the smooth water, and meteors occasionally shoot across the sky. At 7am the wind dies completely. I furl the sails, start the outboard, and motor into Santa Barbara at 9am in time for breakfast. I spent the morning and afternoon walking in Santa Barbara, then after being awake for 38 hours I slept like I haven’t slept in a long time.

Central Coast at Dusk
Sunrise approaching Santa Barbara
Barchetta Veloce in Santa Barbara

Monterey to Morro Bay

Sunset

17 October 2018

Today was magical. Sailing along the Big Sur coast in warm sunshine, a light breeze wafting us along, the ocean swells gently raising and lowering the boat. Louie Armstrong singing La Vie en Rose. Blue skies with a few clouds on the horizon and a chiaroscuro haze along the shore, giving the land a dreamlike quality. Pelicans fly by in single file, skimming over the sea. Pelicans have a comical aspect on land, but at sea they are elegant birds, beautiful in flight.

Google recently notified me that according to my Google Maps timeline I’ve visited 28 countries and 837 cities in the past 5 years. I don’t remember them all, but I do know this is a day I will remember for it’s beauty and serenity. We live in a world of ugliness, hate, brutishness, pain, suffering, and deceit. It is also a world of sublime beauty, divine love, unexpected kindnesses, peace, joy, and honesty. Please enjoy the beauty, love, kindness, peace, joy, and honesty of this day.

Sailing the Big Sur Coast
Sunrise
Barchetta Veloce in Morro Bay

San Francisco to Monterey

I sailed out of Alameda on Thursday, 11 October 2018. Spent a couple of days in San Francisco, then sailed for Monterey, arriving 15 October after a one night stay in Half Moon Bay and an overnight sail. Will depart 17 October for Morro Bay. First days and night of sailing have been beautiful and peaceful. Here are a few photos.

Leaving Alameda
San Francisco at Dawn
Sunrise at GoldenGate
Whale Tail
First Sunset at Sea
Barchetta Veloce in Monterey
Monterey

AKL

22 March 2018

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

‘There are those who become so involved in looking at the man-made lights of the city that they unconsciously forget to rise up and look at the great cosmic light and think about it – that gets up in the eastern horizon every morning and moves across the sky with a kind of symphony of motion and paints its technicolor across the blue – a light that man can never make. They become so involved in looking at the skyscraping buildings of the Loop of Chicago or Empire State Building of New York that they unconsciously forget to think about the gigantic mountains that kiss the skies as if to bathe their peaks in the lofty blue – something that man could never make. They become so busy thinking about radar and their television that they unconsciously forget to think about the stars that bedeck the heavens like swinging lanterns of eternity, those stars that appear to be shiny, silvery pins sticking in the magnificent blue pincushion.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday I woke up early and walked across the street to have scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast at Dizengoff. Ponsonby Road has many excellent restaurants, but food in New Zealand is expensive. I have to eat about 4000 calories per day to keep from losing weight, so I’m not looking forward to seeing my Visa bill when I get home. It was drizzling, so I finished reading my Samuel Beckett and started a book of Martin Luther King Jr speeches. By 10 the rain had stopped so I walked down to the quay and took the ferry to Waiheke Island.

I hiked across the island, and went for a swim at Palm Beach. I had to throw my hiking boots away – they were falling apart and smelled so bad I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with them – so I’ve been hiking in my flip flops. Several days I’ve walked over 15 miles in them, and they must have over 1000 miles on them in total. So my $20 Havaianas have outlasted my hiking boots, and they are more comfortable – at least in warm weather.

On the way back I stopped for lunch in Onetangi – very good gnocchi with summer squash. By the time I got back to Auckland and wandered around for a while it was time for dinner and walking past a place called Uncle Man’s I noticed they served rojak, so I had to go in. Not the best rojak I’ve had.

Yesterday I relaxed and walked around Auckland. Stopped at the museum to see the Maori exhibits.

Outrigger
Outrigger
Smile
Smile

I’ve had a wonderful time in New Zealand watching the clouds and stars, hiking in the mountains and forests, swimming in the sea.

Serenity

Serenity

This morning I watched a gorgeous sunrise while eating blueberry pikelettes on the patio of Cafe One2One, an appropriate ending to a wonderful trip.

Bad Photo of Beautiful Sunrise
Bad Photo of Beautiful Sunrise

Perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ – Samuel Beckett

Auckland

19 March 2018

Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.– Thinking, Fast and Slow

Decided to try something a little different (bungy jumping video deleted due to space constraints).

Bay of Islands

17 March 2018

Low Tide at Tutukaka
Low Tide at Tutukaka

‘There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.’

Drove here Monday from Auckland and decided to stay the week. One location or another in the Bay of Islands is on most every top ten list for sailing, surfing, diving, beaches, etc. for good reason. It’s a stunning area with warm weather and water, secluded beaches, uninhabited islands, and friendly natives who speak english, though often unintelligibly. I’ve rented a bungalow on a hill overlooking the bay for the week.

Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands

Went surfing twice this week on the Tutukaka Coast – haven’t gone surfing in years, but like skiing one doesn’t forget how to do it. Had an amazing time and stayed in the water for hours until too exhausted to go on. As they say here, I was rather chuffed.

A couple of other mornings I kayaked out to some of the islands. Went to Ngawha Hot Springs and sat in the mud and mineral baths one night. Afternoons I’ve been going for long swims. I like to swim straight out from the beach for 15 or 20 minutes until I’m well offshore in the deep water. It’s peaceful out there. Serene. Just the faint sound of the breakers on the beach. I float on my back and look at the sky as the swells gently lift me up, then lower me down, or swim underwater and see how deep I can dive.

Yesterday I went sailing on the bay, then the lady I’m renting the bungalow from took me to the RNZRSA (kind of like the veteran’s hall) for a St. Patrick’s Day party with all the locals; friendly people, but I honestly can only understand half of what they say – I do better in Spain and Italy.

Duke of Marlborough
Duke of Marlborough
Low Tide Wairoa Bay
Low Tide Wairoa Bay
Tutukaka Coast
Tutukaka Coast

Tonight I’m watching rugby with some neighbors. Tomorrow I head south towards Auckland where I will spend a few days before heading home.

Wellington and Northern Explorer

12 March 2018

Wellington
Wellington

Spent Saturday in Wellington. Wonderful, active waterfront with canoe racing, a buskers convention, and the New Zealand Arts Festival all taking place.

Sharks!
Sharks!
Skulling at Dawn
Skulling at Dawn

Took the Northern Explorer north to Auckland on Sunday. Scenic journey along coast then through interior of North Island. It is a beautiful country, but I think the clouds are the most extraordinary thing in New Zealand. The Maori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, translates to something like ‘Big White Cloud’. The clouds blow across the Pacific, then slow down when they hit the island and form ever changing billowing layers overhead.

Clouds
Clouds

Abel Tasman Track

9 March 2018

Abel Tasman 1

Abel Tasman 1

‘Liberty, friend Sancho, is one of the choicest gifts that heaven hath bestowed upon man, and exceeds in value all the treasures which the earth contains within its bosom, or the sea covers. Liberty, as well as honor, man ought to preserve at the hazard of his life; for without it life is insupportable.’

Abel Tasman 2

Abel Tasman 2

Abel Tasman 3
Abel Tasman 3
Abel Tasman 4
Abel Tasman 4

Spent Sunday afternoon and Monday in Nelson, then took the shuttle to Abel Tasman on Tuesday morning and started hiking along the coast in beautiful weather. Camped at Torrent Bay, then continued to Awaroa Wednesday under cloudy skies with a warm drizzle. Finished hiking early Thursday morning under sunny skies at Totaranui and caught the water taxi back to Marahau. A wonderful coastal hike, although the final section to Wainui is closed due to damage from the recent cyclone.

I’ve done a lot of walking the last few years, and my hiking gear (shoes, backpack, etc.) is wearing out. I, however, feel better than I’ve ever felt in every way. To be alive and at liberty to do what brings one joy is indeed one of the choicest gifts.

Tomorrow I fly to Wellington, and Sunday I take the Northern Explorer (train) to Auckland.

Nelson
Nelson