Tag Archives: Traveling

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

Auckland

The Reader
The Reader

22 February 2018

Departed San Francisco the evening of Monday 19 February and arrived in Auckland the morning of Wednesday 21 February after a quite pleasant 12 hour flight. Tuesday was nothing more than a dream somewhere over the Pacific. Such are the miracles of air travel.

Auckland is a sprawling city that straddles the North Island. I took advantage of this fact by walking all the way across New Zealand on my first afternoon in the country (it’s only 9 miles). Starting in the industrial west of the city, the Coast to Coast Walkway traverses through neighborhoods of Victorian and colonial houses with their corrugated steel roofs, then through parks, and finally to the central business district and eastern harbors. From One Tree Hill midway along the walk there are spectacular views across the island to the Tasman Sea in one direction and the Pacific Ocean in the other.

Auckland View to East
Auckland View to East
Auckland View to West
Auckland View to West

Many of the trees in the parks and along the streets are absolutely gorgeous.

Wide Tree, Big Roots
Wide Tree, Big Roots

Everything is very green, the weather is humid but pleasant, the days are long, and the natives are friendly. The cicadas are noisy, but I’ll get used to that. Today I will explore the city.

CBD
CBD

Sólheimajökull Glacier

Sólheimajökul Glacier
Sólheimajökul Glacier

29 January

Slept very well after my afternoon of skiing. Got up early, had breakfast, and joined a group for a guided hike on Sólheimajökul Glacier. Drove about 2 hours southeast of Reykjavík. Mostly 2 lane road covered in ice and snow – the only indication one is on a road are the side markers and the packed snow from previous traffic (glad I didn’t rent a car). The guide showed us how to use the crampons and ice axes, then we headed onto the glacier for a 3 hour hike. It takes about an hour just to climb up onto the glacier. There we could see the blue ice often with steaks of ash from volcanic eruptions in years past. The weather would change from sun to clouds to snow seemingly within minutes. The glacier was covered in fresh snow but we could see many crevasses and other features of the glacier. It was a great experience for someone from California who rarely sees snow.

Sunny Sólheimajökul Glacier
Sunny Sólheimajökul Glacier

Blafjoll

Blafjoll Cloudy Horizon
Blafjoll Cloudy Horizon

28 January

I didn’t sleep well and it looked cold outside so I almost decided to skip Blafjoll. But I didn’t have anything else planned, so one step at a time I worked my way there, thinking I could always turn back if it looked too miserable. It was snowing and cold when we arrived at Blafjoll, and I didn’t have proper cold weather gear, but I went ahead and rented skis and went skiing for the first time in over 25 years. I’m so glad I went. I had forgotten how much fun skiing is, and I had an amazing time.

Blafjoll is just a 30 minute drive from Reykjavík, but once outside the city the landscape becomes otherworldly. Trees and all other vegetation soon disappear, and then there are just endless lava fields covered in snow. There are 16 ski slopes. I started out on one of the easier ones and slowly worked my way up to the scale of difficulty. Apparently skiing is like riding a bike in that it’s not something you forget how to do. In the afternoon the snow stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. From the top of the ski slope, the snow covered lava fields ran into the shimmering sea in one direction, and in the other they merged with the clouds at the horizon. One of those rare moments of absolute peace, where the body is loose, the mind asks no questions, and the world is a triumph, was mine.

Blafjoll to the Sea
Blafjoll to the Sea

I was having such a great time skiing that before I realized it I had been skiing for four hours, and I was in danger of missing the bus back to Reykjavík. The day ended with more snow and thick fog – the weather in Iceland is fickle. I’m having a really nice time here. I’m doing things I haven’t done in a long time or have never done before. Sometimes change is good.

Reykjavík

Reykjavík Sea and Mountains
Reykjavík Sea and Mountains

26 January

Landed at Keflavík Airport at 3:30am. Cold and cloudy, but no rain or snow – yet. The plane was 3/4s full, but only four of us are staying in Iceland. We saw the Northern Lights from the plane – a god thing since the Northern Lights forecast for is poor for the rest of my stay. It took about 3 minutes to get through passport control. No one was working at Customs so I walked through without stopping. Almost everything at the airport was still closed. Thank god there was a shuttle bus leaving in 20 minutes. Got to my hotel before 5am, and fortunately they let me check in early.

I booked this trip a few days before Christmas, which seems a very long time ago. I never got around to making any travel plans other than the flight and a hotel, and when it was time for the trip I was kind of dreading going to a cold, dark, dreary place – I felt more in the mood for someplace warm and sunny. But sometimes it’s good to have low expectations because it’s easy to exceed them. And I booked a hotel with a really nice fitness center and spa, and brought several books, so if it ended up being too miserable outside I could enjoy myself inside.

I slept very deeply for a few hours and woke up feeling very refreshed. I put on my polar gear and headed out to find something to eat and have a look around. And I had a very nice day. Reykjavík is a rather small city with a population of about 250,000. But there is a lot here – a beautiful location on the sea with mountains in the background, many parks, several museums, a gorgeous opera house, and an active fishing port. I had a very nice lunch and wandered around. I went to the visitor’s center and since I was the only customer they were able to spend plenty of time with me figuring out what my activity options are. Everywhere I went everyone was helpful and friendly. The weather was cold with rain and snow showers, but not oppressive.

Reykjavík Frozen Pond
Reykjavík Frozen Pond

Then in the evening I went to a geothermal pool near the hotel. There are several of these around the city. Laugardalslaug has two large outdoor geothermal swimming pools heated to around 86 deg. F. They are surrounded by several “hot pots” (hot tubs), a seawater pool, and a steam bath. And it was better than someplace warm and sunny. Swimming in a warm pool while it is snowing and seeing people wandering around in bathing suits when it is 30 deg. F out is a surreal experience for someone from California. I spent about three hours swimming and sitting in the various hot pots and had a really wonderful time.