Adios Estados Unidos

Time to go! We’re crossing the border into Mexico tonight. Should arrive in Ensenda tomorrow morning. No more US cellphones after that so email us if you want to get in touch: velellavelella@gmail.com or our personal email addresses.

Thank you Sandersons, friends and San Diego for a wonderful two and a half weeks plus very delicious Thanksgiving. Hasta luego!

 

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We made it to San Diego!

Well, here we are at the bottom of the West Coast of America. 18 miles from Tijuana. How crazy that we’ve made it this far! Definitely a big milestone. We arrived Thursday, November 10th (a week ago already!) and have been alternating between major boat work/border crossing preparations and visiting with friends and family. Guess which one is more fun? The engine did great when we FINALLY escaped Oxnard (6 night stay instead of just 1) and headed to Marina Del Ray to see my wonderful Mom who had flown down, my awesome cousins Greg, Ann, Zoe, and Julian (Yay!) and hilarious as always high school friend Jamie and his fiance Kendra. So great to see you all in sunny LA! You NW transplants are spoiled by all that vitamin D. We love you! After LA madness, we sailed Mom over to the tranquility of Catalina Island. It was really fun to have her onboard for one of our calmest, most relaxing sails. And Two Harbors was so sweet and perfect. After JaMama left on the ferry the next day Rob and I stayed one more evening, reveling in the most gorgeous red purple sunset followed by a glowing full moon rise. A very special night. We awoke at two am to start the run to San Diego. 12 hours later we arrived!

More soon, the boat calls. (Specifically the problematic aft fuel tank that needs emptying, cleaning out and re-sealing, something we shouldn’t have had to do for another 10 years. Boats!)

Love to all!

Kai (and Rob)

P.S. Rob is DJing a party this Saturday! Wish you all could be there!

Sailing from NorCal to SoCal

Update: We have two new albums on Picasa! Click on the photo to the right to see them.

(Kai says) It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m folding laundry at the Big Wash laundry mat in Oxnard, CA. Confession: I love folding laundry. I’m the kind of person who reorganizes the magazines that have fallen over or been placed in the wrong place on the rack. I tidy creamer stations at coffee shops. I straighten rugs. I guess it’s my little OCD gift to the world. Random acts of meaningless organization. So it’s no wonder I love folding laundry. It’s so easy and pleasant to make order out of a pile of warm fabric. Especially for people I love.

We’ve been here at the Channel Islands Harbor, which is NOT in the Channel Islands but in Oxnard just south of Santa Barbara, for the past 24 hours. We were only supposed to be here for 12 hours but our engine decided to give us our first big scare and died last night when we were in the middle of the harbor with megayachts all around. I had to run up and prep the anchor in cast we couldn’t get it started again and had to drop anchor to stop us from blowing down on other boats. It actually wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds but it was a big bummer! Because after we limped to a slip the engine continued to keep dying on us. Problem with the fuel supply. Rob spent all day today changing filters, taking lines apart, and installing parts and pieces. I spent all day cleaning up the boat, running land errands and doing laundry. I took a Diesel Mechanics class from the wonderful Ms. Crystal and I loved it but I still don’t have enough experience/confidence to dive into major engine projects. Maybe in a couple more months. For now, it’s Rob who gets to twist himself into crazy contortions as he explores the inner workings of our Volvo Penta.

What were we doing before our engine stranded us in Oxnard? Coast hopping down the rugged coast of Cali-for-ni-a. We left Sausalito two weeks ago, in mid October. Rob’s cousin, also named Rob, flew up from San Diego to crew with us. We also shanghaied our friend Jody Boyle, who runs North Bay Boatworks in Sausalito but we had to leave him in Santa Cruz so he could get back to his lovely wife Katie, who is with child. Saying goodbye to our new friends like Jody, Katie, Tyler, Emma, Christian, Josie and others in Galilee Harbor was hard! In a small way it was like leaving PT all over again since the community was so welcoming and familiar. On our last night we went for a wild farewell sail. See you next time we pass through Galilleeians!

Our first stop was Half Moon Bay. It was cool, cloudy and gray. Mavericks was not breaking. Our second stop, many sail changes and Bob Marley songs later, was Santa Cruz. I got to sneak off to a yoga class with one of my best friends Aleah while the boys went surfing at Steamers Lane. It is so crazy to sail into towns I’ve visited so many times by car. Our next stop was Monterey, where Rob (Sanderson) and I ran, literally, to the Aquarium before it closed and Rob (Williams, cousin) graciously did laundry and ran, again literally, to West Marine before it closed. He brought fishing poles and we were short on pole holders and a gaff hook. Now we’re set! Not that we caught anything these past two weeks besides kelp but we’ll keep trying.

After listening to the marine weather forecasted for the next few days, we decided to jet out of Monterey and start running down the coast, through the night if the conditions allowed it. After Monterey Bay there are only so many great anchorages and most are spread pretty far apart. Plus we wanted to get past Point Conception, the big elbow on the state of California, when things were as calm as possible, night or day. We ended up running straight through the next 48 hours, leaving Monterey on Friday and arriving at Cojo, a bay just past Conception, on Sunday at dawn. The weather mostly cooperated, though one night I had to skip my night watch because I felt too seasick. Otherwise, I’ve been feeling much better! I swear. I take my meclezine (like Dramamine) two times a day and it really helps. Point Conception whipped up some crazy currents for us so for a few hours we barely made any headway. But Velella velella persevered! We rounded the point and dropped anchor in foggy, kelp filled Cojo bay.

That was the first week! The next week we spent at the Channel Islands. I will let Rob tell you about that. And anything else he wants to share.

After the Channel Islands we had a phenomenal weekend visiting family in the sunny paradise of Santa Barbara. Thanks Haggart and Goss families for your hospitality, generosity, great conversation and humor. We love you!

Hasta luego,

K.

(Rob says) Today is Tuesday the first of November.  11/1/11. We are in Oxnahd (that’s the fancy way of saying Oxnard).  And we are beyond anchorages for a bit – which is unfortunate for the wallet but fortunate since after leaving the check-in dock to get a slip last night at 6 ish (getting darkish) the engine died.  Dead.  We drifted.  Got the anchor ready.  Crossed fingers (figuratively).  Revved the engine and luckily she cranked and held.  We motored the mile to our transient slip and shut her down.  This a.m. we were supposed to be heading to Marina Del Rey but the engine wanted a day to relax in Oxnard and wouldn’t run.  So after b-fast, into the engine room I went for engine room yoga.  I pumped and pumped this little finger pump to try and push fuel through the system but no fuel came – after an hour I thought I could do this all day or call a professional to expedite the process.  (Or maybe Kai thought of that, I don’t remember J.)  We found a great mechanic that works on fish boats and didn’t have time to do the work but had time to suss it out, which was great for localizing the issue and turning it over to us to keep it cheap.  After he left I spent 6.5 hours in the engine room tearing apart and rebuilding the fuel system and changing filters and re-rigging a new priming pump instead of the miserable finger pump (lift pump) – the engine purrs!!!  Oh green engine how we love you.

So tomorrow morningish – after the 50 knot gale blows through – we are off to Marina Del Rey.  Take Two!

Channel Islands.  Kai says that’s what I’m supposed to be writing about.  What first comes to mind is wildlife.  When we left Santa Cruz early for Monterey, after heading out to surf the night before from the boat past a dozen or so sea otters having dinner in kelp beds, we saw whales breakfasting off the wharf.  Half way to Monterey we drove through about a 1000 seabirds of all varieties (cormorants, grebes, pelicans, sea gulls etc.) just finishing their breakfast.  Another mile we saw two sharks perusing the surface (possibly whiteys).  Somewhere prior to darkness and rounding Conception we were again graced by dolphins off the bow surfing our wake.  When we arrived at Cojo after rounding Conception in dense fog and darkness and kelp beds restricting our entrance into the bay we were greeted by a Sea Lion (warning us off I think til the sun rose – which we did).

The farthest west Channel Island is called San Miguel.  And compared to the other 3 Islands in this chain it is rarely visited since it is in the Pt. Conception weather flow and gets hammered by swell and northwesterlies.  We were lucky and arrived on a small swell and light wind period.  After setting the anchor we launched the dinghy for a shore expedition.  There were leopard sharks everywhere.  Probably 40 or more of them cruising the bottom looking for food (they aren’t dangerous to people).  We landed on the beach between small waves and Kai took off in a jog to the left and discovered sand dollar fossils while Rob (cousin) and I climbed lava rocks to the right to check out Elephant Seals.  Those things are massive!  And they pile up together on the beach when not fishing, seeming to take solace in elephant seal solidarity.  The have big snouts similar to elephants and are 10 times larger than a harbor seal.  They make loud grunts all the time – even when they sleep.  I heard recently that human snoring might actually be a defense mechanism left over from our primitive days so that when we gathered and slept in caves, a passing animal would hear the loud noises and be deterred from entering.  I was guessing that’s why the elephant seals hmphed in their sleep too.  Hmmph!

The Channel Islands are no San Juan Islands and they definitely made us miss them.  The CI’s are exposed to the ocean.  Every anchorage is rolly from even minor ocean swell.  And the guide books all say with the slightest swell or wind increase – get out of there!  The “harbors” are little more than a slight curve along the cliffs and caves.  But we hit them during a good week.  The weather was great, we sailed, surfed rocky waves and because the summer season is over we mostly had them to ourselves.  We met a power boat named the Heathen with two classic NorCal oldish dudes on board.  The first night they gave us snapper cause they caught too many.  Delicious.  And our fishing poles weren’t working so it was a nice treat.  We kept running into them after independent journeys and compared our days.  They were classic and had spent lots of time in the C.I.’s – surfing, exploring and shenaniganing.  The Heathens certainly brought a lot of color to our time in the islands.

We spent 5 days in all in the CI’s.  They are rugged and demanding and rocky and rolly.  I slept with one eye open listening to waves crashing on shore after the swell lifted us up and set us down for the next set.  Rob and I got to surf twice which was pretty phenomenal.  I’ve had a Channel Islands surfboard for about 6 years and had hoped one day I’d get to ride it there.  Check.

All in all, with the engine and all the other maintenance on the Vv, this life is more than I had hoped for.  Life is really good!  We are excited for the next couple weeks in SoCal then mid November we are off to Mex.  Hard to believe.  Impossible to believe actually.  Things have only been becoming real once we arrive.  I like it this way.  We plan.  We envision. Then we are there.

Magic.