Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Half Moon Bay to San Francisco Bay

3/22/15 Our departure from Half Moon Bay is timed to minimize the negative impact of current as we enter the San Francisco Bay channel and cross the San Francisco Bar.   At the narrowest point the channel is just under a mile wide.  Today's current prediction is up to 4 knots at the morning peak.  As a flood current (inbound) not a big problem if nothing goes wrong.  Running is this type of current shortens the time a captain has to overcome a stalled engine or other issue.  Running against this much current in our boat = less than 4 knots of speed over ground and the same issues on recovering from a problem.  In the SF Bay an ebb (out bound) current is usually met by wind from the opposite direction.  This can result in very steep and "square" waves.  Even at 3-5 feet these waves are uncomfortable and can be dangerous.  We enjoyed a smooth ride under the Golden Gate but we were a little later than planned.   We saw plenty of flood current as seen below in the SOG (Speed Over Ground) reading from GPS.

This is a speed record for WORKNOT.   Entering SF Bay under the Golden Gate.

Our first entrance to SF Bay (below)  was on our 42' Grand Banks 3-11-2003.  Its still a thrill!  

Just behind Alcatraz Island this ferry crossed in front of us.  According to the AIS he was making 
32.4 knots with no help from the current!  Burning about the same amount of fuel in about 2 or 3 minutes that we burn in a hour.  

Anchoring in Clipper Cove, just off of Treasure Island was a familiar scene.  Over the years we spend many days and nights here watching the new Oakland Bay bridge being built.  Now the old bridge is being taken down.  You can see some of it in the background.  The lighting at night is amazing.  A real engineering accomplishment.

Completed at 4 times the original engineering estimate it truly is stunning from the water.

Box Score:  4 Hours 28 Miles 17 Gallons

3/23/2015  Short trip to a slip in Alameda

Heading up the Oakland Estuary the next morning we passed the Port of Oakland on our way to a guest slip at Marina Village.

Plan to stay here in Alameda, visit some friends, make a run to Las Vegas for routine doctor visits and wait for a weather window to continue north.  

The crew is taking the opportunity to rest up for the trip north.

Monterey To Half Moon Bay

3/20/15  Our stay in Monterey came to an end this morning as we got going at 7:30AM, continuing north with our next stop at Half Moon Bay.   Only about 60 miles up the coast we cross the Monterey Bay and its canyon.

From the above link: Many of Earth’s highest peaks, deepest valleys, and most extensive plains are found in the ocean. The undersea Monterey Canyon in California descends over two miles—twice as deep as Arizona’s Grand Canyon. From the wavy surface to the blackest depths, Monterey Canyon teems with beautiful and bizarre organisms.......

This picture is the entrance to Monterey Harbor.  Its actually about 50' wide but it does not look that way from the helm.    Just inside the fairways are all to starboard, so tight we can't make the turn without stopping and "backing and filling" to turn WORKNOT in such a tight circle.  Kinda like parallel parking but with wind and current.

We ran in fog  that was broken and scattered as we crossed the bay, about 20 miles.  About 3 hours out the fog broke and suddenly 100's of dolphins came to greet us.  Its always a treat to see even one or two but this was a real collection.  This picture does not do justice to the number of dolphins that streamed across the bow.  It lasted about 15 minutes and they always add to the trip. 

Our trip continued with mild seas, overcast skys and not much to report.  So far we have enjoyed exceptionally good sea conditions and light winds.  What's a bad day for sailboats is ideal traveling for us.  At 4:30 PM we were "anchor down" in Half Moon Bay securely behind the seawall.  This was one of our favorite escapes from the SF Bay area.   Great seafood, lots of room to anchor, several nice restaurants and only a few hours from the Golden Gate. 

The box score:    9 Hours, 60 Miles, 35 Gallons 

And another good day for Keela and crew on watch-----

Mary's pajamas not mine

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Coho 2 Monterey

Backtracking a bit on our trip up the coast we crossed near the entrance to the Long Beach Commercial Harbor.

From Wikipedia: 
Think about managing, coordinating and not losing 6.73 MILLION 20' containers each year.
The port has been on strike for higher wages and other issues causing a back up of ship traffic.   Below is a screen shot of my AIS showing dozens of ships on anchor waiting for work to resume.  Each blue triangle with a name below it is a container ship.  Your local Walmart may be short on stock in the next few weeks if things don't get resolved.

We anchored at a Coho just east of Point Conception.  There is nothing there but a few mooring balls, a remote beach and oddly good cell service.   It serves as a jumping off spot to round Pt. Conception allowing us to reach Morro Bay in about 10-11 hours.  This means you can round this point early in the morning and still make safe harbor in daylight.  An easy run from Ventura or Santa Barbara, Coho lets you rest and then poke your head out and see just how this major headland is effecting the sea state.  Between the shift in currents and the abrupt change in shoreline this area can be a wild ride.


We caught a great sunset at Coho and enjoyed an early dinner and sound nights sleep.  Being on anchor is so relaxing and quiet.  Cool at night, in the upper 50's, our diesel furnace kept us toasty and comfortable.

Our luck continued and the seas were smiling on us.  Anchor up at 7 AM.   Planning on going to Moro Bay 65 Miles and 9 HOURS away.


One of about 10 oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel and its northern approaches.   Expect this is why there is such good cell service in Coho.  As we approached one of the platforms we started seeing oil on the water and could even smell it.  It lasted about an hour.

Near Morro Bay we has a whale appear less than 100 feet from the boat.  Close enough to see the barnacles on his side.   He was traveling parallel and with us.  He sounded and we did not see him again.  It is a bit disturbing to go from isolated in your own world to realizing you are small and vulnerable in the blink of an eye.  

Weather continued to be pleasant and we decided to continue to Monterey Bay.  This added about 12 hours to the trip and requires an overnight run.  In calm seas we don't set a rigid watch schedule during daylight hours.  At night we try and make sure each of us has a minimum of 3 hours off watch to sleep.  4 hours is better and we often sleep either in the watch berth located in the pilot house or the salon couch.  Quick access to the pilot house helps us both sleep better.  The night went without incident as WORKNOT made her way up the coast.  We only saw one freighter, 9 miles further off shore than us, and no other pleasure boats or fishing boats.

We arrived in Monterey Bay about an hour sooner than planned.  Seas were very calm and we had a favorable current much of the way.  We jogged in a circle for about an hour before entering the harbor at daylight.  It is never good to enter a harbor in the dark if it can be avoided and this one has a very narrow opening and a sharp turn to port just after you enter.  Concrete walls on both sides and a new paint job kept me busy.  Will try and catch a picture of the entrance as we leave.

  After failing to fit into the assigned slip we got an end-tie deep inside the harbor.  Nordhavn boats are "FAT" and carry their beam all the way to the waterline.  This makes for lots of volume inside the boat but can complicate slip selection.  Few 50' boats are 16' wide at the water line.

 This is something you don't often see, a lock to keep people from putting money INTO the  washing machines.  At the Monterey Municipal Harbor the washer and dryer are located outside.  To keep the general public (homeless people) from using the machines you need a combination code from the office to remove the lock so you can access the coin slot.  I can only imagine how that city council meeting went.

 Just across from our slip the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club overlooks the harbor.  They had a sailboat race that even I understood.

No trip to Monterey is complete without a visit to the aquarium.  We have visited numerous times and each trip is new experience.  The variety is world class, perhaps the best aquarium in the world.  My favorite is the kelp forest and the incredible collection of "Jellys".

If you haven't visited this California treasure make plans to do it.  You won't be disappointed.

The box score for our trip     193 miles   25 hours     95 gallons  

Standing in the middle of a school

Keela got plenty of walking time in Monterey and managed to destroy another ball.  May have to add this to the operating expense for WORKNOT

Next up; travel to one of our favorite anchorages, Half Moon Bay and then San Francisco Bay.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Easy cruising from Ensenada to Coho-

Checking out of Ensenda on 3/2/15 was easy and we were assisted by Enrique from Cruiseport.  He knows his way around the various offices including health department, immigration, customs and the Port Captain.  Normally a 2-4 hour event, Enrique got it all handled in about an hour.  We said our goodbyes to friends and headed north for our 2015 cruising season.   It was hard to leave the Ensenada cruising community but the desire to see more of the west coast and get to the PNW won out.  
We cleared into the US Customs dock in San Diego after a very calm cruise north.   9 HOURS AND 65 MILES-35 GALLONS.   Very courteous customs inspectors arrived and were pleased we have a customs decal which we purchase annually for the same price as a single border crossing.  It will also aid us as we move from Canada back into the US later on this trip.

We stayed 3 nights at the San Diego Police dock, visited with several friends in San Diego and made the required trips to Costco, Trader Joe’s, West Marine, Marine Exchange and Sprouts.   It was fun to have the traditional choices but the prices!   Cruising in Mexico spoils you on food costs and labor costs.    

Next step in the trip was a short hop to Mission Bay.   3 HOURS AND 18 MILES-7.5 GALLONS.   We finally feel like we are really cruising.  No cars, no plans to return anywhere and only one scheduled event, making it to San Francisco in time to catch a plane to Kentucky on March 23rd.   

The Navy has a strong presence in San Diego and we were followed out the harbor by this boat.  Makes our paint job seem kinda dull!

We left Mission Bay on 3/8/2015  headed to Dana Point 6 HOURS AND  46 MILES-26 GALLONS.  A visit to the Nordhavn offices for a few parts and another attempt to get a carpet issue resolved.  Jeddy, the carpet supplier has been outstanding in supporting us but we have had a difficult time getting schedules to work.  This trip was no different and we will try again to resolve the issues in October when we anticipate heading south again.  

The guest dock at Dan Point West Yacht Club was easy to access and the prime rib dinner was outstanding.   Use of the guest dock and club rights come from our membership in the Point Loma Yacht Club in San Diego.  It’s been years since we were members of a yacht club and Point Loma was a good choice for us, easy going and low key.  

We left Dana Point driven as usual by the weather conditions on 3/11/2015 headed for Channel Islands.   14 HOURS AND 97 MILES- 58 GALLONS.   Along the way we discovered we could not fit in the guest slips at any of the Channel Islands Yacht Clubs that were available and opted to keep going to Ventura Yacht Club a little further up the coast.    

In 2002 this is where Mary and I started our blue water boating experience.  We had a 34' Searay Sundancer shipped from Alabama to Ventura Boatyard.  


More green than brave we quickly traded the fast Searay for 42' Grand Banks much better suited to the rugged west coast.

Just before we moved from Arizona to California we had a go-fast capable of 85MPH!   We thought the Searay was a turtle.

Top speed on the 42' Grand Banks- 6.5 KTS!   Change was in the wind.......

The forecast all the way to Point Conception is outstanding and we did not want to let it go to waste.    Even the next leg around the infamous Point Conception looks promising and we will keep moving north while the weather is good.  

Cruising can be exhausting for some, Keela napping on someone (me).  

  Next up Ventura Yacht Club to Coho to Monterey......

Could not resist or making the best of some down time!

While visiting Rob and Ocean Villa at Baja Naval casually asked Roberto who is a customer support manager at the yard, “What would be the cost of painting the hull on WORKNOT?”   It’s something we want to do eventually,  freshen up the boat and cover 2 patches made in the port side of the hull.   Patching gelcoat is an art and often the patch “ages” at a different pace than the parent material (hull).  This was the case for us.  When we purchased WORKNOT you could only see the portside patch in certain light at a certain angle.   As the boat aged the patch became more evident and buffing and waxing did not help.  

Like most boating issues there is no clear one path to a repair or fix.  Traditionally, yachts are painted with Awlgrip (POLYESTER BASED)  or other very hard and abrasion resistive  paints.   Developed for aircraft, Awlgrip has been the standard for yacht  finish for years given its high gloss and durability. 

The biggest downside is repairs are almost impossible.  Our Grand Banks 46 was painted with Awlgrip and the appearance was stunning in Jade Mist Green. 

 We were however,  never able to have scratches etc repaired without making the finish worse. Many megayachts get repainted every 7 years or so.   Painting the cabin and superstructure is very labor intensive and the costs rival a fine sports car and more for a 80-100 ft yacht.  Painting the hull is much simpler but its still a big $ commitment mostly for vanity.  Lately, newer paints that can be repaired (ACRYLIC URETHANE) are gaining acceptance and we choose AwlCraft for WORKNOT.  Not  as durable as AwlGrip but should give us another 10 years with the ability to repair any impacts.   (Both of the repairs that led us to paint the hull were from other boats hitting WORKNOT at the dock-once when owned by the previous owner by Towboat US and the other by the San Diego pirate boat while we owned WORKNOT.   (End-tie slips have a great view but do have some downside).

Scheduled to be two to three weeks on the hard we were lifted by Baja Naval on 2/9/2015 and placed next to Ocean Villa for sanding and prep work.  We stayed on-board and can attest to Rob’s work ethic as the steel grinding started each morning at 7 AM and lasted well into the evening.  Meanwhile the yard was sanding on our boat with two and sometimes three workers.  The Starbucks downtown, just a short walk away became a popular spot for us.   



Lots of options when doing a hull paint job and one is removal of hardware or mask around it.  We choose to remove the rubrails, breast plate and misc hardware and leave only the hawse holes in place to be masked.   To save some $ I removed the hardware myself.   Hundreds of screws and hours of prying stainless steel from the hull, working after hours when the crew was gone, got the hardware removed. 

 Most difficult was the breast plate just below the anchor.   It protects the hull form the anchor and adds some bling to the bow. 

 Over 2 hours just to get the adhesive to release and remove the plate.   Numbering and storing the hardware reminded me of working for Prospect Boat Works, back in high school, which build custom aluminum boats in the 50-75’ class.   A wonderful experience that I’m grateful for.  The education received from Arthur Pluckebaum and the team on how to drive a project, accomplish much with limited resources etchas benefited me in so many ways beyond just being able to work on my own boat.    

Having a boat on the hard is exhausting!  Main deck on the boat is about 8’ off the ground and it’s a steep ladder or staircase for each trip on and off the boat.   Working off a scaffold or ladder to remove hardware takes a toll.   Additionally, like every yard we have ever been on, you have to watch the work progress daily.  Working on a yard in Mexico is a little more challenging as most of the workforce does not speak English.  If there is a question, off to the office in search of Roberto every time.  

Progress on the paint job was going very well and I went to San Diego for a meeting.  When I returned “watching the work every day” bit us as the yard put the wrong bottom paint on while I was gone.   This required a few frantic calls to the paint manufacturer and a yard meeting.  Baja Naval owned up to the error and sanded off the new bottom paint per the manufacturer’s directions and repainted as specified.  Can’t ask for a better outcome than that but you can’t tell the two types of paint (ablative and hard) apart after application.  Reinforces the need to be on the yard with the boat.  


Here are few shots of the finished work.  It looks great and we got just what we wanted.  We even painted the waterline Jade Mist Green as a tip of the hat to our Grand Banks.
On launch day it rained most of the morning.  We were scheduled to be launched after “Blessed” a Nordhavn 43.  Once we were in the slings it rained so hard the yard stopped the launch and left us hanging in the slings until the wind and rain slowed down.   Think this is about the 3rd time WORKNOT has been rained on in 14 months......Living right I guess. 

This is our favorite sign, taken from inside the boat as we were being launched. 


 2/28/15 the launch finally got done, wind let off just in time and we got out of the launch well without any new scratches on WORKNOT.  Back to Cruiseport for a few days and then we head to San Diego as the first leg of our trip to the Pacific Northwest!

Thanks to all at Baja Naval including Roberto, "Wopert", Diego and Thomas.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

Road Trip

Since we have a car a road trip seemed like a good idea so off toward La Paz we went.   Just south of Ensenada and inland the landscape turns from arid to green and lush.  Several wineries populate the hillsides and as you move south agriculture on a grand scale takes over.   Strawberries, pine nuts and vegetables are being farmed on a industrial scale.

We saw acres of ground under greenhouses and large farms and ranches with hundreds of acres under the same banner.  The small farming towns were dusty and simple, some just a Pemex fuel station and the ubiquitous OXXO equivalent of a 7-11 wedged between mom and pop taco stands.

Driving the Baja at night is not advised for a variety of reasons.  The most compelling is free range cattle on the roads at night.  Heavy trucks run around the clock and the shoulder on most roads is steep or non-existent.  Our stop for the evening was in Catavina.  This "town" is set among a field of boulders worthy of the trip themselves.   The landscape goes from lush green farmland to a sea of boulders in just a few miles.  And a few impressive cactus.......

We stayed at the Catavina resort.  This resort style hotel was built with government support to encourage tourism.  It stands out from the rest of the available places to stay and easily the most expensive structure in the small town.  The architecture, food, pools etc were first class.    

To put into perspective just how "in the middle of nowhere" this oasis resides where there is no cell coverage and no phones in the rooms.  None in the lobby or anywhere else.  Cell coverage is 20+ miles away.     If you need to make a call you can rent a sat phone from the front desk by the minute.  That is a first for me.   Not to be outdone I had our sat phone from the boat.   Could have made a few $ renting it.   

Mary had a cold when we left and I began to feel worse as the evening went on.  By morning I was sick as well and we reluctantly turned around to head back to Ensenada. 

On the way back we stopped in a small restaurant and were greeted by a very colorful bird.  We signed a guest book dating from the 1970's as the Beatles played in the background.  Everyone is trying to capture the tourist along this busy artery of the Baja.

Life in Ensenada

It has been very quiet for us since our last posting but activity is picking up!   In November we moved WORKNOT to Ensenada Mexico.  Returning to Cruiseport Marina, just a short walk from downtown was a treat.  The same crew of folks run the marina including Jonathan and Enrique.  Both young men have been very helpful to us in past visits.

There is an active cruisers community in Ensenada which includes a daily VHF radio net for cruisers and others to check in and coordinate support for medical, transportation, project assistance and most importantly social gatherings.   We met a number of interesting people and renewed some old acquaintances.

We are all characters of some type and the crew of WORKNOT is no exception.  Likely in some other blog there is a captain writing about "those people we met on the Nordhavn.....".  Memorable folks we enjoyed being with in Ensenada included a lady living on a 87' Trumpy motor yacht built in about 1942.  It is MASSIVE and includes a direct start diesel engine and an open grate from the galley to the engine room.  The wooden timbers used in the construction are simply works of art, many of them 8" thick or more.

From the listing.  YOU can buy her now-

Kick Back, Originally Elsie Fenimore, built for E.R Fenimore Johnson, son of ER. Johnson the inventor of the Victrola, 1942, renamed USS John M. Howard (IX-75).
She is an 87’ Trumpy Motor Sailor Yacht with 4 large staterooms, 2 heads, 1 with Jacuzzi tub, and work shop.  She has a 60 HP Superior engine and is water tight.  Her upper deck is 2” thick teak, and she is covered in exquisite brass pieces.  She has fresh paint topside and is in great condition. Built with heavy construction pine she will last another lifetime.

Life's problems don't go away just because your on your boat in Mexico but perhaps they become a little easier to manage.   One couple was dealing with the wife's cancer re-occurance, another couple managing to stay on the boat and deal with Alzheimer's, world cruisers who have decided to swallow the anchor and sell their trawler after converting from sail to trawler in an effort to extend their cruising time and so on.  Mary and I are both thankful she has recovered from the ordeal in Turtle Bay and health for both of us is not an issue today.

Rob and Shannon become fast friends as we watched them work tirelessly to transform their 68" steel motor sailor from project to a crewed charter operation.  "Ocean Villa" was built in New Zealand and has a complex hull designed by a renowned naval architect.  Unfortunately for them, she also sat for years without proper maintenance.  The resulting damage put them on the yard for a hull inspection that revealed damage requiring new hull plating in half a dozen sections of the hull.  The ultrasonic testing process was interesting to watch and clearly showed where the hull needed work.  Over 250 reading were taken and recorded on the hull.  Removing the plating was not so difficult but the work to remove rust, scale and prepare for new plating was exhausting.  (And I was only watching Rob work 12 hours a day in tight quarters)  

A very talented welder supporting Rob preparing the keel plate for Ocean Villa.

Christmas in Mexico is always fun, its as big or bigger of a holiday season there as the US.  Lots and lots of decorations, holiday meals and family gatherings.  My sister Peggy met us in Las Vegas and traveled to Ensenada with us for her first Mexican visit.  A bit apprehensive to visit Mexico she left her home in Kentucky and trusted little brother to keep her safe and return her in one piece.  I asked her as we crossed the border southbound if she would ever consider living in Mexico or at least extended visits.  A resounding NO was the reply.  After a week of fabulous weather and even better Mexican hospitality and food asked her the same as we crossed the border northbound. Not surprisingly she had a major change of heart and expect her to be back to visit Mexico as soon as we return.

Christmas in Ensenada

One highlight of our time in Mexico was a visit to an orphanage in La Mision.  Door of Faith  is a privately run orphanage for about 105 kids.   Most kids who come there remain until they are adults.  Run by an American couple they survive on donations with no public money from Mexico.   We took some gifts and were impressed by the orderliness, cleanliness and overall joy the kids showed in everyday tasks. A little girl about 6 years old led me around the property and was all smiles and curiosity.  Everyone has a role and all are accountable for their part of making the operation home.    It's located about 1.5 miles down a dirt road in La Mission valley.  More information can be found at


 Decorated for Christmas

For the first time in a long time  we had a car while in Ensenada.  This allowed us ready access to Costco, Walmart, Home Depot and other US big box stores.   Also expanded our list of bakeries, restaurants and boat parts stores we got to know.   Because I have a small consulting gig in San Diego frequent trips there provided plenty of opportunity to bring back any comfort foods and boat parts we were missing.  Driving in the states will require some adjustment as in, Nevada actually expects you to STOP at a stop sign rather than roll through slowly.  On the other hand pedestrians have the right of way in Mexico and drivers pay attention to them.  Crossing a busy street is much easier and safer than in the US.

Next up a road trip on the Baja peninsula and WORKNOT goes on the hard for a paint job.