Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Slow Boat to Baja

Hello again! After a long wait through the winter and spring in Vallejo on the San Francisco Bay, Karen and I are off sailing again to Baja. As I start writing this, we are at Santa Cruz, enjoying all it has to offer.

We ended up staying at the Vallejo Yacht Club for about six weeks through the end of the year.

Janet and I playing together at the Vallejo Yacht Club bar. A yacht club member gave us a $10 tip for this performance -- a first for both of us!

Christmas at Vallejo Yacht Club

We then sailed about five miles to the Glen Cove Marina, also in Vallejo, where we spent eight months, and made a number of good friends. Glen Cove Marina is at the end of a valley which opens to the south, sheltering it from most of the cold winds that blow there, while being open to the sun. This made it a very pleasant place to spend the winter. I spent somewhat over half my time there, and returned to Oregon for most of the remainder. Karen spent some of her time with me there, but was off doing her own thing, including working, most of the time.

I paid a price for not getting to Baja last year, and having to spend another winter in a cold climate. I got very sick, twice, with the flu and a bad cold. On the other hand, I had a lot of time to think and read, and took the opportunity to work on two scientific theories I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time, and get them written up and “published” on my website. One is a very specific theory about a particular cause of depression and weight gain that arose from successfully treating my ex wife’s depression and related weight gain. The other is a much more all-encompassing physics theory in the area of quantum gravity, complete with mathematical equations that seem to accurately describe reality, that I have, rather grandiosely perhaps, called “Universal Field Cosmology!” I will put links at the end of this post to these two theories for those who might be interested in reading about them. For now, though, on to our latest adventures of sailing from Vallejo to Santa Cruz!

We had planned to leave Glen Cove on September 1, but when the weather forecast indicted there would be very little wind that day, we made a last minute decision to leave two days earlier, at about 1:30 pm, to sail to Richmond Yacht Club. There was certainly plenty of wind that day! We tacked into a stiff wind for five hours, pounding into quite large waves that built up on the wide bay. More spray flew back into the cockpit of the boat that day than we have ever experienced out at sea! What a joy, then, to get our two free nights at the luxurious Richmond Yacht Club. A bonus of leaving early was that we were able to bike into Point Richmond on Wednesday evening, when they have their farmer’s market. I had been used to driving down there from Vallejo each Wednesday to buy produce, listen to the live music, and enjoy the wild salmon plate — barbecued wild salmon with brown rice and salad — which one of the vendors there offers for just $9. This farmer’s market, along with the one at Vallejo, and a little tortilla factory in Vallejo that sold the best fruit and vegetables at the cheapest prices, meant that I ate very well while “stranded” there. This tortilla factory sold the best papayas, pineapples and mangos I’ve ever tasted, and sold bunches of cilantro for just $0.50! Just before we left we bought a mango from this store that was seven inches long and weighed 2.65 pounds for just $2.50! I made a “Mohawk mango fish” from its six inch long seed:

 I had, the week before, told the very nice woman at the stall where I bought the wild salmon plates that that would be the last time we would be there, since we were sailing off. But when she saw us again on our bikes, actually en-route on our trip, she was so pleased to see me again that she gave me an extra piece of salmon and a can of mango nectar as a going away gift!

From Richmond we sailed to Sausalito, and spent a very rolly night on a mooring buoy in front of the Sausalito Yacht Club, due to waves produced by the comings and goings of the ferry boat to the nearby wharf. Again, though, it was free, thanks to the reciprocal privileges from belonging to another yacht club. We rowed to shore in our little inflatable dinghy Karen has named “Double Dog Dare,” (as in “I double dog dare you to climb down the swim ladder on the back of the boat and get into that flimsy thing!”) and enjoyed walking around soaking up the atmosphere at Sausalito, and eating a sumptuous meal put on by the yacht club.

On from there for a return visit to one of our favorite places of our trip into the bay: Travis Marina. This marina is right under the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the views of the bridge from there are spectacular, especially at night. I posted a photo of the bridge at night from there in a previous post, and here is another one from this time, showing the glow of the bridge lights in the low cloud (fog) above the bridge:

We spent three nights at Travis, waiting for the fog to clear and the southerly winds to turn to the west. On Monday, September 5, they did, and we left at 8:45 am, and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on a cold gray morning that was, however, free of fog, into a fair norwesterly breeze. The 28 nautical mile trip to Half Moon Bay went well, and the clouds even cleared about half way there, enabling us to enjoy the sunshine as we sailed. It felt good to be out in the ocean again.

After one night at the marina in Half Moon Bay, we anchored out in front of the Yacht Club, and rowed in in Double Dog Dare to their floating dock. The floating dock was connected to the shore by a tiny “Huck Finn” type passenger “ferry” pulled by ropes. It is a little floating platform that can hold up to about six people. After getting on, you press one button to make it slowly move toward the shore, and another button to make it go the other way. It was the coolest thing! I forgot to get a photo of us riding it, but here is one of it from a distance:

We left Half Moon Bay about noon last Thursday hoping the spend the night anchored at Año Nuevo Bay, about half the way to Santa Cruz. By the time we got there, though, the wind hand blown up quite strongly, and waves were crashing ominously onto rocks and the beach near the anchorage. I decided it was unsafe to anchor there in those conditions, so we double reefed the mainsail and continued on to Santa Cruz. We arrived at Santa Cruz at about 9:30 pm and dropped anchor near the pier. The sea lions under the pier were having a great powwow, barking and “laughing” very loudly most of the night. Must have been something very funny going on under that pier! Still, we slept well, and in the morning headed into the marina. The Santa Cruz Yacht Club gave us three coupons for $10 a night off the marina fees, bringing them down to $17 a night, so we stayed three nights in Santa Cruz, and really enjoyed it. We rode to the local Trader Joes for supplies, and on the way back, had a very good meal at the beautiful, and very friendly, Santa Cruz Yacht Club.

The Witch of Endor, with the dark blue hull, from the Santa Cruz Yacht Club
On the way back to the boat, though, with a heavy bag of groceries on the luggage rack, my folding bike slid out from under me going down a somewhat steep driveway into the marina. I tumbled over a couple of times, and ended up entangled with my bike in a heap, wondering how many broken bones I had. Fortunately there were no broken bones, only a somewhat sprained left wrist, and about a dozen “raspberries” of various sizes, mainly on my right knee:

The bike itself only suffered a bent handlebar, and a local bike shop was able to straighten it out for me with a huge lever called a “frame straightener.” I was amazed there was no other damage to it at all. They sure make these Dahon folding bikes tough!

After resting up on Saturday, we biked over to the boardwalk on Sunday (somewhat tentatively on my part!) and rode the famous roller coaster there that was built in 1924 out of wood, and has been ridden by over 50 million people. It was a blast!

We found a great natural food store called “Staff of Life,” and stocked up there. On the way back we stopped in at the yacht club to swap a burgee with them (a small triangular flag each yacht club has to identify it), and met another couple who were having a going away party on the dock prior to sailing off to Central America the next day. They showed us their boat, and told us about their previous cruises, and we swapped contact info, hoping to see each other again on the way south.

Noon the next day saw us sail off for Moss Landing, to be guests of the Elkhorn Yacht Club there, and, again, had a nice dinner at their clubhouse. This is where we are today, catching up with laundry, plotting our onward course for the next few days onto charts and into our GPS, and, hopefully, finishing off this blog posting.

Tomorrow we sail off to Monterey, where, again, we will stay at a yacht club, and will visit the excellent aquarium they have. This is also where John Steinbeck spent much time, and where the “Cannery Row” he wrote about is located. I’ve been reading his book “The Sea of Cortez,” about an actual marine biology field trip he made to the very destination we are headed for.

For those who are interested, the link to my theory about the causes of depression and weight gain is: www.markmason.net/theories.htm, and the link to my physics theory, “Universal Field Cosmology,” is: www.markmason.net/cotheory.htm. The link to return to my website is: www.markmason.net.

We hope to do regular postings to this blog from now on. Greetings to all of you who are following our story, from Karen and me.