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Ahoy from Roberto & Thomas in San Diego!
(Posing with their handwork: Serenity’s new collapsible dodger.)
Our last update was posted in Oceanside where we were docked under the Jolly Roger Restaurant. (“mine . . mine, mine … mine”)
It was the Christmas weekend and, with very few tourists around, the locals were able to just hang out and relax.
The commercial fishers were mostly in for the week. But at least one was working, so we were able to score a great Christmas dinner from the docks:
This was our first taste of California lobster and the consensus was two thumbs up, even if you are shorted the claws you find on the eastern variety. In fact, because we have been told that Mexican fisherman along the Baja Coast will gladly swap California lobster for cans of soup, we rented a car and made a Costco run to stock up on cans of chicken noodle!
The boys loved Oceanside for its gentle, long sloping beach.
For us, Oceanside was a quiet and quaint coastal town.
Our first impression of our next port of call, Mission Bay, was not so good.
We had hoped to find a slip at Mission Bay in which to wait out an approaching storm. What a surprise to find the harbormaster’s office closed due to budget constraints. Calls to each of the marinas went unanswered as well. So we decided to anchor out at Mariner’s Basin. But when we tried to lower the anchor, our windlass burned up and the CQR froze in place (luckily while still on deck).
We tried contacting the harbor patrol via radio to ask their assistance in obtaining a slip, but our calls on Channel 16 were met with silence. When we finally did receive a response, it was from another boater in the bay!
Our next idea was to just motor over to harbor patrol. Success! We found a person coming in on a patrol boat. No help there though, the extent of his assistance was to suggest we motor back to Mariner’s Basin and raft up to another boat!
In the end, we moved our stern anchor (a Fortress) up to the bow and set it manually.
By the time all was said and done, it was too late to launch the dinghy for a shore trip. Poor Myer, there was that wonderful play beach so close yet so far away . . .
We did not want to wait out the storm anchored on the Fortress, even inside the protection of Mariner’s Basin. First thing the next morning we headed down to San Diego. (Maybe we shouldn’t have fretted though. We had a devil of a time pulling that Fortress up manually!)
Our entry in to San Diego was windy, choppy and very unpleasant.
When we arrived at the public docks the wind was well over 20 knots and the current was running strong. With Serenity’s high freeboard and full keel, it took us 3 passes to tie up at the customs dock for a slip assignment.
Getting Serenity into our assigned slip was even less elegant. Luckily, there were lots of boaters around to catch lines and help fend off. We tied up (adding some extra dock and springer lines), filled Serenity’s 3 water tanks to make her ride lower, and put up her rain gear. (Check out our home-made PVC pipe/Sunbrella rain cover; that ugly brown tarp is from our Yosemite camping days and has since been replaced by Thomas and Roberto’s handiwork.)
That night was a record breaker for this area. Winds were clocked at 58MPH at the San Diego airport – just 4 miles away from us. Our own instruments were reading 48 knots. The wind sure did howl through the rigging and rock Serenity from side to side, keeping all of us awake. Finally, to distract the pups, we put on the Gregorian chants CD and the next thing we knew Max & Myer were fast asleep (bless you Earl Talbott for that CD)!
One of our first San Diego discoveries was Downwind Marine, and what a find that was!
When we told them our sad windlass tale we were very pleasantly surprised to receive not a quote for a new windlass ($3K-$4K for a boat Serenity’s size) but a lesson in windless components (starter motor, two switches and some gears) followed by a referral to an auto electrical shop where we could take our motor to be rebuilt.
Paul spent a full day removing the motor from the windlass. Within 48 hours the auto shop had done the rebuild and our $4K replacement had shrunk down to a much more manageable $200 repair!
It was during all this activity that we made another discovery. Remember that big blow out at Santa Cruz Island? Maybe that old CQR was really holding after all. Check out the bend in the shaft – and this is a 45 pound stainless steel (not galvanized) anchor!!! The ½” thick stainless steel plate we use for the anchor snubber was also bent.
Once again, the good folks at Downwind Marine stepped in to help, contacting Simpson Lawrence (the manufacturers) to put in a claim under the lifetime warranty. Sadly for us, a CQR “lifetime warranty” only applies if (1) you are the original owner, (2) you have the original receipt and (3) the anchor breaks, not bends. So we took the CQR to Dave, a machine shop owner, across the street from Downwind to straighten it out. Dave also cut the flat stock for the frame of the solar panels and he cut the stainless steel support tubing for mounting the solar panels on. We bought a Bruce for our new primary anchor.
We’ve spent the last 3 weeks at Driscoll boatyard on Shelter Island. Yes, Virginia, Driscoll does accept boats under 80 feet, although the 134’ boat that pulled in after us came complete with a helicopter on the upper deck, and the average boat in the yard is either akin to the 88 foot Genuine Risk with its canting keel, twin rudder and 120 foot 5 spreader mast:
or a multi-level power boat:
We’ve spent our time at Driscoll upgrading the entire electrical system: two new solar panels and controller, a new Balmar alternator with it’s external solid state controller, new 110 volt battery charger, new battery monitors, new starting battery for the engine and a new gauge to monitor the whole works. It’s a lot of new power for us, but a major sacrifice since it has resulted in the loss of one of our 4 hanging lockers. (A heck of a price to pay as anyone who lives on a boat can testify.) We won’t mention the cost in terms of boat units!
The folks at Driscoll have allowed us to stay here and do all of the work ourselves, with their staff available for consulting and direction when needed. Thank you, Mike, for your help and assistance. Thank you from us and the puppies too!
The folks at Downwind have been awesome. Here’s JD doing what he does best: ordering parts and keeping everything in stock (although whatever happened to those water filters, JD?).
Downwind was our source for everything, from solar panels
to puppy treats and babysitting service for Max and Myer,
to multiple referrals to many other people, like the auto electricians, the woodworker, machine shop, and Karie Horst of Boat Depot.
Karie drove out to our slip after hours to pick up and deliver back to us our Honda engine for it’s “10” hour check-up. Later, she gave us some great tips on using the SSB and anchorages to visit. Thank you, Karie for all of your assistance. We hope to see you next in La Paz. (And Mom, don’t move too far, Karie might be needing a kitty babysitter pretty soon!)
We had a wonderful visit with Jon who flew down to spend the weekend with us. Don’t know if he expected to help install solar panels:
but at least he also got to help us raise our 150% Genoa (used, from Minnies after a great consultation with Fritz of Pacific Offshore Rigging):
and take it out for its maiden voyage (a wonderful sail, that Gennie was a very good investment).

The guys even had some spare time for a dinghy tour of the San Diego Bay where they were able to see a “battle” between the tall ships in the area, complete with cannon fire. (Myer surely missed his old behind the toilet hiding place that day!)
And one day we were interviewed by Elle Alison of Orange Dog Stories for information on how to cruise with dogs. Look for us and the boys to appear in print some day!

We’ve been here a month now. The solar panels are installed and running:

Our new dodger has been completed:
The electrical gadgets are all in place:
The CQR anchor has been straightened out by Dave at Dynamic Marine Machining:
We’ve had the zinc replaced. (Myer was a bit upset that another critter got to go swimming while he had to stay above water.)

We've bought and installed a tiller pilot for the Sayes Rig.
We’ve even managed to do a bit of sightseeing:

We are itching to leave. We've been here so long Serenity is starting to grow a beard at the waterline!
Our next leg is the Pacific Coast of Baja. To put things into perspective: it has taken us 3 months to travel 600 miles and we have had the luxury of visiting every developed harbor bar one (King Harbor, 6 miles from Marina Del Rey):
Our next leg, down the Baja coast, will be over 800 miles with 3 developed ports: Ensenada, Turtle Bay and Magdalena Bay. This leg will end when we turn up the southern tip at Cabo San Lucas.
We will need to be more self sufficient than we have had to be so far. (Did we really appreciate electrical hook ups, warm showers and laundry facilities?) But we will have lots of canned soup on hand to trade with the pangueros for fresh fish and lobster.
Mostly, we know that even without hot showers and laundry mats what has really made our adventure to date so wonderful will be matched in kind in Mexico: and that’s the great people we met along the California coast. Some notable thank yous need to go out to:
Steve Allport of Allports Marine Electric, who in response to a phone inquiry from us on where to locate some obscure electrical fittings drove down to our boat one evening and handed over to us the rest of his own personal supply, refusing to accept payment. His comment: "I used to be a cruiser myself."
Bud & Carol who offered their help after our Santa Cruz Island storm and who graciously opened their beautiful boat for Keith and Dee to cook that fantastic pasta dinner.
Paul Simon of the Marina Del Rey Angelers Club who is donating his time to work on the Ocean Resources Enhancement Program to raise and release Bass. (Thank you Paul on behalf of all fishermen!)
And Karie of Boat Depot who gave up her own time after hours to help us out with transporting the Honda motor. Her comment: "I have a soft spot for cruisers. I used to be one myself."
Thank you to Chris, DJ, AJ, Drew, Robert, and Jerry of Downwind Marine; Fritz Richardson of Pacific Offshore Rigging, Shea Weston of Offshore Outfitters, Thomas and Robert of San Diego Custom Marine Upholstery. Don Birdwell, ships carpenter. Dave the machinist. You have all been wonderful in helping us get ready for the next leg of our adventure. MUCHAS GRACIAS!
Adios from San Diego

Not all who wander are lost.

Copyright © 2005 Shaimas. All rights reserved. Last updated 1/29/05