Category Archives: Travel
It is two years this week since we bought Roxia in Mackay Australia. The last three months have been the final leg of the journey to return to our home base of Washington State. The major projects will begin but first let’s recap the final stage.
This stage was the stage of the visitor. For three months we had guests on board nearly every day. Who was the best guest? That question will never be answered unless we are talking to you then of course you were our favorite. Here is a glimpse of our trip: All the great photos are credited to Emmy Baker.
As we finished our provisioning for Alaska (now underway) I started checking up on friends via Marine Traffic. This is a great app to follow people and their boats. I looked at vessels I track and there was one I didn’t recognize. The James Stirling. It is a 36m by 8m Inland Passenger Ship. I didn’t remember adding that so I clicked on the vessel. To my surprise it was Roxia! Wait, What!? There were four pictures of Roxia and three pictures of a large steel passenger ship. It had my MMSI and Call Sign. Looking in more detail it said the name was reported by AIS as Roxia and the vessel type was Recreational Craft. I was not able to change it or remove the pictures.
I have spent the last two weeks trying to correct the information with Marine Traffic. It is partially fixed. You can now search “Roxia” or “James Stirling” and get to us. We still show as an Inland Passenger vessel so our icon is blue instead of purple/pink. If you are using real AIS via VHF and are nearby we show up correctly.
How weird is all of this? Should I expect more room or higher maintenance with my new vessel?
The last stretch of the trip took us two weeks but we packed in quite a bit. Cruising up the coast of California, Oregon and Washington can be nasty and we wanted to avoid as much of the rough stuff as we could. We looked at windy.com every day and also L-36.com used by most of the fishermen in Oregon. Compared to the weather we had from Cabo to Ensenada this was like a lake…well maybe not quite. The three eventful places north of Sausalito are: Cape Mendocino, Cape Blanco and the Columbia River. But really all the bars we have to cross because we were hop-scotching our way up the coast have to be considered thoughtfully. These are our stops: Bodega Bay, Fort Bragg, Humbolt Bay, Crescent City, Brookings, Bandon, Coos Bay, Newport, Astoria, Victoria and Sidney.
We had very foggy conditions between Sausalito and Newport Oregon and much of the time we had only 200-300 yards visibility. When I was a kid only very large boats or commercial guys could afford radar but in this day and age even small boats enjoy the technology. We have a Simrad Halo digital radar which allows us to have two ranges displayed and a 10kW radar which seems to look through rain a little bit better than the Halo. In fog or night I usually have half of one display showing a 12nm view and half of another screen with a 1.5nm view or closer as we get close to other objects. I feel fortunate todays technology makes these situations much safer.
Speaking of safety, lets talk about crossing bars on the coast of Oregon (and Washington but not this trip). Going into a harbor with a river bar is usually harder than going out. This is because the swell from the ocean is pushing the stern trying to make it broach. Going out you tend to ride up the wave into the air but reducing power at the right time will keep you from crashing down. The best time to cross a bar is high water with slack current. More depth is better and at slack you only have to deal with the speed of the swell. The worst time to cross a bar is at low water and max ebb current. The ebb current combines with the speed of the river and stacks the incoming swell into a breaking wave. When you hop from different harbors or bays along the coast you have to time the bar you are leaving and the bar you are entering. I worry more about going in than coming out so that is the critical time. There was only one bad crossing as we travelled the coast and that was compounded by two mistakes that I made.
We crossed the Bar and Bandon (Coquille River Bar) at low (high) slack. Surprisingly this was not the mistake. The pacific coast has a high-high, a low-high, and a low-low and high-low. The high-low was nearly the same as the low-high so we had good depth. The weather was calm and the bar was open to all traffic at our time and I confirmed with the Coast Guard on VHF-16. The two mistakes were slowing down and increasing the sensitivity of the stabilizers. All the single engine trawler captains are cringing now. Slowing down decreased the effectiveness of the rudder because there would be less thrust from the prop. Increasing the stabilizers actually counters what the rudder is doing. The the stabilizers try to level the boat they turn the fins in the direction that makes it want to steer the wrong way. Needless to say I will never make that mistake again. We had a 4’ breaking wave between the two jetties. I had to work my tail off to keep us going the right way.
There doesn’t seem to be the abundance of sea life north of Sausalito as we found south to Mexico but we did see Humpback whales, Sunfish a few Orcas and one shark. It looked like a Blue Shark but it was all by itself. While we were in Bandon Oregon Emmy’s brother and sister-in-law came for a visit and spent the night. Steve and I drove up to Bandon Dunes to have a little putting contest. Not much of a contest since Roxia doesn’t have a putting green. Emmy and Jeanie got in some much needed Retail Therapy. In Newport Oregon Emmy’s dad and middle sister drove out for the day. We had time to go visit the two lighthouses near Newport. I finally learned where the expression “Sleep tight” came from. There was a bed in the light keepers house with ropes stretch across the bed frame to hold the mattress. The ropes had to be tightened from time to time to keep the mattress from sagging. So now you know…
The next stop was Astoria Oregon. We purchased Roxia in Australia nearly a year ago and have not yet paid sales tax in Washington. Our plan has been to cruise BC and Alaska for the next year or two. I spoke with the Washington Department of Revenue and they said as a Washington resident we would owe tax upon our first entry in the state. An entry is triggered by a stay in a marina, anchoring in a bay, or rafting along side another vessel in Washington waters. We decided to bypass Washington on this trip by making a non-stop run from Astoria Oregon to Victoria BC. This is only a 215 nm run so it would take about 25 hours. Emmy decided not to make the overnight trip so I enlisted the help of my brother and two friends. I had been watching the weather and two days after my brother retired looked to be a perfect window to make the transit. Brad, John and Eric arrive Astoria around 2pm, shopped for a few groceries, swapped drivers on the rental car with Emmy and we departed Astoria Marina at 4:30 pm. High Slack was scheduled for 7pm and we would arrive approximately 6pm and would have a little flood current as we left. Perfect!
We had long rollers as we went out which were very nice. As we made the turn we had calm seas within an hour of leaving the Columbia River (“The Graveyard of the Pacific”). I had been following the weather but this was unexpected none the less. We had 5’ swells on 20 seconds, no wind and unlimited visibility. As we changed watches my brother woke up and said he thought we had stopped because it was so smooth. Brad and Eric teamed up to take both watches before my 2am to 5am shift and to let John get some needed rest after waking up at 1am that morning to get to Astoria. The Johnman relieved me at 5am and I stayed in the pilothouse to nap and help when needed. John took on chef duties and prepared some great meals for the crew. We made great time to Victoria with the good weather and averaged 8.6 knots for the trip.
As we headed for the entrance to Victoria we were tracking the Holland America lines ship Eurodam which was catching up to us quickly. They radioed us and asked us to maintain course and speed because they were going to make a hard turn and cross our stern and head for the North Cruise terminal in Victoria. In order to dock at the North terminal they would have to cross our path again. I asked if they would like me to slow down after their cross an wait for them to go in front of us. They said that would be great if we were willing to wait for them. At that point I did have the right-of-way as they were overtaking but was more than happy to let them go ahead. It was cool to watch them from so close!
It was Symphony Splash in Victoria so it was difficult to find a spot in Victoria Harbour. Fortunately for us we are over 65’ and the Victoria International Marina just opened on the north side of the harbour which only allows boats 65’ and over. It was nearly empty and totally first class. We all slept well and had a lazy morning in Victoria. With a couple extra days before the three had to fly home we made a quick trip to Montague Harbour to anchor for the night then headed to Van Isle Marina in Sidney BC. Enjoy the pictures. Many of them are courtesy of Eric Clark, photographer extraordinaire and Astoria-Sidney Crew member.
After Monterey we headed north to Sausalito. We had very little wind so the seas were rolly but no complaints from this captain. It was a long day but we saw at least 30 Humpback whales over the 90 miles so it was worth it. We saw them cruise then dive deep to show there tail. We saw many whales breach and also lay on their sides just slapping the water with their fins. I haven’t figured out why they like to do that. Maybe they have an itch? Or are they calling their friends and family.
Going under the golden gate was great as always when it is clear. This is relative in the summer when fog is the norm. We could see both ends of the “Gate” but not quite the tops of the two towers. The current was running at 2.5 knots on a flood so we enjoyed light speed of 11.8 knots over ground. I thought about putting on my collar for fear of whiplash…We spent a week at Schoonmaker Marina. We got together with Bill Godwin a childhood friend and shared a delicious meal at Poggio a tasty Italian restaurant across from the passenger ferry terminal in Sausalito. The next day we had dinner with new Nordhavn 60 owners Brad & Kelly Drury. They brought two extra bicycles and gave us a bike tour around Mill Valley. What a treat for us!
The traveling Big Top “Flynn Creek Circus” happened to be in town and was walking distance from the marina. We attended the R-rated version so the humor was a little raunchy and the costumes a little skimpier than their standard show but the acrobatics were amazing. We saw knife throwing, juggling, pole acrobatics, rope climbing and one of the best slack line artists in the world. They also had a trampoline wall that was spectacular. This type of event ranks high on my list of things to do and I admire the conditioning of these incredible athletes.
Emmy spent a couple hours photographing the colorful houseboats while I spent the time in the SF Bay Model Museum. The model was built beginning in 1953 to understand the tides and tributaries of SF Bay. Now it is all done with computer modeling but this was state of art when built. Funding first came after the proposal to put two dams in SF Bay. One dam would be south of the Bay Bridge and the second would have been north of the Richmond Bridge. The idea called the “Reber Plan” was to keep the saltwater from mixing with the freshwater coming into the bay thus creating two large freshwater reservoirs providing drinking water for Bay Area residents. This model helped to determine all of the potential outcomes of this proposal.
We spent another day taking the ferry from Sausalito to SF and walking the waterfront. We visited friends condo overlooking the Bay Bridge and walked to Fisherman’s Wharf. After all the days in small places, Emmy and I decided Fisherman’s Wharf was way to much humanity for us.
We left Sausalito to catch some good weather heading north and were rewarded by a clear day leaving the Bay. Thanks for the memories!
It is great to be back on Roxia after almost 4 weeks away. While land based I was able to work on a few projects in my shop. I wanted a teak handle and mount for the anchor windlass bar, a drawer divider for our new silverware and a couple of little items that are just easier to make in my shop. I also gathered up a bunch of gear to ship down the the marina in Ventura. I needed some warmer clothes, our Gumby suits are now on board, more LED lights to complete the change over and a new Smart Plug inlet and cord set.
It took a bit of time to put things away but we decided to leave the evening when we arrived because we found out that Santa Barbara would have a place for us that we could stay through Fourth of July. As we were going through our tests I found the generator would not start. It was 1830 and we wanted to be in Santa Barbara around dusk so we decided to check it out once we arrived. The 2 ½ hour trip was uneventful and we approached the entrance around 2100. I checked in with he harbor master, we got secured and called it a night after the long travel day from Seattle.
After checking in with the NOG (Nordhavn Owners Group) I determined it was the starter motor for the gen. Of course it was 24 volt so not in stock anywhere but Seattle. I had one shipped to Santa Barbara and decided to stay. The fireworks show was spectacular. If you are ever near Santa Barbara around the Fourth it is a must see.
Repairs went well other than the new starter case was slightly thicker and one mounting bolt was too short. It was a 10 by 1.5 metric bolt and I needed 35mm long. I found Santa Barbara Fasteners only a mile or so from the marina. A short walk on a Friday afternoon would do me good. I wish I had a bike. That is going on the list.
We were supposed to meet friends in Sausalito on July 10 but that wasn’t going to happen. Brad and Jane Brown flew into Sonoma, rented a car and drove to SB. The weather on the coast for the next few days promised to be great so we headed north. We stopped in Avila Beach (San Luis Obispo), San Simeon and Monterey. Avila Beach was the biggest surprise with a calm anchorage, cute town and fun shopping. We especially liked watching all the kids on the beach doing lifeguard training. They were as young as 10 up through high school. They were doing running, swimming and paddling drills. Great exercise and it looked like they were having a great time.
Monterey had some fog but we still managed to go for walks and see the sights of Cannery Row. The browns headed back which left Emmy and I with a couple days before we would head to Sausalito. Em rented a bike and we went down the bike trail. I went by Hopkins Marine Station where I spent some time while at Stanford helping friends with experiments. It gave me a chance to dive while helping out. We kayaked from Monterey Marina up to Hopkins passing by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. A highlight of the kayak trip was when we stopped in the kelp bed outside of the aquarium and saw 16 sea otters laying on their backs in the kelp taking a break.
FOB Avalon-That is Family on Board. It has been fun spending the last two weeks in Avalon Harbor on the same buoy. Every morning we say hi to the Harbor Master and he lets us know if we can stay on the same buoy for the day. The way it works in Avalon is the owner of the buoy can give 24 hours notice and kick off anyone on their buoy. We have been lucky to stay in one place for two weeks. It is not yet the season in Avalon so we have enjoyed the harbor to ourselves. The cost of a buoy in Avalon right now that will accommodate a 60’-70’ boat is just under $1,000,000! The only thing you get is 24 hours notice. You pay maintenance, property tax and don’t get any of the revenue. Yikes! I like the deal we have…buy four get three free. We pay for four nights and get three nights free. What a great deal, a week in Avalon for $320.
We have enjoyed company while spending time in Avalon. First we had our good friends from Seattle Ann & Jim Champoux. It was fun to share some of our adventures with some “non-boaters”. I think we have some converts. We spent a week of exploring Catalina. For me it was a great time to reacquaint with my childhood growing up in Southern California coming over on the original “Roxia” and “Roxia II”. The current “Roxia” knew how to be on an Avalon Buoy right from the start. After the Champoux’s left Em and I had a few day to unwind and do laundry before my entire family minus our son Will came for a visit.
My brother and mom have a Condo at Hamilton Cove so our niece Ashley and nephew-in-law Chris stayed on the boat with us with Addie and Bobby. This was the first time Addie and Bobby had been on the boat even though we have owned Roxia for 8 months. After a packed Mother’s Day weekend celebrating with my mom (90), Em, Karen and StBM (soon to be mom) Ashley, everyone caught the Catalina Express for the Mainland except Addie & Bob.
The four of us will now cruise around Catalina and do some more exploring. We will spend a night at Gallagher Cove home of Campus by the Sea. Campus by the Sea is an Intervarsity Christian camp that has been on the island for over 50 years. The new director has been a friend of mine for almost 20 years. It is fun to be both in my favorite childhood place with a friend who is now experiencing island life. After Gallagher’s we will spend some time in the Two Harbors area of Catalina Harbor and the Isthmus.
The great Ken Williams wrote a program allowing anyone to post to a blog (mine is wordpress) using email. When you are out cruising and don’t have access to the internet, it is a great way to keep up on the blog and not get behind. This is my first time using it.
We had a great time at the Nordhavn 40th Anniversary party and then headed to my childhood stomping grounds. We are on a buoy in Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island. We have a great spot near the Casino. We took a great tour with Frankie from Avalon, not to be confused with the other man with a similar name. I started coming here in 1958 and it never gets old. Here are a couple of pictures:
This is a long one to catch up so have a cup of coffee…
Sea of Cortez
With slow or no internet in the Sea of Cortez I have not posted anything lately. We have spent nearly a month cruising up and down inside this area. In the beginning we had some 15-20 knot northerlies that made for some bumpy but not unreasonable seas. We have seen many flying rays, a mom teaching her calf how to breach and many sea lions.
We made a stop at Los Islotes just north of Isla Partida to snorkle with the Sea Lions. Unfortunately, the law was change last year when a swimmer, probably doing something stupid, was bitten. Now, all swimmers, snorkelers or divers must be accompanied by a guide. It was Easter Week so we could not find a boat that wasn’t full. The officials were very nice and said we could stay as long as we like and be in our dink but no swimming. Nevertheless we had an incredible encounter. We putted upwind then drifted down the sides 4 times and all the sea lions came to us. They came right to the dink with one even resting his head on our tube to say hello. As we drove upwind at 1 knot they followed and jumped and played. They loved to swim through the bubbles of the prop wash. One rule they have here and El Pulmo Reef is no two stroke engines. I know when I swim behind a PWC or 2-cycle outboard I can smell and taste the fuel in the water so this must be why.
Cameron and I had to head back to La Paz to drop Emmy off so she could fly home and “fix kids” at Woodinville Pediatrics for a couple weeks. While in La Paz Cam and I went with Punta Baja a tour company to swim with the whale sharks. My friend Jim Champoux and I swam (in a cage) with Great White sharks in South Africa so my expectations were low. The Great White encounter was brief and murky but still very fun. This time was completely different. Mario our guide and Mica our captain found whale sharks and we swam or “jumped” as they call it twice. The first Jump was with a 7 meter youngster mostly dark with white spots. We swam alongside for more than 5 minutes close enough to touch (though not allowed). The second Jump was with a very young almost white and spotted 5 meter beauty. We were with this whale shark for more than half an hour. It stopped several times to feed where it went almost vertical opened its mouth and strained the tasty plankton flushing water out through his gills (vents?). This is one of those times when swimming eye to eye wondering what it is thinking. I was thinking this is unbelievable and we need to protect them. Another interesting fact is that the pattern on every whale shark is unique like a fingerprint.
Cam and I without our admiral and buddy Emmy, decided to head back north stopping at Bahia San Gabriel and Isla San Francisco. This time the winds are 2 knots, seas like butter and temps around 78-84f. For me that is just perfect. I stood on the bow of our beautiful N62 chariot Roxia and thanked God for my good fortune. I still am not sure I am worthy but I am trying to live my dream gratefully.
We made it as far as Puerto Escondido which is a beautiful and protected marina 12 nm south of Loreto. They have a great deal where you can rent a car brought to the Marina at 9:00am each morning from the Loreto airport. The cost was $40 US including all taxes and insurance for Mexico. We decided to check out the town of Loreto and stock up on a few food items.
We are now back in San Jose del Cabo an found our great boat cleaner Gomer. He washed the boat and today we are going to splurge on Roxia and have her hand waxed. I can’t tell you the price because it is so low.
We pulled into Puerto Los Cabos Marina 1030 on 3-19 after a 23 hour run from Bahia Santa Maria. We had about 24 kt winds in the morning and thought it would be a bit rough. Turns out after a couple hours the winds eased to 12-15 and the seas calmed to 3′ swell on about 10 seconds. That was way better than the forecast and we had a comfortable run. We made the turn and the sun came up. 85 degrees! We finally feel like we are in Mexico.
The first slip they had us try was 20′ wide for a 19′ beam. We would have been fine if we removed the fenders. We tied up and they decided we should move to the high rent district. It is very nice on S dock. Power, water and room to move. I think we will stay a few days.
Our neighbors in Turtle Bay
We had a rider.
Now that we have our paperwork in order and time on our hands it is time to find the captain some warm water again.
Pointing south again we head back to our friends at Marina Coral to clear back into Mexico using our new hard earned TIP (Temporary Import Permit). We will spend a couple days in Ensenada and then head to La Paz with a couple stops on the way.
Emmy and Cam have never done an overnight so we will have to work out procedures and watch lists. I think we will start with them working together and me alone. Once they are a little more comfortable we can start more standard watches.
Upon our return, we met two delivery captains bringing a 58′ Solaris (I think) sailboat made in Italy. It was a gorgeous blue hull with carbon rig. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture! We spent the day swapping stories and lying about how cool we were. Normal captain stuff. They are from Charleston South Carolina and really fun and knowledgable. Alex and Dan. Dan calls himself jokingly the worlds greatest sailor. He has more than 200,000 miles delivering boats all over the world. What fun!