sailing homepage : trip reports : 1: sf to sd : san diego

Oct 24-30: Catching up on sleep, preparing Wanderlust, and enjoying our last week in America at the Sunroad Marina in San Diego

San Diego.

We arrived on the 24th, Tuesday, at about 5PM and were stuck on the dock. The marina office had just closed, and the docks didn't have push-to-escape buttons that every other dock has. Andrea from Saeta, another Baha-haha boat parked across from us, lent us her key so we could shower. We all spent a good half hour under the endless hot water. Ahhh.

Wednesday.

Wednesday was a shopping day! Our friend Amy Adams (nee Hall) swung by in the morning and picked us up for the short ride downtown. I think the last time we saw Amy was at her wedding in New Hampshire in the summer. She and Carl have just relocated to San Diego and they love it; it's a beautiful city, I understand why!

Amy, chauffeur extraordinaire
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Sean with his $50 battery
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The girls let us out at a local mall and tore off with tires squeeling. Well, there was no burning rubber, but they were in a hurry: they needed to get to their hair and nail appointments! Sean and I hunted down a new battery needed for his waterproof camera, and found his wedding present for Sara and me.

Sean likes the same kind of stuff I do, so when he was telling me about his love of knives, I had to confess I share a similar passion. Knives are cool. We went into the store under the pretext of looking at cool blades, but I guess Sean wanted to get Sara and me something special as a wedding present.

I should take a moment and explain that living on a boat (when we're not in the process of sailing) means we have lots of time to do regular day-to-day stuff. We spend most of our time thinking about or hunting down our next meal, and we spend a LOT of time cooking. We rotate between crew as to who cooks, the cook cleans their instruments and everyone's dishes before the next meal, etc.

When we're sailing and the boat is pitching about we just throw stuff together, but when we're at anchor we eat really well. We make spicy thai noodles, indian curries, handmade hamburgers, casseroles, stews, different types of chili, whatever. We have different styles: Sara is Italian-inspired, she likes pasta and light sauces; Sean is more Asian-inspired, but he's a cooking adventurer; I'm not as skilled in the kitchen, but I've made some killer dishes - I just take longer and need to think about stuff longer.

Knife store!
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Sean and his knife buddy
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Sean wanted to get us a practical gift that we would both use and enjoy, he wanted his gift to be used on the boat, but also for it to be something we would love long after the trip. He bought us a Japanese Shun 6.5" Santoku knife, arguably one of the best and most sophisticated chef's knives available. It's too bad that I was there while he was picking it out, but I really enjoyed hearing about the different styles of chef knives from the knowledgable girl behind the counter.

Next was lunch. We ate at a Churrascaria, a Brazilian grill where the dudes bring you as much meat as you can eat. All the meat is different, it's all excellent, and did I mention they don't stop bringing it? They brought it for a long long time. We ate through a shift change, we filled our tummies, we ate like it was going out of style.

It was a $12 flat rate. When we first arrived, they pointed out the healthy salad bar. "No thanks! We've been living on a boat. Bring us the meat." Sean did go up to the bar at one point, but he didn't get much. I thought that was a mistake. Why waste room on vegatables?! MORE MEAT!

After eating meat until we could barely walk, we had ice cream. Yes, life is good. Needless to say, Sara was very unhappy she wasn't with us.

Lunch at the Churrascaria
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My expert stylist
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Next was haircuts for both of us. I asked for an expert opinion and got the best stylist in the joint. Sean didn't, and got the still-drunk-from-the-night-before, very gay older dude who had never trimmed a beard before. Sean didn't find out about his non-trimming skills until halfway through the trimming. The whole salon had stopped to watch as this dude hacked at Sean's face with the cutters. It was comical for everyone except Sean.

While we were having food, fun, and haircuts, Sara was having a totally different - and much more expensive - experience. She and Amy went to a 'tips-included' hair salon, where Sara paid an ungodly amount for a trim. Like, a lot of money. So much money she won't let me write it here. What a scam.

The girls had lunch (Sara had a salad - hahaha!) and went shopping. I know Sara was really excited about hanging out with Amy, it must be tough to be stuck on a boat with just boys. Sara stayed with Amy that night, where she ate home-made lasagna, watched girl movies and drank a couple of bottles of wine with her friend, while Sean and I went back to the boat, drank beer, and watched some stupid movie Sara wouldn't have enjoyed. It was a great night.

Thursday.

Thursday arrived and I did absolutely nothing for most of the day. I played Sid Meyer's Civilization 4 - a game Mike picked up for me before we left SF. I played while Sean slept. I played while he ate and did chores. I played while Sara arranged our social schedule. I played without pause for more than eight hours. It was awesome. There are only two pictures from this hectic day.

The Americans fall before my military might
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My military blockade of the Russians fails
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Sara picked me up in the evening, after I had won a decisive victory, and we went out for Sushi with Amy and Carl. These guys are a lot of fun, the restaurant they picked was amazing, and we all had a great night out. I think one of our new favourite rolls is the "Crazy Boy". Yummy.

Friday.

Friday was crazy. We had to pay for our previous day of slacking. I guess we didn't fully think through our schedules. Probably because we didn't know what day it was.

On Friday we had two jobs: pick up a few small items at West Marine, and get our Mexican fishing license - the only paperwork required to legally enter Mexico. Sean and I went to West Marine and were immediately woo'd with the gigantic store and huge collection of stainless steel gizmos. It was awesome.

Unfortunately awesome = expensive. Our little shopping trip was $600 (a fortune when you have no income) and took until noon. We got there just after 9AM. Funny how shopping for boat parts is easy, but shopping for clothes tires me out like I've been running a marathon.

We grabbed a cab, picked up Sara and our boat paperwork, and went immediately to the Mexican fishing office, "Conapesca". We should have known it wasn't going to be easy.

I went in, politely asked for the forms, politely filled them out, and politely provided our paperwork. Unfortunately I only had the title for Wanderlust, not the title and registration. Apparently the title means nothing, I need the registration. While this was being explained to me, I chuckled at how funny the situation was. I had guarded the titles with my life, and left the registration behind!. Maybe I smirked. The woman who was 'helping' me didn't like whatever I did.

The dread Conapesca office
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Not pleased
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She pounded her hand on the table and said "Papers are important!". I agreed, sensing that this was not going well. She continued, "Ever since you are born you have papers! Where are your papers?" I shrugged. I pointed to the title. I smiled. She was pissed.

Well, the office closes at 2PM. It's now 1PM. We can't legally enter Mexico without the paperwork. I don't have the registration with me, and I'm not sure it's on the boat. I don't know where it is. She is inflexible, and now hates me.

Sara calls her old boss, Jim, and tries to get him to pull some Senatorial strings and get the DMV to fax the Conapesca office the registration. They think she wants the title and refuse. It's now 1:30PM. We have 30 minutes. In desparation, I grab a cab. "Take me to the DMV!"

If you've ever lived or worked in California, you know what a fool's errand this was. The DMV? The DMV is ALWAYS busy. They have lines out the wazoo. In Santa Rosa, you had to arrive at 7AM to be in the top-10 when the office opened at 8AM. No kidding.

I got to the DMV. There were so many people in line there were no seats left. I tried sweet talking everyone I met, but no dice until I found the manager. He listened, nodded, and helped. It took him three minutes, he faxed the form over for free, and wished us luck. What an awesome dude. From his nametag, I think I can make out "R. Somaro". Thank you, Mr. R. Somaro!

I grabbed another cab back to the Conapesca office. Sara was inside the office and was not going to leave until she got the paperwork. That's my girl. Sean went to a bank across the street and got the money order. We were a finely-oiled, but totally unprepared, team.

The office staff were processing our paperwork when the lady who helped me earlier took it, put it on her desk, and went to help someone else. That's fine, woman, we don't care. Just as long as you know we're not leaving! Sean restrained me outside the office while Sara - our best ambassador - remained inside. They processed us last, at almost 3PM. We did it. We got the paperwork.

Awesome DMV manager
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Success!
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It was stressful. We contemplated going without the paperwork at one point. Probably not the smart thing to do. The office people were very fixed and rigid. They don't take cash or plastic. They only take money orders. They made some other guy who was there get a second cashiers check for $0.05 because he had added some numbers incorrectly. A five cent cashiers check! Unbelievable.

Success beer
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Birkenstocks!
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Next was well-deserved beer followed by a long and ultimitely successful search for Birkenstocks. These things rule, and I insisted Sean get some too. After that, back to the boat for a quiet dinner and movie.

Saturday.

I woke up on Saturday morning, looked around, and realized we weren't ready to go to Mexico. We weren't ready for another crewmember to join us (as Briana would in four hours). The place was a mess, all of our papers were disorganized. And as we now know, PAPERS ARE IMPORTANT!

I'm probably mostly to blame. While I was slacking and playing video games, Sara was running errands with Amy and Sean was doing boat projects. Sean got a lot done! While I organized paperwork, they got even more done. They kept griping at me to do some real work, but I would bang my hand on the table. "PAPERS ARE IMPORTANT!" Haha. Noon arrived before we knew it; Sara went to pick up Briana at the airport and brought her back to the boat.

Paperwork and organization
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Briana!
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Briana will be sailing with us for the whole Baja-Haha, all the way from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. It's a big trip for someone who's never been sailing before, but the cool thing about Briana is she's just the kind of person to do something like that. She brought all kinds of goodies we've been looking for: tools, provisions, and equipment.

Sara and Briana wanted to hang out right away, so they went off on a shopping expedition. We needed to provision for four people for two weeks - 144 meals - that's a lot of food! Three trips and $684 later; we were ready. It took all afternoon to just put the food away. While the galley slaves slaved, Sean and I finished up some boat projects.

I pulled the bow anchors off - our 45# CQR and 45# Bruce - and hauled all the chain and line out of the locker - nearly 600' combined! Something we should have done a lot earlier, but never got around to, was marking the chain and rope. It's nice to know how much you have out there, other than 100' (at the chain-to-rope intersection) or 400' (all of it). We occasionally need some intermediate lengths!

Bruce and CQR on the dock
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Marking the rode
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Sean had been busy the last few days. He sharpened the CQR with an angle-grinder, re-rigged our mainsheet traveler, connected our reefing line blocks, attached our jerry jugs with some expert macrame, machined and mounted two additional hawse pipes for the anchor system snubber lines, and a ton of other smaller projects.

Sean is a macrame wizard
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Looking pretty sweet
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Sean also managed to get a mean splinter, and drop the new anchor windlass handle overboard. Good thing it was only a backup. He's a bad crewmember.

Performing surgery
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Sean is sorry. So sorry.
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We hurried, and finished just in time to welcome Amy and Carl onboard for a late-afternoon cruise. It was great, we motored out of the harbour into the light winds, fooled around with jib and main before hauling up the colourful spinnaker instead. We dodged a cruise ship, a tall ship, and a hundred others out doing the same thing. We even had a 'sandal-overboard' drill when Carl lost a shoe. We made it back in just in time for the sun to go down. A perfect two hours of sailing.

Amy and Carl working the sheets
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Sailing San Diego
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Sara opens some pre-birthday gifts
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Will keeping an eye out for other boats
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Saturday night the four of us went out for an early birthday celebration for Sara. She turns 28 in early November, and we wanted to have a proper night out. She also wanted to reveal her latest aquisition, a killer black dress that her and Amy found while shopping.

Sean also took the opportunity to formally present Sara and I with the Shun chef's knife. We were having a pre-outing beer and needed to cut a lime. "Wait!" he shouted as he searched, then presenting this beautiful work of art. Those limes never knew what hit them.

Sara and her little black dress
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Sara with Sean's wedding present
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We went out for Sara's favourite: Indian food. It was our final dinner in the US, and we yummied down on chicken tikka masala, lamb korma, and some spicy vindaloo. I had no idea San Diego was such a crazy town, but there were thousands of people out with Halloween costumes on. Every costume imaginable, and more than just a few naughty nurses, were roaming the streets. We walked around and gawked for almost two hours.

Will and Sara snuggling up
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Soon-to-be birthday girl with Indian food
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Sunday.

Sunday was our last day in the slip at Sunroad Marina, our last day with easy access to water and power and phone service, indeed, our last day in the United States!

We finished a hundred different boat projects, packing and re-packing drawers and lockers as we made room for Briana's single duffel bag of clothes. The metric tonne of food we picked up also needed sorting, organizing, and packing away. I attended the Baja-haha skippers meeting and rushed off on a secret mission (read more about it on Sara's birthday) while everyone else worked.

We motored out of the slip to get a few other odd jobs done - getting diesel for Wanderlust and filling the jerry jugs, pumping the head tank out, etc - and were back too late to attend the Baja-haha party. We tried, but arrived just as the last BBQ had been dismantled. No one was left.

Team Zissou: our last-minute costumes
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$30 of goodness
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We went out for our final final dinner in the US. Sean had a $28 Kobe beef burger, and we all envied him.

Sean and Briana
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Will and Sara
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We, the four crew of Wanderlust, are ready for Mexico.


Random 'best-of' trip reports:

Pirate ship outside Cabo San Lucas

 

Will, Sara, and the Golden Gate

 

Sean checking the anchors