Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don’t try making an omelet on a trampoline

I have realized a few things since leaving our beautiful Granville Island dock on August 31st.
Firstly, living on a boat when it is nice and snug on a dock and living on a boat when it is charging forward in the Pacific 24 hours a day for over a week is not the same thing. My visions of baking bread and making nice warm meals while we were on our voyage turned into eating beans directly from a can and countless energy bars as meals.

Secondly, 8.5 days at sea without showering or changing your clothes does not foster a romantic environment.

However, the best lesson I learned is that you should not try and make your first omelet on the roughest seas you have encountered to date. About 6 days into our voyage to San Fran, I decided that a good delicious omelet would be in order. I also thought it would be a great idea to boil sweet potatoes to have for lunch at the same time.  I felt as though as I had conquered the motions of the oceans and could do anything!

Meanwhile, inside the cabin, it felt as though I was on a trampoline with (as Dan puts it) Sumo Wresters at each corner continuously bouncing and at different, constant, yet unpredictable times. This resulted in me being thrown about the kitchen, hitting the same darn drawer handle about 50 times, getting hit in the head  not once but three time by our swinging basket of fruit, dodging a flying cheese grater as it flew across the width of the boat leaving cheese residue in its trail, tap dancing around falling hot water overflowing from the potato pot to the floor as we rocked steadily from side to side,  watch the scramble egg mixture  spill form the bowl and then slide from side to side on the counter then on to the floor and finally dodge (once again), a fling spatula full of finally cooked omelet mash to see it splatter all over the cupboards and floor. We did eat omelet that morning, but the entire ordeal took about an hour and it took me about 3 hours afterwards to built up the strength to clean up the disaster.  Although the omelet was mediocre, after 6 days at sea eating energy 
bars and canned beans- it was delicious!

Extra extra, Sylvie blogs on the blog.

Well, I thought it was about time for me to write a little blurb on the blog.  Dan has been superb at keeping the Blogees up to date and it’s my turn to pitch in and write down a few.

We have been exploring the beautiful Californian coast and have picked some beautiful spots along the way. San Fran, as always, was wonderful and although it was hard to leave the comforts of the friendly yacht club there we thought it was time to hit the road after a week of indulgence.  While in San Fran we packed in as much as we could including several visits with Dan’s 98 year old grandmother, Yo-yo Ma with the SF Symphony, an Oakland A’s game on a Wednesday afternoon…. $2 tickets, and we explored the city as much as we could in his aunt’s sports car.  

Since then, we have been to Monterey (loved the Tuesday farmer’s market and the food) and are now anchored at a cute little place called Morro Bay. From the boat, we can see this interesting big rock (called, you guessed it, Morro Rock), sea lions, pelicans, otters, beautiful sand dunes, fishing boats and, of course, the massive nuclear power plant. It’s a friendly small town but we have decided to not eat the three-eyed fish from the bay.

Once again, the only wind we seem to experience is when we are at anchor, but hopefully this will change as we move south. Little Ustupu is starting to have an identify crisis with all this motoring… 


Looking for a Coca Cola sponsorship.

We inquired about a driving range and were pretty much asked to leave.  Dan should have bought the $300 Pebble Beach polo shirt.

This used to be a guest dock for visiting boats at Morro Bay...

Morro Rock

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GPS Location (Spot)

I think I've got this thing figured out.  You should be able to follow our progress with this link:


Sometimes you need to zoom out on the map, otherwise you only see a blue screen (which is water).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leg the first - Vancouver to Cali

Dear Blogeroos,

We have arrived, roll out the red carpet, pour us some champagne and toast us your finest toasts!  We'll meet you in ummmm, well, Oakland.  Ok, well just bring some beer and your least stained track suits.

It has really been one hell of a journey.  Since we bought Ustupu last October we have been working on her non-stop, mostly while still working full time jobs.  As we quit our jobs and began working on her all day every day things became a bit routine and we sometimes lost track of our ultimate goal, but on Aug 31st when we finally set sail for San Francisco this all changed.

Leading up to our departure we became somewhat "socially unavailable" as one friend described me, so it was great to see all of you who made it to our dock party and who came to visit us individually.  Speaking of the dock party, what a party.  A pirate showed up (he was actually a modern day man stuck in a pirate's body, but a pirate none the less), there were young and old people dancing in the boat until 3am and we even got some visitors from South Sudan.  Anyway, thanks for coming out and seeing us off at the dock, we won't soon forget you.  In fact we'll return before you know it and it'll be like nothing changed, except for my beard.

So here are some of the highs and lows of our 750 mile trip from Vancouver to San Francisco.

-The people who showed up at the dock to see us off on a cold Monday morning.
-Our friends from Transport Canada doing a fly-by and snapping some cool photos as we crossed the Straight of Georgia.  No loop de loops but a funny waddle. (See photos below).
-Having a 3rd crew member for the journey to San Fran.
-Not having a 3rd crew member for the journey, yikes!  Our 3rd crew member sailed with us from Vancouver to Victoria.  Then in Victoria at the last minute of the last hour he opted to not join us for the rest of the journey.  He had to bow out for personal reasons, which we understood.  The timing of the situation just left us in a somewhat precarious situation.  We went from having a crew member who'd been offshore and knew the ropes back to just us, a couple of fair-weather harbour sailors.  In the end we were really happy that it was just the two of us.  This trip isn't one that two people can't handle, it's just psychologically and physically easier to have a 3rd person around to help with night shifts and scary situations.  The end result hopefully made us better sailors and allowed our 3rd crew member to sort himself out.
-Seeing dolphins, then porpoises, then whales.  We had dolphins swim on our bow wave a few times which is so magical the first time you see them rushing alongside your hull and jumping out in front of the boat.  We saw schools of porpoises all over the place, including just under the Golden Gate Bridge.  We had a number of whale sightings.  These whale sightings were possibly the most nerve wracking experience for me on the entire journey as I was concerned that our hull may look like a whale and that it was mating season.
-On one of Sylvie's watches she saw a seal tracking a tuna, both out of the water at some points.  And later a shark fin (probably chasing the seal that ate the tuna that smiled at Sylvie).
-Rounding Cape Flattery was one of the pinnacles of the trip.  Cape Flattery is the last point of land you see after coming out of the Juan De Fuca and heading into the Pacific.  We rounded it on the evening of September 3rd, the same day we left Victoria, and didn't see land again for a long time.   And guess what, no wind.
-Oh the frustrations of no wind.  Our diesel tanks and auxiliary hold a grand total of 260 litres.  We basically used all of it.  We were down to our last 50 litres coming into San Francisco and even then we were having to motor-sail.  We experienced everything from 0 wind with currents pushing you in the wrong direction to gales with the smallest sails we have going at our maximum speed of about 7knots (that's about 13km/h), and everything in the middle.  But more often then not we were having to motor to keep ourselves moving in the right direction.
-The swells.  The swells got to me.  Captain Dan suffers from mild sea sickness.  As long as I'm in the cockpit I'm fine.  But if I spend too much time down in the cabin I get nauseous, nothing serious just enough to shut me up and give me a grumpy face for an hour.  Sylvie on the other hand got over it quickly and was able to take over most of the chores down below.  And thank god for that or we would have eaten out of cans the whole trip, which incidentally we did one night.  We passed cans of beans, artichokes and pacific salmon back and forth; we had a good laugh.
-And finally going beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.  There was jubilation, cheap champagne and a feast on the remainder of our fresh food.

We were so happy to be back to terra firma but we still had to deal with customs.  We knew we'd have to deal with customs in Oakland but we really weren't quite sure what the procedure was other than calling them once you make landfall.  I write this for the benefit of anyone who plans to check-in in California as opposed to Washington, so if you don't plan to do this, skim down.

Before you leave Canada you can obtain a decal (http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/pleasure_boats/user_fee/user_fee_decal.xml) which we did, you then don't need a cruising permit.  The alternative is to obtain a US cruising permit at your first landfall in the US.   Since we had the decal we didn't need a cruising permit but the guy at the customs office was nice enough to issue one to us for free because I asked him for one.  Otherwise all you really need to do is radio the coast guard when you arrive, call customs and then visit customs. Your vessel might be inspected but ours wasn't.  Bada boom bada bing your can now eat all of the burritos you want and join the crumbling empire that is America.

We'd like to give a shoutout to all of the people who've helped us along the way.  I presume that if you're still reading this far down you're probably one of those people.  The rest of your attention spans have probably led you to websites like bigpumpkins.com.

-Alan Kellie, the guy who built our boat in the 70's.   Alan was there, in shorts, the rainy day I had the boat surveyed in North Vancouver and was there the day we pulled off the dock for San Fran.  Alan donated unmentionable hours and resources helping us with many of the critical projects along the way.  He's also pretty quirky and fun to be around.  Alan, thanks for you help with "the cause".

-Charles and Sandra Cohen, our friends from the Bluewater Cruising Association.  Charles made countless visits to the boat to walk me through anything I could think to ask him about.  Charles and Sandra gave us the knowledge we desperately lacked to get us out on the ocean.

Sylvie's parents.  They came and spent 2 weeks with us this past spring and did nothing other than clean, help us move and install many of the electrical components on the boat that were above my head.

My parents.  They came and spent a week with us in August and were either put to work by Slavemaster Dan or were left sitting on the dock waiting "one more hour" to finish whatever were happened to be working on that day.

Everyone else who lent us a hand, and there are a lot of you.

Thank you all!

And now for something completely different.   Photographica.

The dock party turns into a boat party.  Jackson doing the robot? Me thinks so.

Provisioning for the journey.  Thank god we brought a watermelon!

Last time we see Vancouver for a while.

Are we lost already?

It was a damn cold trip.  Temps were between 14-17degrees almost the entire trip.

Inside under way

Golden Gate Bridge.  Nice hair Sylvie.


Is the sun rising or setting?  I'm too tired to tell.

Nav station


Fixing stuff

Shortly after an accidental jybe!

You can kind of see that we're waving.  Don't arrest us!!