Monday, September 29, 2008

Fish Tacos in Ensenada


Maybe it's best to put up the spinnaker and sail away from the problems of the US economy. However, we can feel the stress even in Ensenada, Mexico where the marinas and streets are relatively void of tourists, where the gigantic Mexican flag flies high at the Plaza of three heads and where sailors come to join the "ninety day yacht club" so called to avoid California taxes. Well, taxes is one of the reasons we had to leave California early. Even though we're Oregon residents, in order to avoid paying the California sales tax for our boat, we had to take her out of California within 90 days of purchasing our boat. We made it exactly in 87 days. Deadlines help.

But I'm getting ahead of ourselves. Let me start where I left off -- in San Diego. We sailed out of San Diego at 11:00 pm Wednesday night with extra crew, Tom and Jo Matson. They used to live in the Gorge, but flying for UPS forced them to move to sunny San Diego. Just as the sea lions barked good-bye from the red buoys (remember to leave them on port when you exit a channel), I tried to coax Maya and Kai to go to bed. They protested, eager to stay up all night on watch. I told them they would have a productive sleep and wake up in Mexico and finally they acquiesced.

In the early morning, while I slept exhausted from staying up every few hours, Tim and Tom raised the spinnaker and sailed downwind at 6.5 knots with the 10 knot breeze. Kai tried fishing and Maya performed her "fast feet on fast boat dance." That's when she moves her feet as fast as she can in the cockpit. She's hoping to find crew who will join her. Maybe even a competition. Anyone interested?


We arrived in Ensenada in the early afternoon and now call Cruiseport Marina our home. It's the newest marina, the cleanest one and perhaps the safest one, with 24-hour guards and no surge. As I write, the boat is perfectly still. We can even leave our cupboards open without any banging or rattling. Maya and Kai are enjoying unicycling through town where everyone gasps, "Mirar, monociclo!" Over the weekend, they even helped a clown gather a crowd for his performance at the plaza.

Shana Tova -- Happy New Years! An appropriate time as we have finished the first leg of our adventure.

Interview with Kai

How do you play Indiana Jones on the boat?

We do acrobatics stuff, like swinging on the bars and climbing the mast. I am always Indiana Jones and Maya is Sythia. We made her up. She's Indiana Jones' partner.

Where is your boat now?

We're in Ensenada at Cruiseport Marina.

What did you like about San Diego?

I liked the swimming pool at the Yacht Club. But they need to have some table games. I liked seeing my cousins, Luc and Solene. Luc and I were trying to make the paper airplanes go on top of the roof. We made a lot of them.

How did you like the sail from San Diego to Ensenada?

I just went to sleep, so I don't really know. When I woke up, they were putting the spinnaker up and we sailed faster.

Who are the three big heads in the main plaza?

Benito Juarez. He was president of Mexico and lived from 1806 to 1872. Miguel Hidalgo. He's the one who helped get Mexican's Independence. He lived from 1753 to 1811. The third big head with a beard is Don Venustiano Carranza. He was President too and lived from 1859 to 1920.

Tell us about the sea lions.

Then live on a shipwreck and they bark a lot.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The mission

One day, after being chased by villain and helper. I jump down a few rocks and see that I'm trapped. Oh no! the villain walks toward me. He says"Go into the cave and figure out how the golden shower works. You can't come out until you have.'' He pushed me in. I wander around and then I remember the matches and candle in my secret-pocket. I light one and put the flame next to the candle. There the shower was, right in front of me. I set the candle away from where the water would flow. Then I studied the the shower. I backed up. Erised, I obviously had read Harry Potter. erised was desire spelled backward. but this time it must mean the truth. I decided that a small chunk of gold and a bracelet of silver with all the stones discovered. I slept the night in the cave wishing for a blanket and for the villain to leave, which of course happened.
The next day I left the cave and headed towards my house.

Based on a true story

In San Diego, After swimming with Bendon and Kai, we walk towards the showers. Since the mommy Isn't here, I'll have to go in alone. Once I walk in, it takes me a long time to figure out how to turn on the shower.............................

Monday, September 22, 2008

Whirlwind to San Diego

Sailing Kamaya with the sun spilling orange into the sky and the wind on our sails, I can’t help but think how lucky we are and what a luxury and a privilege this adventure is for us.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week full of wind, howling wind, little wind, no wind and perfect wind all together bringing us south to San Diego. That’s where I am comfortably writing as Maya and Kai are swimming in the San Diego Yacht Club pool. When I left you last, we were in Ventura. We sailed to Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands, spent a night at Marina Del Rey where we met up with brother Ethan, picked up Karen and Martin Reimer and sailed overnight to San Diego.

When we arrived at Santa Cruz Island, a 100 foot military ship was testing missiles so we couldn't go farther than Smuggler's Cove. The waves crashed on shore and we took our dinghy the first visit, but opted to swim the next time. When I was five the under tow, not under toad, yanked me under at Baker's Beach in San Francisco, and since then I've always been scared of waves. So after harvesting walnuts on shore and imagining what life was like for the people who settled there in 1889, we were ready to swim back to the boat. Tim took Kai through the surf and Maya and I stuck together.

Traveling with kids, adults are supposed to act confident and hide all trepidations. As we walked towards the waves, I held Maya's hand. "Not this one," I kept saying as I tried to count the waves and find a small set for us to swim through. Finally, I thought the waves had gotten smaller so we swam hard, only to both be pummeled by waves and pulled under feeling like clothes in a washing machine with sand up our noses and pushed back to shore. Strong swimmer Maya took it well compared to her mother who hyperventilated. We both finally made it through the surf and back to our safe abode on Kamaya. Next time, Maya wants to go with her Dad, but maybe next time, I'll be a little wiser.

We left Santa Cruz Island Friday at 2 in the morning for a 60 mile sail to Marina Del Rey. We wanted to make it for brother Ethan's fundraiser. With Sarah Palin elevated to the high position of Vice-Presidential Candidate, "people from Outside" -- that's what Alaskans call those living in the lower 48 -- are interested in Alaskan politics.

Ethan is running for the sole Congressional seat in Alaska and is remarkably 12 points ahead of his Republican opponent Don Young. Please take a look at his website, www.EthanBerkowitz.com and if you can make a donation. It was great for us to take a break from boat life and watch Ethan field questions about Sarah Palin and solving problems in the Middle East. It was equally great for Ethan to take a break from the campaign trail, and visit our home. He said it felt like "comfort food."

Karen Reimer (my bell sister as when we sailed together at UC Berkeley we were dubbed "Ding and Dong") and her teenage son, Martin, joined us in Los Angeles. They drove our white van down from the Bay Area and were ready for some more motion -- the sail to San Diego. Only moments after Mary Jane Heppe from Hood River who happened to be in LA with her son Keenan, set our dock lines free, Martin felt a little queezy. He suffered through our sail (the drugs kicked in) and photographed all the lighthouses along the way. Karen got a dose of the night shift where we have to be on the lookout for the tankers crossing our path.

In San Diego we received our new Ullman main, which cousin Delphine who lives here, says is just like getting a "boob job" as you have to look good in Southern California. So we're enjoying the good life, looking hot, and gearing up for our sail to Ensenada.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That's Not Part of the Deal

You shouldn't have to make deals with a mommy. Mommies are supposed to do things for you like make breakfast. You don't fire mommies so they care about what they do. In this case, most of the rules are broken.

One day on Kamaya after a night of keeping watch, two hour shifts, the Mommy was very tired and sleeps in. I sleep in too. Not that there's anything wrong with sleeping in.

Nothing goes wrong until the second I walk into the room where the Mommy is sleeping. Well she wasn't really sleeping, she was just in bed. I ask her, "Can you make me some French Toast?" She replies, "Give me 20 more minutes." I tell her 20 more minutes is too long. The Mommy tells me she'll do it if I call Oma and ask her where she put the banana bread. "Deal?"

"Deal," I say. I do just that. I come back and ask again. The Mommy tells me to make my own breakfast. I refuse. She then tells me to get dressed. "That's not part of the deal," I say.

The Mommy says nothing. I put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. I come out. The Mommy says, "Put some pants on."

"That's not part of the deal," I say. I come out with pants on and the same t-shirt.

"How about a sweatshirt?" This time I win.

"That's not part of the deal. That's not part of the deal, Mommy."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ruth's Reflections

A week ago today we sailed Kamaya out the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a little scary and you can see the fear and relief in our eyes to finally cut loose.



This morning, we’re docked in Ventura right outside of John and Dee Lockwood’s home. They live on the water and Tim and I were here ten years ago preparing Capella, our Mull 45 for the ocean. Now we're back. This time married with kids.



My mind races through all the hurdles it took to get us here this second time.

First, the task of finishing up work and packing our home in Hood River was more challenging than I had ever imagined. Thanks to Liz, Sue, Michelle and Ted, Kelly, Barbara, Jennifer, Margaret and Mike and Barbara, I was able to sort all our Stuff with a capital “S” and figure out what to store, what to purge, what to give away and what to throw away. I could not have done this daunting task without these exceptional friends. It’s amazing how much Stuff you can accumulate in life, especially if you’re a pack rat like me. Now our life on board Kamaya is considerably simpler with less toys, less clothes, and less junk and we don’t seem to miss anything, at least not yet.

I’m writing like I do in a diary as I think that’s appropriate for our blog, though I’m new to this and don’t want to bore you, the interactive reader. On August 31st, the kids and I waved good-bye to the Davis’ and Whitmores, and drove out of the Gorge in our Betty mobile packed with clothes, tools, and pots and pans. Tim was already in San Francisco preparing the boat. I choked up sad to leave our wonderful friends and life in Hood River.

As we crossed the Hood River Bridge, Kai said he had left his money and wallet under his bed, so we made our last stop in the house. We’d never seen our house so neat, clean and empty. Our house will be rented out by Kristin and Joe O'Neill who are moving to Hood River from Ojai, California.

We drove to the airport to pick Tim’s college friend, Chris Cleland, who had volunteered to fly from his home in Arizona and help me drive out of Oregon. After all, Chris helped us move to Hood River in 2001. Thank you Chris!

Oma had banana bread waiting for us when we arrived in Sausalito about 20 hours later. I’ll skip the part of packing the boat with food, unicycles and books and fast forward to Monterey, our second stop. With light wind on our nose, it took us about 12 hours to get to Monterey and we left Half Moon Bay around 2:00 in the afternoon. So at 2:00 in the morning Tim and I made our way passed the barking sea lions and into the narrow channel to a slip in downtown Monterey. Fortunately, the marina has a night guard who led us to our home.

Biology class the next day included buzzing around in the dinghy to study the sea creatures that have taken over the harbor. We saw sea otters share clam shells with their pups while floating on their backs. We examined the barking sea lions under the docks, many waiting for leftover fish from the fishing boats. Others played queen of the docks by pushing each other off the top of the docks. Some sat on buoys while others jumped into the water. The seals were the quiet ones, and lied flat on their backs, perfectly content to hang out for hours. Boat schooling can be pretty fun, though sometimes our students protest the various subjects. Kai loves the Singapore Math, but doesn’t like journal writing and Maya is the opposite.


The kids are also learning how to work as a team, which is imperative on the boat. When we left Monterey Wednesday morning, we flew the spinnaker, our colorful sail, and as the winds increased we were moving at a good pace of about 8 knots. When we approached Pt. Conception, dubbed the Cape Horn of North America, the winds increased even more and we needed to work together to douse (take down) the spinnaker. Tim and I went forward to gather the spinnaker. Kai was in charge of steering the boat downwind and Maya had to let the sheet off so we could gather the sail. We had to make sure the sail didn’t drag in the water or pull us over to the side. Fortunately, everyone did their job without any mishaps.

While Kai and I bundled up in the aft cabin, Maya and Tim sailed us through the ominous Pt. Conception where Tim claimed the knot meter peaked at 50 knots. Kamaya proved herself to be a strong, sturdy boat and the big seas didn’t phase her. The winds didn’t seem to phase Maya either as she was focused on playing “Name that tune” with Tim, who hid his fears well.

So we’ve made it passed perhaps the most challenging part of our journey and are spending a few days in Ventura with a house, a dock, great company and John's garage full of tools and a 1920 Model T Car.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Interview with Kai

What do you like the best about sailing so far?
Steering the boat and my second favorite is to pull the lines in.
How do you like steering the dinghy?
I like it.
What’s your favorite thing to eat on the boat?
Swedish Fish
What animals have you seen so far?
Whales, dolphins, seals, pelicans, sea otters and sea lions
How do you like sailing over night?
I don't really like it, but I do get to stay up late.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"We did it, we finally did it!" We're off on the beginning of our voyage and have sailed a full 20 miles down the coast to Half Moon Bay, my old stomping grounds. We had a full crew helping us begin our voyage. Ruth's brother Zach, his wife Stephanie and their kids Eli (5) and Ari (3) on board, along with my friend Dave Metcalf and his son Cole (6).

Cole not only drove across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in his life, but he also got to sail under it and scream and hear his echo for the first time.

With 24 knot winds and a flood tide, we had to beat our way out to the ocean. Typically, that's the windiest part and as soon as we were about half a mile out the Gate, the wind dropped down and we had comfortable 12-15 knot southwesterlies the rest of the way.

Along the way, dolphins, seals and jellyfish joined us. The kids loved clipping into their safety harness and maneuvering their way up to the bow. Fortunately, no one got very seasick and Aunt Sassy and Eli had a marathon sleep in our aft cabin.
When we waved good-bye to our crew last night, we realized it was just the four of us now on our journey south. Kai and Maya drove the dinghy back to the boat, our new home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maya's thoughts

This is an interview with Maya.
What are you excited to do on your big voyage?
I'm excited to climb the mast all the way to the top
What have you been doing now with the boat while your Mom and Dad prepare her for the voyage south?
I've been playing on the jib sheets, making tricks -- swinging and climbing. We have a kayak and I've been paddling around the Emeryville Marina.
We went to pick up our 8-person life raft yesterday and we got to sit in it and taste the food rations, is there anything else you want to add?
Yes, inside it stinks really bad and the food doesn't taste good.

Looking Back

It took me more than seven years to turn our blog into a hard covered bound book. At first, I was leery of wrapping up our adventure because...