We've been in San Diego since August 31 and seem to be filling our time walking everywhere on errands, meeting other cruisers and keeping the local economy afloat with our final preparations. The weather is mostly glorious although most mornings are marked by overhead fog. Most days we get lovely warm sun and nearly perfect temps in the 70s which makes our extensive walking excursions quite nice. Other days the fog just lingers and it's reminiscent of Seattle in winter, though significantly warmer.
Our first days were spent in the Commercial Basin where we were rafted up to [i.e., Carina was tied to] another vessel at the High Seas Fuel Dock. While this was a friendly spot and we were entertained by the commercial and deep sea charter fishing boats, we had to share electricity and warm showers became a rare event [the landlord —our hosts—weren't paying the hot water bill, a tenant was!]. On Sept. 22, we moved to the Kona Marina which is part of the Shelter Pointe Resort. Here we had a nice slip with a lovely view of the Pt. Loma hillside, our own electricity, internet access, courtesy van to downtown, and HOT showers. We were farther from the bus and a bit farther to the grocery store, but the exercise was good for us both and there's a lovely jacuzzi just at the end of the dock! The first couple of days in November we were the guests of the Kona Kai International Yacht Club, also at the Kona Kai Marina, and are now enjoying the warm hospitality of the Silver Gate Yacht Club where coincidentally the Commodore's boat is also named Carina.
It's taken us a bit of time to get oriented. We have been getting our mail through a local business called "Mail Call" where Gary and his friendly yellow lab puppy named Oliver hold our mail and packages and we pay a nominal fee to collect them. We are also now regular participants in the 0830 [8:30 a.m.] cruiser's net on VHF channel 68 and the Wednesday "Buddy Boat" coffee and donuts at Downwind Marine, a local chandlery. We also have a full schedule of upcoming seminars and potlucks, which should help us to continue meet others and to gain valuable insight.
We've been regular patrons of bus number 28 which takes us from Rosecrans St. at Shelter Island Drive down to the shopping area near "Sports Arena" and also to Old Town San Diego where you can pick up a history lesson, a margarita[!], a train [the Coaster], other buses, or a trolley to metro San Diego or as far as San Ysidro at the Mexican border. We've had a bit of an inconvenience with the grocery strike but have tried to support the strikers by fastidiously avoiding crossing picket lines by shopping at specialty stores.
We've made two trips so far to Tijuana, Mexico. The first to apply for reciprocal ham radio licenses. We were lucky to have been introduced to Don Diego Guerena Elizande, a young scientist/entrepreneur who took us to this out-of-the-way office, interpreted and accompanied us to lunch at a lovely seafood restaurant that no tourist would ever find. The second trip to Tijuana included the requisite shopping but - more importantly - included a trip to the US Consulate to register and leave copies of our documents. This process will expedite recovery of lost or stolen documents and facilitate assistance should it be required.
Many friends have visited so far and we hope to see more folks before we depart. Wayne and Carol Barstow, Karin Hughes and her fiancée Jon Covel, Lindsay Rayle, Jack King, Cindy Lewis, Larry Hufnagle and Mary Beth O'Brien with her friend Chuck and nephew Mark. We were also visited by Chris Harry and his wife, Christine Barnes [the s/v Sundowner] when they visited LA in early November.
We've met many other boaters including new friends: Dennis & Fredricka [s/v Gryphon d'Or], Liz & Glen [s/v Serendipity], Gary & Nancy [s/v Tortuga de Mar], Heather & Mike [ s/v Canadian Freight], Jim & Gayle [s/v Distant Drum] and Donal & Mimi [s/v Solitude].
We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary here and splurged by going out to a local Italian restaurant called Old Venice [are there any other kinds of restaurants?] but again concluded the best Italian restaurant in the neighborhood was home! On the subject of food, we've begun to learn about Mexican cooking from a cookbook called "Cooking with Baja Magic" and seem to be making progress having made fresh salsa and guacamole, jalapeno poppers, fresh flour tortillas and maza [corn] tortillas.
We've especially enjoyed the fine hospitality of the SSCA station hosts, Dennis and Fredricka. They've been wonderful and accommodating, taking us on their excursions out to exciting destinations like Costco and Home Depot [don't laugh!] and also their favorite culinary haunts. We've also enjoyed learning of their own traveling and boating experiences and hope to catch up with them during the holidays in Mexico, weather permitting.
Philip flew off to New England for a brief family visit in mid-October. His whirlwind weekend visit involved stops in VT and NH to meet friends, a visit to CT to visit the Linkkilas [Leslie's parents] and a fabulous DiNuovo family gathering [with 22 present!] at the Salem Cross Inn in East Brookfield MA. The trip, though short, was important since our travels may make such gatherings difficult for a few years.
A boat is never "done". Just like with any home, systems fail or need upgrading and it requires constant attention to maintain it to standards of comfort and safety. Our projects have included re-sealing [caulking] port lights [windows], securing insurance for travels beyond the border, plumbing a seawater faucet into the galley [to save freshwater while at sea], installing fresh water filtration, installing a wind generator to generate electricity, installing a lightning dissipator at the masthead [see photo at right], a rig inspection/instrument maintenance and finishing handwork on our spare headsail. Upgrades include chain for our primary anchor, head [toilet] plumbing [fun!] and purchasing a "storm" anchor set up. Installing ratlines [rope "steps" on the shroud cables on the side of the mast] are still in the works. Climbing the ratlines allows one a better view when trying to navigate around coral heads and reefs.
Recently we caught up with Mary Beth O'Brien, a former colleague of Leslie's, who graciously lent us her "surfer van" to use for awhile while we are in San Diego. This has made errands and provisioning so much easier than before! What a wonderful and generous gift to receive.
Yes, we were impacted by the horrible fires that struck San Diego county in late October. At our slip in Pt. Loma we were engulfed in soot and fog which covered everything with partially combusted vegetation and we experienced days of difficult breathing and darkened skies. Despite our discomfort our perspective is that our suffering was profoundly minor relative to the thousands who lost their homes and those who perished fleeing or fighting the blazes and we were very fortunate indeed. The experience was humbling to be sure.
Jake has adapted to our nomadic lifestyle remarkably well. He seems to know that the boat is his/our home and thus he's wandered only a couple of times onto the dock away from the boat. We are anxious to see how he adapts again to life at sea when we take off on our next leg down the Baja.
The last week we have been the guests of the Silver Gate Yacht Club here in Shelter Island. This is an active and friendly club whose members have made us feel truly welcome for the first time since reaching this lovely city.
We are anxious to cast off our lines once again and are hoping to leave very soon [ca. Nov 15]. Not only is San Diego very expensive but we're ready to explore new cruising grounds and experience new communities. Critical factors include completion of our projects and favorable weather. Our first planned stop is Ensenada, BCN, Mexico, a mere sixty miles south of San Diego. Ensenada has a good reputation for its renovated waterfront and fine restaurants and ease in performing the paperwork "cha cha". Because of this we think it'll be a good place to stop, absorb the ambience of Mexico and learn a bit about the port-of-call check in process.
We appreciate all the feedback we've gotten from people who have visited our website. A very valid recommendation was that our non-sailor friends didn't understand some of the nautical terminology we have been using. To that end, we will try to explain parenthetically what some of the words and phrases mean as we go along. Please let us know if our narratives are easier to follow!