Sunday, October 28, 2012

Latitude 33.979, Marina Del Rey

Just below Latitude 34, you'll find Marina Del Rey.  Marina Del Rey is home to a 'movie star' Safeway (or so the locals call it), the largest man-made marina on the west coast, the Marina Del Rey Hotel (where apparently a lot of movies are filmed, including one while we were visiting), and is close to Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

Marina Del Rey
Marina Del Rey is a nice place, close to all kinds of places to visit. There is a hotel at the Marina called Marina Del Rey Hotel which is the home to many movies.  Guests staying on boats (like us) had access to its amenities. We saw movie filming/shoots on the balconies and signs were posted all over that filming was going on, but we weren't able to figure out who the celebs were! We were too busy drinking wine at the pool :)  While in Marina Del Rey, we headed up north to Venice Beach and Santa Monica, more on that in a minute. We also caught up on much needed boat projects, like cleaning the bilge, a nasty cavern of doom at the bottom of the boat. The bilge pump, which sounds like a balloon letting out air (when you take the part that you blow air into and use two hands to pull that to let the air out slowly), goes off every so often, needed to be inspected to make sure it was working properly. After all, if the boat gets a leak or hole, we want to make sure that puppy is pumping out the water to keep us afloat!

The bilge pump, clogged with God knows what. Yuck.

T at Fisherman's Village in Marina Del Rey, making a goofy face :)

Lifeguard boats, in technicolor, at the marina

I had no idea that pelicans turn their head backwards
 and bury it in their wings, to take a nap. Some even lie down, but this guy was
standing while napping. Cute feet.

Right next door, a giant sea lion

One night, a visitor came on the dock of our starboard stern (in english - the back of the boat on the right side), a sea lion. Since they eat little dogs, we had to be careful when taking Peanut (aka Olds) to go potty.

Venice Beach
100 years ago tobacco magnate Abbot Kinney tried to create a community fashioned after Venice, Italy. Within a cozy residential neighborhood, you'll find charming canals, narrow pedestrian wooden bridges and landscaped footpaths. That's right, in Venice Beach, CA. You'll also find Venice Pier, which has nice views of the ocean and beaches, and along the beachfront, you'll find an outdoor gym with large men in small shorts working out (aka "Muscle Beach"), tennis-like courts of people playing something that resembles a cross between tennis and ping-pong (they use paddles, but it looks like a tennis court?), tattoo shops, t-shirt shops, vendors peddling evaluations for you for medical marijuana and other random vendors selling God knows what, like a guy selling 'shitty advice, $1', literally.

$40 evaluation for medical marijuana

Venice Beach, from the Venice Pier
More Venice Beach, the park at the beach

Santa Monica
Santa Monica has beautiful beaches and a very large pier with an amusement park on it, along with shops, vendors and snack bars; definitely something to see. There is a bike path from Marina Del Rey to Santa Monica, so we got our walk on, and hoofed it, about 5 miles, but enjoyed every moment of it since it mainly paralleled the water and beaches.

Santa Monica Pier,
complete with roller coaster and ferris wheel

Santa Monica Pier
Us on the Santa Monica Pier,
lots of people in the background on the beach

After Marina Del Rey, our next stop was Long Beach for a few hours. We decided to ditch our trip to Avalon, Catalina Island so that Tim could pick up the new dinghy and outboard he's been shopping for, for months. Our old dinghy was named Sugar, and our new one is named Sugar, too. Since I wanted to name our boat Sugar ( because it's funny and fun to hail a marina on the VHF and say 'XYZ Marina, XYZ Marina, XYZ Marina, this is S/V Sugar' and they respond with 'Go ahead, Sugar'  - LOL it makes me laugh every time!) Tim didn't want people calling him Sugar, mainly other men, since men refer to other men with their boat names typically (ie people refer to us as 'Rhythm' not Kathy and Tim sometimes). I think the name is brilliant, but oh well, we named our boat Rhythm for various reasons, and I got to name our dinghy, Sugar, twice :)

We are now in Dana Point/Laguna Beach and loving it! and then heading to San Diego sometime this week where we will gear up and get ready to head down to Mexico. I can see why people live here in CA...the sun, the weather, friendly people, etc.  Good stuff.    More soon...


Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Boat, Rhythm

Rhythm is a Hallberg Rassy 38, made in 1981 in Sweden. We picked her because she provides a good balance of seaworthiness, sailing qualities and interior living space. Not quite a pirate ship, but not a racer either, she has worked well for us so far and we have been amazed at how dry she keeps us even in large swell and high winds.

The interior layout is special because our boat has an aft cabin, which means that it has a small "bedroom" in the very back of the boat where most boats this size usually only have storage space. So we have the typical v-birth "bedroom" at the front of the boat, and the "master bedroom" at the back. The galley (kitchen) is very small, but we have managed to make some good meals in it. There is also a TON of storage space everywhere.

This is our "main salon" which can fit quite a few people around our little folding table. The back of the  port (left) seats also fold up and make a very large bed.

This is our little galley (kitchen). The refrigerator is way in the back corner and is accessed through a small hole in the top of the counter. It's actually pretty annoying because we have to stack our food inside there and pull out half the fridge if we need to get something from the bottom. Not sure why boats still come with this design.

Looking aft, there is a little hallway that leads to the aft cabin which is our "master bedroom".

Rhythm originally came with a Volvo MD21b engine from 1980, but after spending absurd amounts of money and time on spare parts that are no longer being made, we decided to get a brand new Yanmar 54 hp diesel engine before we left.

We have pretty much everything a house has... running hot and cold water, 110 volt outlets, a stereo, refrigerator, freezer, oven, stove, toilet and a shower. However, we have to tend to all of the various systems much more than in a house. For instance, when we are anchored we need to generate our own electricity and store it in a large bank of batteries via a solar panel, the engine, or a little generator. We also need to keep tabs on our usage so we have a small instrument that measures how much electricity is going in or out of our batteries, and it even calculates how much time we have left until our batteries are dead at the current electricity draw. Another example is water. We have a 100 gallon tank that we fill up via a garden hose from a dock. Then the water goes through a 5 micron filter that we must regularly change to make sure our water is tasty and healthy to drink. Our hot water is heated by the engine, so we need to run it every few days to re-heat the water in our 15 gallon hot water tank. Taking care of all the little systems takes a lot of time, so if you think we are sipping frosty drinks and lounging around in hammocks all day, replace that image in your head with Kathy rebuilding our toilet pump gaskets and me changing the oil in the engine compartment... :)


Tim's Birthday, Monterey & Santa Barbara

It's easy to get behind on the blog - there is so much to do at each stop! The weather is warm, the sun is out and the sky is clear; what a great day here! In the past two weeks we've been making our way down the coast to head to San Diego, the final stop before we head into Mexico and then down the Pacific Coast outside of the US for the rest of the trip.

Here is our current itinerary and where we've been lately:
10/6: Sausalito/San Francisco, CA to Half Moon Bay, CA
10/7: Half Moon Bay, CA to Monterey, CA
10/7: Monterey,CA 
10/11: At sea, an overnight from Monterey, CA to Santa Barbara, CA
10/12 : Santa Barbara, CA
10/17: Ventura, CA
10/18: Oxnard, CA
10/19: Marina Del Rey, CA (where we are currently)
10/23: Avalon, Catalina Island  Long Beach/Alamitos Bay
10/25: Dana Point, CA
10/30: San Diego, CA

From San Francisco, we went to Half Moon Bay, CA for a day. The local fishermen were again selling fresh albacore tuna off the dock - for $4.50/lb! They also had fresh crab. Our buddy boat, Osprey, was able to grab the last few decent sized crabs; Brian made an unbelievably delicious dinner of crabcakes! One thing we are really loving on this trip is all the fresh seafood and veggies we are able to get! 

Tim and his easy rida!
From Half Moon Bay, we went to Monterey, CA, home to Cannery Row, where they've filmed many movies, the famous 17-mile drive and Pebble Beach, Monterey Aquarium and a trademarked Cypress Tree! We embarked on the 17-mile drive via rented bikes (holy sore butts apres ride!).  The views were spectacular as were each of the marked sites along the path. Something to note - the seagulls are aggressive! We stopped to have a bite of lunch and while eating lunch at a picnic table facing the beach, Tim was holding his sandwich, ready to take another bite, when a seagull swooped down, knocked me in the head with its foot as I was sitting next to Tim, and took the sandwich right out of his hand! It was pretty funny and I gave kudos to seagull for its stealthy precision!

What's the deal with the trademarked Cypress tree? According to Wikipedia: Pebble Beach's lawyer, Kerry C. Smith, said "The image of the tree has been trademarked by us," and that it intended to control any display of the cypress for commercial purposes. The company had warned photographers that "they cannot even use existing pictures of the tree for commercial purposes."

I do have many pictures of this tree, but for fear of a fine, I won't post them :) Apparently this special tree has been used as a backdrop in many movies. It is or was 'leaning', you can see the rope on the cliff holding it up, cool nonetheless. It's like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it's not really leaning any more since they've shored it up in order to keep it leaning and not falling, and to keep tourists coming into the city. Sorry to spoil it for those of you who haven't been to Pisa yet to see it!

Brian, Richard, Kathy, Tim - heading out for our 17-mile tour
The coastline of Monterey
Fun facts about Granite - click on the picture to enlarge.
Pebble Beach Golf Course (a view from one of the holes)
PB is widely regarded as on of the most beautiful courses in the world!

Like San Francisco, Brian informed me that there was yet another Ghirardelli Sundae Shop and we all promptly headed there for another round of sundaes. Pure glutonny and worth every blessed calorie!

Deliciousness again at Ghirardelli. 

We hit up the farmer's market in Monterey, great produce here in CA (it negates our sundaes from the night before :)):

A screen shot of our GPS heading down to Santa Barbara
We really enjoyed Monterey, but once we hit Santa Barbara, we fell in love!  We did an overnight to SB, about 199 nm from Monterey. We rounded Point Conception, a point on the pacific coast of California that can get undoubtedly gnarly weather. We were lucky, it was smooth sailing! People have reported gale winds, 10+ ft swells, fog, rain or whatever Mother Nature decides is on the menu for the day near the Point, but luckily, we didn't run into anything. On the way to Santa Barbara from Monterey, we had a nice group of visitors, who were with us for about 25 minutes, riding the wake from our bow.  Dolphins! Check out the video - pretty cool:

Once we arrived in Santa Barbara, we knew we'd be there for a few days, we really enjoyed it! The beaches were really nice, there was a bike path right by the marina, and downtown was a short walk away. We actually had a beach day and played frisbee, can't beat it! While in SB, we also toured the city, celebrated Tim's birthday, hit the farmer's market, the SB Seafood Festival, did some sight seeing and went "summer" clothes shopping since we didn't really have much coming from Seattle.
Oil rig off the coast, on our way to SB.
 There are a bunch of rigs which make up the SB horizon.

Rhythm & Osprey having a much needed drink after our overnight from Monterey to SB.

View of SB from the top of the Municipal Building Tower - self-guided tour.

Another view of SB from the top of the Municipal Building Tower

Inside the Municipal Building, straight ahead is where the judge sits.
 They do weddings here and hold court sessions.

In the library of the Muni Building, do you know what this is? 
Solitary confinement in the Muni Building back in the day.
Can you imagine being stuck up there all day?

We toured the Mission Building,
 home to the Friars who came to convert the native Americans to Christianity 

Garden at the Mission Building, which is now a peaceful, quiet retreat and rehab center 

We hit the Seafood Festival and ate Aebleskivers,  3 balls of baked dough with raspberry jam and whipped cream.
Tim with is decadent random  dessert, mmm mmm!

And then, Tim turned 34 on October 15th! We decorated and had a party with Osprey. I made a vanilla pudding cake - 2 layers of vanilla cake, with vanilla pudding in the center. I overdid it on the icing - lol.

Tim turns 34!
Cel-a-brate good times, come on! 

Decorated boat for Tim's party.
Pay no attention to the massive amount of icing dripping off the cake.

From SB, we departed to Ventura, CA, a small town with not much going on, so we left after 1 day. We were headed to Marina Del Rey, when a small craft advisory was put into place and we had to duck into Oxnard, CA. After Oxnard, we headed to Marina Del Rey, where we are currently!  More soon!


Glass Beach through Beach Glass

My attempt at some art... don't laugh too hard. We visited a glass beach in Fort Bragg, CA and I decided to take pieces of the glass from the beach and put them in front of my iPhone camera lens to capture photos of the glass beach through the beach glass. :)