Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eureka, California: August 27 to September 1

The previous entry explains why we ended up tucking in to Eureka instead of continuing on to San Francisco as we had planned when leaving Coos Bay.

We found ourselves entering the Eureka Bar half an hour after midnight on August 27 in the fog and drizzle. If you were to look this port up on Google maps, you would soon see that we had a challenge in front of us. Luckily the sea state was benign, but our visibility was only a few boatlengths ahead of us. This is a busy port with a defined passage in shallow water. We had never been there before. We had been at sea for two days and two nights and we were tired. Not a great prescription for success, but with our radar, AIS and chartplotter, not to mention the adrenilin singing in our veins, we felt we had good odds to safely dock Ka'sala. It took 1 1/2 hours of peering through the fog and trying to reconcile the red (right red returning) and green (keep to port) lights as they floated into our bleary vision, but we made it. Within 15 minutes of securing the lines we were eating a much overdue hot breakfast before crashing into our bunks.

View of the Bar at Humbolt Bay, Eureka - Ka'sala entered the Bar and motored north in the fog.

Ka'sala's destination was the Eureka Municipal Marina opposite the small island featured at the upper midpoint this picture.

From my journal:

Waking up the next day after an evening in an Irish pub is never as nice as you hope it might be. After consulting the area guides I determined Gallaghers was only two blocks away AND they had live music. We wandered down the road into town alongside very stinky fish processing plants making who knows what – great vats under pressure – reminding Doug of the YeeKee fish plants of Sai Kung in Hong Kong – though to my mind these looked more modern. (They weren’t drying their fish on baskets in the sun!)

Gallagher's Pub, Eureka

The pub had black & tan, Harps and a few other Irish familiars, though we started with the local, Eye of the Hawk Amber Ale. The “Irish” folk singer (no, not the rollicking fiddles I was expecting) actually played more Scottish tunes and at one point came over to us to explain the “dialogue” of a Robbie Burns song. I thought to myself – this is Gaelic, not dialogue, oh – he means “dialect”, but he was obviously captivated by the thought that perhaps Burns used “dialogue” to cover up the naughty bits which he took great pleasure to “interpret” for us. I’ll leave it to your imagination!

Eye of the Hawk Amber Ale

In returning to Ka’sala, my quest for some good Irish tunes had to be facilitated by listening to the Pogues, the Eccelstones and the Great Australian Bushwackers Band V. I was so inspired I pulled out the spoons, clattered them around a bit and danced a jig or two. Sea stress reduction therapy. I recommend it!

The Pogues

Fabulous Victoria, BC band: The Ecclestones

The Bushwackers

The local information guides are amazing in Humboldt County. The first to grab my attention is the “Menu of Menus” which lists and describes every single restaurant, pub, coffee shop, sandwich bar, etc. to be found in the county. Don’t read it when you are hungry and poor! The second read is “101 Things to Do in Humboldt” - a most interesting guide that delves into the area’s history, economy and attractions. And Humboldt has a lot to check out.

We have been through these parts many times, but have never actually stopped in Eureka. We’ve popped out just north of here on our motorcycles in a rush to connect with the Lost Coast on Cape Mendicino – one of our absolutely favourite and challenging rides. We’ve also stopped and stayed at Ferndale – a Victorian farming community (no kidding, the entire town has been given government heritage status because of how well it has been maintained over the last 150 years). One year, when I had a two week March break from school, we threw the bikes in the back of our half ton truck, drove like mad from Comox to Ferndale, off loaded the bikes and spent the next ten days exploring the flowers in the deserts of California. But we had never stopped in Eureka.

Lyneita's Suzuki SV650 and Doug's Ducati ST3 in Ferndale, 2008

When we made the decision to come in to Eureka, we knew we would face another bar entrance – a little more challenging than Coos Bay, but similar. What we hadn’t been planning on was entering the bar at 12:30 at night in the fog! Unlike Coos Bay where the marina is just a jog around the corner after the bar, the marina at Eureka is up Humbolt Bay and through a series of channels – about 3 miles. The passage is well marked, but at night you really have to pay attention to the red and greens and be prepared to interpret when they don’t seem to make sense. Lucky for us MaxSea, our chart plotter, makes the job do-able and the radar helps as well. Coming in that late at night also pretty much guaranteed we wouldn’t encounter traffic. And there, just where we were hoping, was a long empty dock with lots of space. We tied up, shut down, ate our first hot meal in 2 days (scrambled eggs and toast, of course – the ultimate comfort food) and slept like the dead.

The next morning we discovered we had landed at an absolutely delightful marina. A clean, modern facility, the Eureka Public Marina is a pleasure to be at - and 60 cents a foot it affordable, too. It has FREE hot showers – take as long as you like - a laundry mat, power, good water and only two blocks to the Old Town which is chock-o-block full of cafes, pubs, museums, Victorian architecture and so on. There is another marina listed – attached to Woodley Island – which we will check out later today.

Entrance to Eureka Municipal Marina

Ka'sala berthed at the Eureka Municipal Marina

Yesterday, after checking in to the marina, I rinsed off the boat as it was absolutely caked with salt. Then headed up to the washing machines to do three loads and have a shower. All our sailing things went out into the cockpit to air – bedding and sleeping bags out into the sun. Tidy up the boat and all is well yet again. No wonder we needed that Irish pub!

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