Friday, November 5, 2010

San Diego

Airplanes. The answer is: Airplanes, not UFOs at all!

We’ve spent the last week on the public dock by the Harbour Police Station in Shelter Island. It’s been wonderful. There are about 30 slips and they are for transients. It costs 10 dollars a day for the first five days and 20 dollars for the next 5 if you are under 40 feet. You can only stay here for any 10 out of 40 days. You can get a slip on a first come, first served basis – no reservations. We have seen a number of creative ways of using this space. Locals use it to come off their moorings to get shore work done, cruisers leave on Friday and return on Monday and go to the La Playa anchorage nearby - which is only open on the weekends and is free. That way they can maximize their time out at the docks. The washrooms are great – lovely showers, a laundrymat is nearby and internet can be had. The whole area is surrounded by every kind of boat store you can imagine. It’s been hot and sunny – in fact yesterday a heat record was made – over 100 degrees! The downside is that it is a long walk to the bus stop and the grocery stores.

Even pirates dock here!

Great name for a pirate ship!

We’ve spent the week getting Ka’sala, and ourselves, ready for Mexico. We’ve worked out what we have to do to clear out of the US and what we need to clear in to Mexico. We’ve been helped by a terrific manual from Downwind Marine (, and information in Captain Pat Rains book Mexico Boating Guide, ( as well as Shawn Breeding and Heather Bansmer’s book, Pacific Mexico and Sea of Cortez (} Of course, we have also been helped along by Chris Bennett’s blog ( and are really appreciative of his post “10 things to know about cruising in Mexico” (Thank you, Chris). We have also read numerous other blogs about cruiser’s adventures down the coast and enjoy comparing our experiences to theirs.

Doug’s been working on all the little jobs that add up such numerous splices, making the lazy jacks more efficient, replacing the main and yankee sheets, changing the engine oil, and tuning the Monitor wind vane.

@#%* splices!

We’ve cleaned the boat top to bottom, filled her with water and, in another day, will fill her with fuel. We have Mexican insurance (. We have bits and pieces and spare parts and filled just about every list we made. Today I did all the laundry. Tomorrow I will do the BIG provisioning. (With the help of a very good book by Heather Stockard called: A Cruising Cook’s Guide to Mexico - We have talked to the other cruisers around and got some tips on great places to anchor (and some not so great!) from Rob, a delivery captain, who has been up and down the Baja on many occasions. We’ve read the Rough Guide to Mexico, ( and the Lonely Planet Guide to Mexico ( We’re ready! WE’RE READY!

Sunday morning we will slip the lines and head over to the Coronados Islands. We may spend the night, or just a few hours before heading down to Ensenada to clear into Mexico - depends on wind, waves and how we feel. It’s marvelous not to have any schedules to follow. When we leave here on Sunday, it may be a while before I have internet again. If you’re following the blog, don’t give up – just check in regularly.

We’ve explored a bit of San Diego. On Hallowe’en night we took the 28 bus into Old Town and then the trolley into the downtown area around 5th street.

San Diego trolley

Although there were plenty of people out, there weren’t many in costume.

Costumed dog in a stroller on the bus - ?  There was a Rocky Horror Picture Show group, but I was so stunned by what I saw I couldn't get my camera out in time to capture the moment.

 Restaurants and bars line the streets of this area, that used to have a notorious reputation when the fleet came in. Athough we couldn't resist the Tipsy Crow, we did manage to find the only alehouse that brewed their beer on premises.

IPAs for Doug and Steve, a honey brown for John and I

 I enjoyed the best amber ale I’ve s ever had at the Rock Bottom Alehouse: Regatta Red.


Rock Bottom Offerings
Afterward we walked along the harbor for a few miles on an excellent paved walkway. We passed the aircraft carrier Midway, ( which is now a museum, plus several other interesting boats from the past, including the Star of India at the San Diego Maritime Museum (.

USS Midway - now a restaurant in the stern

Famous end of WW2 photo commemorated in a statue - Midway in the background

Star of India dressed for Hallowe'en with tattered sails

We were lucky to have contacts here in San Diego. Peter and Marlene McLaren, who commissioned and lived aboard Ka’sala for her first 12 years, encouraged us to look up their friends, Joy and Laurie, who they had cruised with for several years. Joy and Laurie had owned a McGregor 65 and joined Ka’sala on her first cruise down the Baja, through the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean. We were delighted to hear their stories and to know more about our boat.

McGregor 65

For example, Laurie told us a story about when their boats were in the West Caribbean. An unexpected storm blew up (which was later given a name) and both boats were far from port. While Laurie found safety behind an atoll, Ka’sala was hove to for a couple days. I guess boat and crew did very well under these circumstances as Marlene baked muffins! I definitely have a long way to go! At least the boat is capable!

Joy and Laurie treated us to a day at the San Diego Zoo ( They are members and had been there many times, so we took advantage of their expertise to see the highlights. I was very impressed with the zoo and the way the animals are kept. The polar bears were amazing and watching them cavorting through an underwater glass was awe inspiring.

Chinook with ball

Is this a cuddly teddy bear?

Polar Bears and Palm Fronds - something ain't right - shades of "Lost"?

 The elephants, lions, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, flamingos – all gorgeous specimens - seemed active and content.

Tusks had been trimmed for transport

Coral flamingos

Galapogos Tortoises

 The whole zoo is an exceptional botanical garden with many, many species of trees, flowers, bushes and vines carefully tended around winding walkways.

Escalators, buses and accessible pathways make this an experience that everyone can enjoy.

Joy packed a picnic lunch which we enjoyed outside the Panda viewing station.
One of many interesting conversations

(Thank you, Joy and Laurie, for spoiling us!) Even if there had been no animals at all it would have been a very pleasant experience to spend a day there.

Laurie, Lyneita, Doug and Joy
We’ve really enjoyed our time in California – it is really one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. To see it from a sailboat is an experience I never thought I would do – but then, again, I never thought I would see it by motorcycle, RV, sports car…….

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