Sunday, November 22, 2015

San Diego

San Diego has been good to us.  We have been tucked up in a very nice marina that provides all the services a cruiser could need and then some – swimming pool and Jacuzzi, clean washrooms with free showers, a six machine laundry, security and garbage disposal, electricity, internet and potable water – all in a lovely setting and central location.

There is a terrific library where I was able to trade for some really good books.   Ironically, Harbour Island West Marina, costs the same as the bare-bones harbour police dock – the traditional place for cruisers to stay when they are transiting to Mexico.

The pool was a little chilly, but the Jacuzzi in the shade was a delightful place to soak the bones after a long bicycle ride!
Almost every day the sun has been shining and the temperatures have been in the 70’s.  We have seen just one 24 hour period of rain and high winds.  Nietzsche was wrong when he said: “nothing so vexes the soul as an endless succession of sunny days” for we have been enjoying every one!

City skyline in front of the marina - notice that Doug is looking at a modern air craft carrier in for refit in the distance (USS Carl Vinson)
In our first few days we spent a fair amount of time on Shelter Island in and out of the chandleries, purchasing items we need and may have difficulty finding in Mexico.  The area is truly boating central and offers pretty much anything a yachtie needs.  Although we have been riding our bicycles there for the little things, we launched the dinghy to bring over our propane tanks and dive tank for refilling.  We had one of our sail covers repaired.  We feel Ka’sala is now ready to go!

Ka'sala is hidden in a forest of masts at Harbour Island West Marina
On other days, we have ridden our bicycles into the city to tour around, do some shopping and visit museums.  Although there is a shared bicycle path that runs along the harbour, we have found this city to be way less bicycle friendly than any other place we have stopped down the coast.  Any time we have wanted to get someplace that was not along the water, we have had to battle traffic or ride on sidewalks. It's not much fun to be in a bicycle lane with traffic going 50 miles an hour beside you.  One day I even had a run in with an RV that was parked into the sidewalk.  Something on my bike caught its rear end and I toppled over, scraping elbow, hip and knee – sore, but quickly healed and a reminder to pay attention!!

A highlight for both of us was visiting the Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum.  The Maritime Museum was probably the best one I have ever seen and as a sailor, I’ve seen my share!

In addition to exhibits and displays, there are hundreds of expertly created model ships showing the evolution of sailing and shipping over the centuries.  There are many boats that one can visit.  From the Star of India – the last working sailing ship- to recreations of a Spanish galleon, a British frigate (used in the Russell Crowe film “Master and Commander”, to luxury turn-of-the-20th century wooden yachts, a historic San Diego harbour pilot boat and a military river boat which saw action in Vietnam, a gorgeous art nouveaux ferry from San Francisco, as well as two submarines – an older, enormous Russian one and a smaller, more modern, American one.  Each boat was almost entirely accessible to the visitor and we spent over several hours poring over them.

Doug takes the helm of the Californian

Transom of British Frigate used in Master and Commander

This one is for you Darlene
Remake of the Spanish Galleon Cabrillo sailed when he first landed in present day San Diego

At the periscope of the USS Dolphin

Below decks on the Russian submarine
In front of the conning tower of the Russian submarine

Okay, who exactly has the helm of the Star of India?

On another day we went to see the USS Midway, a US air craft carrier launched in 1945 and decommissioned in 1992.  

Aerial view of the USS Midway Museum

Guide to viewing the ship
When it was built, it was the largest ship in the world – the first one too large to fit through the Panama Canal.  It saw extensive service in Vietnam and its last foray was Desert Storm.  This enormous ship is well worth exploring and impossible to see in just one day.  We started on the hanger deck where there were many static displays of airplanes and jets associated with the history of the ship, as well as many exhibits explaining its past.  There were films, videos, an audio tour as well as hands-on opportunities such as simulators, cockpits and jumpseats.  

Remember these guys from "Fly into the Danger Zone"?  Think Top Gun!
We spent a good deal of time below decks touring through the many passages and rooms that the 4500+ crewmembers lived in – from their mess halls and quarters, the chapel, all the service areas such as laundry, and post office.   All along the way were photographs, quotations, explanations and displays. 

It was all absolutely fascinating and we just didn’t have the time to see it all and do it justice.  And that was before we got on to the flight deck, housing the control tower and bristling with the various fighter jets and helicopters that saw service on this incredible vessel. 

View to the bow of this enormous vessel - the city of San Diego in the background
Throughout the ship were volunteers, most, if not all, retired naval men who would answer questions or give briefings.  We listened to fascinating accounts from retired pilots of landing and taking off the carrier, as well as a guided tour of the bridge.  

Looking to the stern from the command tower

As much as we wanted to stay and learn more, by the end of the day we were exhausted and it was all we could do to bike home to Ka’sala. (Well, we did stop at Stones Brewhouse along the way!)

Love that IPA!
On our last full day in San Diego we bicycled over to Mission Bay, just north of San Diego proper.  This is an enormous area of bays and beaches, the home of Seaworld.  Although we didn’t visit it, we did explore the various paved ways along the front of lovely beach houses and cottages.  Beach volleyball is the name of the sport here and there were lots of young people out walking, sunbathing on the beach and in the cafes.

Gorgeous Mission Bay
We have now completed all our provisioning and just have a few odds and ends left to do before we check out of the USA on Monday morning.  We’ve had a wonderful time on the American west coast these last three months.  We have really appreciated the kindness and support we have been shown by just about everyone we have met.  It is hard for us to believe that this chapter is now drawing to a close.  After an overnight passage on Monday, we will begin our next big adventure in Mexico.  

This fellow spent some time watching us one evening when we were in the cockpit - what kind of bird is he, Steve?


  1. Congratulations you two! On to the next part of the big adventure. Fair winds and smooth seas.
    C.A. n Wanda

  2. Thank you C.A. and Wanda! We are having a blast, but miss you guys! You are going to love it when you do it next year!

  3. Thank you C.A. and Wanda! We are having a blast, but miss you guys! You are going to love it when you do it next year!