Posts in California
Weavervillians

It took some 24 hours after arriving in Weaverville this last December to find ourselves heavily invested in the avian drama happening on the patio. A flock of juncos perpetually flutter in the treetops around the buffet of feeders on the deck. They're occasionally displaced by the acorn woodpecker (above), or a scrub jay or two (below), both of whom cede territory to the relentless tyranny of the grey, bushy-tailed squirrel. 

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SFO-->AUK

We are off to New Zealand with so little time to blog! Enjoy a few pics of our final and fabulous weekend in San Francsico—we saw sunny skies in Dolores Park, drag kings dance a little David Bowie, sailboats from the views from our hotel room, and so many friends I'll be smiling for weeks.

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Whiskeytown Lake

After a weekend of friends, family, and fun in San Fransisco, we are en route to Weaverville today for the fourth and final time of this visit to California. My favorite part of the drive is Whiskeytown; driving around the lake is so stunning, especially after three hours up the Central Valley on I-5.

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Bro Time

January 18? Martin Luther King Day? How did the first few weeks of 2016 slither away so swiftly?   Time is playing childish games with me. Imagine a fully extended telescope; then collapse it in one deft contraction—this moment relaxing on the couch in Christmas morning with my brother and our charmingly mischievous puppy seems so close to now, so close to 363 days ago when we sailed away from San Francisco, so far from our hikes in New Zealand that logic and our blog archives indicate just happened five weeks ago. Car rides are interminable. A few hours spent with friends woosh by like shooting stars. I want, in perfect simultaneity, to return to the tropics, to spend infinite time at home having dinner with my family, and to spend every weekend road tripping with friends.  

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La Dolci Vita

We've spent the last ten days in Weaverville commemorating the life of Ed Dolci, Dominic's dad, who passed away on December 21. Our favorite stories to tell about Ed usually have to do with his hobbies, how he took up emu ranching, or collected antique woodworking tools, or built a greenhouse that glowed across the valley in the night. The witnessing of which, no doubt, gave a young Dominic some of the gusto it takes to dive into his own hobbies, like ocean cruising, with similar enthusiasm.

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Climate Change

Dominic and I caught a last-minute flight to California on Christmas Eve, departing New Zealand at 2:30 pm and arriving in San Francisco at 7:00 am the same morning. Knowing that Helios is docked safely in Whangarei with friends nearby to keep an eye on her, we spent a blissful Christmas swaddled in holiday cheer with my family in the East Bay, before driving north toward Dominic's hometown, Weaverville.

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San Diego to Ensenada

Our cruise to Ensenada was scenic and mellow. We considered this a struck of excellent luck as we were making passage on the heels of a storm that swept through Southern California and Baja. The storm felt tropical—sheets and bursts of rain, punctuated with clear skies and sunshine—and we timed our departure to try and catch the winds that swept the storm clouds westward.

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Vamos a Mexico!

We are off to Mexico this morning! Though Ensenada is only 60 miles south of San Diego, we are feeling very excited and celebratory as we cross our first international border. We are got of the dock around 6:15 am for the 10 hour cruise. The weather forecast is supposed to mild, as the storm coming through has blown over more quickly than originally predicted. 

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Destinations, Deliberations, and Decisions

Between the weather and the sailing resources available, we always knew we would linger in San Diego. But as the fates would have it, our time here has coincided with the start of the fair weather window to cross the Pacific. Keeping in mind that our first season in the South Pacific has some time restraints involved—we would need to be in New Zealand by November to be south of the tropical hurricane season—the decision of how to spend the next few weeks quickly became the decision of how to spend the next year.

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Catalina Island and San Diego

Our cruise down the California coast represented a lot of firsts. Not only was it the first time I had sailed in ocean swells, the first time Dominic or I had sailed consistent 35 knot winds, but it was the very first time we had taken Helios outside of the Golden Gate. This seemed more than a little nuts to us when we left. We had been planning on taking a shake down cruise up to Bodega Bay before our grand departure, but the weather turned in our favor, and we (or maybe just I...) couldn't take any more boat work without getting some adventuring in, so we decided to cross our fingers and shake things down as we moved down the coast.

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Ventura to Marina del Rey

Though we were only briefly in Ventura and Marina del Rey, we were overwhelmed by the gracious, generous hospitality we received from everyone we met along the way. We arrived in the West Ventura Marina mid-afternoon on Monday. There were plenty of spaces available, and within minutes our neighbors complimented Dominic on his helmsmanship and Helios on her sporty new canvas work. This marina also had the most luxurious facilities we've enjoyed; the women's clubhouse had an anteroom with full-size, illuminated mirrors adorning three walls and ten shower stalls, each looking brand new and foot fungus free.

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Morro Bay to Santa Barbara

We left Morro Bay at sunset on Thursday for the 15 hour sail through Point Conception to Santa Barbara. I felt a little trepidation heading out as Point Conception is known to be the windiest point the California shores and is often heralded as the Cape Horn of the West Coast. Thankfully, our spectacularly clear sunset was followed by a calm, peaceful night sail, and our greatest excitement was the night sky. I'm happy to report, especially after our Monterey to San Simeon passage, that Point Conception was graciously anticlimactic.

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Monterey to San Simeon

Tuesday morning, we departed Monterey at 1:20 am, and sailed 93.1 nautical miles over 14 hours to arrive in San Simeon at 3:50 pm. It was extreme, wearing, an exciting.We woke to early morning starry skies and had an easy departure from Monterey, as a chorus of reeking sea lions thick on the breakwater sent us off. We motored carefully around Point Pinos and out to three miles off shore. As we went, the wind built from the north west. We added the staysail to the double-reefed main, and Dominic rigged a preventer to the boom. The wind built as we sailed father south. By about 3 am, the wind was 25-30 knots apparent, with a steady six or seven knot boat speed.

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Santa Cruz to Monterey

Saturday began with clear skies, plenty of sunshine, and a leisurely breakfast as we were docked in the Santa Cruz marina and had only a three hour motor ahead (we'd been underway for about six hours at a time the previous two days). Spirits were high. Our good friends Jen and Kevin Holz stopped by Friday night; they're expecting their first child, and we're heading out on our big adventure, so celebratory beverages were enjoyed in good cheer. We were freshly showered, well fed and the anticipation of sailing with more dolphin was very exciting in and of itself.

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Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz

Another dreamy day! We woke to a soft blanket of fog with a promising swath of sunshine on the southern horizon. We didn't have the winds we had yesterday, so we motored for about seven hours between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. Conditions were comfortable and increasingly sunny throughout the day, providing excellent views of the California coast. The highlight was definitely the wild life we saw. Flurries of birds kept us entertained throughout the day, and as the clouds broke we spotted four whale spouts off the starboard bow. We didn't get close enough for a solid identification, but we saw some finning, some spinning, and a few tail fin silhouettes. We also crossed paths with a few hundred dolphin. It happened over the course of just a few minutes as Helios and the dolphin were headed opposite directions, but the boat was completely surrounded and a few stayed to play in our wake. We had a peaceful sunset docking in the Santa Cruz harbor, and are currently waiting for the pork tenderloin with roasted apples to come out of the oven. 

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Stitch and Bitch

Thought I'd share some of the crafting I've been finishing as we begin our final preparations for departure (a departure which, after six straight months of crafting, I'm feeling beyond ready for). Above is our newly completed mainsail cover! It has been the most challenging sewing project thus far. I made it from the Sailrite pattern, but managed to misjudge the depth of our sail and cut the the smaller pattern when the larger was really needed. Rest assured that the fault for this blunder lies entirely with inadequate measuring instructions. Even so, I may never forget the brutality of the moment when, after days of sewing sixteen foot seams in my ten foot cabin, the circumference of the material did not wrap entirely around the boom. The lesson from this experience being an adage that my dad wore proudly on a t-shirt throughout my childhood—measure twice, cut once.

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