I spent a fruitful and productive week in Sausalito, at Schoonmaker Point Marina, thanks to Rob & Adam. I spoilt myself to Mussels Bleu at the nearby French restuarant, thinking it might be my last nice meal for a very, very long time... However, I'm still on the west coast, so maybe it was a premature indulgence. I sat at the bar and recalled stories to the French maitre d' of my most glorious time in Brittany, France. Still one of my most favourite destinations so far - Nights spent calculating the best time to navigate 8kt races or 10m tides, and gazing at the infamous lighthouse posters in every French tavern, depicting post card images of 30ft waves crashing over their tops. As if the slip wasn't enough, Rob & Adam kept helping with the many projects aboard Constellation - Mounting deck winches donated by my friend Bain at the Berkeley Marina, figuring out whisker poles, visiting the Latitude 38 headquarters, running me to and from West Marine for parts, backwards and forwards to many stores to get final provisions and all manner of other things - Three weeks worth of aimlessly running around doing things on my own, were done in a week... Rob even broke out the sewing machine to make Constellation a nice set of protective weather cloths to guard the cockpit and myself from incoming waves - A modification I've wanted to make since day one. LaDonna of Latidue 38 vacuum packed beans and rice for provisions - In my first meeting with this salty pair, they exclaimed "we'll send you off with 25lbs of beans and rice" ... And so they did! Thank you Adam for the PFD, safety line and everything else you parted with... I hope the motivation is even stronger to chase me across the Pacific and retrieve it all!
Without the assistance Marcello and Massimo of Bluemapia.com, no provisions would be onboard, and Hawaii and beyond may not have become an attainable possibility this year... Many thanks to my favourite Italians for not only employing me over the last six months, but for stepping up again and assisting in financing some of the many things that are required to do what I'm doing. These guys are passionate sailors who've built a great resource for the community - Use it.
Constellation has never been in better shape - She doesn't necessarily look as Bristol as I might like, however from the point of view of what I'm doing, and what she's already done, the sunbleached and paint stripped deck seem to represent nothing other the wrinkles found on a wise face. She's sporting a re-cut mylar reaching sail, new luff tape on all sails for the Selden Furlex, and a pretty burgundy sailcover thanks to Mark at Doyle sails of Long Island - I exploded my genoa in Long Island sound last year in a line squall, and Mark generously expedited a replacement across to the Alameda Doyle loft two weeks ago - Thank you so much Mark.
Bain, whom I've lost contact with, (if you're out there, email me!) ferried me around various chandleries, fed me, and just generally looked after Constellation and I in Berkeley - Along with Captain Ted I've been in great hands on the east bay. Thanks to Anthony and Jeff @ OCSC for the opportunity to do a talk on my trip, and to Karen for the helping fund the no-more-Ramen-diet I'm attempting this season.
After my brief stay in Sausalito, meeting the infamous Maria, and the not so infamous, yet humble and kind Buddhist monk Dawa, I set sail in the company of three other vessels for Half Moon Bay. Towed under the Golden Gate Bridge due to Constellations working but impossibly slow little diesel thumper, I was eventually untethered and let to roam free for the first time in the Pacific ocean. The weather was kind, and I set Windy the Windpilot on a nice tack heading West.
My friends in company eventually radioed and reminded me that we were actually supposed to be going south, but I was enjoying the sail so much, I setup a 2nm tack before bearing down on Half Moon. In light southerly winds, the other three boats needed to sail backwards and around in circles, so as not to leave me behind, before we eventually ghosted past the placid looking big wave surfspot, Mavericks, and through the breakwater into the bay.
Photo Courtesy Latitude 38 / LaDonna
Rafted up, and into town for clam chowder (one of my reasons for visiting America - To sail past the Statue of Liberty, and eat bowels of chowder), the next morning Captain Ted and I bought a Dungeness crab for brunch. I've never claimed to be a tough man. I couldn't kill the crab, and so Rob did the honours, and I steamed the catch. Eating out of a bucket off the transom with butter, it was quite the occasion. My first Dungeness. LaDonna wrote a piece in Lectronic Latitude on the send-off party.
And so, as the now trio of boats motored out of the breakwater, I ran in circles and said my goodbyes over VHF. I thought in two days I would be gone... But here I am, waiting on the weather. I have a long and lonely six months ahead of me, as Constellation and I attempt to do virtually the entire Pacific (and then some), within six months. Actually, lonely isn't the right word, but I will certainly be alone... And so the weather patterns are clearing, and the NW winds are set to resume their pattern, and I genuinly feel this weekend is going to be my departure window. I write to you from the anchorage at Half Moon Bay - These bits were posted by solar power.
I suspect my next post will be from the high seas - Remote updates will be zapped over satellite, thanks to Serversaurus.com.
Thanks for everything North America, now I have to get back to following the setting sun!