Wednesday 27th November - Happy Thanksgiving (on Thursday) to my US friends!
San Diego has been mainly sunny during the daytime, getting very warm at times, in the midday sun,but the temperature plummets as the sun sets and it's been nice to have been able to warm the boat up quickly with my heater.
The entrance to Marina del Rey (which is an area S of Santa Monica and Hollywood, full of marinas) is protected by a large breakwater which was lined with lots of pelicans and smelled strongly of decaying fish and kelp as we entered. I stopped at California Y.C., just before 4pm PST on 13th Nov, for one night before moving over to the friendly Del Rey Y.C. where I was able to speak (at very short notice!) about my sailing to a meeting of the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs after they'd finished their evening's business.
My computer was completely playing up next day, and the wi-fi was not very good, so I spent a very frustrating time, achieving very little, but in a relaxing, comfortable, spacious lounge area, with plenty of fresh coffee available. I was made to feel very welcome by Jo Goodman (who, when I gave him my boat card as we chatted, replied with a card simply stating: 'GOD' - telephone 'unlisted'!), who later introduced me to Bruce Kessler - well-known for his racing. film-making and more recently his sailing and power-boating. Hollywood's closeness was apparent , with most people I met seeming to be connected in some way.
It was great to catch up with my Japanese classical guitarist friend Goh Kurasawa, who I first met in Zihuatanejo at their Guitarfest in 2005, and the next evening with a 'ham'/cruiser friend I'd not seen for a long time - Scott, N6ABC used to be the CalYC Winlink sysop before he got away cruising in 'Beach House'.
On my final morning at Del Rey Y.C., before motoring in yet another flat calm to Newport Beach, I was welcomed by Jo, Bruce and friends to their usual Saturday morning joint breakfast - fresh coffee accompanied a gift to me of a large beigle smothered in cream cheese and smoked salmon - totally decadent but delicious!!
Newport Beach was all that I had feared it might be -basically a 'concrete jungle' beside lots of quite shallow water, with a near-desert, slightly hilly landscape backing it, albeit relieved by some lovely flowering succulents in a few places -not my favourite place so far, and not helped by an inexplicably unfriendly reception by the General Manager of Balboa Y.C, (where I'd previously offered to talk about my sailing) - in stark contrast to several of his staff and members I met up with, who were very friendly and pleasant. (I should explain that I had understood that they granted the 3 nights of free berthing often given by Clubs to visiting boats. especially if foreign, and so I'd hoped it might be possible for the single night I was unexpectedly informed of to be extended to a second night - a request which was turned down in a quite unnecessarily rude manner, along with the comment that lots of people had done what I'd done..!)
Fortunately, I'd been able to meet up not only with some new boat friends but was delighted to meet with Tom, WA6TLL, brought by daughter Judy to visit on Saturday evening. At nearly 90 yrs of age, he's still very active on the Pacific Seafarers Net and often helps cruisers with phone 'patches', via ham radio, to their families. Sunday brought more 'ham' visitors - John, N6MJC, turned up unexpectedly, as I finished breakfast, having heard I'd come into Newport Beach, and then Gil, N2GG, with his family, also came along and took me off to spend a pleasant day with them, including a trip to look at his 'mobile shack' where we picked a few nearly-ripe grapefruit - this is California!
Early on Monday 12th November, ... off again, motoring in almost no useful wind - to the small Oceanside Y.C. - very helpful and happy to see us and the other boat that came in later. It felt far more pleasant than Newport Beach, with greenery around and a pair of fish eagles spotted high up as I walked around the marina. I could have stayed on but had a date in San Diego on Tuesday where I was expected at the San Diego Y.C.'s Cruise Fleet Dinner - arrived at just in time after yet another day of little wind, having needed to fuel up before finding my berth. It was good to see friend Ed (first met in Dec 2004) and wife Percia and was warmly greeted by several other Club members at the Dinner.
Since then, I've met more friends here in San Diego- in particular, it was really good to meet up with Robert, WA6AMK, and Mark, AF6TC, having talked to them so much on HF all the way back, since 16th February, when S of the Indian Ocean, on the way from Africa to Australia. Robert has been particularly helpful since our first meeting, taking me around in his car to get things done and sometimes diverting a bit to show me some of the sights around.
Time seems to be flying by with lots still to do... but I'm looking forward to chatting to the Junior sailors on Friday when they get back off the water and I'm giving a Presentation here at the San Diego Y.C. on 11th December. It was ' Wednesday coffee and doughnuts' at Downwind Marine this morning - a chance to meet up with others headed down to Mexico around the same time and chew over mutual problems. I went into the nearby loft to check on my sails - two genoas and the mainsail in for 'tweaking' - and yesterday I discovered the outboard engine needed a new cover gasket.... That's in addition to the engine needing a look at, along with the dinghy...