2011-07-23

Having a good trip up the Southern California Coast

So far, it's been an easy trip up the coast, but all we've done is the easy part. Jane'O survived her 6 months on mooring well, and other than being covered in a thick layer of black grime, was how we left her. Everything is black from this grime, so doing pretty much anything like hoisting the main or trimming the jib results in black hands. Rogelio, the harbormaster at Baja Naval is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and while Ensenada has some negatives, Rogelio and Baja Naval is a huge positive.

We left Ensenada on schedule with friend Randy, Jacob, and myself aboard for an uneventful overnight motor to San Diego. At the US border we were hailed by a USCG cutter doing picket patrol requesting information about the boat, documentation, where we were headed, where we left from, and our next port of call. Satisfied with our information, they cleared us on our way.

In the entrance channel into San Diego, we came across Warship 18 doing maneuvers across the degaussing field.  In the channel are underwater magnetic degaussers, which are used to reduce the magnetic signature of warships. Warship 18 had tugs on either side of it, spinning it in it's own axis - this is a big ship, and basically took up the entire channel when sideways. By the time we got up to them, they were pointed back out the channel, but I hailed them on VHF to make sure we were clear. I got a muffled response (c'mon Navy guys, speak clearly), and ultimately decided we were clear anyway, as we continued up the channel. We like coming into San Diego and seeing all the cool military boats, helicopters, and planes - lots to see here.

We headed to the Police Dock for our US Customs inspection, required of any vessel returning to the US from foreign ports. The folks that do this spend most of the time at the airport, and only come down to check in boats on request. Sometimes this can take some time if there are international flights coming in, but I guess we had a good window as we only waited 40 minutes or so for the customs officers to arrive. The inspection was easy and went well, and the officers were a couple of really nice guys. They asked a few questions, checked our passports, documentation, and took our zarpe (clearance to leave Mexico), and spent just a couple of minutes looking over the boat. I gave them a check for $27 and at that point we were clear to be in the US!

From there, we moved a couple of hundred feet to a side tie at the transient marina adjacent to the Police dock. Only $11 a night, what a deal! But the rates go up significantly August 1st.

The three of us had a great brunch at The Red Sails Inn, then Randy and I hiked up to the grocery store for a few provisions - about a 6 mile round-trip walk. Meanwhile, additional crew Dale flew in to join us for the rest of the trip up to San Francisco. We met Dale and his wife Dena on the Baja Haha, and spent numerous wonderful evenings with them during our trip down the coast of California and up to the Sea of Cortez.

The next morning we headed for Redondo Beach and got several hours of nice sailing in before getting headed and deciding that while the sailing was nice, we wanted to arrive sometime in the morning. At around 12:30am during Jacob's watch, a bit southwest of Long Beach, I woke up when the mainsail wasn't sounding right (this is one of those things where you have to be a sailor to really understand, but we get attuned to the sounds and motion of the boat, and if anything isn't right it will wake us up). As the wind had shifted and died, we just needed to adjust the main a bit to keep it from banging, and at about that point we see bright lights just off our port bow, coming toward us. They circle our stern and hail us on the VHF - the USCG on night patrol in one of their big, fast RIB boats. They paced along side us and asked for the same information as the cutter at the US border. Once again satisfied with our information they wished us a good voyage and zipped away, a short time later extinguishing all their running lights. Looks like they loiter with no lights, patrolling for suspicious vessels. The RIBs have basically no radar signature, so I imagine they work well for this role.

We made it into Redondo Beach at around 7:45am, making a brief stop at the fuel dock before tying up at the guest dock at King Harbor Yacht Club. We stayed here for a few nights on our trip South, they are a great, accommodating club for cruisers.

As Jane'O was in Redondo Beach for over 15 years, many people know her, so we got lots of "Jane'O is back!" comments from various people at the fuel dock and the yacht club.

At this point, we had to say goodbye to Randy, unfortunately, who had to head on home. Thanks Randy for crewing with us, looking for the next time we can have you aboard!!

Dale, Jacob, and I went up to the supermarket for a provisioning run, then up to the yacht club for a short time. Dale cooked up an incredible veggie+chicken stirfry for dinner, and then we went in search of the crew of Blue Sky. Finally, Dale taught Jacob and I how to play Blind Luck before we turned in for the night. How is that for a busy few days!

Blue Sky just completed a 5 year circumnavigation on their 44' ketch, and have a very strong Jane'O connection as they were good friends with the previous owner and likely have more miles on our boat than we do! Jim and Emma, thanks for letting us crash your dinner, it was great chatting with you! Today, Blue Sky is having a big homecoming party which we will attend before continuing our trip around Point Conception and on up the California coast!

Hazy morning in Redondo Beach

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