Sunday, November 20, 2016

Saint Doug (aka San Diego)

[Kyle]We knew it was going to be a long, slow sail to San Diego from Avalon, so we left at first light in order to give ourselves as much time as we could.

We did pretty well for a while. The wind turned against us just far enough that we could still sail within a couple of degrees of our route. We got about halfway and then it just quit like someone flipped a switch. We were left rolling around in two wave trains that were opposing one another, which made Begonia jump and lurch erratically. The sails slatted back and forth and everything was banging and shaking. Ugh!

Little wind, but we arrive in time for the sailing races

We stowed all of the sails in order to spare them and the rig, and started an engine. I hate doing that, although I have to admit it in this case the racket of the engine was way preferable to the sound of the rig beating itself to death. The wind never went above two knots the rest of the way and the arriving swell from a big storm in the open ocean was getting bigger.

Around 4am, we entered some pretty thick fog. We turned on the radar and started sounding our fog signal. As we approached the entrance to San Diego, we started spotting lots of fishing boats on radar (We could tell because they were mostly stopped). Most of them had picked the middle of the entrance channel as their spot. None were sounding a signal of any type and we got a few dirty looks as we appeared out of the fog and manoeuvred around them on our way up the channel. One big sport fishing boat came blasting out of the fog at 13 knots and passed a boat length ahead of us without even seeming to notice we were there. It’s a good thing we saw them coming.

A couple of miles later, we emerged into bright sunlight and then found ourselves motoring upstream through a pretty big sailboat race. we peeled away and tied up at the Customs dock for an inspection, which would authorize us to anchor in the A9 anchorage reserved especially for transients. We set the hook just in front of the Coast Guard station and within sight of the airport.

After a good restful day and night - we wake up to more fog

The next day, we were picked up for a whirlwind tour that would have taken three or four by bus. Our ride was from Liz, a friend Maryanne made in Italy after we lost Footprint. Liz’s husband, Michael, is in the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Naples when Liz kindly answered Maryanne’s internet call of help with boxes for shipping our remaining belongings back to the States. They’ve been in San Diego for the last few years, where they hope to stay, and she was kind enough to drive us around and keep us company.

Liz showed us the sights - including Cabrillo lighthouse and beach

Our main focus of the day was Cabrillo National Monument and State Marine Preserve. Along with great sea cliffs with lots of tide pools and plenty of good information about Cabrillo’s “discovery” of the area, there were amazing views of the whole of San Diego. From our high perch, Liz was able to point out places of interest and give advice on what to see later when it was just us.

We drove through a few areas and then had a late lunch before going to Liz’s to catch up. Maryanne had, of course, met Liz years before. I was new to the mix, but I felt perfectly welcome. Liz is very interesting and has a better than average level of self-awareness, which makes her an easy person with which to converse. I liked her very much. She also has two adorable cats which were happy to let me fuss over them. That made me happy since having our own is impractical.

Enjoying San Diego Old Town at night
where handmade tortillas are part of the entertainment

We followed that with a night visit to Old Town, where we meandered through shops and pubs decorated for El Dia de Las Muertes (Day of the dead).

The next day, we got up early with the ambitious goal of seeing everything else in San Diego in one day. This was, of course, nuts. We had no hope of doing any such thing, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t try.

We started by walking to the Mexican fisheries department to get two licenses. We were going to take a bus, but there was a wait, so we just started walkin’

We don’t really intend to fish in Mexico, but we have some gear aboard (lift raft options). The rumor is that we could get fined a car each if they think we might even be capable of fishing without a license, so a license each is cheap insurance the way we see it.

From there we walked to Balboa Park. We found the visitor’s center and then made a plan to see most of the highlights via walking tour.

Balboa Park - a wonderful mix of fine buildings and beautiful gardens

Balboa Park is just lovely. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to see some great urban parks in our travels, but by the end, I decided that Balboa is my favorite one of them all. It is beautiful and grand and peaceful and inspiring all at the same time.

The buses weren’t too convenient again, so we walked all of the way downtown to the gaslight district - the center of San Diego’s scene. We had a reasonable dinner during happy hour at a bar that probably wouldn’t start getting really busy with the younger crowd for hours.

We weren’t done yet, so we headed home via the waterfront through seaport village, yet another fun district with too many nice dessert places to pass up. We figured we had to be over ten miles for the day, so we needed something to get us the rest of the way home.

Exploring more of San Diego - and the views of planes landing from the boat

We had another day in S.D. We intended to go to the Maritime museum, which has eleven boats to tour (Ooh, boats!), but things kept coming up. By the time we walked by it on the way home again, we had filled the day with a lot of other fun touristy stuff we found on the way and they were about to close, so we had to give it a miss. Maybe next time.

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