Sunday, December 30, 2012

We're off!

Just a quickie, no pics. We're getting ready to leave Point Richmond Marina and hope to sail out of the Golden Gate during slack tide, around 9: a.m. or so. This is it until we reach Ensenada! Crew is Tom, Brian, Bruce and Sylvia.

I hope it's a good omen that today is the birthday of my sweet mother and my friend JudyB.  Time to cast off...

Just had time to snap a shot of the sunrise. It's bloody cold right now!

Friday, December 21, 2012

King of Tides and Waiting to Escape

Unfortunately we are still here, waiting for a sufficient lull from all those nasty storms marching down on us from the Pacific Northwest. Add to that a few days of southerly winds and that makes for a very uncomfortable and dangerous sea state that we don't particularly want to endure. So we wait. We need a good two days of decent conditions to get around Points Sur and Conception, then it is more or less downhill to Ensenada. We hope.

Cinnabar has been peacefully berthed in Richmond at the rigger's dock as we complete our boat prep. Last week we found a dinghy and outboard on Craigslist. Not exactly our first choice of dinghy but we were thrilled to have found a 9.9 hp two stroke outboard. Anyway, it was nearly the whole package that we needed, dinghy, outboard, dinghy wheels, so we grabbed it.

Tom removed the watermaker so we could replace the membrane and have it serviced:

This is one of our most precious pieces of equipment and must be cared for!

He also cleaned the sightglass for the watermaker and serviced the condenser of our refrigeration system. Since every task takes exactly one entire day to complete I have threatened to nickname Tom "One-A-Day". He has been kind enough not to comment on how long it would have taken me to do all this work.

The hardest task has been to sort through all our spares and tools. What to take and what to leave behind? Meanwhile, my beloved galley has been turned into a tool bench due to its convenient location.

We were in Richmond during the recent King Tide (December 14). The counterpart to this extreme high tide is, you guessed it, an extreme low tide. Check out our depth meter during one of the extreme lows.

Yikes!! Stuck in the mud.
I'll tell you that our draft is 9.5 feet and let you do the math.

Other new additions to Cinnabar's inventory are two surfboards and one kayak. I just hope there is room for the sailors after we are done packing her up.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Past Five Years

We think we have officially owned Cinnabar longer than her original owners. She was first named California Girl and is proudly featured in Ian Franklin Boat Builders' "Hall of Fame". Check it out here: California Girl

The Purchase:
We had long been ogling several other Schumacher designs (Heart of Gold, Surprise, Morpheus,) and when a boat broker friend told us about California Girl we couldn't resist. With longtime world travel and SCUBA dive buddy Rich in the partnership we were able to make owning the big red boat a reality.

Taking possession of Cinnabar on July 18, 2007. Proof of date, deal and location offshore:

Owner rep Bill and I shaking hands
Ensenada and back:
A month and some boat work later we headed down to Ensenada which would be the big red boat's home for the next few months. We had a terrific sail down, perfect weather, a bit of motoring, and of course the obligatory nighttime accidental gybe that took out a small section of the toerail. Sigh.
We hadn't re-named the boat yet, but you could say these are some of the first Cinnabarbarians enjoying drinks at Hussong's cantina after suffering through a day in customs:

Rich, Sly, Mike, Timo, Ricky, Judy and Tom (behind the camera). Let's see, showers on the swim step of the boat and now this. Mike, why were you always flashing us? (More details and pictures about the trip down here.)

Rich, Tom and I did several trips back and forth to Ensenada to visit the boat, try to avoid getting fleeced by the Tijuana traffic cops, do numerous repairs and enjoy the lovely Ensenada weather.

In January 2008 we were ready to bring our boat home so we assembled a crew and waited for a decent weather window. When the forecast looked good we flew down to San Diego on a Friday afternoon, got picked up by our driver, and except for Nick's lost luggage everything seemed to be in order. We arrived in Ensenada to some of the thickest pea-soup fog we had ever seen! It was cold, drizzly, and did I mention the FOG? We had a crew meeting and decided with our radar and charts we would be able to negotiate leaving the harbor. I stood on the bow and listened for waves against the breakwater to our starboard, and the barks of seals on a wreck to our port. We threaded the needle between the sharp rocks and the tangled, seal-smelly wreckage and made it safely out, gathered enough clothing together to loan to Nick and set off up the coast blasting our horn at the occasional fishing boats that we could hear, but never see.

Synthia tried to warm up with a hot cup of coffee, but it was freezing all the way up to San Diego where we motored in to go through customs. After checking back in to the U.S. we headed out of the harbor and made our way up the coast. We arrived in Santa Barbara the next day where we left the boat and headed home for our work week. (More details about our first leg here.)

We were able to complete the delivery the next weekend. We left Santa Barbara around midnight on Friday, enjoyed an uneventful motor around the notoriously treacherous Point Conception and continued up the coast Saturday in light winds, flat seas and sunny skies hoping to beat the low that we knew was heading down to meet us. We managed to round Point Sur about 4:30 a.m. Sunday and passed by Monterey in the early morning hours. The weather was developing to be cold, squally, with the waves and wind chop building. The wind stayed pretty much between 18-25 knots, but we were fairly comfortable with a double reef in the mainsail. Anyway, we were in familiar waters and figured we could duck into Santa Cruz or Half Moon Bay if things got worse.

With the building sea state we gave the coastline a wide berth, rounded the Lightship, and headed down the shipping channel, past Point Bonita, toward the Golden Gate and home.

The big red boat had proven herself to be a wonderful vesself for offshore sailing. (More details about our second leg here.)

We christen thee:
Not sure when, but sometime in 2009 we finally all agreed on a new name for our boat. She would be called Cinnabar. I'm sure there is a list somewhere of all the names we considered, but here are a few that I remember: Safari, Red Zeppelin, Rambutan, Trebuchet, and Killer Tomato (we could call it "Kill Tom" for short, heh).
UPDATE: I was just reminded that one of the names under consideration was "Maxi-Pad". How could I have forgotten?? And we could name the dinghy "Mini-Pad". I believe we owe kudos to Mighty Mike of our first Ensenada delivery crew for this boat name suggestion.

Race to Hawaii:
After such a successful trip to Ensenada and back we decided that Cinnabar was the perfect boat to sail to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup. So for the next couple of years we assembled a racing crew, signed up for the OYRA ocean racing series, and started preparing the boat for the 2,000 mile crossing to Oahu.

Two Toms as we raced around the Farallon Islands:

Preparation also included lots of boat work such as long-boarding the hull for a smooth racing  bottom:

We were ready for our start in July 2010. We said goodbye to loved ones on the dock and sailed out of Alameda to the start line. After a terrific start we began our journey in typical San Francisco weather, overcast skies and cold winds. We were lucky to have the wind as the fleets starting in the days before us were becalmed!
After a few days we were able to hoist the spinnaker and blast downwind toward Hawaii at fun speeds:
Racing is working 24/7, but when off watch you can entertain yourself however you like. I couldn't believe Rich and Bruce caught a mahi mahi! We had sushi that night for happy hour.

After 9.5 days of racing day and night, powering through exhaustion and nightly squalls, we made it to Kaneohe Bay and finished our race in the dead of night. We spent the next week or so enjoying Oahu and all the parties at Kaneohe Yacht Club.
Pac Cup Cinnabarbarians Back Row: Tom B, Tom C, Rich, Synthia. Front: Bruce, Mike, Sylvia

Our delivery crew Melanie joined us in Kaneohe and after all the festivities Tom B, Mike and Rich flew home while Tom C, Synthia, Bruce, Melanie and I sailed over to Kauai to meet up with Sis and Erik for surfing, hiking and diving.

It was finally time for us to depart and we sailed out of Nawiliwili harbor while Sis and Erik watched us from the lighthouse. The first three days of bashing against those big Hawaiian swells was hell and that's all I will say about it. As we approached the Great Pacific High the seas flattened out and the winds became calm. The first calm morning Bruce and I saw a couple of mahi mahi swimming around the boat. We had a bite on our first handline before he even had a chance to throw the second line out! Within five minutes we had two good sized mahi mahi on the boat, so it would be very fresh fish for a few days. Life was good.

One day the winds completely died. We were in a glass-off so we threw out a safety line and boat fender and all (except one "safety monitor" who stayed on board) jumped in to swim and snorkel around the boat.
Bruce, Melanie, Sly and Syn cooling off.
A true glass-off
One day I was a little blue because it was my dear, sweet father's birthday. But that night we were blessed with the most spectacular sunset I had ever seen. It was a 360 degree sunset that lasted over an hour, with a double rainbow to the east and this to the west:
We all gathered up top for happy hour and to enjoy nature's spectacular show. I felt like Dad was  there with us enjoying the sunset.
The night before we hit the California coastline we sailed into a dense fogbank. The wind died and we had to motor, but that was a lot better than experiencing the notorious "Gale Alley" which we were dreading. We had a friend who had to abandon his boat two years earlier in that very spot due to horrible weather, so we were fine with motoring in. It had gotten progressively cooler but the fog was downright freezing. We approached the Golden Gate Bridge just after sunrise.

It took us all day to clean the boat and put her away properly. After making sure our boat was shipshape our journey was completed.

The next couple of years were spent going on day sails with friends and the occasional boat-camping excursions such as anchoring off of Angel Island, sailing up to Drake's Bay and cruising in the Delta. Now we are getting ready for our next adventure; we want to sail Cinnabar down to Mexico for the winter. Fingers crossed that we will be out of here before Christmas. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cinnabar is Ten years old!

I don't know how many years old that is in boat years; hopefully not as many as dog years. But I will point out that many of Cinnabar's systems are "Discontinued", or "Out of Business", or "Upgraded", all nice ways of saying we are SOL when it comes to getting parts. Of the numerous irksome incidents of this type here are a couple of recent examples...

Windlass motor = broken. Windlass brand purchased by Lewmar and "Discontinued". So Tom rebuilt the motor, sanded and repainted the body, and reassembled. This little exercise took about two weeks, including J-B Welding the magnets back into the motor case incorrectly, blow-torching them out, and re-gluing. Re-torch, re-glue. Believe me, this could be a novel all by itself.

Broadwater Marine Stove = two of the four burners inoperable, broiler inoperable. Brand is "Out of Business" and we have read on several forums of people's frustrations trying, and failing, to get parts for these stoves. One of the aft burner knobs was frozen when we purchased the boat. The valve itself was aluminum next to brass and the metals had corroded and fused. Also, inside the valve assembly the tiny thermocouple had corroded. After months of trying to find parts Tom finally found these thermocouples from a company in England and managed to convince them to sell him some.

The aluminum valve broke when we tried to separate them but Tom was able to rout it out somehow and make it serviceable.

Coming back from Hawaii in 2010 we got some salt water in the rear right burner and it was on its way to corroding too. What happens is the water goes into the burner and then runs down to the valve to start corroding everything. Bad design on an otherwise great stove, and stupid of us to let water get into the stove. Anyhow, Tom managed to pull apart the valve and regrease it so all he had to do was replace the magnetic unit in the thermocouple. He also replaced the delicate springs and e-clips on the other burners that were becoming corroded. He also serviced the burner in the broiler which had never worked before either. Now it does. He serviced and re-greased the entire stove and oven.

Honestly, I didn't think it was possible to get both of those rear burners working. We even called the boat builder in New Zealand and he said nobody services those stoves anymore so we should get a new one. HA!!!  Check it out now...

As you can see I'm all ready to whip up some seared scallops on potato cakes sauced with a beurre blanc and served with a side of steamed asparagus and freshly-baked rolls. Oh wait, I have four burners but I only have three pans!