China Camp State Park Sail


This last Saturday morning, I rowed ashore with my (newly patched back together) oar, dodged two shiny Beneteau’s, and ran errands. Food at TJ’s, 0-gauge battery connectors and 1/2″ slide slugs at west marine, and a bag of ice at siete-eleven. I rowed back, ran up the full set of new sails for the first time, and sailed off the hook. After several tacks through the anchorage in light, floopy wind, I passed Spinnaker’s and the sails went limp. I started my six horse Tohatsu for what turned out to be a long motor against the current. I went through Racoon Strait, under the Richmond Bridge, and past The Brothers. (The Brothers and The Sisters are sets of islands east of the Richmond Bridge.) I aimed at a point just between the Sisters and shore, and continued to motor against the current, making 1 to 1.5kt over the ground. Then I stopped. I had run firmly aground on an ebb tide, which threatened to leave Caper careened in 1′ of water where I would spend the night. I stuck my boat hook in the water and ran in full reverse, moving me about 2 feet per minute. Then none. Also, I felt like a lot of mud and muck was getting sucked through the engine’s cooling system for no good reason. I put her in neutral at idle, jumped in the dink, and rowed out to find where the water got deeper. Only one boat length away, and perpendicular to Caper, the water was 6′ deep. I had to work fast to beat the ebb, and I had just sold my little danforth stern hook and the 50′ of small chain hours before. My choice was 35lb delta or the 33 rocna to kedge off. I chose my main hook because it was lighter and already on deck with a rode attached. I put it in the dink, flaked in 50′ of chain, and started rowing out. My repaired oar had been strong enough to go ashore that morning, but wasn’t up to rowing out chain. I snapped it again. I grabbed the chain and pulled myself back to the boat, fueled and fit the cruise & carry, a 2.7 horse 2 stroke outboard, and motored the hook out. Back aboard Caper, I hauled on the chain manually, moved a bit, then stopped. I got back in the dink, and motored out checking depth along the way. Caper draws 4′, and she was in about 3’9″, heeling a bit, and the anchor was in 5’11″. In between was an underwater “hill” with a depth of 3′. Not happening.. I had to weigh the kedge and reset it. Well, turns out the Rocna set by hand so hard I couldn’t break it from the dink. I stood up, leaned back, and started to pull Mimsy (the adventure dinghy) under against the hook with the chain going strait down. My choice was to spend the night there, or dive on it. I took water damageable things out of my pockets, put them in my hat, secured it along with my autoinflating PFD to the dink, and went backwards over the rail. The Rocna was only in one fathom, so I followed the chain, grabbed it by the (vertical) shank, put my feet on the bottom, and pulled myself down by it. It took three more dives to dig the mud away from the Rocna’s fluke, after which I was able to pick it up and lay it flat on the bottom. I climbed back aboard Mimsy and hung the Rocna over the gunwhale with a rolling hitch. I picked a new place with 6′ deep water, checked in between there and Caper, and dropped the hook again. The Rocna is amazing. Pulling on the rode from a grounded boat, you can feel the chain pick up, the anchor turn straight, and then dig in after about half a meter. It just stops. I took 50′ of 1/2″ nylon three strand from a lazarette, cleated one end, and motored it out straight, securing it to the chain with another rolling hitch. Caper was heeling more than 5 degrees now. I got back on aboard, fed the nylon around a cockpit winch, and started grinding. I repeated this procedure twice, and finally we were free. I was beat after winching Caper’s four and a half tons about 75′, inches at a time, but I beat the ebb! I had my sails down, and the wind was dead, so I throttled up the Tohatsu and headed towards the other side of the sisters. The wind started to pick up, so I hoisted the main, then the jib. About an hour later, as I approached the anchorage, I secured the jib, rounded up, dropped the hook, and took down the main. I only put out 50′ of chain, as I was advised that I only needed 30. I don’t even trust my Rocna at less than 3:1 scope, and really prefer 5:1 for overnight and 7:1 if I have to leave the boat. Anyways, the hook is a beast and held as expected, digging deeply with the strong current. I lit off the cruise/carry, which I have nicknamed “the chainsaw” because it sounds like an 066 Stihl. I tied off to another Triton, where I was immediately fed scotch, steak, kale salad, and jumbalaya. Such livery! I could write as much about the sail home, but for the most part we broke our hooks out, motored for a bit as the current was pushing us backwards, and didn’t find any good wind till near Racoon strait. I passed it to the east in hopes of taking the strait on a single port tack, but got in really weird floopery conditions in the lee of Angel. Wind under 3kt, and waves in random directions big enough to frequently dunk the engine and even put water over the stern. I started the engine and motored for a couple minutes before finding myself in good wind. I killed it and sailed rail down at 5-6.9kts close hauled, had to tack out only once to clear the strait. What a fun change of pace to be sailing hull speed close hauled in Sunday traffic! Once in the lee of Sausalito, the wind died off again and I lowered my sails as I motored home. I dropped my hook nearly where it was before, let out 90′ of chain, and took a nap. A great time was had, I’m covered in salt and mud, Caper is covered in salt and mud, and I want to sleep till Thursday. Oakland tomorrow.. Lots of firsts for me this weekend, first time rowing out a kedge, using the new sails and boom, diving on an anchor, taking water over the transom into the cockpit, and sailing hull speed close hauled. The anchorage is comfortably and unusually still tonight, feels like land. The cabin is a mess and all of my clothes are dirty, but I’m happy.

Plastic Classic 2013

The Plastic Classic is a regatta for older fiberglass sailboats, hosted by the Bay View Boat Club. It was also good sailing and a good time. I crewed aboard Ananké, learning a lot in one day. It was great to sail aboard another Triton, and helped me stay motivated to get mine sailing. I had planned to haul my boat out for an extended refit as soon as manageable, but I got some great advice. Just sail it for a while, then refit with a better idea of what is and isn’t important. Thanks Mark!


4th of July Camping in Nevada

I spent my 4th of July weekend driving out to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, camping, shooting some guns, and soaking in hot springs. However, Its not an adventure until things stop going as planned. This trip became an adventure on the way, courtesy of a shredded tire. 1053515_10151482644477882_701825217_o


Stuck in the mud for good measure


Our neighbors striking camp



Caper, A Triton 28

I’ve been eyeing open water capable sailboats for years. While it would be nice to have $30-50K sitting around to buy a decently outfitted Westsail 32 or similar, it wasn’t going to happen in the near future. I started looking at smaller fin keel coastal cruisers and trailer sailers in the more immediate budget that I could take out on the San Francisco bay, the usual suspects on the used market being Catalina 22′s, Ranger 26′s, and the like.

While these would be fine for the bay, I really wanted a heavier boat with a full keel and a ton of ballast. More than a ton of ballast. Reading more about early fiberglass boats, I learned about the first successfully mass produced fiberglass yacht, the Pearson Triton 28. An Alberg design, Tritons are full keeled boats typically found rigged as fractional sloops and fitted with the loved and hated gasoline Atomic 4 inboard. The boat is small enough to sail singlehanded, and has enough space for two. Advertising literature may have claimed “sleeps four”, but this should be taken with the same size grain of salt as “four man tent”. An important feature for me, exceptionally rare in inexpensive full keeled sailboats, is the Triton’s 6 feet of headroom in the main saloon. And so the search began…

Many of the Tritons on the market at any given time are priced in $6000 to $9000 range, decently outfitted and more or less ready to sail. Project boats are cheaper, accordingly. Most of them are also on the East coast of the US. After six months or so of watching sailboat listing sites, forums, and craigslist for a project Triton, I found one with a short description listed for around what my used DR650 cost me. I went to see the boat, and soon after money and papers changed hands. I am now the proud new owner of Caper, probably the biggest money sink of a project I have ever bit off.

Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done, and in the end, I’ll likely invest around $10,000 in her, but all the work, systems, and layout will be done just the way I want them. The first step is to give the sails, rigging, and rudder a good going over as well as getting the engine back to running shape. With a lot of work and a bit of luck, I’ll be sailing her on the bay this summer.Caper Caper SideReflection_MG_0788

Vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park

About a week ago, while walking to the market, I noticed some fresh red spraypaint on Sullivan road where it intersects Indian Cove road. Something with a C, looked like “criminals” maybe? I didn’t pay too much attention, assuming it was just some troublemaking kid acting out on his own. Saturday evening, I saw a news article in the LA Times about more widespread vandalism in the monument (Properly, a National Park for some time now). Looks like there has been spraypaint vandalism in the rattlesnake canyon area, and even worse, vandalism by carving on Barker Dam.

This is practically my backyard. I ride there on my mountain bike to hike and scramble on the boulders. Barker Dam is a nice lazy afternoon out and back hike if you drive to the trailhead. I’m not sure what drives anyone to do things like this, but if I ran into them, they’d wish they had only met the Borrego Sasquatch or a hungry chupacabra.

The why is a matter of it’s own. Is this because of bad parenting? Decline of societal values? All of the above catalysed by 24/7 global connectivity and advertising for as long as younger folks today have been able to read? I’m not qualified to say, but I’m not holding my breath for any of the stimuli that put people in the mindset to do this to decrease on their own.

Some shots I took around Barker Dam a while ago:279906_10150245450737508_5535619_o
































Photos above are mine, following image property of the LA times:














Above Image property of The Press-Enterprise

All I can say is really? I’m not old enough to bitch about “kids these days”.

Desert Rendezvous

This year’s RdV, as usual, was a terrific event. Tacodoc and crew put in many hours behind the scenes to keep us from getting run off by the BLM, and our sponsors made a huge raffle possible. Even with an impressive turnout, (over 100 trucks RSVP’d) I think there were maybe three or four raffle tickets that didn’t get called.

Once I got off the freeway and started heading toward camp, I probably passed half a dozen trucks. The surface was dirt/gravel, fine washboarding, with a bit of sand across the top. The DR happily putted along at about 35 in third. Then came the sand..

The first off- Riding on soft sand, a bike weaves and wobbles like a possessed thing. Usually, if you keep your weight off of the front and use a bit of throttle to keep the front from digging, it stays upright. This particular track was not only sandy, but had already been beaten down and upset by dozens of heavy 4×4′s that afternoon. The first time my front wheel started to plow and a blip on the throttle sent the bars into lock to lock fits, the DR decided to take nap number one. Somehow I landed on my feet after this one… Now to pick it back up. Suzuki claims the thing weighs 335 lbs dry, but no one believes them. With luggage, an extended tank, 14 litres of water, food and camping gear for a three day event, my machine was easily pushing 425-430. I can pick it back up without much trouble unloaded, but that water was the straw that almost broke my back. And those six trucks I passed? Well here they are, other conspirators helping me pick up my machine.

The second off- Now that I realize I’m going to be dabbing/paddling along in first, I wave at the trucks to pass. After a slow half mile or so, the story repeats itself. This time I pin my foot to the ground with my handlebars. A couple toes turned blue that night, but everything was fine by Sunday. Shopping list: Mx boots. With no trucks around, I take off my soft panniers to lighten the load a bit. While doing so, some other offroaders in a built Cherokee stop to help. They ask if I’m with the group down the road, even offering to drive my gear there. I thanked them for the offer, but camp was close, so I kept dabbing along.

Camp Friday was the finest of what makes the Rendezvous Conspiracy events: Friends, drinks, and a bunch of cool rigs. There was even the excitement of a little rattler under a chair, which may have been a bit much excitement for some. Moderate winds tested shade structures and tents all weekend. A few tents ended up collapsing, and a shower tent and awning or two attempted to take flight. Good thing we didn’t have a real windstorm! The Saturday night potluck was excellent, and there was more food than anyone knew what to do with. I’ll have to come up with something clever next time I make it to one of these things on four wheels, my gravlax got decimated at the mountain event in ’11..

Sunday morning, I packed up my gear and walked over to the designated range area. A big thanks to Rocket-scientist for bringing out the targetry and coordinating the shoot! As expected, I got showed up by the whirlygig, and didn’t manage to complete the course of fire with two magazines. Oh well, hopefully there’s a next time. The showing was remarkably small, considering around 40 people said they wanted to shoot on the forum. It seems a weekend without hot running water plus the wind was enough to make people want to head home. Hopefully next time, a few more shooters stay around to help clean up their brass! While we tread lightly and leave no trace, repeating arms tend to litter and we have to pick up after them.

The ride out was about the same story as the ride in, sans the DR thinking its naptime. Dabbing through a bunch of sand, stopping to air up at the hardball, and parting ways with the last of the ExPo crew at the highway.

No photos at this time due to an unresolved technical difficulty. The Canon CR2 raw images from the EOS-M seem to be a newer standard that those from my EOS 30D, and my Linux applications won’t handle them correctly. Photos when I resolve this, add Windows as a dual boot, and/or get permission to post other’s photos from the event.