San Diego

After a beautiful week on Catalina Island we headed south to San Diego, our last stop where we would make final preparations for our big trip to Mexico with the Nada Ha Ha fleet. We had 2 full weeks in San Diego and I planned ahead by booking a reservation for the entire stay at the Public Dock as soon as reservations opened for that week. In retrospect it would have been fine (and cheaper) to alternate between the free anchorage and the public dock, but it sure was convenient to be able to hop on the bike and run up to the marine store or the grocery store any time we wanted.

There was a long list of to do’s to knock out before leaving San Diego, some of which required getting packages delivered to my sister-in-law in Arizona so she could bring them with her when she came to San Diego to meet us.

We’ve visited San Diego multiple times over the years for conferences and also made a trip when we were looking at boats, but this was our first time on our own boat. As we approached San Diego Bay we noticed a significant increase in boat traffic. It seemed that suddenly every size, shape and condition of boat was visible from any vantage point at any time, from luxury motoryachts, to performance sailboats, to rag-tag liveaboards to sailing dinghies to Navy warships and everything in between.

As we made our way into town from the Public Dock we could sense the collective excitement in the air surrounding the impending annual migration of boats heading south. It seemed like at every street corner or outdoor cafe people were discussing when they were leaving, what they needed to finish before leaving, or lamenting why they are not leaving. The marine service businesses were all booked solid as boat owners push to get their boats ready to head south and marine stores seemed to be emptying out their stocks at an alarming rate.

Vote by sea

One problem we needed to resolve while we were in San Diego was how we were going to be able to vote. We thought that we had this all planned out in advance. We left Emeryville a couple of weeks before California mails out the ballots, but we put in a temporary forwarding order with USPS to Dockside Mail, a mail scanning and forwarding service in Seattle that caters to cruisers. The plan was to have USPS forward our ballots to Dockside Mail. We would then see that they were received via the scanned envelope that Dockside provides online. We then give Dockside forwarding instructions to send the ballots to my sister-in-law in Arizona who would bring them to us when she came to visit us in San Diego. Time passed and USPS obviously was forwarding very little of our mail. We received maybe 2 or 3 pieces of mail for the first month of our forwarding. I called our harbormaster in Emeryville and she checked our mailbox and sure enough it was stuffed full of mail. I submitted an issue to USPS online and she talked to the mail carrier to get the forwarding resolved. Our harbormaster was nice enough to put our mail in an envelope and forward it to my sister-in-law, so we thought that we had it solved.

Unfortunately when the mail arrived there were still no ballots. Kristin called the Alameda County elections office and after a lengthy time on hold she started explaining the issue when the elections clerk abruptly stopped her short.

“Stop right there. USPS will never forward a ballot, period. You need to have new ones printed and sent directly to you.”

Ok, but where do we get them sent? It’s too late to have them sent to my sister-in-law. When we arrived in San Diego I checked out the website for the local chandlery and noticed that they had published a cruising guide which happened to mention that they can receive mail to hold for cruisers en-route to San Diego. Perfect! I signed up for their cruiser mail while Kristin gave the elections clerk the store address to receive our ballots. Then the nervous waiting began. Kristin had me visit the marine store just about every day, and of course not wanting to waste a trip I always found one more thing that I really ‘should’ have on the boat.

Finally, on October 27th I stopped by the store and checked the mail bin and there they were! Our ballots had arrived. I rushed them back down to the boat and Kristin and I took the rest of the afternoon to fill out out our ballots and hike them back up to the post office. Whew!

Special Delivery

On the first weekend in San Diego, my sister-in-law Lori planned to make the 5 hour drive from Arizona to come visit and see us before we headed south. This gave us the opportunity to have some packages delivered to her place to bring with her when she met us in San Diego. This was very helpful as in addition to this week being Kristin and my wedding anniversary, the day of our departure is also my 50th birthday and this gave us a way to get some gifts coming.

It was really great to visit with Lori and her dog Teddy for a couple of days. It’s been too long since Kristin and Lori had some time together. Lori being the generous person that she is helped us so much with our preparations by driving us around as we gathered up the last items for the trip. We are very grateful to have such a wonderful sister.

Lori talking to Teddy through porthole window

Kristin was also excited about getting to see Lori’s dog Teddy. We were a little worried how well Teddy would fare on the boat, but he did just fine. Granted, we are at the dock and it is absolutely calm, but still it’s an awkward space to navigate for a dog. Kristin is definitely missing having animals around.

A Tropical Surprise

Lori also conspired to throw me a surprise socially-distanced party for my 50th birthday. This was truly a surprise as it was about a week early and I was still looking forward to Kristin and my anniversary later in the week. Somehow Kristin and Lori managed to find a pineapple rum cake and keep it hidden from me until that evening when they sent me over to Bali Hai to get some takeout appetizers and mai-tai’s. When I returned they had decorated the boat inside and out in a tropical theme. What’s more they had arranged to get my family to join the celebration via Zoom. It was quite unexpected and so wonderful to celebrate with everyone.

Greg at the computer talking with family on Zoon
Kristin Greg and Lori at the salon table with food and drinks

Mexico Prep

Besides the usual weekday remote work, I spent the rest of my free time in San Diego preparing for our big southbound adventure. All of the provisions needed to be stowed, the remaining electronics installed, and finally finish the electrical and plumbing for the watermaker. The watermaker was the biggest unknown. I had picked it up about 3 years ago from someone who pulled it out of a boat he sold. He said it was only started up to prime and flushed and it has been pickled and stored ever since. I wanted to get it up and running while in San Diego so that I could get some new pressure lines made by Daily Watermakers just down the street. After several trips to multiple stores, I fired up the watermaker on a rinse cycle using distilled water. The promising news is that everything worked, nothing leaked, and no foul water came out during the rinse. We’ll see what happens when we try it in clean saltwater. Fingers crossed!

Greg holding and extension cord staring into open floorboards with vacuum in foreground
Installing the watermaker plumbing

The other big prep item is storing all of the provisions for the trip. Because of the pandemic we want to be as self-sufficient as possible and save the grocery store runs for larger towns that are better equipped to handle the pandemic appropriately. This meant packing more like for an ocean crossing than a coastal passage which means that every accessible nook gets stashed full of whatever fits there best.

Greg labeling cans and packing them into the space under the salon bench
Our couch is also our pantry

Twas the night before Nada

Finally, as I’m sitting in the cabin writing this the night before our departure for our big adventure I’m reminded of a bedtime meditation I’ve listened to recently, it goes something like, “The day is done, there is nothing left to do today.”

We shall see what tomorrow brings!