Thursday, April 19, 2018

North through the West

 So this is the trip from Los Angeles (I managed to get out of the Hotel California!) up to Bellingham.  I had a few days of rest at my brother's place in Southern California, then had a nice Easter there and picked up Lindsey the next day to drive on northbound.  We first went out to Joshua Tree to look at the desert, and found a Coyote lurking in the shade.  I've always like Coyotes, the long ears and wiley tails, concocting various plans to catch the roadrunners of the world...  Mostly, though they just roll away over the hills and disappear. 
Joshua Tree was really nice, fairly green, but also very crowded.  Possibly it was spring break for everyone but I've been very surprised at how many National Parks are packed with folks, and it almost makes me want to avoid them.  A pity, because they are nice places.  We managed to find some small corners to hide in and get a bit of solitude in the desert. 
From there we drove north and east and found ourselves in the middle of the Mojave, and found some interesting lizards.  This one, I was sure was a Gila Monster, but it had been a while since I looked at a book and so I didn't know what I was looking at.  Not a Gila Monster.  Such a pity because its kind of monstrous.  Anyway, its a type of Iguana.  I guess the mouth is very Iguanic.  I didn't check its iguano. 
 Then there was this little hansom guy who did push-ups and whipped his tail around and scampered from place to place.  A zebra tailed lizard.  I like this view of his mouth, he looks like he's about to talk. 
 Further north we found a place to camp among some boulders that seemed a lot like Joshua Tree, but was just a corner of nowhere and along a dusty road found some bunnies.  We would have liked to have some rabbit stew, but they were wary (as we can see in the picture) and this jackrabbit kept his distance.
 Then we dropped down to Death Valley and scraped our bellies on the bottom of the world.  This is The Devil's Golf Course and its made of salt and wind and a tiny bit of moisture.  Its hard, like rocks, but reforms in little spray patterns like frozen waves.  Really pretty.
 Then we climbed through purgatory pass to emerge in a little slice of heaven.  The Owens' River Valley.  At the south end there is an old salty and somewhat dry lake with some Avocets, and then we worked our way up and north along the eastern spine of the Sierra Nevada.  The Sierras slope up from the San Joaquin Valley and get taller and sharper as you go east until they hit a sudden drop down to this valley, its like an old plate boundary.  (Perhaps a terrain boundary)  Anyways, it was neat to see. 
 Then we climbed up to the highest part of the valley where it has formed a bowl and in that bowl is the windblown weird lake called Mono Lake.  I recall reading about this in Ranger Rick back when I was in grade school (maybe 8 or 9) and how LA was sucking water from this lake and making huge dust storms and it was a terrible tragedy.  In fact they were just taking water from the rivers that feed the lake but that is still too taxing on the watershed, and the lake dropped something like 50 ft.  Its a huge wide shallow bowl, so 50 ft is a giant patch of lakebed that showed up and that was problematic.  Recently they have changed the water rights and the lake is filling up again, but its still short of the goal.  The water is green and mysterious (nastily mysterious?  Sort of like a magical booger or something that you don't want to touch, but maybe just a tiny part of you does want to swim or taste...) 
 And there are these calcium carbonate things that stick up everywhere from fresh water springs coming up and mixing with the alkaline water.  The fresh water has Calcium, the lake (which is salty) has carbonates, and they make this chalky stuff when they meet. 
 Mono Lake is just east of Yosemite, but its over a big steep tall hill and you can't drive over that in the winter or spring.  So we drove north, west, and then south and then east and finally got into the Yosemite Valley.  Of course I'd been here once before, 10 years ago and I've seen this kind of thing in Alaska, but wowzers it was cool.  I can see why so many people go there and why it is super famous.  The waterfalls gushed like cold Norse gods vomiting magical fairy dust from the high places of the world.  Just before we arrived the valley was flooded, but we got lucky and it was open (with wet places) when we got there. 
 The falls do impossible things like jump from the top of a seemingly flat plateau and over the brink of eternal drop, turning to misty fog on the way.
 Lord Nelson liked it
 We got up early from our camp spot outside the park and drove in at dawn, and found there weren't many people up or moving yet, so we had the feeling of stillness and having it to ourselves.  The flooded meadow made for good reflection
 Some deer were chewing their cud and awaiting the sun and I got some good film that I will hopefully make into something soon of them chewing, swallowing and then hurking it back up into their mouths to chew again.  Good close ups.
 All the animals there are really accustomed to humans, so this indifferent squirrel was refusing to look at me when I was trying to get pictures, but you can see the ears are still listening for the sound of food dropping on the ground.
 We went for a hike and I found that I am starting to feel old.  It was about 8 miles and 2500 ft of elevation up and down, and my knees hurt the next day.  The waterfalls sprayed out their joy all over the trail so it was pretty wet going, but nice to see the falls from close up.
 This is Nevada Falls
 A closer look at the water being obliterated
 reaching...
 Up on top of the plateau we had some nice big bent trees and it was much warmer.
 So Yosemite was grand.  It felt great to go from the desert and the brown of Baja and Southern California into the green of the valleys of the sierras.  Spring was coming!  Spring is here!  We spotted a robin and it was confirmed.
 From Yosemite we drove to my friend Dennis' house, near Sacramento, to visit.  He is the Captain of the Shamaness, a lovely ketch that I'd met in Mexico years ago and had seen every year, except this last one, so I figured I'd go visit him in his house in Rio Vista.  He and his wife, June, also have another boat, a Catalina 30, in the San Francisco Bay, and they offered it to me to borrow, so I sailed over to Sausalito and picked up my sister Rachel and her kids.  Here we are looking at the Golden Gate...
 And imitating the bridge. 
 From the Bay Area, we drove north into the Redwoods, and found some nice clovers...
 and up a lonely road along the Lost Coast we found a little alder grove with Elk in it.
 The Elks were content to let us get close and watch them.  They just chomped up the green. 
 There must have been a big flood to wipe everything out some time ago and the trees have all grown up at the same time afterwards, so they are all the same height and evenly spaced.  Its definitely on my list of places to go again.
 The rest of the trip was a pretty quick zip on by (and it started raining) but I made it up to Bellingham and am now getting ready for the Alaska season. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Pogo 40 Video

Here is the video I just made of the day of sailing on the pogo 40. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Daysail on a Pogo 40

 This has been one of my dreamboats for a while, the Pogo 40.  I learned about this boat a few years ago while watching people race around at incredible speeds on monohull boats, and found that there is this design class, the "Class 40" that came into being when this boat was designed and created, and it is a ocean racing boat, that can do non-stop sailing around the globe, with one person aboard, and be very very fast. 
So when I learned that there was one in Long Beach, California, I asked about the owner and if I could find out his email address, and then I got to talking to him and he offered to take me out sailing for a day.  Christmastime!  I felt giddy with joy.  So after dropping Mike off in San Diego, I drove on up and met with Brad and we went out on his wonderful boat. 
First off, you look at the boat and it looks long and boat like, and very white.  Its 12 years old and he has owned it the whole time, it doesn't look that big from the dock, or from the pictures, but when stepping aboard...
 the first thing you think when you get into the cockpit is that it is very big.  Enormous.  Vast.  There is tons of deck space, tons of room to sit and you feel like there is room for 12 people in the cockpit without much trouble.  In all the looking online of these boats I've done I never really understood how big the boat was.  Here is Brad in the cockpit.
 Down the stairs, its like a normal boat, but a bit more spartan.  This one has a stove and kitchen and sink and things, even a fridge!  But everything is simple and mostly plastic, which makes it lighter weight and easier to clean and also longer lasting and for that I like it more than the luxury things.  This interior is actually the ideal for me, since I don't need much and don't want to have a lot of extraneous things that will rot or go bad or need upkeep.
 Here is a look at the starboard Quarterberth.  Imagine you came down the stairs and turned to your right and did a near 180, and now you are looking back aft under the cockpit and there is a berth there.  Altair has the same idea, but much smaller.  This one just less than standing headroom at the entrance and very high sitting up headroom on the bed, with room for two easily on the bunk and maybe three if you snuggle.  Bigger than any bunk I am used to.  The cushions (which come with the boat normally) are very comfortable and feel great.
 The forward berth is huge.  In this picture I'm lying on the bed and have my legs spread wide and I have nearly 4 ft above my head (and feet) and the bed is queen sized in the aft section and slightly smaller in the forward part.  Its a triangle of sorts, but since the boat has a blocked off section in the very front, the trapezoid small part is still quite big.  I'd say this is twice the size of my bunk in Altair.  And the volume of this room alone is equal to the entire volume of Altair. 
 The main cabin is vast as well.  It might have 4 Altairs worth of volume in it, with a big long table down the middle of this room.  The table keeps you from falling across the room when the boat heels over, and heel over it will.  Its handy not having much stuff so that you don't have to pick up much as it falls on the floor.  There is a center nav station that has a great seat and a spot for instruments. 
The floor of the boat is the hull, so that allows for inspection easily, and I noticed that the floor was not very cold, which means the hull's core makes for decent insulation.  I was curious as to how warm the boat would get in the tropics and how cold in the north, but with good insulation, it should stay nice easier. 
 The mast is carbon and nice looking, with a very simple and basic rig, two spreaders and the shrouds are led aft so there is a strong triangle of stainless steel wire, but far less wires than Altair has.  No fixed backstays.
 There is a really big lazarette (storage in the back from the cockpit) That I never had seen or realized these had before, from pictures of other boats.  Its huge as well.  The boat is widest in the stern and this space is about 12 ft wide and 3 ft thick and 3 ft tall.  The rudders are mounted here and you can see them and work on them if you need. 
 Motoring, the boat can go about 7 knots, but is happier at 6, which is a far cry from Altair which is able to do 4.5 and happiest at 4.  The tillers are easy to use and steer the boat easily and if you let go of them, the boat keeps on going straight.  Amazing.  Altair never does this.  Its easy to see around the boat, but this one doesn't have much of a dodger.
 Sailing is where you really notice the smile on your face.  My cheeks hurt a little from all the smiling i've been doing.  Here I am sitting and sailing the boat, easily doing 12 knots in about 14 or 16 knots of wind.  The boat is forgiving and fast and stable and if you let go of the tiller at 12 knots and wait 20 seconds, the boat is still on the course that you left it on.  I'm going to make a video, and then hopefully you can see the speed.  Its the ease of the speed that is the most amazing thing.  We never flew the spinnaker, so our top speeds were somewhat limited to about 10 knots upwind and 12 knots downwind.  With the spinnaker, I figure we could have pushed it to 15 or 16 with the winds we had. 
 And we came back after a day of sailing and grinning like bandits.  I'm in love with the class 40 idea, and I'm going to start wishing for santa to put a Pogo in my stocking this christmas...

Mexico Wrap up Part 2

As a continuation of the last post....
So after coming back from La Ticla, I then took Altair up to San Blas to haul out and store her for the summer.  Altair is in Summer Camp now.  But this time I went on this jungle tour to a crocodile place.  
 The Crocodiles are along the sides of the estuary, but also there are some big ones in cages at the end of the ride.
 Also there are lots of turtles there. 
 In the cages, there are also some cool animals that are local to the area, Lynx
 Crocodiles!  See how the teeth are worn away by the concrete they move across, also look at the sensory bumps on the nose.  Those are good for sensing vibrations while in the water or in the air and they have really good feelings (who says reptiles don't have feelings?) of what is going on around them, even if they can't see.
 There were some Peccarys there too.  They are cute little piggys
 A real big croc here.  The biggest might have been 16 ft long and very heavy.
 This little heron I got a shot of but I'm not sure what it is....I guess it is a Bare Throated Tiger Heron!
 And the foot of the beast!
 They have Jaguars there, poor sad looking things with not enough to think about or to kill, or enough room to sneak about.  This one was scratching.
 And this one was pacing.  I really like their eyes, very fixated.
 Here is a croc eye.  I love those vertical slit pupils.
 After I got Altair all snug on the boat stands I drove my truck up the coast to Mazatlan and took a ferry across the Sea of Cortez (also known as the "C of Cortez") and as we approached La Paz, I saw some whales in the distance.  These ones, if you look carefully, you will see that they have a blow that is forward, and not vertical.  They are Sperm Whales!  This was the first (and only) time I've seen Sperm Whales, but I was really pleased.  This was as close as we got in the ferry.
 I met up with my friend Mike and we drove up the Baja Peninsula.  On the way we hiked up a canyon and found a hummingbird.
 And an oriole
 And I got a nice beautiful sunrise picture but Mike managed to get into the picture and pee.
 Further north we came upon a nice looking Red Tailed Hawk and I got some shots of it flying
 And sitting on a Boojum tree.
 Speaking of Boojum Trees, we went to this place I call Boojumtown, where there are a lot of these wonderful cactus trees all over and camped out.  Evening came and the sun set and we got our cameras out to take some pictures in the moonlight and the dark.  Here is a Cordon Cactus...
 There is a twisted Boojum that looked great in the moonlight, so I took a few pictures of its weird ascent.

 It looks like a claw!
 We did some light painting too, the rocks here are hollow from the wind blowing around.
 It was a nice trip, then we made it to San Diego and I dropped him off.  Onwards northbound!