Wednesday, August 30, 2006


"Uggs" booties

Whipped up some baby booties yesterday. These are from the "Knitty Gritty" television show and the instructions can be found at Suede Booties

My new knitting friend, Tania, has made some changes to the original pattern - to knit in the round, smaller size, and heel shaping (see blog link in sidebar).

Anyway, these are for my son's friend. Then, I stayed up late last night to make another pair for one of the guys who works on our boat's electrical stuff - once you get going on these it's hard to stop!

Check out the topiary sailboat that is in front of the Chula Vista marina office. The sail cover is real - sewn by a marina resident.

And...we had VISITORS on the boat Saturday! My niece Sarah and her friend Tara came on down for a visit. They surprised us by bringing along my sister (her mom) and my BIL Ron! We spent the day talking (loudly - we always get so loud when we get together) and drinking Hawaiian Punch & vodka - the girl's concoction.

My recently completed Pacific Northwest Shawl found a new home - my niece Sarah! I'm thrilled that she wanted it - it looked so good on her! Now I get to knit another one and, of course, I already have the yarn.

Tara on the left, Sarah on the right.

And here's a pic of my sister Dana

OK - Jones wants me to help re-install the wind turbine now - he's waiting up in the cockpit, rather impatiently.

Knit on...

Monday, August 28, 2006


Crafty stuff

Forgive me readers, for I have slacked off. It's been many days since I have knit (until today!) Just having way too much fun doing other crafty stuff. I've gotten involved in making stitch markers for a new Yahoo! group where we exchange handmade markers.

My first set was made of purple and glass beads. Next I used a wire twisting technique, I made a row counter marker. For folks who prefer to knit in the round, this marker will indicate that you've completed a round - and you can change the numbers to keep track of where you are in a pattern. The little sheep is a magnet. I bought the already painted cutout at the local craft store for 25 cents (Michael's), glued on a magnet, and covered the front in a clear glaze. Okay, not real creative, but it's the thought that counts - at least that's what my mom used to say.

Because it will soon be Halloween - I made some quick markers with charms I purchased attached to an inexpensive charm bracelet last year. The black rings are O-rings that I have Jones order for me from McMaster-Carr industrial supply house. I like the way they slightly grip the knitting needles so they don't get in the way when you're knitting.
Also this week, I made a cover for the Raw Water Washdown Switch which is used to wash the mud off of the anchor after we pull it up. This little switch is in the forward berth where we park our guests. Right next to this switch is the light switch. So what's the problem? Well, if you pull on the Raw Water Washdown Switch, it will activate a pump that sucks seawater into the boat - into a hose that is down in the bilge - filling the bilge/boat with water. This is a potential boat sinker! Cripes! First thing we did was to put a self-shutting hose nozzle on the hose in the bilge. Then, I made a cover for the switch. This will prevent a nosy kid, or a confused guest from accidentally activating this pump.

The cover is a $1 wood box from the craft store, a piece of woven cane from the upholstery store, a piece of cheap sisal rope and a 25 cent painted wooden anchor.

Three coats of marine varnish, some selfstick Velcro, and a cover is born!

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Homeward Bound

Good things only last so it was with pouting mouths and sad eyes, we left Catalina to head home. We decided to sail the return trip in 2 legs - the first leg would be about 45 miles to Dana Point harbor on the California mainland. Then day 2 would be about 55 miles from Dana Point to our homebase in Chula Vista (San Diego).

We motored for the first two hours, spotted a swimming sea lion (see pic), then put the sails up when the wind picked up as we rounded the end of the island. Then, it was a beautiful 7-hours of sailing to Dana Point harbor. In the harbor, we anchored next to a stunning 63-foot Mason ketch sailboat - sailing vessel 10-Forward (see pic). They hailed us and asked us over for dinner - what nice folks!!! We had a great time visiting with Ileene and Paul - owners and co-captains of this beautiful vessel. These cruisers commute up and down the coast of California, working part-time and enjoying the cruising life. We hope to meet up with them again sometime!

The next morning we set off for San Diego. The day started out calm, so we cranked up the massive engine and motored out. Large schools of dolphins were swimming up the channel between the island and the mainland. I know, the picture is terrible, but you get the idea. There were hundreds of dolphins - all swimming, some jumping, all totally ignoring us as we crossed their paths.

We motored along as there was no wind for sailing. The engine purred, then revved up all on its own, sputtered, and quit. Yep, quit. No go.

There we were, 9 miles off the coast of California with a dead engine, no wind to sail, and the boat bobbing awkwardly in the swells. Nothing to do but pull up the floor panels and deal with the beast. What was the problem? Were we out of fuel? Our tank gauge showed that we still had almost a full tank of diesel, but then it had always said that since we bought the boat. Was the gauge to be trusted? Was there a burst or crimped fuel line? Was the fuel pump dead? How long would/could we drift around out here before we had to call for help, get run over by a tanker or cargo ship, drifted out to sea never to be seen again, or crashed up on the rocks? Were we scared? Yep - no doubt about it.

Jones & Brett examined the inner workings of the fuel system, and discussed the appropriate method of researching the problem. Isn't it great having a professional race car mechanic and a brilliant young scientist on board? You should have heard them - approaching the problem with the "scientific method". They gained access to the fuel tank and dunked a long rod into it - yep, it was almost full of fuel. Good. Throttle linkage was fine. Fuel filters...hmmmm....fuel filters. The fuel filters were completely clogged with crud!!! No fuel could flow to the engine because it couldn't get past the filters - two different sized, clogged filters!!

What was I doing all this time? Do you think I wanted to be down in the bilge next to a hot engine, bobbing around the ocean with 2 frustrated guys? No way! I went up to the cockpit to watch for other boating traffic (OK, I was knitting - but really, I did look around every few minutes). But as I was knitting, I noticed that the wind was starting to come up. So, I took the helm and tried to get air into the main sail (only the main was up to stabilize us as we motored). We were moving!!! 1.5 knots per hour! A snail's pace, but it meant that the boat no longer was tossed around on the swells and it was more pleasant for the guys working below. Brett came up and hoisted the jib (front sail) - and off we went! We were making almost 5 knots!!!! I was sailing!!! All by myself!!! We were making progress towards Dana Point. Whooo Hooooo! We didn't feel so vulnerable - at least were were getting closer to home and help.

Meanwhile, the guys tore up the boat looking in all the storage cubbies for replacement fuel filters. Jones knew there were some on the boat somewhere - but were they the right ones? They found a large assortment of filters. Yep. Some fit. They drained some fuel to prime the filters, and 2+ hours later the engine started up. But, we were sailing already, so we sailed right up to the entrance of San Diego Harbor.

The sun set as we sailed along the coast. It was already dark when we approached the harbor entrance so we navigated the harbor channel 1 1/2 hours in the dark with, actually, some confidence. Thank goodness we had invested in the new chart plotter system! At 11pm, Jones, exhausted, maneuvered the Niki Wiki effortlessly into our home slip and came to a gentle stop. What a pro!!!!

Would we do it all again? YOU BETCHA! Our next trip is planned for the week after Labor Day. With a long list of systems to fix, upgrades, and other repairs, we are all charged up and ready to go cruising!!!

Monday, August 21, 2006


What Cruisers Do & See at Two Harbors

So, what exactly do folks do to amuse themselves while hanging out at the two harbors of Catalina Island (I mean besides eating, sleeping, and knitting)?
Fishing: We heard that the halibut were biting, so we geared up and fished. Here's a pic of our son, Brett, and the catch. We were so excited!!! But what kind of fish is it? Who knew?

We got out the fish identification book and discovered that it was a lowly California mackerel - dark meat & oily - not good for eating. Drat! So we thought we would chop him up for bait - that's what the book says to do.

Well, have you ever cut up a fresh-caught fish? It is disguesting! Gross! Blood everywhere - guts - we were totally grossed out! Why don't they look like those nice, clean filets from the store?

Anyway, we chummed the water with the cut up fish and created a mackerel feeding frenzy! They were everywhere - hundreds of the swarming beasts - not good-eating fish, but lousy mackerels! Go Away! They hid under the boat and dashed out to steal our bait, we were under mackerel attack.

Brett got an idea - if we couldn't fish for food, then he would fish for fun (no killing) and get back at those monster mackerels. He baited the line with an anchovy - but no hook, just tied the little sucker to the line. Then he dipped the anchovy in the water. When he saw the mackerels swarm up from under the boat he would snatch up the anchovy out of the water! Ha! Gottcha! No anchovy for you!

Hiking: We got out the land shoes and went walking in the dirt. Brett climbed up to the top of the nearest mountain and took this picture of the two harbors. The little bit of land between the harbors is called an isthmus. We moored in Catalina Harbor(lower left side of photo) because it is quieter there. These spectacular views were his reward for a strenuous hike.

Jones and I took off from the Isthmus Harbor side of the island and hiked to 4th of July Cove and Cherry Cove - two smaller coves where boats can moor or anchor.

Wildlife Viewing: (the feather & fur type - I'll talk about the Baja Ha-Ha party later). Right there beside our boat and along the cliff was the fishing grounds for a pair of BALD EAGLES! Each evening we would watch them swoop over the water and pick up a fish with their talons - it looked so effortless! The seagulls would go crazy, following the eagle in the hopes of snatching its dinner. Here's a pic of Jones waiting for the day's eagle show. See? Right there between our boat and the rocks is where they would fish.

We also saw a CALIFORNIA SEA OTTER floating in the kelp at this same spot. After the eagle got his dinner, he would fly up to a high rocky outcropping at the head of the harbor on "Lobster Point".

Other wildlife we saw: Deer, California Sea Lions, Crabs, and many types of fish and kelp/seaweed.

Snorkeling: Catalina is well-known as a great diving and snorkeling location. Brett braved the cold waters to check out the amazing flora & fauna of the sea. I got my legs wet, and then put on a mask and stuck my face in the water to see the life all around me as I stood on a rock.

Dinghy Driving: Is this a sport? Yep, when you are a 22 year-old, single male, cruising around the harbor checking out the females who are wearing minimal attaire and are sunbathing on neighboring boats. For the rest of us folks, it was transportation to shore.

Cooking: =Not sport. But I managed to prepare all of our meals in my own galley - no snackbar/restaurant food for us. Niki Wiki has what is called "galley down" because the kitchen area is below the salon seating area. Actually, it is a very comfortable cooking arangement - better than I had in most of my land-based houses!

Baja Ha-Ha Party: Saturday night we ventured over to the Isthmus Harbor and had a Potluck Bar-B-Que event with fellow Baja Ha-Ha 2006 registrants and wanna-be participants. There was plenty of laughter, food, rum, and free gifts for all. As darkness fell, we watched a slideshow of past Baja Ha-Ha trips and Richard (the Grand Poobah) talked about the people of the two little villages we will be invading, what they do for us, and what we can do for them. We staggered back to the boat excited to set off this October for the 13th running of the Ha-Ha. And yes, we brought along our designated dinghy driver, Brett, for the ride out to the boat.

Knitting: the staff of life. My "Land & Sea" sweater grew during the trip - the back is done and the front only needs a couple of inches. Then it is on to the sleeves. The design is twisted cables (sea) and pine trees (land). I'll get a better picture up when it is finished.

And finally, a picture of our Baja Ha-Ha burgee (flag) flying high on our flag halyard (rope). Whoo hooooooo!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Ahhhh - Sailing to Catalina Island

"26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is awaiting for me" as the old song goes but it's more like 102 miles from where we are in San Diego.
Well, we did it. We loaded up the boat with food and water, flew our younger son down here and took off for Catalina Island the Tuesday of last week. It was a beautiful morning, clear skies and light winds. Our marina is at the very southern end of San Diego Harbor so it took 1 1/2 hours of motoring just to get out into the open sea.

Check out the California Sea Lions sunning themselves on one of the buoys.

Hmmm...too light of winds and coming from the wrong direction. We sailed for hours...and hours. After 10 hours we covered 39 miles of ocean surface, tacking back and forth, but only managed to make about 19 miles of real progress towards the island. Time to turn on the engine and make some forward progress.

Night fell, a beautiful full moon rose, and the ocean swells increased. We were sailing directly into the oncoming swells, the boat "hobby-horsing" up and over the swells and rocking wildly bow to stern. The auto-pilot had a mind of its own and began steering us towards everywhere but where we wanted to go. No biggie - we'll steer by hand.

Hours went by. Motoring. Dark. Chilly. Bumpy. Quiet, except for the soft purring of the engine. Several large ships were in the area - they showed up on radar and we could see their lights in the distance. Jones went below to get some sleep and I took over the steering. Brett, our son snoozed on one of the benches in the cockpit wrapped in a blanket. More hours passed. At 1 am Brett took over the helm, Jones came back up from his nap, and I went below to sleep.

Yes, apparently I can sleep in a wildly rockin & rollin boat. Next thing I know there is light coming in the hatch over my berth. Brett had steered all night with Jones alternating between talking and dozing. At about 6am, Brett went below to sleep. Yep - he fell sound asleep as the picture shows him slumbering soundly in his berth (moms just love taking pictures of their sleeping babes).

After over twelve hours of motoring and a total of 22-1/2 hours, we arrived in Catalina harbor at 8:30 the next morning. As we pointed the bow towards the harbor entrance our VHF radio crackled with someone calling our vessel - by name "Niki Wiki". What? Who knew that it was us? Turns out it was one of our marina buddies, Phil, who was just leaving the harbor on his Morgan 41 foot sailboat headed back to San Diego. He told us that the halibut were biting in the harbor - Whoo hooo! Fishing!!!

Ahhh - Catalina Island - "the island of romance". No time for that! Exhausted, we dropped anchor and as the guys slept, I knit quietly, working on my "Land & Sea" sweater.

The faithful sailing vessel Niki Wiki rocked gently at first, ...after a couple of hours rocked not-so-gently, then rocked/swayed/swung around on the anchor violently. The wind was howling and coming straight off of the ocean into the harbor. No "safe harbor" this day! The cliffs looked dangerously close - would the anchor hold? Did we have enough space or were we going to crash onto the rocks? I woke up Jones and Brett.

A quick decision was made to pick up a mooring. Why risk losing the boat? Sure, the moorings cost $32/night and were shunned by seasoned cruisers, but what the heck, we were newbies who were tired and scared. So the Niki Wiki was secured to a mooring (a big ball floating on the surface which is attached to a giant cement anchor on the bottom of the bay).

That night the crew slept like babies.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Yarn Arrived!

Whoo Hooo! The Yarn pack arrived today from Mabel Corlett at the Wool Room in Canada for the Grass Creek Park Vest fair isle/intarsia design. Beautiful stuff, yes? It is jumper weight Jamison & Smith and Jamieson's in such soft colors. I can't wait to cast on!

Well - we've finally done it - we left the slip. We are no longer a "dock queen". Yeah, I know it has been a long time coming - there was just so much to do first!
We hired a professional captain to train us on how to maneuver this big hunk out/in the slip as it is really a tight fit.

So, to prove it to you, here's a picture of our empty slip:

And a picture of Jones and me on the boat.

And Huey, the professional Captain.

We're leaving for Catalina Island next Tuesday to stay about a week. We have a Baja Ha-Ha meeting/party there on Saturday. Sailing & Knitting on....

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