Travel | Sailing Days 8-11 The Hazy Days

The details of the last four days of the journey are somewhat fuzzy now, having faded into the hazy sort of memories that time creates. It’s only my desire to blog the “now” which compels me to blog the “then”, since it seems to explain how we got here.

Day 8: Marina del Rey

This was the day we went to Costco! Traveling a week had not really depleted our food supply, but we were almost out of beer, and so a Costco trip was in order. Since we (obviously) did not have a car, we were delighted to find that Costco was only two short miles away from the marina. After enjoying luxurious showers inside the California Yacht Club, we laced up our running shoes and hit the pavement with Mindy in tow (or did Mindy have us in tow?)

We decided on this walk that we really enjoy not having a car. Granted, it’s easy to feel that way when you HAVE a car, and it’s waiting for you at your destination. However, at the time we felt like we were slowing down and really seeing the world around us, which is an all-too-rare thing these days. Crossing the main road which led to the marina, we found ourselves on a greenbelt-like park which was dotted with designated exercise stations! How fun! So as we walked we also lunged, pulled-up, pushed-up, and squatted, working on our fitness and enjoying the sunny day.

Beyond the park lay a residential neighborhood, which we traversed as we meandered towards the American Mecca- Costco. My day was brightened by one home, which a sign above the garage designated as the “House of Woofs.”

In front of the home were a few crossing signs, indicating that ducks and other woodland creatures might be crossing the road, so humans take note. Delightful.

Another mile of walking and talking brought us to the Costco parking lot, where we found ourselves immediately tempted by the food court. Since we had diligently worked out on the way over, we decided to reward ourselves with hot dogs… and pizza. Yes, we are gluttons. We have no shame about it, either. Down the hatch the fatty foods went, and fortified, we prepared to do our shopping.

After a short debate about whether Mindy would be allowed in Costco (during which I suggested perhaps she could be my epilepsy service dog), we determined that it was unlikely that she would be allowed in, so we tucked her into the backpack and left the top unzipped so she could get some air.


here we go…

We then set the backpack in a shopping cart, and nonchalantly walked toward the entrance. My plan was to breeze by the Welcome Lady without saying a word, but as we were passing through the doorway I was seized by panic, and I blurted out, “Isitok-the dog?” Confused, the woman looked around for the dog I was referring to, and saw nothing.

“Excuse me?” she inquired, looking puzzled.

“Our dog,” I replied, “is she ok in the backpack?”

Welcome Lady looked down and saw Mindy’s little black and white head poking out of the backpack. “Oh my…No, you can only bring her in if she’s a service dog.” Epilepsy! said the little voice in my head. I considered it, then decided it was not terribly believable, and lies, no matter how small, are wrong.

Miffed, I picked up the backpack, and consoled Mindy. “It’s not you, Mindy, it’s them. They are speciest. You know, like racist, but for dogs.”

I told Brent to go on without me, and gave him a rundown of our shopping list.

“Hose, mattress topper, beer, wagon- got it?” He affirmed that he had it under control, and Mindy and I turned to go wait on a bench.

Half an hour later, Brent returned, with a cart full of goodies! We excitedly removed everything from it’s packaging and set up our new collapsable wagon, then began loading it with all our supplies.

Wagons are fun.

Wagons are just plain fun. No two ways about it, everybody loves a wagon. We must have been quite a sight walking back from Costco to the boat, because we got a lot of stares as we travelled.

Taking turns pulling the wagon!

After returning to the boat and unloading all our goodies, we unfolded our new fake-tempur-pedic mattress topper and collapsed on top of it, reveling in the comfort it offered. After a week of sleeping on the cushions of the boat, this mattress topper was taking our restful slumber to a new level, and what better way to enjoy it than take a nap? So we did.

After waking, we decided to head over to the pool at the yacht club with a cooler full of drinks.

Cold beer.

We lazed around, swimming and drinking cocktails, until our dear friends Dominic and Margarita arrived with the newest member of their family, baby Dom! They were our first “real” visitors on our journey, and we were really excited to share an evening with them. We sat on the deck of the boat, and talked, and stared at the baby. It was wonderful to spend a few hours with them.

Later that evening, after the departure of our friends, we decided to head up to the Cal Yacht Club and see what kind of trouble we could get into. Translation: we headed straight for the bar. As we walked into the yacht club, I was struck again by the disparity between this club and the last. Dirty carpet vs. Marble floors. A plethora of geriatric sailor types vs. a pack of tan yuppie racing types. Popov vs. Dom Peringnon. You get the gist. It was fancy. After a brief moment of considering whether we were underdressed, we decided we didn’t care, stuck our noses in the air (so we’d fit in) and waltzed into the dining room/bar.

In the corner of the room, an older gentleman was playing a jazzy tune on the piano, and swaying in time to the music. The hushed murmur of rich people schmoozing was a stark contrast to our raucous laughter. Settling in at the bar, we introduced ourselves to the bartender, who identified himself as Elvis.

“Ok, Elvis, set us up- I’ll have a ketel one, half soda, half cranberry, and the gentleman will have…” I let the sentence trail off questioningly and looked at Brent to see what he was drinking.

“Rum and coke,” he finished. The man likes to keep it simple. Elvis asked what kind of rum Brent wanted, and he indicated Captain Morgan. After ordering our drinks, we began to survey the menu. The Cal Yacht Club is famous for it’s Friday night seafood buffet, and so we figured a seafood dish would be a good bet. We ordered the ahi tartare, and sat back to enjoy the beverages which Elvis had so graciously placed in front of us. Outside, the sun was setting over the Pacific, and the sky was all shades of pink and purple, thanks to the Los Angeles smog. Sunburned, happy, and in love, we made googly eyes at each other and proceeded to drink our cares (or lack thereof) away.

Fun at the bar #1

As it often does, drinking led to chatting with our neighbors, a gregarious older gentleman named Jack, and a boisterous woman named Sue. Both were very involved with the Cal Race Week, which was the event taking place in the marina that weekend. As it turned out, Cal Yacht Club was the hosting yacht club, and this event was the who’s-who of sailboat racing in Southern California. We quickly befriended them and engaged ourselves in conversations which I no longer remember.

My new friend Sue.

new friends?

All I really know is that by the end of the night, we were all hugging, and making promises of seeing each other again. Somehow Brent and I had acquired two red baseball caps with a map of Barbados on them, and an ad for Mount Gay Rum. We were told that these hats were vital to showing that we were part of the Cal Race Week- nevermind that we were not part of the race week at all.

We proudly wore the hats back to our boat, greeting everyone we saw on the way in our fanciest voices, saying things like “Pip pip then! Cheerio! Good evening, sire…” you get the idea. Schmoozing can wear a person out, though, and also make them hungry. We got back to the boat and started foraging for food like two hungry animals.

last shot of the night. notice the hats.

Our foraging turned up canned chili and top ramen, which we prepared and ate in relative silence, save for the sound of munching and slurping.

And then, once again, we fell asleep.

Day 9: Marina del Rey to Redondo Beach

After enjoying a fun evening at the Cal Yacht Club, we woke somewhat hungover and very, very hungry. Quickly the decision was made that we should partake of the “famous” brunch at the club, which boasted lobster, smoked salmon, a variety of desserts, an omelet station, and a selection of gourmet hot and cold dishes. I reviewed the web site for the club and decided that this was an absolute steal at only sixteen dollars per person. I told Brent and he agreed we should try it out. So we showered and headed out for brunch. Walking into the same dining room from the night before, I was pleased to see a huge selection of amazing food, and my mouth started watering.

We were seated at a table next to the window, overlooking the marina, where we could watch the hustle and bustle of sailboat racing teams preparing for the day’s event. Our waiter, Alfonso, came over and graciously took our drink order- two mimosas (hair of the dog, and all that). He told us to please help ourselves to the buffet at our leisure.

nom nom mimosas and caviar. (ok, no caviar.)

We got up and began prowling the room, filling our plates with food. I started with ahi tartare, smoked salmon, cucumber salad, antipasto salad, fresh watermelon, pineapple, chilled asparagus with prosciutto, and passion fruit cheesecake. We returned to our seats, and found that Alfonso had filled our champagne glasses and brought water (much-needed) as well. We enjoyed a companionable silence as we ate, and before long we were both rising to fill another plate.

the most expensive breakfast ever.

This go-around included lobster crepes, chicken and wild rice in some sort of sauce, prime rib, rack of lamb, cheese and blueberry blintzes, and chocolate mousse. And a fruit tart. And chocolate covered strawberries. Hey, who am I to turn down unlimited dessert?

Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end of the hour and had a table littered with half-eaten food and half-drunk mimosas. We signaled Alfonso to bring the bill, anticipating a total around $32, as per the CYC website.

I think it was Brent’s eyes bugging out of his head that first clued me into the fact that our bill was higher than anticipated. Or maybe the little choking sound that same from the back of his throat. Curious, I grabbed the bill out of his hand and my eyes scanned down to the bottom, where the total was circled.

Seventy-four dollars. Gulp. Finding my voice, I squeaked, “ummmm…. oh babe, I’m sorry!” I was horrified at the cost of our hour-long chow-fest, and felt responsible, as clearly I had provided Brent with false information about the price of brunch.

“Wow.” This was the only word he said before throwing down the debit card and passing it to the waiter. It was a moment before he spoke again… “I think this is the most expensive breakfast I’ve ever had. Maybe I should have ordered another mimosa.” We laughed and I knew he wasn’t upset, just shocked. He continued on, “We better get the hell out of here, babe. It’s time to move on.” I agreed, and we high-tailed it back to the boat to prepare for the next leg of our journey, a short three hour sail to King Harbor Yacht Club in Redondo Beach.

on the road again

The weather was fine and we had strong winds behind us, and the trip to Redondo Beach flew by. We found ourselves at the harbor entrance around 3pm, and after a short discussion about whether we should just press on to Oceanside, we decided instead to just cruise on in to Redondo and relax for the evening. It was a good decision, as the winds picked up even stronger while we sailed into the harbor, and we felt that had we continued, it would have been an unpleasant journey.

King Harbor Yacht Club lies at the end of the main channel in the harbor, and offers a long end tie for visitors from other yacht clubs. We moored up in the prime spot, dead-center of the dock, and went ashore to check in with the bartender, who was responsible for the guest books on Sundays. A party of sorts seemed to be happening at the club, and we wove our way through the crowd to the front desk, signed in, and then made a hasty retreat to the comfort of our vessel. We were all partied out. After a futile attempt to connect our shore-tie, during which we switched ties a few times, we finally gave up and agreed that we would dine out rather than cook. It seems the King Harbor Yacht Club was in a state of disrepair. We walked to the Cheesecake factory for dinner, and after dining on orange chicken and a cheeseburger, walked back to the boat to turn in early.

No electricity, no shower keys, and no block from the wind meant a long night of pitching and rolling on the dock, and not much sleep. Both Brent and I kept waking up, listening to the sounds and trying to figure out whether we were ok. When dawn broke, we decided to just get the hell out of Dodge instead of trying to sleep longer. The lack of electricity meant that we were operating on no sleep and had no option to make coffee. I found this totally unacceptable. Then I remembered that the previous evening the party group was grilling at the outdoor kitchen of the club, and I hazarded a guess that the outdoor kitchen might have electrical outlets.

Pleased, I told Brent to follow me with a jug of water, grabbed the Keurig, and snuck up to the patio, where I was thrilled to find the kitchen did have outlets! Hurrah! I made a large thermos of coffee, checking periodically over my shoulder for someone storming out to tell me I was breaking some sort of rule. That didn’t happen, and we departed Redondo Beach at six in the morning, with steaming hot coffee and smiles on our faces.

coffee. please.

The smiles stayed put for a good long while that day… but it was a long trip from Redondo Beach to Oceanside. Originally, the plan was to sail to Dana Point. Around three in the afternoon we were nearing the Dana Point Harbor entrance, and I called the local yacht club to inquire about the chance of getting a guest slip for the night. The answer?

“Oh no, I’m afraid that’s impossible. This weekend was the Dana Point Boat Show, and so we are completely full. You might try calling Harbor Patrol to see if you can anchor?” The woman’s voice was less than encouraging. I relayed the information to the Captain, and we thought about our options briefly before deciding to just continue on to Oceanside. We checked with the other yacht club in Dana Point, got rejected, and decided to just mosey on down the coast.

And mosey we did. The slowest moseying you can imagine. What should have taken three hours from Dana Point to Oceanside somehow took us eight. That’s right, eight. We were so tired and cranky (ahem, I was so tired and cranky) by the time we arrived in Oceanside that night. Thankfully, we had called ahead to the Oceanside Yacht Club (who, like Channel Islands, claimed to be the friendliest yacht club in the world) and when we arrived at eleven o’clock in the evening, two men were standing on the end of the dock, waiting for us to throw them the lines. They had been checking every half hour for almost four hours.

Boat people are something else. Let me just say that in all my years I have never experienced the levels of hospitality, courtesy, and neighborly love that I have in these few weeks of being a boat person. I strongly encourage all of you- if you entertain any thoughts of living the boat life- do it! We love the community that we have found in boat people. Some may call us aqua trash… and to that, we just say “Cheers!”

As I said, we were late getting in, got tied off, and helped ourselves to another amazing meal of top ramen and canned chili. Before we went to bed, we stood outside looking at the harbor, and congratulated each other for making it this far! Oceanside- only eight more hours to San Diego, our new home. We fell asleep happy and excited for the final two days of our trip.

Day 10: Oceanside, almost home…

“Rise and shine, pumpkin! We’re in Oside- let’s surf!” The enthusiasm in Brent’s voice was contagious, and I bolted upright in bed (and hit my head) and scurried up the ladder to the cockpit. There sat Brent, with his morning coffee, looking scruffy, happy, and proud to have piloted us so far. I kissed him, joyous in the morning sunlight, and went below to make myself some coffee as well.


We sat enjoying our morning brew, and contemplated what we would do with the day. Having received word that a Beach Break Cafe was open on the opposite side of the harbor, we set off to see about getting some breakfast and checking the waves.

This Beach Break location had only recently opened, but the menu had not changed from the other locations, so we ordered easily- Brent got the ABC burrito (avocado, bacon, cheese, potatoes, eggs, salsa, yum) and I ordered a short stack of pancakes (which are not so short), one egg, and bacon. Beach Break in Carlsbad has a dog friendly patio, and Oceanside did not disappoint in that regard, either. We tied Mindy up to the table and let her roam around, rooting for scraps and looking pathetic and hungry. People love Mindy. They coo over her, exclaiming about what a good dog she is, and doesn’t she deserve a treat, and so on. Mindy also loves it, so everybody wins.

After breakfast, we cruised on over to the Nautical Bean coffee shop to see if our friend Michelle was working. Alas, she had the day off, so we plodded along, headed to the jetty to see if the waves were working. In short, they weren’t, so we turned around and headed back for the boat. We decided we needed to make an ice run, so we unloaded the stand up paddle boards into the water, tied on a few lines to hold down the ice chest, and paddled back across the harbor for provisions.

feet up in Oside

An hour later, the cooler was stocked with beers on ice, bloody mary mix and a fresh bottle of champagne. We paddled back to the boat, and unloaded the cooler, then spent a bit more time just playing in the water, trying to knock each other off our boards. That afternoon, friends Matt and Danny came over to go for a surf with Brent. I took the opportunity to have the boat to myself, and stretched out in the sun with a good book. When Brent came back a few hours later, he found me snoozing in the sunshine, with Mindy by my side. We went out to eat and had Rockin Baja Lobster, then put ourselves to bed early in preparation for the next morning- the home stretch to San Diego!

Coming up next:  The Final Leg of the Journey, and the beginning of Marina Life

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