Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alameda, Here We Come!

August 27 -28, 2008
Sat phone call "Safely around Mendocino"

So after I learned and won at Chicago Rummy, we tried to eat at the Chart House, but it was closed. There was a little restaurant called the Bistro that let us order the awesome 4:30-6:00 Special at 6:05 (we were seated at 5:55 after all). Anyway, again, we were all bunked early 8:30ish even though I read for a little while. We were on our way by about 6:15 Wednesday morning and after a quick little touch of the bottom near the gas dock, we headed out from the breakwater. We really saw some great wildlife: more sunfish, whales (almost always while I was asleep, so I feel as though my crewmates may have been pulling my leg), scores of seals, the cutest little birds that were always in pairs, something that jumped in the night - twice, and dolphins. We had about 10 hours til (the dreaded for PJ) Cape Mendocino. At that point, the weather models indicated that we would probably have skirted the worst of the winds that were building steadily off-shore. Well, for anyone who is watching the developments with Hurricane Gustav and New Orleans: weather models are helpful, but aren't a crystal ball. Anyway, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief as we passed the Cape around 4:00 pm. However, maybe because it was late afternoon and the temperatures inland had been high (over 100*), the winds picked up for about 3 or 4 hours. We, and by that I mean Jamie and Behan as I was trying to get some sleep, saw sustained 30 knots of wind with a couple of gusts to 50 from the north. By the time I came on watch at 1:00am, things had started to slack off and continued to do so pretty much for the next 18 hours til we hit the Golden Gate in almost completely calm conditions. What more could you ask for? We came in close around Point Ryes which I have only seen in the dark and in the daytime has to be one of the coolest lighthouses ever.
Point Reyes Lighthouse - How was it built????
It seemed like most of our wildlife sightings were between just off of Point Reyes and the GG. We kept getting confused that we were really in San Diego at Seaworld. Behan was downright giddy, seeing San Francisco (where she spent a sizable portion of her childhood) from a new perspective - the other side of the Golden Gate. Going under said bridge, we toasted Totem with Dark and Stormies. Next we swung in towards the St. Francis Yacht Club where the Gifford children, having just arrived with their grandparents on a flight from Seattle - with just enough time to get the rental car, waved at us from the beach. Niall spotted that bright yellow kayak lashed to the foredeck immediately!!! Then, the real excitement began. We were passing by Alcatraz enjoying the wharfs on the city's waterfront, when from where we had just come horns started blaring. An outgoing tanker was having issues with an incoming freighter who had not left it enough room to get through the Golden Gate. Well, as they honked and belched smoke reversing their engines, from our angle, near disaster was avoided. I must say that I did get out my camera and start filming just in case there was something worthy of U-tube. And there might have been as the Coast Guard bombed out towards the scene. But that wasn't all the excitement, there's more. As we turned our attentions ahead to the Bay Bridge, we noticed a fire boat. It spraying water at Treasure Island. It seems as though there was a brush fire on the cliff where the Bay Bridge comes from SF into Treasure Island before continuing across on the Oakland side. I don't know how it turned out, from our vantage point, it seemed like a pretty stubborn fire with a fire boat that couldn't quite get the water far enough up the cliff and no way to really fight it from above. Remember that freighter who seemed to be at fault under the GG? Well, it was now bearing down on us, so we continued on to Alameda where a slip labeled "Swiftsure" awaited us. It made me feel at home (or work, or something - I believe in signs). Oh, did I mention that in the blazing heat? There were also cold beers and ice packs waiting for us courtesy of the Jessies!!! How could you top that off? Try pizza, green salads and beers at Linguini's. Showers and flights home were all that were left to round out this trip. Oops, I almost neglected to mention a quick visit to the Seattle Embassy - yes, you guessed it: Starbuck's early on Friday morning for lattes before it got too hot!Align Center
Toast to Totem

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