Windsurfing Committee Boat

I was on the water all week, either in Tahoe or here in the Bay area.  Sailing is taking a boat out and waiting for everything to go wrong, picking and choosing your battles.  Our father’s day plan was that I would take my husband out to Angel Island for the night on the moorings then have my son and fiance ferry over.  I got a message asking to use my boat as the committee boat, checked the forecast, then changed my plans.  It looked like a small craft advisory, making it for a miserable FD weekend.  After Fridays sail, I wasn’t up for it.

Because my fuel gauge doesn’t work, what I do is write down the hours and gallons to fuel to determine my GPH (gallons per hour).  It’s diesel, my calculations give me around 1 GPH, it’s been quite a few months since I filled up and 17 hours on the meter.  I’m planning a trip next weekend where I’ll have to motor quite a few hours, time to make sure it’s full.

Before heading to Berkeley, we hit the fuel dock to fill up.  I knew I had a small leak I couldn’t find, but one of the things I did was unscrew the top of the fuel tank to see how hard it would be to replace the floater to get my gauge working again.  Well…there’s a dissolved gasket that wasn’t visible when I screwed it back on, so when I fueled up, that’ where the leak was.  It was a smelly mess, I still smell like diesel fuel.  The leak wasn’t enough to deter me from taking my boat out to anchor for the Cal Cup race.

That was exciting and hectic!  It was 30 knot constant winds, with quite a swell out there and a flood tide.  There were 6 of us on the committee boat, 6 windsurfers that dropped down to 3 for the last race because it was too windy.  With the tide and wind from the same direction, anchoring was pretty easy.  There was a problem with my windlass, turned out it was just the circuit breaker which I quickly fixed.  The boat held while it slammed up and down on the waves.  Compared to those windsurfers out there, it was nothing.

Motor started, the windless brought the anchor up, success!!  I just didn’t think I could get the boat back that night, it was too hectic to get out there once let alone go back.  Thought I could overnight dock it at BYC (Berkeley Yacht Club), it looked like a tight squeeze with another Pac Cup boat there heading for Hawaii.  My friend took the helm, by the time we flipped it around another boat had docked there.  I was a little relieved, I’m a pretty good docker and I didn’t think I could pull off a tight squeeze in those winds. On that particular dock it would have been a 30 knot crosswind.

He went to an open slip and we docked, no problem.  I shut down the boat and locked it, expecting to come back to possibly spend the night.  That never happened, I went back home to sleep it off.  On father’s day we asked friends to meet us in Berkeley.  The winds were a little calmer, the forecast was similar so my sail plan was going to be to get out of the slot ASAP to head for the city (San Francisco).  I had arranged a guest dock for lunch over there.  Fully briefing my new crew, went to start the engine…nothing.  In my hasty shut down, I forgot to turn off the engine battery.

My friend that docked for me happened to be at BYC and brought me over a shore power cord to re-charge.  We waited…nothing.  I cancelled the guest dock  in SF, then headed to Spengers for a fathers day lunch to wait out the charging.  Several hours later, nothing.  While the crew partied it up at the dock, my mind was going into troubleshooting gear/panic.  Several things occurred to me, I might not be able to move the boat back was one.  The other thoughts were us stuck at either Angel Island (the original plan), no engine for the windlass after the race with the whole committee stuck out there overnight getting pummeled by the waves.  Not a bad place to be stuck in all reality, close to BYC which has bathrooms and a bar.

Then I looked at the microwave to see it wasn’t on.  My shore power line has 2 plugs, most have just one.  I might not have been charging the battery the whole time?  I rudely excused myself, not sure if anyone would notice because there had been quite a few drinks consumed by that time.  I drove back to Emeryville to grab my shore power cord, plugged it in, an hour later the engine started for a killer sunset back to my dock.

I’m constantly learning things about my boat, my limits, plan B, C, D’s.  A good thing to know is limits, sadly, a kayaker went out while we were out there for the race and died.  We never saw him, those waves must have knocked him over.  A massive Catamaran motored out, then turned around to head back in while we were pulling up the anchor.   A boat that won’t start in a dock with a bunch of booze isn’t so bad.



Off-line for days

Wow was that nice!!  Went to Tahoe to try and fish, something I’ve only tried a few times.  On the way up I stopped at a Bass Pro Shop/Outdoor World that looks like Disneyland.  I was so overwhelmed that I ended up going to the Walmart next door and buying a pole & line for $30.  What I caught was the bottom of a small lake, then I caught a really porous rock at the Truckee River.  It’s all catch & release up there, which of course I didn’t know how to do but I wasn’t too worried about even catching anything.

I stopped when I couldn’t cast it anymore, since I got the cheapest line it got all tangled when I reeled it in despite my youtube instruction on how to put the line on it.  It was still fun casting, years ago I did a fishing guide trip in Redding where I just reeled them in and the guide did all the dirty work.  I brought a cooler and had salmon for a few weeks for dinner.  When I got back I finally youtube’d how to release and I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own quite yet.  Driving home I stopped at that Bass Pro Shop to get some tips and better line.  Surprisingly, the pole was a Big Ugly from Walmart and is actually decent.

The funny part of my trip was sailing on Donner Lake, I’m totally bruised and battered.  It was a little plastic cockpit with one sail.  There’s a beach on the West side that has a $5 entrance fee and rents the usual, kayaks, SUP’s, and these mini-sail boats.  I ran into a guy who’s son played soccer with my youngest…feel kinda bad I never remember his name, not an uncommon event lately.  When I see people, I automatically figure they don’t know my name and try to eliminate that awkward recollection by saying, “It’s Heller” right away.  No such luck with this guy.

The awkward part of that one was that he and his buddy were taking out one of these itty bitty boats the same time I was.  He re-introduced me to his wife, then suggested I take her out on my rental.  She declined and I was relieved, it’s not like my boat where you just kick back, relax & chat.  Sure enough, when I got on the thing I barely fit.  I have no idea how two of them went out on it?  I had to slide way up to use the tiller, then lay down for the boom to cross over me and hop my butt over to the other side.  These tip over, it was the only way I had any control over that.  Man was it a blast though!!  Super responsive, when I got a gust I jammed.  Always good to just sail on a small boat to go back to the basics.

The next day I rented a SUP from the East side of Donner lake.  I have a blow up one I wasn’t able to get out of the garage before I left, it was easier to just rent one for an hour. I stayed at the Truckee Donner Lodge that was once a Holiday Inn Express where we stayed when the kids were little to go skiing.   There’s also a camp ground Frank & I stayed at once when we brought his dog back to her homeland, we adopted her in Tahoe.  It’s walking distance from the hotel, so I got a really nice hike/SUP in before I headed back home.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Tahoe throughout the past 20 years, not much of it during the summer.  It was just great!!  I love coming back down the mountain too, as much as I love the call of nature, I hate bugs.  I’ve got a couple of nasty bites and bruises, there was also a run in with a snake that made me hesitate crossing a trail thinking it would swallow me.  Finally I reasoned it was probably more scared of me, I never saw a rattle.  Any fin I see in the water is a shark, any snake is a rattler, any spider is a black widow or California brown.  Always good to be cautious for worst case scenario I guess??

The Sierras

Back at home, the last few days were spent in Mammoth with a friend I grew up with.  From Vegas, I went up Hwy 95 (not too scenic) to Hwy 266 and cut over into the Sierras to Bishop, then Mammoth.  The quicker alternative would be to go through Bakersfield, then up I-5, a route I do all the time back and forth from LA.  From google, it looks to be around 8 hours and I was so wiped out from driving I’d have to split that up to possibly stay in Bakersfield.

Mammoth was perfect!  Growing up, especially in high school, my friends dad would take us up there every other weekend from LA.  Our high school ski club had an infamous trip there in 1980, where I got busted for spotting and being a bad influence on everyone and sent to my room.  Of all stupid things, I hitch hiked to the liquor store at 17 years old.  I watch WAY too much Law & Order to ever think of that now!  Rumor had it at the time that the mountains were safe to hitch hike.  The altitude didn’t help, I got drunk faster than my normal pace.  Cleverly (I thought), I hid the bottles at the bottom of everyone’s ski jackets, which is the first place our chaperone checked.  Those were the days, my parents never found out and I just had a hangover for skiing the next day.

This trip was about going places I’d never been, which ended up being kind of true for Mammoth too.  I didn’t recognize anything, it had been too long.  Ever since I’ve been in NorCal, Tahoe is my place to ski.  When I go there now, it just reminds me of my kids being little and how fun it was when we all skied together.

A friend I grew up with lives in Mammoth now, it was SO good to see her!  It’s hard to believe we’re 55 now?  We talked like we were little girls again, or maybe high school girls about when we were little.  Because I was traveling alone this whole time, I’ve been super careful not to let people know that so I really haven’t talked to anyone this whole time.  I hope I let her get in a few words?

The Tioga pass through Yosemite opens Monday, to get home I cut through the Sonora Pass instead.  The snow was rapidly melting, the roads were totally clear.  Another place I’d go in college with an old BF was Yosemite with his family, it was their favorite place.  The only reason I bring this up is because I passed by Mono Lake, never went there when we’d go to Mammoth and it’s so close.  I had been there a few times in the 80’s on those Yosemite trips.  As much as I’d like to see Yosemite again, I’d need more time than just an exhausted drive through.  Yosemite is close enough to me, that’s a trip in itself.

Sonora pass was perfect!  Popped out into Copperopolis, from there I could see Mt. Diablo.  I’ve done some work up there with landslides and the drone, I knew where I was.

Oh, BTW, I never used a map the whole trip.  I used my phone, then wrote down the Hwy’s before I headed out in case I didn’t have cell coverage.  Not super smart, I never got lost though.  My mom bought me a Garmin InReach for flying and sailing, I turned that on coming back from Mammoth.  If I press “track” it pings my location every 10 min, I just send the link so it tracks me.  That way, if I’m off in a ravine somewhere, they’ll at least have an idea of my location.  There was no cell almost the whole time though the Sierras until I got to Hwy 395.  The passes have nada.

Maybe I’ll have more insights on my trip in a few days when I recover?  Right now, I’m just happy not to drive today.  A few thoughts though, first is that my childhood only involved going to grandparents in AZ unless my friends parents took me with them on their trips (am I too old to blame my parents?  haha).  The other thing is I should have spent more time in places.  I’d spend 2 nights max, leaving my one full day in a place as a sightseeing/recover from driving/zombie day.  My back only bothered me at the very beginning, that was a blessing.

Looks like I have a wedding to watch (royal) and a wedding to help plan now (my sons).  But first, a shower!

Featured image is Mono Lake
Then Hwy 266 cutting across from NV & Mammoth Lakes w/ Timber.  The map is my Garmin pinging where I am on my last leg home.  I had cell almost everywhere but on the train to Grand Canyon and through the Sierras.  The InReach lets you txt anywhere too.


Ahhhh!!  A nice hotel again, finally got some sleep.  From Williams, AZ it’s a few hours drive to Vegas.  I made it a little longer by stopping in Kingman for a Starbucks, then Hoover Dam.  Vegas is a funky place, I’ve only been here a few times for work.  It’s a little overwhelming for me, not really a gambler.  The couple times I’ve been here I’ve seen some great shows though – Elton John, Brittney Spears, the PBR (Pro Bull Riders) finals.  That’s how I found this place, South Point, was an extra night I stayed once where the MGM tripled in price for that night.

South Point is off of the main strip, with coffee in the rooms.  One thing about Vegas strip is no coffee???  You have to do the $10 walk of shame and stand in line at the Starbucks.  I had to find the solution to that after my first trip here, I have my own little folding kettle with the pour over travel mug.

On one shuttle ride back to the airport, I was chatting with a woman from England who comes here every few years, just to Vegas, of all places?  If it wasn’t for work, Vegas wouldn’t be on my list of places to go.  From the Bay Area, it’s pretty cheap to hop on a plane, stay here just to see a show.  This also seems to be the gateway for the fellow tourists I saw throughout my trip.

Hoover Dam was a great stop, glad I did that.  It’s free parking if you keep driving over to the AZ side of the dam, the first parking lot in NV is $10.  While I was still in the parking lot, I overheard these couples talking about how we need another president like Hoover to build something like this again.  Trump is the guy who’s going to get things like this done again, everyone needs to get over the Russia investigation.  Look at what he’s done so far for creating jobs in America and taking it away from China.

Admittedly, I hate Trump.  I barf in my mouth a little thinking he is our president and that this is what America has come to, a new Jerry Springer episode every day.  Stop reading now, I’m about to rant.  Obviously, Fox news didn’t report in their 45′ RV’s that Trump just created jobs for China regarding ZTE that day.  Then, with a little twist of their heads they can take a look at the water line to see it’s a major drought still.  Comparing Hoover to Trump is insane (asinine?).   Saying he’s going to build something like this is even more insane.  How can someone look at this masterpiece of engineering and give Trump credit for it…at all??  My trip has been Trump free so far, mostly because I’ve been listening to music with no TV this whole time.

One thing I did hear was his pull-out from Iran, I had to check the news because the gas prices sky-rocketed overnight.  How is it creating jobs when people can’t afford to put $100 worth of gas in their trucks to get to work?  I always thought the big crash started with the gas prices and tumbled from there.  People put together a house of cards financially, then the gas prices went to $5.  Here it comes again, have fun in that RV while it lasts.


Grand Canyon, Bucket List item checked off

When I was a little girl at my grandparents in Arizona, my grandma would read to me every night before I went to bed.  The one I remember the most is “Brighty of the Grand Canyon.”  It was my favorite childhood book, mostly because it was from great memories of my grandparents.

For the first time ever, I finally went to the Grand Canyon.  Talk about a bucket list thing to do!!  Not sure what to recommend on this one, certainly not the lodging.  I’m in Williams at a brand new Holiday Inn Express, which is clean, I’ll give it that.  The acoustics in here make it so you can hear every footstep, it’s like elephants having a dance party all night.  Then, just when I thought it was going to get better a tour group checked in surrounding my room.  It was banging of doors and a hall party until I slept from sheer exhaustion.  The doors are all banging while I write.

The train from Williams was great, really glad I did that.  Without my family, again I splurged on the first class with a really comfortable ride.  Thought it might be musty/dusty, not at all.  I was in the luxury dome, there were also parlors downstairs that were really comfortable.  It doesn’t  go around the canyon, it just takes you to the South Rim.  They explain the maps and some things not to do, like take a selfie off of a cliff – 25 deaths last year, one last week.  The attendant gave me a game plan for my 3.5 hours in the park.  I walked (I wouldn’t call it hiking, although I was wearing hiking boots) 2.5 miles to the visitor center, then took a tram back for lunch & some more of the spectacular view closer to the train stop.

It was a perfect taste of the Grand Canyon for a day, I’ll be back for sure!  Next time, I want to stay in the park and hike the Bright trail.  The weather was actually perfect for that, I had a light jacket on the whole time.  The weather is tricky, It seems like May is great besides the winds.  The temp everywhere I’ve been has been manageable with no bugs.  The winds though!   Once it gets to summer, I know from my childhood that the monsoons kick in.  I used to love the thunderstorms, make for gorgeous sunsets too.  Doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun for driving and camping.

Right before I went back on the train, I took one last long look at the canyon.  I say I’m coming back, you never know though.  Thought about my grandparents, both long gone now, and how lucky I am to have had someone to read to me at night and calm me through those AZ thunderstorms.

What I’ll have to do is go through my photos on a decent computer when I get back.  I’ll just put a few pics up now.  Feature photo of Grand Canyon has no touch ups.  The other 2 are from my drive out here from Lake Powell.


Vegas baby!