Prepping for Fleet Week SF

This is a little touch & go usually, last year I went out both days.  This year I was planning on going out on Saturday with the same crew from last year, my pilot friends with their family.  Then I took some childhood friends out a few weeks ago who asked to go on Sunday, so my H proceeded to fill the boat up for Sunday as well.  I just got a txt from the first couple canceling, now I’m chess piecing a crew together.

Here’s how I do it, if I asked people last year and they never got back to me I don’t ask them again.  The pilot friends are guys who had a blast last year, they also have done me a ton of favors throughout the years and I feel like the least I could do is have them come along with me.  It makes me feel good to finally be able to “pay back” in some way.  Then I leave a day for whoever my H wants to invite.  Last year he didn’t go, I invited a very funky political mix and in my briefing said, “No politics” before we shoved off.

I’m coming out of Emeryville, what they do is block off a runway rectangle on the water right in front of SF and I sail up to the city front by the ferry building for the first leg if there’s enough wind.  That way we get some sailing in too, because for the rest of the time we’re going to be motoring.  I slowly go around the “runway” with just enough speed for rudder to dodge the other boats.  It ends over Alcatraz, by that time I’ve crawled over there and can just drop downwind back to Emeryville.  It’s a fun day, a lot of work for me though if I don’t have someone else who can take the helm and dodge the boats so I can pee from time to time.  When we get in I can’t even drive!

Last weekend I introduced another pilot friend of mine to sailing with his wife and 3 year old son.  We had a blast, we sailed to Angel Island (my personal favorite, because usually there’s a hike/nap/latte involved).  Their son got to play in the water at the beach for a little while, he loved it!  It reminded me of when my oldest was that age playing at the beach there, how fast that all went by.

On the way back I asked their son if he liked sailing or flying more and he said, “Sailing!!”  My friend said that’s saying a lot, he loves flying.  When we docked he said, “You’re the captain!”  I said, “You’re dad’s a captain flying” and he said, “Yeah, but this is your boat and you’re the captain!!”  OK, I love this kid.

 

Drone Shots

Forgot how much I like flying the drone when it comes back and mission accomplished.  They asked me to take some pictures of a regatta that was a few miles out, I haven’t practiced launching (or landing) from a boat so I had to do it on land.  There are a ton of FAA restrictions that limit me from great footage, one is line of sight.  I’ve never put my drone out that far, there’s just no way you can see it.  The other thing was wind, there was a warning the entire time to bring it back that I ignored since it wasn’t losing altitude.

After 20 years of volunteering, I usually don’t volunteer work stuff.  Suzie Ormon has a quote I love, “Free work leads to more free work.”  It’s led me to pay people right away for services, it’s their time and equipment.  If I lose a drone, it’s $1k right away.  For work, there’s a rental fee included just for that purpose.  I’ve lost 2 drones to trees, one was a freebie job in Costa Rica and suddenly everyone was a drone expert without ever flying one.

When I found out how far out the regatta was and the winds, I figured I might have to kiss the drone goodbye.  The first battery my timing was way off on the downwind turn for  the spinnakers to go up, I just wasn’t out there in time.  I had a 20mph headwind making it slow going (maybe 10 minutes) to get out there about a mile then get oriented to where the boats were.  The good news was that it had that 20mph tailwind when the battery warning came on or I would have been screwed.  It landed right where I launched it.

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The second race I was able to time a little better to get the drone out about 1.5 miles out for there downwind with spinnakers.  My Mavic pro has about 20 min of battery using 10 min in that headwind just to get out there, 5 min of shots, then the remaining battery getting back.  If I would have known how far out it was I might have declined doing it at all.  Usually, the races are closer to the marina which would have made for some great shots and given me a lot more time shooting them.  The worst that could have happened is the drone would drop in the water, no injuries, just the loss of my drone 😦

It all went well and I actually learned a lot without the huge expense of losing it.  I have to decide how much volunteer work I want to do with the drone though while other people are getting paid.  I don’t mind doing my own shots for fun and practice, the liability of volunteering for drone shots thinking it’s going to lead to paid work is too great.  So far, none of my volunteer work has lead to $$.

One of the women last night who found out I droned it said that I should put the pictures on their art wall.  They put art exhibits up from time to time for purchase.  I have to admit, was totally flattered by that.  This morning, as I do the math, it’s going to cost me about $500 to get some prints together for something like that.

My huge project this week has been actually quilting waves on a quilt I’ve been working on all month.  I couldn’t get it finished before the housekeepers came, I told her to just leave it on the dining room table since I have it all lined up.  Instead of saying how beautiful it was, she mentioned that I have free time.  That bummed me out on a few levels, you mean I’m not an artist??  I just have free time I don’t know what to do with and delusions of grandeur??  (OK – that’s not what she meant, I’m just adding that for dramatic purposes).  It definitely smacked me with reality, people look at me as a housewife with free time whose time and talents are not valuable.

That’s one of the reasons I always support my friends artistic endeavors (and pay them for it).  I know how long things take to make and the expense involved.

One of my first photography jobs right out of college was still shots for a commercial starring Tommy Lasorda.  I drove to the park in O.C. and got some great shots using a film camera.  I had a little pouch on my keychain where I put my lunch money, probably $10 max (mid-80’s).  I left it on a picnic table with my camera bag and someone stole the money…all day, no lunch.  I gave the rolls to the productions company before I left for them to develop, they turned out great!!  When I sent them an invoice, they said there must have been a miss-understanding?  This was a trial or an intern shoot, not a paid shoot, that somehow included them keeping all the work and negatives.  I couldn’t even put the shots in my portfolio.  After that job, I had to get a “real” one and couldn’t afford to “work” anymore.

Just some things consider if you’re an artist or someone about to ask a favor of a friend.

Seattle

Got to be a tourist this past week while my husband had an engineering conference up there.  I’ve been there a few times for work related things, have never really checked it out.  It’s booming!  That’s either good or bad, depending on the companies that are creating that boom with rising housing prices.  Here in San Francisco, low income has been literally kicked to the curb.  We have all the top tech with Monopoly money, no sense of reality of what anything actually costs.  It looks like all that tech has gone to Seattle, after destroying San Francisco.

We stayed downtown at a very small condo AirB&B.  It was a super modern place, really convenient and close to everything including the convention center.  The first night of the conference they had a dinner at the Space Needle.  I’d been in it before for dinner almost 20 years ago, it’s nothing like that now.  The surrounding buildings are so tall, it almost dwarfs the Space Needle, including the roof of the place we were staying.  It’s still cool to go on the rotating floor, plus construction started on my husband’s birthday and finished in my year, I’m the same age as the Space Needle – probably in need of renovation too??

The roof of our AirB&B

Other than that, I walked A TON!!  Going on little tours, the Duck Boat was a fun one.  I did one in Boston and loved it, this was a good way to see parts of the city I would never see otherwise and get a few laughs in.  We spent a few lunches at Pike’s Market, if I could cook I would have bought some fish to fry up in the condo.  We’re on the go so much this week that I couldn’t even send it home.

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I brought my keyboard, the forecast was for rain the whole time so I thought I’d be stuck indoors.  It didn’t rain at all, one of the things I got to do was go sailing for a little over an hour.  That was really nice, always like to see a town from the water.  The keyboard limited what I could bring home, another reason I didn’t pack a cooler from Pike’s.

 

From the “Let’s Go Sailing” boat pier 55

 

Just a heads up about our AirB&B, this seems to be a booming industry as well everywhere.  On the upside, it really was an amazing location and a cool place WAY too small to live.  Not to hip on the hospitality, it sucked.  We paid high rates, got a 10 page instruction sheet on how we have to tip-toe through the concierge so as not to let anyone know it’s an AirB&B, no noise, no nothing.  Our first morning we woke up to find the coffee left for us was decaf, poor form but not a major infraction.  I have headphones for my keyboard, we didn’t make a peep.

All went well, until we asked for either a late check out or baggage storage.  We weren’t supposed to be there, the concierge scowled at us every time we walked by, we knew from our instruction booklet not to bother them for anything.  The answer from our “hosts” was “We cannot accommodate your request.”  They suggested we leave our bags at Nordstrom??  Really??  You buy a place right next to a convention center and no clue on where we can leave our bags until the conference is over?  I panicked, thinking I might have to lug my keyboard around all day.

It turns out there are Bag B&B’s, a separate entity start up requiring it’s own app…genius.   My husband ended up putting our luggage behind the check in curtain at the conference, all but my 50 lb backpack.  Off I went to the water to get on it.

I loved it there, it was clean and safe.  If the Winter weather wasn’t miserable, it would be a place I could see myself.  The times I’ve been there I’ve hit some decent weather.  Seems the time to go is during the summer before that kicks in.  Lots of building going on, lots of tech is already there.

I have to bring up an incident in the airport as just an aside.  After carrying 50lbs around with hours before our flight, I splurged for a 15min neck and shoulders massage.  This woman sat down in the area, very disoriented.  At first I thought she was cutting in front of me in line waiting.  The guy asked if she was waiting for a massage and she said “no.”  He said it was the waiting area, that’s when I noticed she was completely out of it.

I sat next to her and then noticed a smell, she lost her bowels as well as looked totally lost.  She started trying to pick up her backpack and I said, “Do you need some help?  Are you here with someone?”  She said “yes” she was there with someone (she wasn’t) and that she didn’t need help.  She stood up, then collapsed hitting her head right out of my reach.  People rushed over, a Dr. & nurse traveling (separately) were first on the scene.  I saw a motorcycle in Santa Fe, thank God these professionals are first to pull over.  I know CPR, that’s about it.  The only input from me, besides saying what happened before the fall, was that she needs to go to the hospital.

The medics came, they figured out who she was by getting her cell & ID.  An Alaska airlines rep was there for info on where she was traveling from…Palm Springs to San Jose??  How did she get re-routed through Seattle for a 9pm flight making an hour flight into an all day nightmare??  Even I might be disoriented and shit my pants after that!!

My mom is 81, I haven’t let her travel alone for years.  I suck it up, get on her flight through L.A. and make sure she gets home OK.  Sometimes I just stay at her house on either end of the flights so I’m with her the whole time.  We were stuck in a 3 hour TSA line in Newark once, I’ve slept in airports and zig-zagged across the US to get home due to weather.  Anything can happen when you travel, apparently winding up in a hospital in Seattle is on that list.  I hope she’s OK 😦

I just write this as a warning to myself that there will be a time when I’m too old to travel, coming in at midnight with a keyboard and 50 lb backpack at 55 years old is no cake walk either.  Speaking of, if I ever did move to Seattle you will find me at Royal Cupcake with my latte and fig/honey cupcake every afternoon.

Horoscope for Today

9.4.18: Let your mind wander, and make sure to write down the peaks and valleys of your journey. You are exploring new mental territories, and they demand being recorded and shared. Take heart if you experience writer’s block. Slow down and pace yourself through your cerebral landscape. The words may not come quickly, but they will be worth their weight in gold when they finally arrive. You are crafting a powerful message that the entire world needs to hear.

It’s right about one thing, the peaks and valleys!  Every day has been a “what now?” since the kids graduated from high school about four years ago.  You really never think they’ll grow up when you’re in the middle of it, or that you’ll grow up.  Never picture getting out of that sleepless baby time, grade school, the sports, the milestones, the awards that are all now a blur in time.  It’s like someone played 52 pick up with your life and the cards are all supposed to stack back up when it’s over (and you end up being 52 somewhere along the way).

That’s where I’ve been, finding some footing.  In the meantime, I’m still a “mom,” as well as a wife and daughter.  The first thing I did when I was close to 50 was to quit my job at the golf course to reinvent myself, I did not want to age in front of everyone.  I worked in the pro shop, it was the perfect job for my schedule, my hobby, my co-workers were great.  We did get a new GM that made my work life hell.  He was the wrong kind of good ol’ boy, never stepping in to help only to criticize.  That made my decision a lot easier.

When my youngest graduated from high school I thought I could find my dream job which was going to be flying for a regional airline.  Mandatory retirement is 62 for pilots, I still had ten years in me.  My husband wanted me to start the drone company for his business with my pilot’s license instead, so that’s the direction I headed with it.  Now we have 2, 25 year olds replacing me.  The drones were fun, it’s just that the physical part of the job sites were getting hard for me (think bathrooms).  I also lost a drone in Costa Rica following my friend surfing while my spotter wasn’t spotting.  It was kind of a humiliating experience all the way around, they all treated me like I didn’t know what I was doing after that.  I left with broken ribs and no Hal 3, my purpose for being there was nil.

Now it’s time for new goals I guess.  Scratch the regional pilot, now I’m too old.  The one goal I did achieve was to get all my sailing certifications and buy a boat, so it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing in the meantime.  Really, it’s time to re-group for sunset goals (gulp).

  1. Where do I eventually want to live?
  2. Logistically, where do I need to be for my mom?
  3. Do I even have anymore “hopes & dreams” in me?

Those are the top 3 right now…not to say I’ve been sitting around either, last week I had my 1st piano lesson in about 15 years hoping for my musical breakthrough.  There still might be time for me to be a rock star?  Haha.   I skipped a Half Moon Bay sailing trip for a relaxing day on Angel Island hiking instead and was glad I did, it looked foggy and hectic.  One of the things that’s for sure not on my bucket list is living on a boat to sail around the world and 5 knots.  Love the boat, love sailing, love my bathtub when I’m done.

 

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.

 

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Water Weekend!!

Getting a lot of sailing in this week, took a crew to Sam’s yesterday for lunch in Tiberon.  Somehow I joined the cruising crew every other Friday and just found out yesterday it’s a retired crew, most along for the ride.  My morning shift at the golf course was all retired too (because really, that’s who has time to play golf).  I loved those guys, they were great to me.

The hardest part of that is docking with limited help.  I can dock on my slip without a problem, it’s the currents and winds everywhere else that makes it hard (impossible) for me to do it myself.  I anticipated it to be a problem beforehand, one of the other Friday cruise out captains drove there and was at the dock at the same time to help.

Luckily, I’m pretty used to having a crew of non-sailors.  I still put people to work, just make it easy by jamming over with no tacks or gybes…and jam we did!!  It was 25 knot winds, I had to reef right away.  On the way back I just pull the jib and go downwind with no gybes to the marina.

It’s a big responsibility taking people out, I’m coming pretty close to getting a captains license and wonder if I want to do that and assume that responsibility with paid passengers?  For now, I’ve been enjoying these cruises.  It’s challenging, I also know one day I’m going to be a passenger unable to help and I hope someone lets me ride along sailing.  I’ve already had that happen with my back before I bought my boat, I signed up for a crew list and said I was a passenger only.

Today I’m taking my boat out as the committee/party boat for a windsurfing regatta in Berkeley, that’ll be fun!  I can just kick back after we anchor, I love that.  Spend the night on the boat and head out for a father’s day sail tomorrow.

It’s weird, I’m kind of a “tween” again.  Not a kid, not an adult.  I’m starting that passage into old age, what’s it going to look like?  Trying my best to stay in shape, I know one day I might have to give up the things I love.  I know what it’s like to have my legs give out from under me, or not be able to physically help out.

Until then, I’ll just keep plugging along.  I’ve been listening to country music lately, these lyrics I’m listening to sum things up nicely:

Get Along
Get along, on down the road
We’ve got a long long way to go
Scared to live, scared to die
We ain’t perfect but we try
Get along while we can
Always give love the upper hand
Paint a wall, learn to dance
Call your mom, buy a boat
Drink a beer, sing a song
Make a friend, can’t we all get along

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??