San Francisco & LA – The Sailboat Hunt is On!

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Hylas 54 yacht

Some peope cruise in high style

Emeryville, California

Unusual flowers in bloom along the shoreline

Emery Cove Yacht Harbor

Extensive beds of ice plant flowers

accompanied us on our walks

Emeryville, San Francisco Bay, California Ventura California

Ventura California coastline

Harbor seal in Ventura Harbor California

A harbor seal teases a gull with a fish he caught

Mentryville Barn

Mentryville barn and chicken coop, built 1890's

Charles Mentry's house

Roses in front of Charles Mentry's house

Oil well equipment

Lizard in Pico Canyon

Butterflies and flowers

Unusual flowers

They were very large

View from one of the peaks

The trail is outlined in rocks

Shams, trail blazer and trail builder

Surrounded by chain link fence til it settles in, this Valley

Oak made the Guinness Book when it was moved 1/4 mile.

Emeryville & Valencia, California

April 18-May 13, 2009 - From Arizona, we ran up and down the

coast of California in mad pursuit of a sailboat.  We were driven

by the vision of a dream that had been developing for many

months:  traveling with our trailer each summer, as we have

been, and traveling by sailboat in the tropics each winter.

We're both converted desert rats, most recently from Phoenix, Arizona, and

we like it warm.  How warm?  A fellow once told me he turns on the air

conditioning in his rig when the indoor temperature hits 79 degrees.  For us,

that's when we start getting really comfortable.  Our a/c doesn't go on until it

hits 90.

We have struggled to find a warm, uncrowded place to wander during each

of our two winters of fulltiming.  We have ranged between southern Arizona

and Florida, but have done too much shivering.  We aren't alone in this

quandary.  When fulltimers meet each other, one of the first questions they

always ask is:  where do you spend the winter?  At first I didn't understand

why the seasoned veterans kept asking us that question, but now, after

wearing way too many layers for two winters, I understand.

Cruising in a sailboat

has been a longtime

dream for me, and

Mark has slowly come

to share that dream


However, there are a lot of details to work out.  Shifting between two homes is

not easy, especially when each has to be put in storage for a period of time.

So, as our prospective boat purchases in California fell through, one by one,

this past spring, we tried to be more philosophical than disappointed, taking it

as a sign that we just weren't ready yet.  As we talked through the nuts-and-

bolts of our plan -- getting beyond our dreams of gazing at the scenic mountain

backdrops behind our rig each summer and snorkeling amid eagle rays and

sea turtles alongside our boat each winter -- we realized that our plan was very fuzzy.

This frustrating discovery came to us as we froze our tails off on San Francisco Bay

in May.  It was a bitter surprise to find that the Bay Area rarely gets much above 60

degrees at that time of year, and we got several weeks of almost daily rain to boot.

We got to know the tiny Emeryville peninsula on the east bay next to Oakland quite

well.  It is the one sliver of beauty in an otherwise industrial landscape of smoke

stacks, snarled traffic and congested urban living.

The marina there has an

interesting array of boats,

and we enjoyed getting to

know some of the

liveaboards who make it

their home.  Those folks

are some sturdy stock, as

the wind blew at 25-30

mph every day across the

bay, the fog and dark

skies hung around relentlessly, and the cold was that bone-chilling kind

whose icy fingers sneak past any and all layers of clothing you put on.

One retired couple had lived on their boat in the Bay for 17 years.

We took many walks, jogs and bike rides around the area, and

especially enjoyed the pink flowers on the ice plants that were in

bloom during our visit.  We left boatless, however, and made our

way down the coast to Ventura.  There we enjoyed a long stroll

along the beach and watched a harbor seal teasing a seagull.  He

had just caught a huge fish, and he repeatedly surfaced with the

fish in his mouth, taunting the gull.  Each time he lured the gull to

approach him, he would duck under the water out of reach.  This

went on for quite a while until the gull finally gave up and flew off.

In a way, we felt like that gull, tantalized by the prospect of a sailing

dream, but taunted by the vicious boat selling industry that barricades it.

We started looking for a boat as wide-eyed innocents to the boat buying

process.  In just a few weeks we got a bath-of-fire introduction to the

cutthroat world of lying, cheating and stealing that is sailboat brokerage

in the Golden State.

The stress of dealing with ruthless, unscrupulous brokers desperate for

a deal in a stalled industry in a failing economy finally got to us, and we

left.  Unfortunately, the stress chased us down I-5, and while turning in

to stop at Pyramid Lake, north of Los Angeles, for the night, the back of

the trailer lightly brushed the guardrail.  The damage didn't look like much,

but upon assessment by RV collision repair specialists in nearby Valencia

(what luck that there was such a place nearby!), it would take 7 weeks to

fix, most of that time spent waiting for parts.

This news took a while to digest.  We stayed in Valencia, north of the Los

Angeles tangle of freeways and insanity, for a few days, deciding what to

do.  We couldn't stay in the trailer once they began the repair work, as

their insurance did not allow it.  However, our insurance gave us some

money for "emergency" hotels.  We took a few day trips around the area

as we mulled over our options and waited for our insurance claim to be


The Valencia area is desert: no fog, hot

days and cool nights.  We hiked up Pico

Canyon, starting at the base in

"Mentryville," a former oil boomtown

founded by Charles Mentry who dug

California's first oil well here.

Some of the old equipment from this

first oil well still stands today.  Oil well Pico #4 was

the longest running oil well in the world when it

was capped (dug in 1876, capped in 1990).  It

was such a success that it prompted the formation of the Pacific

Coast Oil Company that became Standard Oil of CA which was later

acquired by Chevron.

As we hiked up the canyon we passed some

unusual critters and flowers on the way.  The

view at the top was well worth the climb.

As we walked we found the trail was neatly

marked by carefully placed stones.  Someone

had taken great pains to outline the best route

to the top.

Hiking down we met a mountain biker on his way up.  He introduced himself as

Shams, originally from Afghanistan many years ago.  He asked if we'd been to the summit.  Not quite.  He seemed disappointed,

explaining how the very steep section that had stopped us was actually very short and the view beyond that was spectacular.  He

then explained that he had built the trail over the last 14 years, grooming it, creating little stone outlines for the paths, so he and his

son and others would have a nice place to mountain bike.  There's a man who has made the most of his new home.

We drove to another area and saw the most enormous tree.  Standing back to admire it, I

noticed another person taking photographs of it too.

We got talking, and I learned that this tree, a Valley Oak, had been moved 1/4 mile to

make way for a road, and that he, Lee Lumis, had been the horticultural consultant

overseeing the move.  It took 18 months to relocate the tree, and required 126 hydraulic

lifts, 24" I-beams and a 43' diameter box for the root ball.  They had started the project and

then had to wait 6 months when the tree suddenly budded out and couldn't be moved.  He

had rotated it a bit from its original orientation, but it looked truly majestic in its new home.

Even though we were here by accident -- because of an accident -- we could still look at

each other and say, "what a cool area!"  As we gathered our thoughts about how best to

handle the upcoming seven weeks, we finally decided to fly out to Michigan to visit Mark's

family and do some sightseeing in a state we probably would never reach by fifth wheel.