Zensekai (zen's world under sail)

The sailing adventures of s/v Zen and crew

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Finally Vallejo

Once upon a time, well last year in Oct. Lady Zen, son of Zen and I set off for Vallejo, Ca. A small town about 12 NM from our home port. At the time we were heading against the current so I motored. About 1 hour into the trip the motor quit. So I raised the sail turned around and went home.

This year after replacing the bad parts of the eletrical system the motor was running good. After several trips with it I had some peace.

So this year:
Son of Zen and I set off on a two day adventure. Whilst the Lady Zen had to work. So it was a father/ son trip.

I planned on giving him some sailing lessons along the way.

We set off on a ebbing tide under blue skys. It was forecast was to be good weather. We had a fair wind blowing and were headed on a close haul.

Upon checking my GPS, I was somewhat concerned about how much time we were making. Even though I thought we were doing good the GPS said our ETA was 8:30. I did not think that was right, as my trip to Marin co took 5 hours and it was now only 10:30am. Marin Co is much farther than Vallejo, more than twice the distance. My only explainaion was I had just picked the location of the waypoint by a map and guessing. So I figured it was off.

We sailed an hour, and still feeling somewhat uneasy I motored sailed the next hour or so down to the turn off for Vallejo/Mair(sp) Island. Wind was still steady , so we sailed into the entrance and the wind died. We did have pleanty of time now, as I could see in the distance the bridge that marked the Marina entrance.

Only thing I was concerned about here was that I was in the path of the ferries that come through. So after a bit I fired up the engine and more motored sailing, The wind picked up some afterward but came in gusts. 30 min or so later we turned into the marina. The trip took about 2.5 -3 hrs not really pushing. So we could have made it in about 4 or so if the wind conditions were with us.

After docking with no problems,
I headed up to the office to check in. Son of Zen was left on watch. The office staff was nice. It was only 20.00 for the night and with my newly renewed USBoating membership I got a discount of 5.00 , nice! 4 trips to some place like that and my membership is paid for. They need to expand their market area.

The marina here in Vallejo has two resturants, one is a place that has napkins in the wine glasses and silverware the other is a blue jeans kind of place.

We went for the Jeans Venue, the Sardine Can. Both had water views. The Can place had less espensive stuff I could eat. They had breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also turns out they had Jazz on Sundays throughout Oct. Something to keep in mind.

So after getting a little more organized and a short stroll around we had lunch. Whist heading back I grab a few shots of the sad boat.

It had been sitting in it's slip for some 8 months. I found out later, the owner who had taken great care of the boat before he got sick, passed away. The Boat developed a major leak and could not be saved even running two pumps. I was told perhaps on the the planks came loose, it was a wooden hull.

Afterward we sent off on the bikes to do a little exploring.

We rode the walkway to the end , turned around and came back to the other. I thinking that seems like there should be more looking at the path, figured out to follow the smaller walkway.

This took us down the far side of the marina and under the hwyway. Which lead to open space and a dirt trail, along the marsh and waterway.

Nice. We rode along that for another mile or so, before coming to the end. Mental note to self come back at sunset.

We head back to the boat. and break out a game of Japanese GO. A first time for both of us. slowly figureing things it was somewhat fun.

We will need to get more lessons before it really makes sense but, it was entertaining.

Now it is getting late, sun is going down. I leave the boy to play with his
Sony something and I grab my camera and walk back on the trail. I planned on getting a few marsh sunset shots.

I leave as the sun is setting. Faster than I planned but still enough time.

Now back to s/v, some reading then turning in. It was a good day.

The next day, Friday was overcast in the morning and a little cool. I figured it waould clear up later. I knew how long the return trip was so had no worries about whne to leave. I did knew that it would be low tide when we got back, but I figured I would have enough draft to make it ot a could stop in Benicia and have dinner while the tide did it's turn around. I figured on playing by ear. My only real concern was the "Zen Trouble Warning Sense" was going off. It did not feel like it was about the marina but more about the trip home. I was uneasy...

With this in mind I figured on not taking any unnessary chances. I had thought about not getting gas, but went ahead and did it anyway. Slowly coming up to the fueling station, making sure I turned the fan on after fill, which was only two 2.7 gal. That was nice. I had been out several times and the motor sail here only used a bit. I did add about 1 gal before leaving Martinez.

We slowly motor out of the marina, I grab a shot of this baby sitting at the dock, Named the The Wood witch
and raise the sails right away.
I reefed the jib, which turned out to be a good choice.
The wind had picked up quite abit, and we had strong gusts.
So heading out under sails only we made good time on a close reach all the way out of the channel. A ferry passed us, I keep a good watch on him the whole time of his aporach and passing.

Once out of the channel we bore off to a broad reach and were off to Martinez again. We had a fairly strong wind, which was good and we were going against the tide. Even so we made good time. I could have run with the wind, but not having my boom brake installed yet, I did not want to chance it. Although at one point a did do the wing and wing thing, for a short time, before the wind caught the main and shot it across the cockpit. I was expecting it so it was not a big deal, since I was ready... remember the "Zensense"...

Misfourtune and a Le$$en
After traveling a bit more we are fairly close to home. I can go to Benica or keep on heading home as we are making good time and still a couple of hours before low tide, which was at 2.5 ft for the day, so that gave me some 7 ft of space to float.
We are on a starboard beam reach heading toward the shore line. I see a powerboat coming.
Now, I know not ALL powerboater are "bendejos" ( if you speak Spanish you know what that means , if you do not, take a guess) I was onced helped unground by a powerboater and asked if I needed help by another, so I know there are some a nice folks. But there is something about those big powerboaters once they are under way they think the water belongs to them.

So I am under sail I watch this guy, there is NOONE on my port or anywhere around us. If it was me I and saw a sail boat heading across my bow I would barehead off and pass him to his stren and come around on the port side, easy move. NO this butthead, times it so he come cross my bow by several yrds and leaves this big monster wake!!. We make like a toy boat and go up and down! whilst I send him major bad vibs ! The second side of the wake hits, just as a major gust does. we are flying around, I hear a noise up front and caught something fall. Funny how many thought you can have in a second. I firs tthougth something had broke on the rooler jib, no, it was the anchor breaking free of it's mount and falling into the water. I think , Oh CRAP!!
So I am epecting to come to a fast stop any moment as I did not know how deep the water was there, and we were near to the shore. I think, ok, quick, drop the sails, I turn into the wind, just as anothe r strong gust hits. I am fighting to control things and expect ting the anchor pull. Then another quick thoght, ok, Maybe I do not have enough chain to reach the bottom but it could still catch on somthing underwater. I need to stop ASAP. Finally get control and stop, stopp the sails, and look forward. No chain , nothing, everything was gone. It was not fastend to anyting so when the anchor dropped it took everthing with it to the bottom. GRRrrrrr
The lesson here was, keep the anchor attached but some type of safety line.

Now at this point there is a steady strong wind and the current is strong against us. I'm pissed at the Rude Ass Boater and his wake and the lost of my anchor. So rather than deal with maybe going around in the marina, fighting the tide under sail and with Benica closer but the place I wanted to go was close until dinner time. I figure i'll just head in to home port, since we have time. I open the jib full and fire up the motor. We peacefully head into home base, with plenty of time and water to space.

All in all a good trip, even with the anchor loss. It could have been worse. I think, well once again the "ZenSense" was right. But the Force was with us, we made it safely back which is the most important thing. The Vallejo passage was made.


  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Val said…

    Glad you can listen/feel for the ZenSense!

    The "wing and wing thing" - is that we in UK call "running goose winged" I wonder (my sailing terms may be a generation out of date mind you!).

  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger Dutch Baka said…

    You got some great pictures up here! I booked marked your page and when I got some more time I will read some more!

    Love living :D

  • At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Jingles said…


    Nice website. I see you play a headless bass. What kind? I have a Hohner 5 string. Do you think you'd be interested in giving bass lessons when you get to Japan? I'm looking for a bass guru. Good luck with your adventure. When do you set sail for the land of the rising sun?

    Neal aka Jingles


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