Thursday, May 11, 2006

Big Sur coast

All of our business now finished in the bay area, we are once again on the road.  As often happens, the visit was short and full of mandatory appointments and to-do's, so we did not get a chance to see everyone on our list.  Even our unexpected six-day extension ended up filled with follow-up doctor visits and the like (and one yacht cruise -- more on this later).  If you are among the many area friends with whom we did not connect on this stop, rest assured that we will be back, and you are still on our must-see list.

Opal's much-needed teeth cleaning went off without a hitch, though the vet did ask us to continue the antibiotics for another week.  As for us humans, I have some residual tooth sensitivity that the dentist tells me should subside in a couple weeks, but we are otherwise in good health and done, we hope, with doctors for another year.  My internist did give us a script for meds for, um, intestinal distress, and malaria prophylaxis, for our upcoming Mexico trips.

We pulled up stakes yesterday afternoon, and spent last night at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey (map), where we had a quick visit with Louise's dad Jerry and his wife Kay.  They just returned from a Mediterranean cruise, and we would not have caught them were it not for our delay in San Jose.  They had extended us an invitation to accompany them on this trip, but our Red Cross obligations supervened, so we were eager to hear all about their transatlantic crossing from Galveston and subsequent European port-hopping.

We had a nice dinner and conversation at Tarpy's Roadhouse, and spent a quiet night at the fairgrounds.  I must admit, though, that we are unlikely to return to the fairgrounds, as we scraped a good deal both coming and going, due to a deep gutter at the entrance gate, and the spaces are quite close together -- not a problem on this visit, since they were mostly empty,  We thought we'd try the place out, since it's closer to Louise's parents than Laguna Seca Raceway, where we have stayed in the past, and we hoped it might be less expensive to boot, but, at $30, it's not much of a deal.

We left Monterey after breakfast this morning, and proceeded south along CA-1, the Pacific Coast Highway.  We've done this road many, many times by motorcycle, so it is quite familiar on one level, yet in Odyssey it was a whole new experience.  Even with the close concentration on driving, though, the views are breathtaking.  Tonight we are at one of our favorite haunts, Kirk Creek Campground, right off the highway in the Los Padres National Forest (map).  We have spectacular views of the Pacific to one side, and the Ventana hills to the other.

In my last post I mentioned that we had some new damage to the windshield, and I am happy to report that Safelite was able to "repair" it, in the sense that it is now full of epoxy resin and seems to be stable, meaning not spreading.  Also, a reader sent me links to photos of Australian Neoplans with acrylic rock shields bolted over the windscreen and, yes, we have thought of doing something similar.  The challenge with the idea is fabricating some kind of a mounting system that will not conflict with our entrance door, which opens to the front.  Also, covering any part of the driver windshield with anything other than DOT glass is of questionable legality in many jurisdictions.  If we ever get Odyssey up to the Dalton highway, though (as I would like) we will need to make some kind of a full-coverage shield, complete with wipers.

Now about that yacht...  Short version: One of our good motorcycling friends, Martin, has a 40' Tiara Sovran, and he took it from it's berth in Redwood City to a 3-day Tiara gathering in Benicia on Saturday.  When he found out we would be in town for a few extra days, he offered to let us tag along.  So we joined him and his date on Saturday for a very pleasant bay cruise.  After very quickly meeting some of the other Tiara owners at the marina in Benicia (sadly, just as the wine was beginning to flow), we dashed off to catch an Amtrak train back to San Jose.  A very full and very fun day.

Much, much longer version:  While we were outfitting Odyssey, on one of our many visits to the Infinity Coach shop in Sumner, Washington, we spent a day at the Seattle Boat Show, one of the largest and most impressive shows in the US.  Nominally, we did this looking for window coverings, a thorny problem that we were hoping the yacht industry could help us with.  We struck out completely on the window covering front, but we came away from the show with two other things, neither of which we expected on our way in.  One was the YachTub inflatable hot tub system, which I have discussed extensively in previous blog posts, and the other was the boat bug.  More precisely, the live-aboard-sized power-boat bug.

To elaborate further, I have always had the ambition to, someday, sail around the world, taking in as much of each country as could reasonably be seen by boat.  (And, yes, this is in addition to the equally odd ambition to live full time in a converted bus, seeing all of North America.)  I have a fair amount of sailing experience, and I always envisioned that I would do this by sailboat -- by far the most common type of vessel for this sort of endeavor.  Louise, who was bitten by sailboats as a child, nixed this idea very early on in our relationship -- I persuaded her to come sailing with me precisely once, and that convinced both of us that there would be no sailboat in our future.  I allowed the idea of sailing around the world to fade into oblivion, and allowed myself to be content in the knowledge that, at least, we would share the bus dream together.

All of that changed in virtually an instant at the very end of our boat show visit.  We had finished all our business in the vendor booth area, where we looked at window coverings, discovered the YachTub, and spent quite some time ogling inverters, engine instrumentation, cabin lighting, and all sorts of other items that cross over between yachting and the RV industry.  We had some extra time, and decided to go out onto the show floor and look at some of the boats, both as an amusement and to see if any of the interiors might provide any additional inspiration for what we were doing inside of Odyssey.  Naturally, we made a bee-line for the largest craft inside the exhibit hall.  That turned out to be a trio of 40+' yachts from Carver.  Somewhere in between looking at floor coverings and countertop treatments, Louise remarked along the lines that the interiors we pretty nice and she could "do this."

Wow.  Neither of us was expecting this outcome, but that brief visit to the boat show launched us into several months of boat-related research, wherein I mostly learned about the characteristics of power boats with ocean-crossing capability.  Of course, we now live in a bus, and we're certainly not going to just dive willy-nilly into yachting until we're done with busing -- something for which we have no schedule.  But the seed is planted, and we continue to research boats, so we will be ready when the time comes.  So it was with this background that we went to the New Orleans Boat Show on our day off when we were deployed there with the Red Cross.

It was a small show, owing partly to the fact that New Orleans never hosts as big a show as, say, Miami or Seattle, but also to the fact that New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina, and there are fewer people, fewer still buying boats, and the convention center had only just reopened perhaps ten percent of its available space.  Given the size of the show, we gravitated immediately to the largest boats on the floor, one of which was a Tiara Sovran 4000, showcasing a new propulsion system from Volvo-Penta.  The boat had just been sold, and was closed to visitors, but the salesman was impressed with our seriousness and arranged for us to go aboard (even as the brand-new owners were enjoying a celebratory bottle of champagne).  The live-aboard capabilities seemed a bit lacking, but we were intrigued by the whizzy Volvo IPS propulsion.

To bring the story full circle, it is exactly this model of boat that our friend Martin now owns, and the fact that we were thinking quite seriously along these lines provided additional incentive to get us aboard for a cruise.  I should add here that this boat is a serious coastal cruiser or island hopper, and is not actually capable of ocean crossing, so a boat of this type would have to be deck-freighted between continents.  After spending a full day aboard, a good portion of it planing along at 20 knots, we have shifted our thinking back towards full-displacement boats with greater range, more comfortable accommodations, and greater blue-water safety -- we're never in that much of a hurry.  We'll use a jet-boat for a dinghy if we feel the need for speed!

Long post.  If you've read this far, you must be an old salt...


  1. I've read this far (via a link from the future) and am still loving it, and I'm not an old salt yet.

    But it dawned on me... If you are on the water, you will have much less opportunity to post Casino and Olive Garden and Walmart lot reviews... Yay! ;-)


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