Visiting Friends in a Friendly City
Oct 30 - Nov 4, 2015
Our sail to Oceanside from Santa Catalina I was punctuated by pauses to collect more plastic/foil balloons, including the popular cartoon characters Olaf and a Minion. Who couldn't use a minion? This leaves us set for almost any occasion – now all we need are some parties to go to.
The entrance to Oceanside was. let's say, concerning, although it seems perspective has something to do with this. We had read that the swell could be dangerous when it breaks on the shoaling entrance and there were definitely sizable waves on our arrival (“significant” to quote the harbour police). As I gazed in horror at the big rollers, a fizz boat was zipping in and out, blythly playing in the waves and handily avoiding being bashed into the stone wall. I myself was less confident. However, we successfully followed the instructions from the Harbor Police and our friend Dave (who said "lots of goofballs make it through") – there's nothing like local knowledge. After we got through, I described it as, “horrible”; Bjarne said, “fun”. [This photo was taken as we were leaving, when the swell was about 1/3 the height.]
The friendly marina staff assigned us a berth and handed us the very important shower key. As we were receiving directions to the berth, we and the staff noticed out the window that 'our' spot was already occupied - by a dozen immovable squatters. Apparently today the wharf was more attractive than the permanently-moored platform 50 yards away, posted with a 'reserved for sea lions' sign. The marina staff reassigned us a spot two fingers away, and all parties were satisfied with that arrangement for the rest of the stay.
We were very excited to see our friends Dave and Judy (formerly of the catamaran Freebird), whom we had first met in Nuie (South Pacific) in 2004. They wisely didn't show up at the dock until we'd had time for a shower and then spirited us away to a great 50's style diner - shakes, floats, and burgers – mmm. The restaurant was at the end of a long pier extending out over an apparently endless beach. On this swelly day the beach was quite spectacular. However, the strong wind and resultant sand-blasting meant no walk on the strand after dinner. We stopped at a cafe to assauge Dave's craving for coffee - how appropriate when the song Freebird (by Lynard Skynard) started playing!
Our Freebird friends wrapped their loving wings around us, making sure we accessed good provisioning places like Costco and Trader Joe's, and inviting us into their nest for two nights. Great company, fun card games, excellent meals, good wine, access to laundry, phone and Internet...they almost needed a crowbar to get us out of there.
We got a helpful preview of San Diego when the talented Dave needed to drop off one of his watercolours for an art show. We enjoyed perusing some lovely art, but noticed a distinct difference in how we, as compared to the artists, evaluated the paintings. Consider a landubber and a sailor describing a boat - "it's big and the colours are nice" vs. "those solar panels probably put out 100 Watts each and check out the stainless steel Rocna anchor on that double ended cutter!" Being cruisers, we were happy to find the snack table; we felt eminently qualified to assess the brownies, nuts, and grapes. Some of the possible locations for parking the boat in San Diego were scoped out, after which we made our pilgrimage to Downwind Marine, well-known (amongst cruisers) as a resource for marine supplies and information. Serendipitously, we arrived on the day of their big 40%-off-everything sale - they even had a free BBQ lunch. Cruiser heaven!
We rounded out the afternoon with a stop on one of the many strands of Southern California - bliss for Bjarne, a born beach bum. He and Dave (a Californian surfer since childhood) wasted no time in plunging in to play in the large waves. Judy and I had a nice walk along the water's edge. A few days later at Mission Bay, wanting to improve my relationship with these prevalent rollers, I managed a bit of body surfing on some of the wimpier waves. Kind of fun, but I continue to keep a suspicious eye on them nonetheless.
It was time to remove our corrupting influence. Dave and Judy had been leading a healthy lifestyle until we arrived but it wasn't long before they degenerated into cruiser mode ("sure, I'll have another rum and coke"). That and the temperature that morning was into the single digits - warmer climes beckoned. We topped up our fresh water, said goodbye to the nearby sea lions and motored out of the pretty Oceanside Marina.