Sunday, March 21, 2010

More pictures!

To complement the pictures posted on the previous blog, I've included more pictures of the boat. The full ad can be viewed here.

If you would like to look at Chelsea B in person or learn more about her, please drop me an e-mail at The boat is fully equipped for open-ocean sailing and is available for sale as of now.

Why wait? The time to sail is now!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

32' Sailboat for Sale

The time has come: I have completed my Ph.D. and must move on with the next step in life. This will mean moving to a new part of the country to which I will most likely not be able to take my sailboat, Chelsea B. So I've decided to sell her, hoping to find a new owner who can appreciate her, use her and take good care of her.

I bought Chelsea B because I wanted to sail around the world, and the boat is intended for solid ocean sailing. The San Francisco Bay, inside and outside, is perfect for this, and I can't imagine a boat better than this one for exploring places both inside of the Bay (San Francisco, San Pablo Bay, Sausalito, Angel Island, Treasure Island, The Delta, etc), and outside of the Bay (Half Moon Bay, Drake's Bay and Point Reyes, Santa Cruz, Monterey). If you intend to sail a longer distance, look no further: Chelsea B was once sailed from Vallejo, near San Francisco, all along the coast of Mexico and Central America across the Panama Canal and back north to Texas.

Chelsea B is especially good for sailing with others, and (as you can judge from these pictures) I have had dozens of great times with friends and family aboard. You can sail alone (the boat was originally outfitted for single-handed sailing), or with one, two or three more people. It is a classic boat, strong and capable of heavy-weather sailing, yet also suitable for lighter winds. It has everything needed for living on it, including stove+oven, fridge, head, a very comfortable V-berth and a captain's berth, and lots of storage space.

The specs are:

*Built 1968, Chris Craft Cherokee
*Sparkman and Stephens design
*Solid fiber-glass hull with teak wood exterior parts
*Length overall: 32'
*Beam: 9'
*Draft: 5'1" with iron bulb keel
*Displacement: 8,400 lbs
*Tiller steering

The boat is equipped with everything you need for cruising, including:

*Furuno radar
*Magellan GPS
*2 anchors (25 lb CQR and 25 lb Bruce)
*manual windlass
*keel-stepped aluminum mast
*winches: 2 Lewmar and 2 Barient
*stereo with radio and 6-disc CD player
*2 grills
*running lights (front and aft)
*rowing dinghy with two oars
*depth finder
*lamps and ventilators inside
*gimballed stove with oven
*head (toilet)
*2 watertanks
*2x 8 gallon propane tanks
*1992 Universal 4-cylinder diesel engine, perfectly maintained
*38 gallon diesel tank
*electric cooling box
*storage space
*tons of spare parts
*One 12V gel-type battery (225 Ah) and one 12V starter battery
*storm sail
*several sailing and cruising books and a full set of Bay Area charts (additional charts of the coast of Brazil are available separately)
*possibility to add staysail
 *possibility to add Monitor windvane (blocks are already in place)
*many more parts and tools

The boat has an iCom M-802 SSB radio for open-ocean cruising (marine- and ham-certified), which I can include for an extra premium.

Now that the spring has come, there is no better way to enjoy the San Francisco Bay while spending time with friends!



Why wait? Now is the time to sail!

Price: $13,500
Call me at (530) 902-7987 or e-mail me at if you are interested!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Seeking Whales in Santa Cruz - Part III Safe Return

While you should in general try to avoid sailing in storms, it may at times prove useful to catch the weaker winds around their periphery. Last Thursday, hurricane-force winds were predicted to sweep through the Gulf of Alaska. Storms such as these, caused by low-pressure systems in the Northern hemisphere,  have the wind blowing counterclockwise around them (or clockwise in the Southern hemisphere) - the low-pressure system is literally sucking up air from all across the Eastern Pacific. As a consequence, winds circulating counterclockwise in Alaska will provide southerly winds blowing all along the West Coast, with the winds becoming weaker as you go further south (see weather chart below). This is exactly what you need if your goal is to sail from Santa Cruz north towards the San Francisco Bay Area. As soon as I read this forecast last Wednesday, I contacted my friend and crewmember Danok to see if he would be available to do the sail back the next day. And he was.

 Winds in the Gulf of Alaska on Thursday, November 5th 2009.
Arrows indicate the wind direction. Long feathers are 10 knots, short feathers 5 knots, and black triangles 50 knots. Note how the winds circulate clockwise around the low-pressure
system (L) and blow from the South along the West Coast.

Southerly winds off Santa Cruz are rare, and we had to make use of this exquisite opportunity to succeed at sailing Chelsea B back north past San Francisco and to her home in Redwood City (100 miles total). Fortunately for us, the wind was predicted to be 10-20 knots in strength, which is about the best you could possibly ask for. The storm in Alaska was going to remain contained with safe conditions prevailing in California.

After taking train and bus, we arrived at the Santa Cruz Harbor on Wednesday night. The plan was to leave the harbor the next morning and reach Half Moon Bay that evening to anchor there for one night and arrive in home-sweet-home (Redwood City) by Friday night. When we left Santa Cruz at 6 AM at sunrise, the wind was blowing the predicted 10 knots from the Southeast. Perfect. We hoisted both sails, turned the motor off and just sailed - from the beginning smooth and fast and with the steady wind. Once the sun rose further, the clouds dissipated and the sky cleared up. The conditions were literally ideal (I actually had a conversation about this with Danok: if on any given moment the wind and the weather are ideal and the boat is moving as fast as it can, you can literally say that this is the best place in the whole world to sail on).

Ideal sailing conditions about 10 miles north of Santa Cruz.
Note that both sails are partially open, as should be the case when you
are running with the wind.

Twelve hours later we reached Half Moon Bay, 50 miles north of Santa Cruz. And while initially we had planned on staying there for the night before doing the remaining 50 miles, we decide to change plans.  Since conditions were ideal today and we had no certainty about what their were going to be tomorrow, even though the forecast was optimistic, it would be safest to just keep going. In addition, a strong 4-knot ebb current that would help us enter through the Golden Gate Bridge was predicted to occur near midnight, just about when we would arrive there. If we could catch that current with the winds not changing too much, we were almost guaranteed to arrive in Redwood City by dawn.

We reached the Golden Gate Bridge by 11 PM, with conditions remaining ideal. San Francisco was beautiful as usual, with the bright lights illuminating the nighttime sky. Inside the Bay the wind died, and we turned to motor on to keep going: Bay Bridge, San Mateo Bridge, Redwood Creek, and home. At 3 AM we got there. The boat was tied up, the sails dropped, and we knew that we had finally made it, in record time.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at night

Time: 21 hours non-stop
Distance: 100 miles
Average speed: 5 knots
Motoring: 2 hours on the ocean and 6 hours in the Bay
Technical complications: none

P.S. A thought: Even though I was tired, hungry, sleepy and cold when I arrived, I felt an enormous degree of satisfaction. It occurred to me that in order to feel good, our physical well-being may be less important than having a sense of accomplishment and success.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Seeking Whales in Santa Cruz - Part I

Two weeks ago Chelsea B completed her longest journey on the Pacific since I bought her two years ago. After numerous expeditions both inside and outside of the Bay, it was time to take the adventure to a next level. The goal was to sail from Redwood City Marina, where my 32-foot sailboat is usually docked, around San Francisco and down south past Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz.

The projected route: Redwood City around San Francisco to Santa Cruz

While by car the Redwood City to Santa Cruz drive takes little over an hour, the same trip takes about 24 hours of sailing time. That is because, first, you have to sail all the way around San Francisco and, second, even with good winds a cruising sailboat like Chelsea B will move about 15 times slower than your average car.

A trip of this scale is significant not only because of its duration, but also because it requires you to have the boat, yourself and your crew prepared for 24 hours of self-sufficiency. After all, if something goes wrong when you are over an hour sailing distance from shore, there is no one but yourself to take care of things (be it a broken engine, a leak of water into the boat, a torn sail, etc). You can't just drive to the side and call 911 or AAA. This trip in particular had been on my mind for several months now, when my friend and crew-member Danok and I first discussed it during a previous expedition. Due to time constraints we had been unable to do it back then, and now we had the time and the wind to do this (plus this will be our last chance this year, as winter calms will soon engulf the California coast).

Day 1, Saturday, October 17. Across the Bay to San Francisco: The journey to San Francisco promised to be fun, as we had a full 4-person crew on board. My girlfriend Joy and my friends Maia and Danok were aboard as we sailed northwards inside the Bay. The winds were typical for this time of the year, with about 15 knots blowing steadily from the northwest. We left Redwood City at 2 PM and crossed the San Mateo Bridge only two hours later, as the 3 knot ebb pushed us on our way north. At about 8 PM we delivered Joy and Maia, who were unable to join us the day after, at South Beach Harbor right south of the Bay Bridge. Danok and I continued to Pier 39 where we docked for the night in preparation of our departure from the Bay Area the next morning. We were not alone, though, as two gigantic sea lions spent the night slouching on the dock right next to us, at times threatening us - the intruders - with their loud groans and moans.

Sunset on day one. Joy is sitting in the cockpit wearing her newly acquired foulies, while Maia is sitting on the transom talking to Andy.

Our friendly neighbor on Pier 39. This male sea lion and his friend were a bit disturbed by us intruding their territory.

Day 2, Sunday October 18. Sailing to Santa Cruz: We woke up at 6 AM to leave the Golden Gate Bridge, or Gate for short, by 7 AM. As usual when leaving the Bay, we decided to motor and leave this area known for its fog, strong currents and heavy container-ship traffic quickly and with firm steering control. Fortunately, this morning there was little fog and no traffic, making this first stretch easy to handle. Another hour west of the Gate and the wind picked up as a comfortable northwesterly breeze. As soon as the fog dissipated, we turned the motor off and hoisted the sails. The day was very slow, as there was barely any wind. Even though we motored for a few hours, it took us until 2 AM to arrive in Santa Cruz.

Danok on deck sometime during the San Francisco - Santa Cruz leg

We dropped the anchor in front of the famous amusement park, had one last bite for dinner and went to rest. Tomorrow promised to be a good day, as we were set to explore the waters around the Monterey/Santa Cruz Bay in search of whales and otters (The Monterey Bay is famous for its teeming wildlife. Especially at this time of the year, it is not uncommon to see grey whales and blue whales, as well as orcas, dolphins and sea otters. So maybe we would get lucky and spot something interesting).

Day 3, Monday October 19. Pandora's Box. After we set anchor Sunday night I decided to do one of the most dangerous things that had been done during this trip: I turned my iPhone on and checked my e-mails. After the download, I discovered one e-mail related to my work that required me to be back home by the next day. It was actually a very important e-mail. Pandora's Box had been opened, and I decided that we had to leave Chelsea B docked in Santa Cruz for the week, return to civilization and get our stuff done, and come back the following week to sail the boat back home. Monday morning we motored to the nearby harbor, where we arranged for a docking spot (while it would be possible to leave the boat anchored for a week, it is much safer to leave a boat tied to a dock if it is left unsupervised for more than a day).

Chelsea B docked at Santa Cruz Harbor

Seeking Whales in Santa Cruz - Part II

Day 4, Sunday October 25. Explorations in the Monterey Bay. Joy, Danok and I met in San Francisco, where we bought some food (Asian mushrooms, Pho soup, a steak, salad, bananas, tuna fruits and ingredients for making Mexican sopes). Since Chelsea B was still almost fully stocked when Danok and I left her in Santa Cruz a week earlier, there was little need to buy much more food for the voyage back. From the market, Joy drove us to Santa Cruz. The plan for today was for the three of us to sail around the Bay and hopefully spot some whales, before returning Joy to Santa Cruz from where she would drive back to San Francisco. Danok and I would spend the night at harbor, where my friend Erez was to meet us to join us for the sailing journey back to San Francisco.

Joy and Danok eating quesadillas in the Monterey Bay

The day was beautiful. Good wind and no clouds. Danok even devised a fishing system, and we trailed the line behind us most of the day. And while the fish didn't express much interest in our bait, we did spot a few marine mammals from the distance, probably orcas or porpoises. We even saw one California sea otter basking in the sun right outside of Santa Cruz.

After having dropped Joy up at the harbor, we waited a few hours until Erez met us that night. The next day was going to be a long one.

Monday, October 26. Santa Cruz to Pidgeon Point and Back: Danok, Erez and I left Santa Cruz at 6 AM, motoring and getting started on a day that was projected to encompass 12-15 sailing hours. The weather forecast predicted a storm for the following day, but we were confident that we could make it to the nearest harbor in Half Moon Bay by tonight. We could then leave the boat there, go back home for a few days and return the boat to San Francisco once the storm had passed (Half Moon Bay is about halfway, or 50 nautical miles, between Santa Cruz and Redwood City). Sailing north against the wind was hard from the beginning - the boat was heeling, water was splashing unto the boat and the cold wind was blowing hard against our faces. This may sound like no big deal, but when you're outside and cold wind that has been traveling for over 1,000 miles from the seas of Alaska blows right in your face hour after hour while you're rocking up and down in 7-foot waves, you can quickly be drained of your energy.

Erez and Danok sailing north from Santa Cruz towards Half Moon Bay
(note Danok's hair as the perfect indicator of wind direction)

But the main problem with these northerly winds was that they forced us to sail upwind in zig-zag (it is impossible to sail straight into the wind), which slowed us down significantly. Even worse, the weather forecast now predicted the gale-force 35 knot storm to start at 2 AM instead of the next morning. Current weather conditions were labeled as "small craft advisory", and boats our size were advised to stay at harbor. And yet by 3 PM, or 9 hours after departure, we only had traveled 20 of the 50 nm we needed to get to the next port. To go faster, we decided to motor, but a glitch in the fuel system killed the engine after only one hour (we ended up repairing it that night). It was a tough call. There was no place to stop between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, and we had at least 10 more hours to go. But that meant an arrival at 1 AM in strong winds and into a harbor surrounded by rocky reefs that have been known to sink many a boat.

Pillar Point Harbor by Half Moon Bay.
To enter, one has to navigate through the narrow gate.

We decided to take the safe route and turn around. By then Erez, with whom Poseidon had not been particularly friendly, was sleeping deep inside the V-berth. Danok and I turned Chelsea B around and took her on the long downwind stretch back. By sunset, the seas had grown to 10-feet high, splashing hard unto the deck several times. Still, running with the wind was much more comfortable than beating against it (even though the waves coming from behind were scary as hell!). When the weather report started reporting 45-knot gusts up in San Francisco and a long dark cloud covering the horizon behind us started creeping up, we knew that we had taken the right decision. We arrived in Santa Cruz in calm winds, protected by the northerly shore. Erez had woken up, Danok had cooked up some warm beef stew, and we were beginning to recover. We then dropped the anchor almost exactly where we had dropped it just one week earlier.

Tuesday, October 27. Repairs and Returns. The next morning was beautiful. Shining sun, a fresh breeze of wind, and no hints of a storm. The weather report was still talking about the big storm, but that seemed to be happening further offshore now, not where we were peacefully anchored. We spent that morning cleaning the mess inside, repairing the engine (we had to replace the secondary fuel filter, which had gotten clogged with debris), and getting ready for our return home. Before leaving, though, I decided to go on a short swim with my newly acquired diving gear to inspect the hull underwater (I was mostly afraid that gigantic pieces of kelp algae had wrapped around the keel and caused us to slow down significantly. This concern ended up being unwarranted). When all was ready, we motored back to the harbor, once again arranged for a docking spot, and left Santa Cruz to catch the next bus home.

Danok enjoying one last well-deserved beer before our return home.