Thursday, April 14, 2016

Yosemite in Spring

Yosemite National Park -- A mid-week visit to Yosemite in Spring, when the weather is good but not perfect and the tourists are present but not overwhelming,  ranks among the great benefits of living in the nearby Sierra Nevada.

Our day trip took about three hours of no-traffic driving from our front door.
Spring is about many things, but is obviously is about waterfalls.

The first waterfall we encountered on the Big Oak Flat Road was the Cascades. The actual fall is up the mountain and obscured by trees and boulders, but the water below the bridge is a sight to behold.

A little further down the steep road, which clings to the mountainside as you descend into the Valley, are multiple views of the Merced River in full flow through the Valley. Bridalveil Falls is in the distance, spilling out of its hanging canyon high above the south wall of granite.   It is only 620 feet above the canyon floor, about one-fourth of the popular Yosemite Falls, but can offer some of the most spectacular viewing when the wind is blowing back against the crest.

Further down inside the Valley you begin to see falls, on both sides of the canyon. We did not get pictures of them all, obviously, as some are more subtle than others, and some beyond this photographer's ability.

Here is one of our first views  of Yosemite Falls, which looms 2,425 feet above the bottom where it crashes into the rocks and flows into the Merced River.  From this distance you only see the top of the waterfall. This was taken as we drove in, shot from near the loop road on the South side of the canyon.  You can see Spring popping out in the greening trees and grasses, and the still bare branches just waiting for a few more warm days.

Below are two ribbon-like falls just above Curry Village on the south wall.  The sound of water flowing is everywhere you turn, whether crashing off the top of the walls or cascading down the talus slopes. (Not far from here a large section of granite wall fell a year or so ago, scaring the heck out of people and slightly reducing the useable space in Camp Curry.)

At the upper end of the Valley you can look up toward Tenaya Canyon, and see and feel the power of the Merced River as if heads down the mountain. History note: this is one route the native Americans used when trying to run away from Gold Miners determined to wipe them out in the 1850s.

Coming back on the west-bound loop brings you to the trail to Yosemite Falls, the biggest and grandest of all in the park. This is one of the places you can see almost the entire waterfall, which actually comes down the mountain in at least three sections. A few weeks earlier the pool at the bottom of the top fall would have a large snow cone, but it apparently broke up before we arrived this week.

Here's a view from further away:

And here is what you see if hike up close: the bottom of the falls and a lot of cold blowing watery mist.

As we left the Valley we did what most tourists do: stop to look for mountain climbers on the face of El Capitan.  We forgot binoculars, assured each other those tiny dots on the granite were climbers, and enjoyed one last look at the Valley before driving home.

Go soon, before the crowds become intolerable, and while the water still flows.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sailing Southwest Florida

West Coast of Florida -- March 2016-- Pat and I joined two friends for a one week cruise from Tampa Bay south to Boca Grande Pass, near Usseppa Island, and back. This is the part of the Florida coast just north of where we once lived, quite near Sanibel and Captiva.  We chartered a sailboat 41 feet long, with two cabins and plenty of modern amenities, for the trip which usually involved sailing or motor-sailing for about six hours each day. The total trip probably covered less than 300 miles, some offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and some inshore in the IntraCoastal Waterway.

The weather was warm, the winds mixed, and we encountered one day of serious fog offshore. Navigation was by GPS, partly using an App Barbara downloaded into her phone. We all met in Ohio in 1977 when John and I worked at the newspaper there. he now writes novels, Barbara is a marketing executive, and Pat and I are thoroughly retired.

A good time was had by all.

Day One

Here is the 41 foot Jenneua sloop we chartered for a week off the Southwest Coast with our friends John and Barbara Koenig of Austin, Tex. After a good dinner, we went to a local grocery store and bought supplies for the days ahead. Yes, there was rum on board.

Pat at the dock in the Vinoy Hotel Marina as we were getting ourselves ready to go.

Barbara and John in the cockpit at the marina.

Crew member standing by.

Day Two

Sailing out of Tampa Bay under the bridges, before turning left into the IntraCoastal Waterway for our first night's anchorage.

Barbara at the helm in the IntraCoastal.

John checking the news at anchor off the Mar-Visa Restaurant  at Longboat Key.

Pat chilling.

The anchorage on a sunny day.

We took our tiny dingy into the dock for a very good seafood dinner at the restaurant and met a friend of the Koenig's from Australia. Good company. 

Day Three

Next day we were southbound slogging into three foot swells with the wind on our collective noses.

Not sure which day, but this is inside the IntraCoastal Waterway

Pat at the helm.

Snack time.

Posed picture in the wind.

Day Four


We were reminded that Florida estuaries are shallow, and spent about an hour getting off a sandbar along the edge of the channel. The volunteers took our anchor out 50 feet or so, back into deeper water, and we kedged ourselves off when the tide came up. No harm done.

Time for a quiet sunset.

Sunset  at anchor off Usseppa Island, across the waterway from Cabbage Key. Pat and I had anchored here more than 15 years ago.

Day Five

Sailing south, as seen from the salon.

A little artsy photo work.

Day Six, after being offshore in fog all day long.

At the Crows Nest Marina after all day offshore in dense fog. Coming in through the pass and bridge was a challenge well met by experienced companions and good electronics. Visibility was down to less than 100 yards at times.

This is the pass to the Gulf of Mexico we navigated through.

At the dock, safely. Dinner in the pub.

Day Seven

Next day an easier trip up the waterway  into an anchorage south of Tampa Bay.

One more night view.

Pat being happy.

Barbara being happy.

John being happy.

Our last anchorage was at DeSoto Park tucked inside away from the worst of the fog.

Checking with the home front. We learned how very versatile our phones were.

Our Last Day Aboard

Last day we went back into Tampa Bay for the final miles home.


 Below is how we did dinner on the boat. We stocked the boat with supplies to do all but about three meals, when we knew we would be near a good place to eat.

Barbara planned a couple of quick fix meals, which were delicious.

Might as well have a nice red wine with dinner.

The menu this night was ham, pineapple, yams and fresh corn.

The view was pretty good

As was the red wine.


As we approached St. Petersburg on the last day, this boat came out to greet us.

A great vacation. We would do it again.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sailboat "Good News" Is For Sale

Off jack London Square, before the new dodger was installed

For Sale:
37- FT Hunter, 1979. Alameda. $39,900. Cherubini-designed cutter, well equipped and maintained. Excellent bay boat or coastal cruiser for a couple or family in sail-away condition. Comfortable in rough summer conditions.  Sparkling  teak/cherry interior, new dodger and sail covers, recent bottom job, numerous upgrades. 27hp Yanmar low hours. Furling jib, self-tacking Staysail,  and multiple spare sails. Owners’ health requires sale. Call 916-207-3194 for appointment. Principals only.
At the dock in Alameda, with new dodger and sail covers
At the dock on Angel Island


Boat Name:   Good News
Builder: Hunter Marine
Model: Hunter 37/Cherubini Cutter
Year: 1979
Length: 37
Draft: 5'1"
Beam: 11' 10"
HIN:  HUN37019M79B
Engine: Yanmar Deisel, 3 cylinder (Model 3HM) less than 2,000 hours (1835 at last check)
Weight: 18,000 (travel lift scale)

This boat was designed by John Cherubini, who left Hunter to design one-of-a-kind luxury sailboats.  Boats from this era were built extra tough for safety and stability. There is an active owners group online.

New dodger, sail covers, rail covers, wheel cover (2014)
New holding tank(2014)
New water pump (2014)
Hauled and Two coats of bottom paint (2014)
Non-skid surfaces renewed  (2011).
All ports, electric head and galley stovetop were replaced by the current owner.

Sailing characteristics:  These boats were designed for coastal cruising. We have used the boat primarily for San Francisco Bay, with occasional  day sails outside the Golden Gate, and a  six month stay in San Diego.
 The boat is a solid cutter rig, heavier fiberglass than newer boats but extremely stable (less heel and smoother ride). When sails are trimmed properly, boat will track with little effort at the wheel. We frequently sailed the boat in 25 knots  by taking a reef in the Main and using only the Staysail as a headsail. Maximum speed 6-7 knots under normal conditions.

Mainsail and Staysail are raised with winches at the mast; jib has roller furling operated from the cockpit. All sails can be adjusted from the cockpit.
Sail plan and inventory: Cutter rigged with a Main, self-tacking Staysail and roller-furled Yankee (jib)
( Spare sails are included in the asking price.)

Rigging:  standing rigging is oversized for the boat, and has been inspected but not replaced during our ownership. Running rigging is partially new, and all in good condition.
Main salon looking forward

Interior layout and features
Center companionway into salon;
Companionway steps up into cockpit. engine underneath and galley to left

Galley to Starboard with Dickenson stovetop and double stainless steel sinks, storage over and under; microwave; in-cabinet Adler Barbour refrigerator/freezer.

Main cabin to port of companionway

Main cabin bunk interior and compartment

"Captain's" Cabin to Port aft, with storage cabinet and privacy door.

Nav station next to Port includes radios, electric (AC and DC)control panels, GPS, depth finder, spare hand-held radio and GPS.
Nav station

Fold-up teak dining table in center with benches on both side. 
Starboard bench makes into a double bed, or with lee board, a sea berth.

Opening Hatch above table, and ports (with curtains) throughout.
Interior is a gleaming varnish finish, requiring minimum maintenance. 
Cabinet and storage space on both side of salon.

A small fireplace is attached to the bulkhead, and an AC electric heater is located by the Nav station.
Small flat screen TV, stereo radio and CD player.

Next forward is electric head and shower to Starboard, sink and cabinet to Port, with closing doors on both sides to separate the V-berth cabin and head.
Hanging locker.

V berth has sleeping room for two, plus a small single berth and cabinet, with storage under.

Upholstery is in good condition throughout, and the beds are comfortable.

Maintenance records are available.

All CG required safety equipment included, plus safety lines, strobes and leashes.

Electrical systems:  Boat operates on a DC system provided by two wet cell batteries located in  aft cabin cabinet for easy access; starter battery is located in Starboard lazarette under floorboard pull-out panel. AC system with cable and AC outlets in every part of the boat. Electrical systems were overhauled three years ago by Berkeley Marine. Dockside Battery charger located in rear of engine compartment.

Fuel tank is located under Captain's Berth; capacity either 42 or 47 gallons, depending who you believe.
Water tanks (2) located beneath salon benches for total of approximately 100 gallons per surveyor. Cold water system works well; hot water heater needs replacement if required.

A set of original schematic drawings are available on request.

All boat equipment, safety gear and spare parts stay with the boat. Personal gear and tools not included.


We have enjoyed and loved this boat for almost 15 years, but health issues force us to offer it for sale. 
We bought it in San Diego, and kept it in Southern California for six months before moving it to San Francisco Bay.

S/V Good News is an ideal boat for a couple to sail in all conditions on San Francisco Bay and the coastal areas. There are bunks for up to six people, and cockpit seats for an equal number. Good News can sleep four comfortably, more if they are close friends or children.

In more than a decade we sailed in San Diego, Catalina,  and throughout the Bay Area and Delta.

The cutter rig makes for easier sail handling, with a smaller main, a “Yankee” jib, and a staysail.  

 With a relatively deep keel (5’6”) and narrow beam (11’) the boat handles well on all points of sail.

On very windy days in summer, we put one reef in the mainsail, let out the staysail, and leave the jib furled. We can do 6 to 7 knots with comfortable control. With sails set properly, the boat will hold its course without constant demands on steering.
The boat is ready to safely sail the Bay Area today with no changes required.

 It could be a comfortable live-aboard for two, and we often stay aboard a week at a time. 

Much of the  original equipment has been replaced: including the deck non-skid, sails, dodger and covers, all ports, stove top, batteries, charger, electric head, holding tank, water pump and more.  We have spent more than $10,000 in upgrades and replacements since 2001.

The interior is unusually nice, with all the teakwood and cherry varnished with multiple coats, for minimal upkeep. Custom rope work decorates the mast in the salon, and even a shower and a small wood-burning stove are available on board (we don’t use them).

The galley has a decent refrigerator, storage cabinets, double stainless steel sinks, microwave, and a new stove top which needs to be plumbed.

The 27 hp Yanmar engine has relatively low hours and is in excellent condition.  It has a freshwater cooling exchange system which extends the engine life.

A small flat screen TV, stereo radio and CD player are included.  

The standing rigging is extra sturdy, including running back stays, and most of the running rigging has been replaced in the past two years.
The cockpit comes with a complete set of cushions, and the professionally done interior upholstery is in good condition. 
The dodger and sail covers were replaced in 2014.

Spare sails were custom made for the boat and are included.  We use the older sails in light air, mostly in winter, and the harder newer sails in stiffer winds of summer.

The boat has two VHF radios, one we use only for monitoring weather, electric depth with alarms(displayed in the cockpit and below), a radar, and an old Garmin GPS, a chart system (unused by us), and self-steering (also unused). 
A large anchor is located on the bow, and a spare anchor and rode are in the aft lazerette.

To keep the price low the boat is offered directly  by the owners. Potential buyers will want to have a survey done, or if you feel competent to do your own survey, that is the buyer’s option.   Contact for appointments:, or 916-207-3194