Clipping along at 8+ knots under full sail with following winds and seas, we are heading to Moss Landing, CA today, a community of 207 residents according to Wikipedia. I am looking forward to what I hope will be a Seldovia-like experience, a small fishing village and quiet harbor devoid of the hustle and bustle of a city and surrounded by natural beauty. Perhaps Northern Passage, with her chipped paint, dirty decks, brightwork on its way to going grey, and rails decorated with gear (paddle board, kayak, sailboard, bikes) will fit in a little better than at the mega-yacht docks in Sausalito, where we saw more divers and boat cleaners than boat owners. And my how those boats glistened in the sun!
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I have to admit, I miss Alaskan marinas and small towns. Functional and low-key with breathtaking natural beauty in every direction. In AK, boat owners don Carharts, hoodies and Xtra tuffs. Docks are generally made of railroad ties, with dock cleats few and far between. They are slippery with rain and sometimes tinged with moss due to the ever-present moisture in the air. Eagles perch atop pilings and sea otters lazily drift among finger piers. On those rickety, well-used docks I feel at home.
During most of the three months and about 3,000 miles we've been at sea, the climate and attitude has been much the same as at home. About a week ago, when we reached northern California, it started changing. Gone was the persistent cool bite in the air, the dense green forest and the Xtra tuffs. We have entered a different world.
Our on-shore experiences so far have included hiking and paddling in empty coves in the wilderness, tiny island getaways run by eclectic couples, big city tourist adventures, renting a fire tower to sleep in overnight, one day of skimboarding, and visiting natural parks. Bike rides and sunset beach walks, discovering sea creatures and going to museums top it off.
In the next few days we will be entering southern California, leaving the chilly evening air behind, cracking open the sunblock and christening our water toys - snorkel gear, skim board, paddle board, kayaks. Our onshore activities will move to the water.
I find it hard to believe that most of our recreational activity will happen in the water from this point forward! If you have never lived in Northern Lattitudes, you may not understand how hard it is to comprehend 80 degrees day in and day out. I almost don't know how to get ready for it. Can I really send my Xtra tuffs and wool sweaters back home? Will I actually wear a bathing suit everyday? Will the jeans and Carharts go to the bottom of the closet and shorts and skirts come to the top? Really?!?!
Three months getting to a place is a really long time! When we departed, we knew it would take this long, but it felt longer. A lot longer. For years talking about this trip, I dreamed about speaking Spanish and swimming every day. I just didn't visualize the time spent getting there. Today I am wearing my polypropylene thinnest long underwear shirt and Carharts, as we departed in the chill of northern CA early morning. But I have shed my hoodie and am getting ready to shift to tank top and shorts.
We are all ready for this change. It will be interesting to see how we adjust. Will we crave coolness, miss the warmth of a wood stove in a winter cabin? Time will tell. I have a feeling the Alaskan-born aboard will have a harder time than the transplants.
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