BETWEEN THE SHEETS NEWSLETTER
Between the Sheets -- 2000 December -- 2001 February
2000 December 15
The Good Life Aboard the Good Idea
Where is the good ship, the Good Idea? We are still in Monterey, California. Why? Since our arrival here on October 16th we just haven't had a yen to consider a new port. Monterey is wonderful. Brenda arrived back here on October 22 and has concurred with the Cap'n, that this is a beautiful city with all the things that make cruising to a foreign port worth while. In close proximity to our berth we have the usual amenities like heads (washrooms), showers and laundry. We have here a friendly Harbour Staff who have helped make this a super place to call home.
With two type A personalities aboard, everything over time has been measured in paces from our deck to the various important things in life. For example, when we first arrived in the harbour we were on the end-tie of B-dock. That was about 250 paces from the washrooms so a bit of planning was necessary to make a trip to the head. From the photo you can see (red sail cover) we lucked into a super spot overlooking the seawalk and now it's only 40 paces to the heads.
Ten more paces and a walk up two flights of stairs, there is the Harbor Office where we have been most fortunate to connect with the rest of the world via our laptop. Brent, Paul, Jennifer, Mary and Steve, the Harbormaster, are all very knowledgeable and direct transient traffic like ourselves to the grocery stores, propane supplies, library, post office and the many fine restaurants in the area. They help all the boats passing through to have a very pleasant time.
Sixty paces to the east of the office is the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club. (The low brown building aft Good Idea.) Wednesday and Friday nights there is a sit down dinner available at a reasonable cost. Sailoreze is spoken at the bar and many hours can be spent reliving the past and planning the future courses. Canadian vessels with other Club affiliation come and go and the Yacht Club offers them 48 hours of reciprocal moorage.
From the Yacht Club, out into the ocean, is a wharf which terminates 100 paces to the north. Several fish vendors offer a nearby resource for something from the sea for supper. Tired of cooking, there are still a couple of restaurants that we haven't had a chance to check out yet.
West of the office, about 100 paces, we have a huge Monterey town square. Here we have been entertained by Gospel Singers, Marimba Steel Bands and Artisan Fairs. Built on the historic site of the American capture of the Mexican territory it includes a Maritime Museum and other historic buildings. Facing it is the other 'Fishermen's Wharf" which houses over 30 restaurants, gift shops and curio shops. From here, visitors can head out on whale watching
excursions, nibble on caramel corn or saltwater taffy, fine dine or grab some crab salad on the run or just relax and watch the sea lions and pelicans. (Wharf as seen from the end of B-dock over the bow of Good Idea.)
All this and we haven't even ventured out of sight of Good Idea yet. If we take a ten minute scoot or a five minute bike ride we are downtown. Here we have all the usual resort town facilities from Starbucks to a wide assortment of fast food and fine dining. Art shops and book stores and yes, Virginia, there are a bunch of movie theatres. Downtown Monterey, is a great place to window shop or actually drop a few bucks.
Tuesday afternoon from 4:00 to 8:00 the streets are closed and the street fair is set up providing a choice of fresh veggies, fruits, fantastic baked goods and a selection of fare from some local and not so local restaurants. Art, clothing and curios are available. This occurs every Tuesday, rain or shine, and closes down an hour shorter at this time of year as a concession to winter.
Ten minutes by bike up the hill we have the regular shopping mall with more movies and more shops. Fifteen minutes biking from the harbour on a super flat paved path to the east, more shops and ten minutes
further, Costco and another shopping mall. (This path goes twenty plus miles in both directions.) Ten minutes by bike to the west from the boat is a tourist mecca. Cannery Row, at one time the commercial 'sardine' heart of Monterey, is now a plethora of restaurants, curio and gift shops. Bubba Gump's is the original, hosting pictures of Forrest and the cast from "Forrest Gump".
A very popular stop is the Aquarium which is phenomenal. Only ten minutes from there is Pacific Grove with all of its own attractions. Plus more movie houses. Carry on from there and you can bike all the way along the ocean through Pebble Beach Golf course and on to Carmel.
All these shops, if only we were rich. As a tribute to our Canadian dollar, we tend to dine out about twice a month. However, we tend to hit about two to three movies a week. My name is Dave, I am popcorn dependent. Come and join us; we have a program to curb boredom.
Mid way between 'good idea' and Del Monte Shopping Centre, about a 17 minutes walk up the hill, is a place that Brenda has been frequenting on a regular basis over the past few weeks. The First Presbyterian Church of Monterey has opened up a whole new community of folks who love their city and want to show it off to the 'boat' people from Canada. Brenda has been fine dined, chauffeured and entertained while her good Captain was enjoying the hospitality of friends and family in Calgary. (Seen here with her 93 year old buddy, Alice.)
Speaking of which, why do we frequent the cold northern climes when we have made good an escape from Canada? Up to December 1, 2000, the word was that as an Alberta citizen you could apply to be out of the country for up to one year. At that time you had to return or Alberta Health Care would lapse and you would be solely on your supplemental health care programs. We found these to be very expensive and elected not to let AHC lapse. As of the 1st though, you can apply for up to four years' absence as an Albertan resident and taxpayer and not have to return for the mandatory six months. This is good news for us and now we
don't have to return except to visit the fine northern folks and collect those welcome hugs. This will help extend our cruising fund.
What do the other cruisers do? We have found the majority of our fellow cruisers are taking advantage of their healthy state and keep a minimum of excess insurance. If they get sick, they high tail it back home and hope they make it. We have heard some bad stories of those who have incurred huge medical debts when they didn't make it, but it is balanced by the cheap and sometimes adequate medical assistance available outside of the USA.
So why would you want to hold up in Monterey and not set sail further south like the many other cruisers? The further south, the more expensive moorage can be and less opportunity we have for day sailing in a protected bay. Some of the entrances south of here, like Morro Bay and Oxnard, tend to be tricky entrances in any kind of swell and boats have been trapped on the outside or the inside for long periods waiting for weather. Good Idea is comfortable being moored in this tourist Mecca. She can still get out and play and has a good home guaranteed to come home to afterwards.
What do the crew do from day to day? The daily routine includes waking up and moseying up the dock to the heads. This ranges from after having had the clock radio play for its full 2 hours or sooner if the kidney call is more urgent.
A leisurely breakfast cooked on board with coffee, juice and cereal or eggs etc. and then dishes. Check out what our little otter friend is dining on so early in the morning. Is it clams and mussels or has he found a slow crab that deserves crunching this morning? Now to plan the rest of the day. Sometimes it is a phone call you need to make; sometimes it is e-mail that you want to collect or send; and sometimes it is just an adventure waiting to happen. A little work on the books, a little bit of needlepoint or perhaps read a book. So much to do, so much time to do it. This is totally different than the helter skelter time tables we tried to keep back in Calgary.
Where will we scoot or bike to today? Perhaps we will just point the bike and follow the wheels and see where they stop today. With bike paths that are so flat, we have gotten carried away from time to time. We have biked to Carmel which is about 18-20 miles. The good news is that we don't have to bike back; we can just throw our bikes onto the front of the bus and take it easy going home. Perhaps we'll go to Costco today and spend another $40. This is different from having a car where you rarely get out of Costco for less than $150. Let's see what's playing at the movie matinees today. Then perhaps some fine dining (like seen here on Brenda's birthday).
On a weekly basis we have to do the laundry and clean the boat, the difference being that we're done in an hour. Water tanks have to be filled on a regular basis so we don't run out with shampoo in the hair or with a coffee pot half filled. What do we need from the farmer's market on Thursday, or the street fair on Tuesday? Is this the week we have to change the propane? Brenda tried to make the last bottle last the full month while I was in Calgary and almost made it. Being frugal and keeping water in a thermos during the day and using the warm water at night for ablutions, it ran out only three days before the captain's return. Forced to ply her female wiles, she seconded more muscles from the dock to help her swap the cylinders. Thanks, Doug, captain of Avante.
So now here it is almost Christmas, two days after St. Lucia day where we were accustomed to entertain 60 to 70 people to a dinner at our place in Calgary. (I hope Kelly and Jacquie were not inundated by a crowd of Swedish Meatball and Pork Pancake fanciers.) It's too comfortable and too close to Christmas to consider leaving our new found friends and the sanctuary here in Monterey. So we have set up for Christmas and an all too familiar itinerary has begun. We must finish up with our wedding anniversary today and get on with the Christmas Newspaper that everyone is waiting for. We should have it set up, printed and posted by our regular time of December 22 or 23 like we normally do.
Christmas has already started here in the harbour. Brenda was even the judge for the lighted boat sailpast. Then it will be Christmas eve and time for the many events that are available here in town. We'll wake up to the sound of our otters in lieu of Santa for Christmas morning.
To all our friends, our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and the Best of the New Year to one and all.
Cap'n Dave and Brenda
2001 January 7
Passing Time Just Short of Paradise.
Happy New Year!!
Yes, Virginia, there is winter in California, but it isn't the same as in the rest of the known (editor's) world. Today is a cloudy day in the mid-60's in Monterey. They have said that we may even get rain. This is the first that we'll have seen since October when they set some record rainfalls. It is really needed so I suppose we should be grateful for the fantastic weather we have had up to date.
We get a Monterey Herald every other morning so that we can have a Search Word, Crossword and check up on world weather to add to our busy agendas. We monitor the weather in Paris, where our daughter, Kirsten, is working, Tokyo, where our other daughter, Rebekka, is teaching English and of course Calgary, where our son and expectant daughter-in-law, Rob and Jen, are working and living. We also take a look at the weather to the south of us in the LA and San Diego area. Ninety-five percent of the time we are the winners right here in Monterey.
What we aren't doing is monitoring wind and water conditions at this time. That means we are pretty well entrenched in this bay for a bit longer. Christmas and other celebrations are different when you are not around your personal friends and family.
Without telephone connections, we are the ones that have to make a dozen calls back home so that we can have our families' pass on the appropriate birthday, anniversary and/or Christmas, New Year's Greetings. (Brenda soliciting Christmas Greetings.)
Then again, we have met some wonderful people in the area who have adopted us. There is Alice from the Presbyterian Church we've been attending. She is a soon to be 94 year old local that we share dinner with about once (or twice) a week. We pick up a little extra fish at the end of the wharf from Gino. We pick up some fresh veggies, fruit and other odds and sods from the Thursday market and then bike up the hill to Alice's condo. (Nothing like a Fresh Fish dinner.) Chef Dave (seen below) rattles around in the kitchen until we have a gourmet dinner to eat. While the women visit the Cap'n does the dishes and cleans up the kitchen. Sounds a little bit like an Intermediate Standard only the Cap'n already has his certification. Then the Cap'n plugs into the phone line and gets to do a bit of e-mail, web update, banking and net-surfing. Christmas Eve Day, we took in two separate church services and heard some beautiful Christmas music and plays which reminded us of the times our kids were in the Christmas pageants. Linda and Roger, their sons Tim and Dale, had some travel plans to Arizona cancelled and stayed in Monterey inviting us to have Christmas dinner with them.
We had already taken out a second mortgage on a prime-rib roast that we couldn't let spoil, so we volunteered to take it along to their place to cook. Christmas morning we awoke to find that Santa had found us and even though our vent cover for our propane chimney was still in place, our stockings were bulging and the presents that had followed me south mid December were sitting around our little Christmas tree. Earlier, I had passed on our storage concerns with the well wishers back in Canada saying I hope all these gifts were edible because we don't have room to store a lot of stuff. Remarkably, most of them listened and now we are more concerned with need for a new wardrobe due to the fact that the white chocolates and dark chocolates and shades in-between and nuts and
candies and such has taken up residence on the boat in a more insidious way. We got some new game software for our computer which is now like us, moving a little bit slower. Stay tuned in later rambles for some interesting recipes for Baked Video tapes, Music Cassettes Alfredo, and Bread Pudding substituting Bread with Old Paperbacks. Shortly after our Christmas morning breakfast, Roger arrived to pick us up as they live about a twenty minute drive from here, a bit much for biking or scooting. While the roast was cooking we took advantage of Ma Bell and contacted family and friends to solicit and pass on mutual greetings. We had a great dinner and then wandered out for a 30 minute walk around their neighbourhood prior to heading back to the boat. Back dockside, 18:30 Christmas Day, we went for another walk around town with some of the other tourists enjoying the warm evening night. We have spent a great deal of time at the Monterey Library to browse the web (Brenda at the Library) or at Kinko's, copy and internet site, in New Monterey. We pack up the laptop and bike along the path, through Cannery Row and its attractions, and two blocks up from the path we have a FREE phone line.
We plug in, dial up connect through our new ISP (internet service provider) Earthlink and we are attached to the web. We check our e-mails (all both of them) from all of our friends back in Calgary. (You know who you are!!) We anticipate getting mail from all our buds when we are so far from home. If you need an excuse, you could say you lost our addresses. (Dave at laytondb@telusnet and Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.) We see what our family has been up to, compose, edit and send off our latest adventures to the world. At one point we thought that we needed a second laptop so that the battle at the nav/computer station could be solved. We spent about four and a half hours bidding unsuccessfully for a used laptop on E-Bay. A check home showed us that prices back in Calgary at places like Forge
computers were far more reasonable for used equipment. Time management ruled over the budget so now while Brenda is grabbing some Z's, I get control. Nothing has changed though because I still have to wait till the Admiral gives the final go ahead on publishing or sending the new e-mail.
On New Year's Eve, we joined about 45,000 locals and visitors to the area for First Night Monterey. This is a non-alcoholic, family event in its ninth year running. Brenda and I started out about five and joined Linda to watch the parade of bands, clowns and floats that circled the downtown area. (Linda and Brenda streetside at the parade.) We joined Roger who had set up lights at five of the venues and then took in a play which featured their son Tim. A half hour later we joined a line to go and see Cats and Jammers jazz band and entertained others with our Christmas Newspaper, which we just happened to have a copy of with us, and our tales of sailing down to Monterey. I guess until we start seeing the same people and they are
bored with our stories, we really don't have to move on. We then took in a story telling sessions (not ours) at another one of the 50 venues and finally ended up at the big town square. There we watched five or six different dance groups do their cultural dances from Aztec to Hawaiian to Jazz troupes, Although we had a chance to do our own dancing at many of the venues, the Cap'n lucked out and didn't have to fake the wooden leg routine. Then the countdown and a firework display rung in the new century, controversially, the new millennium. (Dancers on the fly, above. Crowded square at the countdown, below. The picture of Cap'n Dave was taken exactly at 2001 January 1 at 00:00.00 hours according to the digital camera.)
We walked back to the boat from the square - all 100 meters and settled in to make the New Year’s resolutions.
We've already broken the first one of trying not to rub our balmy weather into colder northern noses.
Now it's almost a week later and what has happened? Same old, same old. We wander out and provision for one or two day's meals, check out some new haunts that have escaped our scrutiny before. (Like the Antique Store filled with thousands of items we don't have room for on the boat, seen below.) and bore some more locals with our tales of high adventure that has brought us here. We check up to see how the work on the new showers is progressing and report back to the Harbor Staff just to make sure we haven't worn our welcome. Now it turns out there will be a Canadian TV crew in the area doing a piece on Monterey Tourism and we have been asked if we would do an
interview. So we have something on our agenda for next week already. We'll get a time and date for distribution for you later. One of our movie ushers suggested that we don't forget the little people when we are famous.
Brenda's awake now and out there off loading the bikes for our next adventure, (note the attire for January 7) so I'll have her proof this later and get it up to Kinko's for publication. We're off to treat Alice to the Cap'n's Clam Chowder at Alice's (Restaurant).
Best of the New Year to all our friends in far away places.
2001 February 28
Monterey, Cap'n Dave, Brenda, and FAQ's
Q. Are you really from Calgary? Canada? How do you get a boat from Calgary down to here? On seeing our Canadian Flag flying proudly off our stern from the recreational path, this is probably the most frequently asked question. (View of Good Idea from the Recreational Path.) A. It's all downhill once you've hit the Continental Divide. Actually, Good Idea has never seen anything east of the mountains, but the crew hails from Calgary. Friends and students helped us move the boat down the coast to San Francisco. Other students wanting an offshore experience helped move the boat to Santa Cruz and down to Morro Bay and back up north to Monterey. (View of the Recreational Path from the stern of Good Idea.)
Q. When did you get here? Really???!! Why are you still here? A. We arrived in Monterey returning from Morro Bay which is south of here on October 16th. The more people we talk to, the more we find that they have done the same as we did, arrived, and just can't find a reason to leave. Some of the people we've talked to have been stuck here for over 30 years, so in the scope of things, we aren't too bad ..... yet. We don't get into all the details with everybody that passes as they are busy doing what we are normally doing, and that is having fun in Monterey. Top 10 reasons we are still here:
10. Economics -- north or south are more expensive for moorage.
9. The Recreation Path is really long and really flat.
8. The ocean is right here, everyday, every hour.
7. We have all the amenities of big city with small tourist town appeal.
6. The weather is better here than anything north or south of us in California.
5. The port is so much more accessible than others.
4. The harbor staff, neighbors and businesses are just downright friendly.
3. People down in Mexico should know how to speak Spanish. (We don't.)
2. People in Canada can travel just as far south to see us as it would take us to go north to see them.
#1. Reason we are still here, because we like it here!!!! There isn't a day that goes by that we don't look at each other and wonder why we are so lucky to have ended up here.
Q. If all you do is R & R, then why does it take so long to get an update on the web?
A. We're busy!! Looking at our journals, I can't believe we've packed in so much since the New Year. Where do I start? We have met so many colorful characters and done so many interesting things that our busy life back in Calgary wouldn't have allowed us to do. We have plenty of time to entertain people mind you, but the droves of Snow Birds haven't caught up with us here in this little paradise.
Q. What are the things that you do for entertainment?
A. Anyone that knows us realize that Dave has a problem. He has a popcorn habit and it doesn't stay in remission much more than three or four days at a time. Since Christmas we have taken in over 18 movies. Some good, some bad and some pretty ugly, but you have to remember that were there for the popcorn. Top movies to take in if you don't get out quite as often as the Cap'n are: Brother, Where art thou? which is a super flick which has gone cult already. Chocolat which is a must see if you like chocolate. Castaway has got some ocean footage that brings back all those feelings we had while in transit in the big stuff. Thank goodness we had a little more of a raft and better crew than Wilson. 13 Days was a super flick bringing back all the tension of the Cuban Crisis. Finding Forester could have helped us with prepping our web site with Sean Connery coaching the literary talents out of wannabe authors. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has some great special effects but the captioning slowed down the story significantly. Traffic is a great documentary on an unsolvable problem. Miss Congeniality -- let's face it, Dave also has a thing about Sandy Bullock. Her brown eyes and similar reasons are probably why we took in Save the Last Dance, All the Pretty Horses, Head over Heels, The Wedding Planner, Sweet November and Saving Silverman. The Pledge has an interesting twist and has Jack Nicholson showing shades of the Cuckoo's Nest.
Besides movies, we've taken in more musical concerts over the last six weeks than we've seen in the last six years. Okay, not big names, but very entertaining none the less. (Right the Donald Alston Jazz Quartet.) (Below, Mark Abdilla a classical guitarist with a great CD for easy listening. Check out the one on Good Idea or get your own through his web site (TBA).) (Below Right, John Broadway Tucker's Jazz Band.) And this was all done for free unlike the matinees that run better than $28 Canadian when you add in the goodies. Border's Books in Sand City has Friday and Saturday evening concerts ranging from folk to blues, jazz to classical.
About 16:00 we saddle up and bike out to the Sand City Mall. We cruise the Costco and check out the new DVD's, drop the hook at Office Depot and check out the new software titles with Nate as our guide and then it's off to Boston Market. This fine establishment has chicken that gives Swiss Chalet a run for the money. (SC was one of the main reason's why we might have to head back to Canada more regularly.) Then it's across the plaza to Border's where we can pick up eight or ten
magazines on sailing, computers, lifestyles, art books and money management and settle into the sofa and watch the floorshow. (Left, folk singer Judy Krueger and right, folk singer Michael Winger.) At break we pick up a Mocca , settle back and thumb through the rest of the mags while the musicians finish their set. (Below, some of the other mooches and homeless that take in the free concerts.) Then it's back on the bikes somewhere between 22:30 to 23:10 and head back down, yes down to the boat. We cover the 4.3 miles in about 20 minutes in the cool winter (45F - 50F -- 16C - 18C) evening. Just in time to see Saturday Night Live and catch up on slanted but often too accurate version of what our politicians have been up to for the last week.
Q. So what do you do for companionship without your many friends back in Canada?
A. Oh, we have met some colorful characters here that make even our relatives back home seem a lot more tolerable. We have our writing friends, Charlotte and Harrison. Charlotte contracted Brenda to retype her manuscript into the computer after her hard drive crashed and all she was left with was a hardcopy. (Left, Brenda caught up in the story as she types it in.) Stay tuned for her book Thursday's Child. Harrison Livingston is a much published author being most renowned for his research, conspiracy theory and books written on the Kennedy Assassination. You can read his book The Wild
Rose, a story of high adventure on the Atlantic aboard Good Idea. We've met the homeless (like us) who are living out of their vans due to exponentially rising rents. Horatio, (pictured at right) is a bigger than life, colourful character here in the marina. A retired naval officer from Argentina who is enroute to Alaska and like the Cap'n found a woman requiring high maintenance and so has laid over in Monterey for the winter. He manages The Cool Cat Cigar store down on Cannery Row, part time, to replenish his cruising coffers. Well worth dropping in on him to hear his tales of the high seas. Ask him about the cruise of the Casablanca and then sit back for the rest of the evening. (Below, our debut at the Planning Commission Council meeting.) We took in a lecture and equipment swap and display for the Amateur Radio groups in California. We've dabbled in politics giving a speech to City Council on the merits of the businesses by the waterfront threatened by displacement.
Q. Is it all a bowl of popcorn and good times?
A. Not always. There was the week lost when a quirky leg lift over my bike set my back into spasms reminding me of my age. And then the surging of the boat
aggravating the pain every 17.4 seconds. Prone was okay and standing was okay, but the transition to either state brought out the religion and expletives that are taught in Advanced Liveaboard courses. (Above,Dave seen in back therapy courtesy of the Monterey Aquarium.) And then there was the cold, sniffles and cough that reminded us that even the mild winter in California must be respected and one should not flaunt the cool evenings in his T-shirts.
Q. If you only had a week, what would you take in?
A. I'd spend at least one day just watching the waves roll into the Bay down by Lover's Point. (Awesome viewpoint whether your partner challenged or not.) I'd get on a bike and set out along the recreation path, through Pebble Beach Golf course and down to Carmel. Reserve one day just to poke the pansies
and catch the local cactii. I mean really, flowers in January and February. When do the gardeners get a break. (January flower garden in downtown Monterey. Cactii by the City Square just west of the Bols lanes.)
I'd pick a cloudy day and spend it indoors with all the otters, sharks, fish, jellies and the wonderment in the Monterey Aquarium. (Below left, the Jellyfish display in the Aquarium.) I'd spend the one day just waiting for the wildlife to float by dockside. Hint: watch where the crowd gathers for the best Kodak moment. (Below, one of the wild Jelly fish that just happen by the dock from time to time along with the regular otters and abundant beautiful feathered friends.)
I'd take in the street Market on Tuesday and the Farmer's Market on Thursday. Spend a day beachcombing, walking the wharfs and see if you can find a pearl in an oyster or a least a good bowl of clam chowder. (The pearl I found in one of the larger oysters in the area.) Oh, yes, and with the oppor-
tunity, I'd head out of the safety of the marina and go out into the Bay on a windy day and sail up towards Santa Cruz and then run back with the dolphins.
Q. Is it all worth it? Adding up all the factors, the cost of equipment and the lost opportunity of making millions with the dot.com explosion in the market, is it worth it?
The cost of the equipment we hope never to see out of the box or in use (liferaft, EPIRB, the sea drogue and cabling), the reconstruction of the vessel (stern arch, backstay antenna, solent stay and storm jib halyard, sail and equipment) and the huge investments in electronics and software for offshore navigation (electronic mapping, charts of the Pacific, Panama, Caribbean, Atlantic and Mediterranean) which weighed in at over $26,000 would pay for a very decent cruise where someone else does the cooking. The expenses of living in a marina so you can utilize your bikes, scooters, do your computing without the trauma of packing up in a waterproof bag and rowing in from a mooring, adds more costs that you get to multiply by the exchange factor. The hobknobbing around with the rich and famous without room in your budget to eat out with them on a regular basis ..... Is it worth it? Okay, so maybe you can do it cheaper, but it has been a fantastic six months and until our bankers and creditors catch up with us, I can't think of a better way to spend the next 2 years.