three hulls, two people, one trip around the world…

San Diego and Mexico

Reminder: To enter the USA with your own boat, you actually need a B1/B2 visa. To apply for such a visa, you have to go to an interview at an American embassy. Appointments for the interviews are currently impossible to get because of Covid regulations. With such a visa, one could enter the USA for 6 months. Alternatively, for nationals of certain countries, there is the possibility of an Interview Waver Programme, which is the ESTA. Here, one simply applies online for a visa that is valid for 2 years and allows stays of up to 90 days each. The entry restriction imposed by Trump did not refer to European nationals, but to all persons who had stayed in the Schengen area in the 14 days prior to their entry into the USA. So far, so unclear? Anyway, I was in Mexico again for 14 days, the ESTA online no problem and a direct flight to San Diego from Puerto Vallarta could also be booked (seems to be seasonal). So we were able to fly to San Diego, spend a few days there and get the residence permit for another 180 days in Mexico when we re-entered Mexico.

At customs in San Diego, we immediately asked if we would be allowed to enter with our boat next time. This was confirmed positively, we only had to apply for the driving permit for the boat in San Diego. The US immigration authorities are big on collecting data. At the border station, all fingerprints are collected and stored. Fortunately, we met a good-humoured official. While everything went smoothly for Mathias, the problems started for me. There were only 4 fingers on the right. Well, the officer could still process that. Then on the left, there were five fingers, but the small one couldn’t be pressed straight onto the display. The finger has been crooked since a fracture when I was 14 and is therefore too short to be brought into the right position and angle. The official’s vigorous pushing helped the machine to produce a result after all. The official asked what I had been doing and whether I shouldn’t let Mathias work 😉

This is already the second story with my finger. In Germany, I got a new identity card, which also requires the imprint of the right index finger. It took a while until the official, after busy typing on the computer and asking a colleague, found a setting where you could click on temporary unusability of the index finger and then prints of the index finger and thumb of the left hand could be registered instead.

I always prepare myself for a longer processing time. It doesn’t seem that often that the officers have to check fingerless people.

Incidentally, from November, entry to the USA will only be permitted for fully vaccinated persons, which would basically represent a deterioration of the current situation. Although it would then be possible to enter directly from the Schengen area again without the 14-day diversion, but not everyone would be allowed to do so anymore.

We were very lucky that we used our stay in San Diego to have Mathias vaccinated as well. It was not clear before departure whether it would work. Once there, we just went into a big pharmacy at Costco and asked for the Johnson&Johnson vaccine (one dose is enough). They had it in stock, now we just needed a local address (in our case the hotel) and shortly after Mathias got his shot. He came through it well, initially a sore arm and a little diarrhoea a few days later were the only side effects.

We really enjoyed the cooler climate in San Diego. It was still T-shirt weather, but you didn’t melt when you moved. The sun was also pleasantly warm without overheating you. We had a look at the pier where we will have to dock the next time we come in by boat, walked around the harbour area and visited the Natural History Museum.

It was particularly nice to get in touch with a friend of Mathias whom he had met through work a few years ago. When the friend heard that we had difficulties getting to the NXP branch further out because it was difficult to get a taxi and the rental cars were also fully booked, he spontaneously lent us a car. We visited NXP by taxi and on the way back by bus, but afterwards we comfortably drove around the city in the rented car. San Diego is a nice city and there are pavements, but the distances are such that you are better off with a car. It once looked like Mathias could have worked in San Diego for a few years. But we’re probably too old for that now. The traffic would certainly stress us out in the long run, and we’re thinking of a place within walking distance of a marina and a “Fischbrötchenbude” for retirement after the trip.

We were invited to the friend’s house for homemade pizza. A great evening, super nice hosts, a great house with a big cosy kitchen and outdoor kitchen. And a Californian garden: lemon, avocado and pampelmuse trees in the garden, fresh herbs and salad. A dream. We are already looking forward to our next stay here.

Even when shopping, hardly any wishes remain unfulfilled. A large ship’s accessories shop (Western Marine) had sacrificial anodes in stock that could fit the Fradolin II. When we bought them, we didn’t think about the fact that we would have to pass through the hand luggage security check on the plane. But that went well, the security people here are probably used to sailors. At the Apple Store we had to queue. Fortunately, they didn’t have the computer in stock in the configuration I had chosen for making films. Shortly after the almost visit, we were sitting in a restaurant and remembered that Apple always brings out new models in October, and lo and behold, a new, better and faster model of the computer I wanted is supposed to come out soon. It’s worth waiting until next year to buy one. And we don’t have to smuggle anything into Mexico 😉 A sailing area guide for the Californian coast still fitted into our hand luggage. Then, after 4 short days, we returned to the SAN.

The weather forecast again announced a passing hurricane. Although there was not too much wind forecast for our bay, there were higher waves forecast. So we just stayed in the marina for two more days before anchoring again. Just on the day we went out, I turned on the tap in the kitchen and nothing happened. Something was wrong with the pump. You can’t complain about a lack of tasks on a boat. Mathias began several days of troubleshooting and in the end he had our water system in tip-top shape using and switching around the two pumps for the water circuit, the pump for the salt water and a spare pump and replacing defective parts (one pressure regulator, one pump). During this time, we fetched our water from canisters and served the toilets with rainwater that was available in the dinghy. The tandem pump system for the water supply is now actually working for the first time. Although we had complained about it several times, the shipyard had not managed to get both pumps working together. So we only ever had one pump. Now it works and Mathias has learned a lot about pumps.

Life in the bay became quite sociable thanks to the contacts with the Fradolin II and the Carry On. We were invited to a barbecue on the Fradolin II and only realised shortly before 1 a.m. that it was time to go home again. We went shopping together and Doro also accompanied me when I was once again looking for a dentist. Part of a filling had fallen out in another place. It doesn’t seem to be a good climate for fillings here either. Naturally, I was annoyed and wanted a quick solution. We remembered seeing a “dental clinic” on the way to the bus stop, so we took a look. The clinic turned out to be a small shop with a mini anteroom and a single dentist’s chair behind it. The décor reminded me of the 1950s exhibition at the Museum Kiekeberg. The only staff was the dentist himself. No matter, it will be alright. There was no one waiting, so I couldn’t think long to change my mind. I was glad when the dentist put on gloves at some point. But he did the new filling perfectly and fingers crossed, no more problems since then.

It is also practical to have friends at hand when the dinghy motor won’t start. This happened to me when I just wanted to quickly recharge the internet cards. On the way back, nothing happened when I pulled the starter cord. The petrol tank felt suspiciously light. The water was a bit choppy in the bay, so I had little desire to row the distance back. So I took the oars out, but only rowed inside the marina to the Carry On, where James helped me and when he couldn’t get the engine started either, simply connected his petrol tank my motor for me to return to our boat.

The Carry On (the other Neel51) had an appointment here at the shipyard to be lifted out of the water on the travel lift. We came along on the boat that day to help. The bow thruster of the Carry On no longer works, so it is better to have a few more aids on board for manoeuvring. It would also have been good to have had from the beginning the dinghy on the outside to help. Even in light winds, it was no easy task to manoeuvre the boat into the narrow Concrete-U of the crane system, especially because the helpers on shore were not in the right place and did not always follow the skipper’s instructions. But there were enough people on board to be on hand with fenders, or to push off again from the jetty. This was necessary when the wind pushed the Carry On around. She was already tied on the lines of the concrete U at the front and threatened to bang against the neighbouring jetty at the back. In light winds, you can sit on the outrigger of the boat and use your legs to push yourself and the whole boat off the jetty again. That was my task 🙂 So we managed to enter the narrow opening without any scratches and then came the scary moment when the boat is lifted. That also went well. Next peak of excitement is setting it down on the substructure on land. Again no problems. However, the supports are at points that would not be so favourable for us, namely at the centre hull exactly where we were also supported in Vacamonte and we had hoped that we could be propped up a little differently to be able to reach these places with antifouling. But the local scaffolding was not high enough for the support actually planned under the outrigger arches. In addition, there were still supports on the outriggers that would have no effect at all in extreme load cases. So we should still look at other options where we could get out of the water. With our width, there are not so many options.

With the end of the hurricane season, the bay slowly fills up with other sailors. At the German Limelight, the rest of the crew arrived again, they spent a few days here and then headed north. An American with a Pogo 40 came into the bay and visited the surrounding boats. Mathias went sailing with him one afternoon. The Pogo is more of a racing yacht than a cruising yacht and they sailed in 45 degrees of lean – nothing for me.

The latest addition so far is a Swiss yacht. They practically raced straight towards our stern and asked us if we wanted to have dinner together. Mathias was slightly irritated, but agreed for the next day. I had previously heard from Doro that she was in contact with a Swiss yacht that was planning to arrive here soon. Therefore, I suspected that the yacht had confused our two boats and had simply sailed towards the first German multihull in the bay. This suspicion was confirmed and so the following day the six of us went out for dinner. The Swiss were now coming down from Canada and had also visited Alaska on previous trips. These sounded like dream destinations. Let’s see how far we’ll get along the American coast next year. The Swiss are planning their return trip after the Panama Canal via Greenland and Northern Scotland, they couldn’t do anything with the local warmth either 😉

Since Mathias was on board alone, he has learned to make delicious salads. A skill he has retained and is happy to be seen. 🙂

New fan in the front cabin. That’s where we sleep when we’re at anchor. The ventilation is best there. But the old fan blew directly on my head, which I don’t tolerate well. This one now blows directly on Mathias.

Another hurricane was approaching again, but it already made landfall further south. The day to leave is getting closer and it’s high time, because for a few days now the water in the bay here has been nothing but boggy black.

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