We are living aboard our boat in Alameda, Calif while we work to prepare for our trip south to Mexico and also visit with family. We set rules about  projects to be complete before going  south where it becomes infinitely harder to complete complicated projects. The list of projects aboard is like the national debt, it always seems to grow. Deciding which get done and which remain on the list for perpetuity is a Solomon like task. Just why there are so many boat projects is a mystery, like socks gone missing or what is dark matter; unfathomable.
Our desire for a reverse osmosis watermaker was at the top of the list and the most complicated project. Although not rocket science it involves enough engineering and special parts to make the job challenging. We could have bought one, but what fun would that have been? Actually there are three good reasons for building the system ourselves.  First, it’s made from off the shelf parts, ones readily available if need arises to repair it in another country. Second, I know how it works and should be able to fix the darn thing if necessary. Lastly it’s much less expensive to build a watermaker, saving around $4k over store bought product. There are other projects going on. A ton of canvas covers to protect equipment from tropical sun. There is LED lighting, a new depth sounder, a cockpit table for outdoor dining, solar panels, need I say more. Lots to do.
We want to finish these projects before heading south but all of this takes time, but oh well, there could be worse places to work on projects than Alameda.
Alameda is an island in San Francisco Bay, separated from Oakland by a narrow canal; the island is about a mile wide and three miles long. Also a city with a mayor, police, enough shopping to please the most discriminating teenager, Trader Joes and Peet’s coffee. During the 19th and 20th centrury Alameda was a resort for San Franciscians, before the Bay Bridge. It must have felt like those 10 miles (SF to Alameda) were a lifetime away. Those people arrived by Ferry. It was a vacation area. The resort came complete with huge swimming pool, weekend cottages and even a Coney Island like amusement park called Neptune Beach that thrived until it closed in 1936 when the completion of the Bay Bridge made commuting common palce. Then from 1936 until 1997, the Navy ran a huge air and navel base from the north end of the island and the Pan Am Clipper had a base there. There is a lot of history within the confines of this island.
We are at a marina on the canal side of the island across from the Coast Guard station but we frequently take morning walks or runs to the otherside of the island where we walk on the beach with views of the SF skyline and also marvel at the sunsets from the cockpit of our boat. It’s fun to live in the SF Bay Area again after over 30 years in other places. So, even though we feel the magnetic urge to keep traveling, it isn’t a great struggle to be here, working on boat projects, visiting family and exploring the area. It’s comfortable, it’s like home.
The crux of the cruiser’s paradox is sailing to a place; maybe a marina or an anchorage, in a foreign country or maybe another state, end up meeting interesting people, get immersed in a culture explore the surrounding city or countryside, then leave or maybe a new friend leaves before we have the chance to do the same thing to them.
What is the draw, to leave, if staying feels right and comfortable? I think it is curiosity to see the next port, the next country or maybe the next continent.
A poem by Alistair Reid called “Curiosity” uses a cat metaphor to advance the idea that curiosity is not easy and takes effort. A portion
of the poem goes:
“Nevertheless, to be curious is dangerous enough. To distrust what is always said, what seems

to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams, leave home, smell rats, have hunches do not endear cats to those doggy circles where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches are the order of things, and where prevails much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity will not cause us to die– only lack of it will. Never to want to see the other side of the hill or that improbable country where living is an idyll (although a probable hell) would kill us all. Only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all.”
Although very few of us are destined or would enjoy a lifetime of nomadic wondering, some of us feel the need to push on anew, to explore “the other side of the hill” maybe sometimes difficult because others don’t approve but I believe preferable to being comfortable, not growing ourselves or expanding our own knowledge. Travel is part of that equation, to re-affirm beliefs we think we know or discount beliefs held by others.
Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
It never hurts to test our own beliefs against the backdrop of other cultures. Travel encourages questioning; precisely the questions Twain mentions. I believe the two words “I know” are death to any chance that rational discussion could illuminate other opinions.
My parents traveled all over the world, I guess some of it rubbed off either experientially or genetically and from me to my wife.They were able to place what they saw of the world during their travels against the comforts of lives in American against the horrors of what they witnessed as Jews in Germany just before WWII.
We grow, by presenting ourselves into new cultures and foreign situations. Unable to speak the language we find we can communicate, maybe not as easily as at home but nevertheless communicate. The ability to step into or be presented with new uncomforatable situations and be able to successfully resolve them. I love it. I love being in different places, learning of people, cultures and places.
We feel that magnetic pull to stay; I mean to go. SF Bay Area is one of those places. I’d love to leave but it’s hard.
When we leave the area we will also be leaving the people we love; our parents and siblings.

We set some rules for this trip, but one,what amounts to the prime directive (Star Trek reference) sets the tone for the others: we cruise until it ceases to be fun. Sometimes fun is not easy, sometimes fun is fun and easy.
We took a hike the other day. A day off from boat projects, to go to Pt Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. It’s a unique place, kind of wild and certainly unique being within fifty miles of a major metropolitan area with lots of wildlife, unimaginable views of the ocean, quietness, history. Pretty cool place.
This hike began at the historic Pierce Point Ranch, a gold rush era ranch that used to supply milk and other dairy products to San Francisco. The trail leaves the ranch and follows the coast for about 4.5 miles to Tomolas Point. It’s never boring; walking, amungst dozens of elk, also with coyote, badger. At one point I was off the trail but being followed by a significantly sized coyote. I was looking for the perfect vantage point for a picture but it followed and while my wife watched the drama from the trail, she intervened only when the drama was at its climax . Should I be worried?
We stopped in Fairfax, Ca on the way back and very much by random (neither of us has road access to Yelp) ended up at a restaurant called Sorella. Once seated, were offered cheese for the table, the cheese was scraped from a huge wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano as a pre-meal tid-bit, like chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. But I was charmed.
The restaurant, operated by sisters (Sorella means sister in Italian) was charming, food was excellent and it capped off a strenuous day of hiking in a such a perfect way to make the day unforgettable.
The Bay Area is lot a lot of other places charming to a faullt, unforgetable and a bit seductive.
We are here, we have no agenda or schedule; general goals, yes, but other than the idea that we want to travel, not too many. A place like this holds many appeals but like the first time we choose to leave the comfort of our parents’ home it’s up to us. When we leave, it will be the the right time.