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Monday, March 30, 2015

Sailing Up From San Diego IX: From Newport Beach To Point Viscente

     "As the sun was going down twelve dolphins jumped out of the water and at the same time surfed a big wave. Water flew everywhere!

Later the stars were beautiful out at sea and the lights on the mountains were intriguing. The rushing of water past the boat was restful.

San Pedro was trying to win the award for most lights blazing the night sky!"

Earlier that day...

After the wind came out late that morning, I sailed on from Newport Beach area up towards Long Beach and San Pedro. I was already about five miles out at sea and had been out here all night waiting for the wind to begin.

After sailing for a while I knew my next obstacle would be passing through the Long Beach shipping lanes that pass near the oil rigs out at sea. The first shipping lane was at least a few miles wide so I knew I was going to need a steady amount of wind to pass across it.

Since my average speed was about 3 - 4 knots, it would take me about an hour to cross it and if the wind got flaky on me - I would get stuck there. One thing you don't want is to get stuck in the Shipping Lane with a huge ship bearing down on you!

I didn't want to risk that and so I needed to be pretty sure the wind would hold. After about an hour of sailing at a constant speed, I figured that would be as much assurance from the wind that I would get - so I went for it!
At this point I texted my wife and let her know what I was doing:

Albie: "Ok. Passing through shipping lane in 15 min. I love u very much. Whatcha doin today?"

Wife: "Helping Atiana, recycling, getting flyers out 4 Prince (our dog)."

A: Oh good! Tell Atiana hi. And our kids too!

W: K

That was it for the text messages - now for the Shipping Lane. All went well for most of the way across when all of a sudden I saw a big ship coming!

The distance of the ship was at least five miles off but those ships come fast! I figured that the ship was moving at least 10MPH and maybe faster so that meant it would pass my way in 15 mins or at least in 1/2 hr. I knew I would be across before then so I felt ok. But I undid the jib line from the winch and held it in my hand and pulled it in and let it out manually to help the boat go it's maximum speed.

All went well and I passed the shipping lane without incident. I now could see the big ship passing by where I was.

Soon I sailed right by an oil rig! It was amazing. I've seen these oil rigs from the beach many times but always wondered how it would be to see them up close. Now I was getting that chance. And I can tell you it was really wierd!

Those oil rigs stand really high and tall out of the water like you can imagine. It's just the craziest thing when you've been sailing out at sea and seen nothing but water for two  days to all of a sudden pass by one of these! It's really not anything I can just kind of have to do it to understand!

Anyway, after passing to the left and right (port and starboard) of a few of these oil rigs, I finally came to where I could see Long Beach off to my right. It wasn't long before I was getting near San Pedro too.

In the mean time I thought I had sailed far enough out to sea to clear San Pedro and Point Vicente but the wind was driving right in my face and I was on a close haul tacking harder towards land than I had hoped. So much harder that soon I realized that I wouldn't even clear San Pedro - not to mention Point Vicente!

So I tacked again out to sea towards Catalina island. I was not really getting much farther ahead - maybe just a little so I didn't like this tack. It just would mean getting home was going to take that much longer.

Here's a text to my wife around that time:

A: Hey! I'm cruising @ 6knots along San Pedro. Trying 2 pass Pt Vicente. It juts out into ocean & the wind blows in ur face making it hard to pass.

A: Plus the wind is blowing 20 knots & waves r short n steep (but only 2 feet). I will b SO glad when make past Visente (Gods help). Miss u!

W: Dido

W: B safe

W: Mom is wondering where u r @ this point and how far u have gottin.

A: Can see San Vicente pt. Am half way across Long Beach/ 1/2 way out 2 Catalina. Super wind. If continues u can come get me this eve!

And a little later...:

W: Where might u b?

A: 1/2 way up Point Vicente. It stretches 10 miles. In an hour or so I expect to be past it (i hope!). Am hoping 2 get 2 Redondo n sail 2 MDRtomorrow. How r u guys?

A: I love and miss u So much. Tonight was a beautiful sunset and San Pedro Hill was pleasant 2 sail by. Was very lonely 4 u all.

A: Wish u were here w/ me seeing all these beautiful sights. The stars r beautiful and the lights on the mountains. The rushing of waters past the boat is restful.

A: San Pedro is trying 2 win the award 4 most lights blazing the night sky! 12 dolphins jumped out of the water @ same time surfing a big wave. Water flew everywhere!

W: How cool.

A: Having 2 heave-to by Vicinte Pt. tonight. Wind died just as getting close 2 rounding it. :-( But, Lord Willing, will b able 2 go 2 MDRtomorrow. I Love u! Xxooo

W: U must b tired.  Hey u r almost back.  R u excited? JUST AROUND THE RIVER BEND...  Kisses

J: U needed to rest in Newport Beach last night.  R u out of shipping lanes? We r going to sleep.  Ur mom seemed disappointed u were not home yet. Miss u.

A: Yea - out of shipping lanes! Been getting some rest by hoving-to. I get up every 15 -30 mins 2 look if all is same. Usually is. JUST AROUND THE RIVERR BBEND!"

     By this time I had tacked toward Catalina until I was about five miles away from land (in hindsight I would go further out if I was to do it again).

Then I tacked again towards Point Vicente - hoping that I would clear it but it was at this time (11:00pm) that the wind died again leaving me two miles from shore. In the morning the drift of the tide and waves had brought me in about a mile or so from shore. I was thankful I was far enough out during the night so I wouldn't get too close to shore by morning!

 I hove-to all night (putting the sails in opposite directions so that the wind would just move the boat back and forth or sometimes just in circles). It's kind of like parking out at sea. Sometimes people ask me why I don't just drop the anchor but I explain that the water is so deep out there that I would need close to a thousand feet of line to even anchor at all (the depth being 300 ft or more).

It was as restful as a night as one can expect having to wake up and check for boats and ships every 10 or 15 mins all night. I had gotten used to it by now though. I don't have any bad memories.

In fact I can only remember the fascinating things like watching the oscillating light from Point Vicente shine bright and then disappear for seven or eight seconds as it shined bright in its circle wide path.

Then I remember waking up and seeing a fishing boat coming my way and passing by or a ship in the horizon passing along the shipping lanes - some going north up toward San Francisco and some heading south to Long Beach or San Diego.

I felt a little vulnerable out at sea without much power - except an oar in a real emergency. But at the same time I felt fairly safe too - knowing I was far enough away from the shipping lanes and not really in the way of fishing boats either. So it was a strange feeling of happiness and concern all mixed together!

I really enjoyed the rhythm of it all - the constant movement of the waves against the boat, the silence and solitude. The only sounds were the sounds of the sea and the main sail moving from side to side (windless) with the motion of the waves. The darkness with the slight light of the stars shining from above was also amazing.

I was nearly back. Redondo Beach was 'just around the corner' - so to speak and then after that was Marina Del Rey (about 10 miles off). As soon as the wind came out (in the morning or later tonight) I would be off."

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Sailing Up From San Diego VIII: From Dana Point to Newport Beach.

It was blowing ten to fifteen knots of wind with baby whitecaps and 2 foot waves. It was a nice day and I felt excited to be heading out on another adventure!

I had just left Dana Point. Here's what happened from the beginning:

Having just sailed from Oceanside, I had anchored in Dana Pt.

During the night I had managed to row my dinghy ashore and get my battery charged. The next day, I then hooked it up to the electrical on the boat and sat and waited for the wind to start. It was a nice morning with pelicans flying overhead. The wind usually begins around 10:30 am or so and when it did I pulled up bow and stern anchor and set sail out of the harbor.

I texted my wife the following soon after I left:

Albie: "My route is 170 S for 10 miles (as wind is against me), then 300 -310 N between Catalina and San Pedro, and then to Redondo or Marina Del Rey.

A: Left Dana Pt at 10:30 am. Out at sea now on course. I love you!

Wife: I love you too. Thank you.  Travel safe.  Kids send their love.

A: I love them too! Only text me. Can't get voice mail at sea.

W: Come home to the land.  We miss u.

A: Comin! :-D xxxooo

W: Have fun!"

Out at sea I saw a pod of whales. Every ten seconds I would see another whale shooting out water high into the air. Then black dolphins came.

After an hour or two, I turned north on 310 degrees. I was about 7 or 8 miles out. Visibility was only 5 miles so I could barely make out the land.

After checking my course, plotting my route and doing the math, it seemed that I would get to Point Vicente by 8pm (if I had good winds). Then if I had light winds at night it would take 8 more hours to get to Redondo. It would take me all night and morning to get to MDR.

I was enjoying the trip. But not looking forward to the sleepy parts and the light winds and possible rocking when and if the winds died.

The afternoon sail was pleasant despite the fact that the wind was not exactly favorable.

Pulling in the jib and mainsail tight, I tried to head up as close to the wind as possible. My aim was to head  north - toward Marina Del Rey. But it was almost in vain. The wind was coming directly from the north and I was only able to head north west - and more west than north.

So that meant the only way I could head north was when I tacked north east - toward the shore. This tack allowed me to head more north than east but it also brought me inland.

This would mean it would make passing Point Vicente later on really hard. In order to pass it, I kept having to lose time by heading west instead of north - back out to sea again. So I was plagued by the need to head NORTH AND WEST at the same time but only getting ONE OR THE OTHER. And each time I gained one - I LOST THE OTHER! Oh well, I would just have to enjoy the sail for what it was. At least there was wind!

Eventually, I found myself following a beautiful sailboat ahead of me. it sped up though and disappeared out of sight.

By six pm the winds were already light. I was thinking of anchoring at Newport Beach instead of getting caught in the shipping lanes with no wind.

So much for my plans for reaching Marina Del Rey by morning!

The wind was changing direction and was against me. The jib was luffing a lot with dying winds too.

 I watched for the Newport harbor entrance. The sun was getting lower on the horizon and I looked for the harbor entrance and soon found it. The entrance was still a mile or two away. By the time I got near the harbor, I could see the green and red harbor entrance lights. Sunset was upon me.

As I entered Newport Harbor, I began to study the harbor map. It wasn't long before I realized that the entrance was two miles long.

Without an engine and having to sail against the light inland winds, I made another change of plan. It was going to be a LOT of work just to get in and then anchor. I decided to spend all that work getting home instead of getting into the harbor.

The wind was not favorable toward going north (as it was very light and I could only gain way on a close reach). I headed south west instead out to se a once more.

My wife texted me wondering if I was crazy to leave the safety of the harbor at night and head out. I texted her back letting her basically know all my reasons. I would rather work at getting home since I was going to have to work at one or the other. My wife didn't like it.

It took me a while even to get a mile out of Newport. For sure I wouldn't head north through the shipping lane till a really strong breeze came up.

Eventually I hove-to about 5-10 miles out. All was ok. I could see the fishing vessels out with their bright lights out over the horizon. But I was tired.

I texted my wife again:

A: I am well. Just woke up. I am about 10 miles off Newport. No wind last night except very mild which took me out.

W: Come home.

A: Miss u all.

W: I am sending these text with a fun tone.  We just want u safe.  Have fun. We will see u when u get home.

The next day I awoke to a windless morning. Because of this, though, I was able to see through the mirror-like water and see a ball of silver colored fish swimming around my sailboat! It was absolutely beautiful and amazing at the same time.

I'm not sure what was going on with the weather but it would be the third morning I would experience on this trip where the wind started late. It was also very overcast too which added to the mysterious feeling I was having bobbing around out here at sea.

Finally the wind came up, slowly at first, and blew away the clouds! I was off again - this time for Marina Del Rey!

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles, Part VII: Oceanside to Dana Point

After leaving Oceanside, I sailed the rest of the afternoon toward Dana Point.

 It was late afternoon when I was sailing past San Onefre Nuclear Plant.

I was about a mile or two from shore and the closer to land I got the heavier the kelp got. It started getting really thick all of a sudden and I decided to change tack and head out to sea and get away from the kelp. The kelp must have been good for fishing as I saw a couple fishing boats near the kelp beds.

While I was doing this I was reading a book. I didn't have to worry about steering as I had the tiller on "auto" by using a rope that connected to the tiller extender and then back to the port and starboard cleats - essentially locking the tiller in place. It was easy to keep the boat balanced with the rudder/tiller on a close reach (sails being pulled tight to head up as close to the wind as possible).

Soon sunset came and then darkness. And sailing out here there were hardly any lights from the land and it was really dark! The wind came out too and I was sailing along at a good clip. The waves started getting bigger too and in an hour or two they were four foot high.

Suddenly I happened to notice something swinging loose on the starboard side. I went to investigate by crawling on the cabin top and discovered that the lower shroud had come undone. I was stunned. How had that happened? The bolts that held it in place were not easy to come loose. But it had and I had to deal with it, in the darkness with a strong breeze. 

So with a flashlight in my mouth, two sets of pliers on the moving cabin top (both put in place so they wouldn't fall into the sea) and some miscellaneous parts to help me get the job done, I held on with one hand and tried to work on the shroud with the other.

 It was very difficult and time after time I failed getting the shroud secured. It was a very tight fit and hard to do when the boat was moving and tilted on its side from the power of the wind in the sails. My teeth could not get the flashlight to focus on the right area. I kept failing over and over and was beginning to feel desperate. What would happen if I couldn't do it?

Thankfully the boat was on the other tack. But if I had to tack the boat to the other side the mast would not be secure and could fall!

Finally, with a little creative power, I was able to get it done and get it to be tight too! But it had been a very stressful struggle. 

Hours went by out on the dark sea and finally I saw a lot of lights on land far ahead of me. It might be Newport Beach. That's the only place I could think of that would have that many lights. It would be a while before I was able to get there as it seemed far away. At least the wind was strong and steady.

By 1 am I was getting closer to the lights on shore when I happened to notice a blinking red and green light. I carefully observed how many seconds before the lights came on and realized that they were not traffic lights. They were definitely ocean navigation lights.

Suddenly it dawned on me that this was the harbor entrance to somewhere! I wasn't exactly sure where but maybe it might be Dana Point. I couldn't believe that I had just accidentally seen the harbor entrance lights. I had almost passed on by too!

So I sailed directly toward the lights. Still it was SO dark I couldn't even see the harbor entrance. All I saw was a rocky wall and was sure hoping I wouldn't sail into that!

The closer I got the more I could see the angle I needed to sail at to get into the harbor. It was a little tricky but suddenly the way was obvious and I sailed into the harbor. I called the Harbor Master and asked them where I could dock or anchor. They asked me if I was Albie and being very much surprised, I answered 'yes'. They immediately informed me that my wife was worried about me and was waiting for me at the dock! That was really great news! They then told me I could anchor for four days for free at the southernmost part of the harbor.

I then proceeded to sail up toward the harbor wall to anchor. My first attempt failed and I pulled the anchor back out of the water. I then reattempted it and sailed closer to the sea wall this time. I then dropped the anchor and pulled on it to see if it had caught hold. It had. I was in about twenty foot of water and put out 100 foot of line including the anchor chain. I then dropped the stern anchor too.

I then texted my wife to see exactly where she was. After I found the place where she was, I rowed the little row boat over to it:

Wife: Where is the jetty?

Albie: Let me know when there. I'll row back. I'm on boat waiting 4 u 2 find it. So tired darling.

A: No sweet friend - at the boat launch! Diagonal 2 where u first parked resting waiting 4 me. Where u bring ur boat down to launch. There's parking lot right next to it.

W: K

I then rowed the family out on the dinghy and we all slept on the sailboat that night.
The next day we had fun exploring Dana Point together and playing at the beach. :-)

It would be a couple days before I would set sail again out of Dana Point for Newport Beach and then Marina Del Rey.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles. Part VI Up to Ocean Side!

The wind was up and all seemed well until I got a ways out to sea. From that point it was apparent that the wind was going to continue from the north making it clear to me that I could only sail north west close hauled.

 After a couple hours I got about five miles out and then the wind promptly stopped! 

So much for getting anywhere today. I watched the sun go down and then darkness came on.

 I could do nothing but take the sails down and wait for the wind. But there was nothing but sheer calm all night!

I took notice of all the land sights and lights around me. Tonight I decided to sleep in the V-birth instead of out in the cockpit. Basically the reason for this was because of the dead calm. The ocean waves were pretty flat too.

Throughout the night I would wake myself up every fifteen minutes or so and look out the hatchway above my head to see if any boats or ships were coming my way. Nothing came.

 I could see the fishing boats bright lights however, scattered here and there over the ocean horizon. For some reason this night is etched in my memory but for what reason I am not sure. Not really anything happened!

 But perhaps it was the feeling of being alone at sea overnight without any stress or adventure that I remember.

I reflected back on what we did in San Diego as a family before I left. Basically, here's what happened:

Upon arriving and anchoring in San Diego (Mission Bay), my family had a nice time swimming in the clear water around the boat, making sand castles in the sand and collecting shells.

After taking the dinghy over to the boat or swimming there, we cooked dinner on my boat stove, lit some candles for light and eventually fell asleep on the boat night after night.

On the way down to San Diego, my lower shroud had broken near Catalina Island and I had to fix up a jury rig to help support the mast on the trip. Now during the vacation, I took the time to take the jury rigged Lower Shroud off and attach it to the mast with a real stainless steal 'S' hook. This seemed to really do the job and I was ready again to sail.

So to test it out I took the family sailing around Mission Bay.

 This was a bit of a dream come true as my wife and I had always wanted to sail there.

At one point we were sailing under a bridge across from Sea World and the mast barely cleared the top of the bridge! That was a harrowing experience! We sailed on the calm water all around all the different isles and bays. It was fun!

On our last day we visited Sea World! But I eventually had to sail back up to Los Angeles and left the following day out of Mission Bay. Bringing us back to where I was now.

It had been a nice vacation! I especially liked swimming in the warm teal green water near our boat. So that's what happened in San Diego.

The dark night at sea passed peacefully. I remember the faint glow of the candle I had lit glimmering in the cabin, the occasional flicker of my flashlight on the countertop to get a snack.

Slowly through the night I drifted with the current unawares a couple miles south down toward Point Loma.

In the morning I was not aware I had drifted so far as the landmarks had not changed that much. It was only the visit from the Coast Guard that woke me up to the fact that I was further south than I realized. 

After giving them permission to check my boat for drugs and hideaway people - they promptly believed that I was not hiding anything after I confirmed I had nothing and after checking my drivers license. They then decided not to come aboard.

 Revving up their four huge outboard engines, they took off.

I was then left alone to wait for the wind. And I waited and waited.

Usually the wind picks up around 10 am but not today. I waited while the suns heat beat down upon the boat. Thankfully I could go down into the cabin and open the hatches for ventilation and get some relief from the sun! 

Finally around 1pm the wind came out and I slowly began to sail north past La Jolla.

But it was a slow ride as the wind was not exceptionally strong an I was fighting the current too. What should have taken a couple hours took all day and I was just clearing the San Diego area by nightfall.

Thankfully the wind kept up nicely till 11 pm and even after this there were enough spells of wind to leave the sails up and I very slowly made my way toward Oceanside.

 I just kept on sailing as long as there was wind and by early morning had made my way to the two big smoke stacks near Carlsbad. It took a while to clear them but by morning I could see the Oceanside area. 

I remember the feeling of sailing up the coast that night. The wind was constant but not very strong. Sometimes it seemed like it had completely disappeared but when I looked at the sail it was still full - so there was must have been some wind somewhere! 

By sunrise I was closing in on the harbor. But I couldn't see it. In fact only the landmarks I could identify on the map confirmed I was even at Oceanside. Without the map, I could of been anywhere!

The closer I got though, I started to identify a lot of tall masts rising up. But for some reason I couldn't see the harbor entrance.

The wind came out stronger as the morning progressed and I kept heading closer and closer. The thing that surprised me was how long it took to actually get in. By 11am I finally came in through the rocky harbor entrance! I docked the boat at the harbor patrol extra dock and finally got to get a solid hour of rest!

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Welcome to Sailing with Albie!

I made this blog because I wanted to share my adventures at sea with all of you! Some of you may be wishing they had their own boat or just want to 'get away' even if just at home on the web. So each week I decided to write down my feelings while out at sea and share them with you. If you enjoy them, please feel free to come back here weekly and see what's new. Also please share the blog with your friends and with those who you know like sailing!