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Friday, December 30, 2011

A Birthday Sail

The Malibu mountains are so clear and bright. Every shade and hue of the green canyons and brown ravines ten miles away can be seen. The sky is so majestic and blue as the cirrus clouds float by like feathers. The sun is bright and warm on my skin. The waves are calm but delightful as they play against the bow. And the wind brushes the face of the water like a paint brush. I head out to sea for a couple miles and then see a man paddling a large surf board. 'What's he doing way out here?' I ask. Soon a seal surfaces, gasps for air and passes by. Thirty four sailboats grace the ocean from north to south, their sails full and white against the blue. Thank you God for a most beautiful birthday sail! What's my mission this year? To be filled with Gods Spirit and love.and help others. Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sailing in a Furious Rain Storm!


“What are you doing going out in this? I’m freezing!” A man cried out to me from a racing sailboat passing by. I didn't realize sailing in rain and bad weather was part of the sport! I just smiled and waved back. I wanted to say how warm I was with three jackets on, two hats and a scarf and gloves. But I didn’t. Still the rain was coming down in buckets and the wind was out with a vengeance. The boat was heeled over a great deal as the boat sped on through the pelting rain. The racers huge genoa sail was up in this gusting wind and I could hardly believe it. Talk about pushing it to the limit! I could just imagine that big mast of theirs breaking under the enormous strain of the wind.

I could hardly see with all the rain and cold wind in my face. The hatches were all firmly closed and Buttercup (my cute golden Labrador) was snuggled up all warm on the v-birth. I thought about that: "all nice and warm in the midst of the storm. Wow, must be nice!", I thought. I'm not sure If I was jealous or just happy for her as I was still enjoying the fight against the storm. As for me, I instead decided to finally brave the elements head on and go out to the bow and take the sail down. Climbing up out of the protection of the cockpit and onto the cabin top, the full fury now hit me. Rain was everywhere, and the wind gusting so hard you could hear it go by. Every second counted. If I didn't get it done and out of there soon I would be completely drenched. So quickly I put up the smaller jib and could feel the lessening of pressure on the boat almost immediately.

In a while I came to the breakwater. There I suddenly noticed the stream that flowed from the land was aggressively flowing in the face of the waves - those coming in from the sea. It was actually causing a cross sea as the apposing waves hit each other. I thought nothing of it as I headed out until it dawned on me that the current from the river was coming in VERY strong and was about to push me onto the rocks. If I didn't do something smart immediately, I would only have a few more minutes before the unevitable! With all my effort I headed the boat directly against the flow and on a close reach I was able to gain ground against the deluge of water, leaves and branches. I'm so glad I knew little tricks of using the wind to my advantage. If I hadn't had the experience, it would have been lights out for my boat!

Finally getting out to sea, I found the wind had decreased a notch and had to go back out to the bow and put up the bigger genoa sail. 'Not again!' I thought. But the wind was playing with me, for after having just got the sail up and then the wind started increasing once more! Looking over the starboard side of the boat, I could see the northern mountains with dark storm clouds and mist hovering there. I realized then how the low of the storm was now in the east as the counter clockwise winds were now gusting from the north. I have to say that sailing into its teeth with the rain coming down again was very exciting! But soon I couldn’t even face the cold wind any more. I hid from it behind the cabin hatches and from behind a waterproof blanket. My gloves were now soaking with wetness and two of the three jackets I had on were soggy. So I changed out of these, put on new gloves and then poured some hot water from the thermos into a packet of hot chocolate that was now in my cup. Man alive, I felt better after drinking that! The warm clothes and gloves helped me come back to life too.

About a mile and half from shore, I tacked back and forth and eventually made it to the northern entrance of Marina Del Rey. As I came back in the harbor from out at sea, the storm was beginning to break up and the setting sun was even starting to show through the clouds. The sight was surreal and breathtaking! I took some pictures of it as fast as I could so that the drizzling rain (that still was coming down) would not ruin my camera phone. Soon the sunset was gone it was dark. Looking at the stern of the boat and the navigation lights were not on. I quickly checked below and of all things I noticed my battery had a bad connection. I looked over the port side and then noticed a big party boat coming my way! Wow, what timing. I began to lose my nerve a little but then took a big breath and got out my emergency lantern. Lighting it with a match, it then came on with a warm glow. I was then able to fiddle with the battery connectors and get the lights working again. Now they could see me and I was able to make it out of the way of the boat! Shortly afterwards my boat slid back into my slip on a fast beam reach. I was happy to get the sails down and go in the cabin and get warm again. Buttercup was happy to see me too!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sailing in Circles and The Christmas Boat Parade!

On this beautiful sunny morning Victor and I went out sailing! The wind was steady and the waves were gentle and calm. We enjoyed talking and eating. And then Victor seemed to be having fun steering the boat into rocks and sand bogs! (Just kidding!). No but really, he did great steering the boat in circles and then into the harbor. And he didn't even get sea sick! I'm so proud of him. Afterwards we took Buttercup, my dog, for a walk and learned that something special was happening after sundown. Victor had to get home but I stayed to see what was going on.

Later, I heard fireworks going off. Then I realized the Marina Del Rey Christmas Boat Parade was tonight! So I put my life jacket on, grabbed my flashlight and Buttercup and I kayaked out to see the parade boats pass by. They were all lit up so beautifully for Christmas with singers and dancers and people yelling 'Merry Christmas'! I found my friend Alecia and her family Shayna and Nathaniel, happily watching the parade. She was on her friend Rick's boat and invited me to hang out with them for a while! We waved and clapped as the boats went by and took pictures. She shared a Dr Pepper with me while I let Buttercup jump out of the kayak onto the dock to stretch her legs. We had a great time talking! Then Buttercup and I got back in and kayaked around the marina past parked boats with hundreds of people watching and cheering as we passed by. Everybody thought Buttercup and I were part of the parade and yelled funny things at us. One lady cried, 'keep working it!'
It gave me a natural high going past all the cheering people with my 'reindeer of a dog'! But after a while I realized I was going to have to kayak around the whole parade route or else zip real quick through the middle and back. So, staying close to the brightly lit boats, I used them as 'cover' and then made my break across. My double paddle dug deep into the cold water making the kayak plow through even faster than the big boats en route. That was fun - something I think everybody should try!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Ana Gusts at Sea!

Tonight, I was just sailing along when a wall of wind hit the boat, pulling it over on its side. Everything that wasn't secure inside the cabin went flying all over the floor. What a rumpus and racket it made! Buttercup (my wonderful golden Labrador)and I went super fast through the waves as the gusts pulled the starboard side of the boat down toward the waters edge. Wow! How exciting! It was gusting so hard though, that I began to wonder how much pressure the big genoa sail could take? I was beginning to wonder if taking it down and replacing it with the smaller sail might be a better idea. Waiting five minutes or so is usually a good idea, so I did and just used the 'fishermans reef' temporarily - letting wind spill out of the sails to keep the boat at a safe angle. I was glad I waited, for the gusts declined in intensity and I was able to get back to the harbor safely. One more problem arose - that of my battery. So without navigation lights I made make shift red and green port/starboard lights from a see-through green and red cup and put flashlights inside. Then I arranged them on the correct side of the boat and what do you know! They worked great! All in all a very interesting night sail.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How to Scare Your Socks off! ***Sailing in Storms, Sailing without an Engine, & Night Sailing***

One Saturday afternoon after a nice sailing trip, a friend said to me, "What can be so exciting to write about on your sailing blog?"

Ok, that's a fair question! I mean, its definitely not Cape Horn with 40 knot winds almost every day and thirty foot waves - right! To the ordinary sailor in Southern California, we get good weather most of the year and if your like most, you plan your weekend to go sailing in the afternoon when the wind is usually fresh and there's plenty of light. And that's usually fun! But due to some unusual circumstances and some really bad luck, I found the key to high adventure - right out of my harbor! So this evening, as the sun was going down over the water and the wind was pushing my sails firmly to port, I recognized what those things were and thought you might enjoy knowing what they were - even if you wouldn't want to copy them!

So these are the very distinct keys to high adventure in your own local waters:

1) First, if your looking to increase your odds at finding adventure, sail at least once a week at night. A night sail will increase your odds for adventure at least ten percent. I mean, here's a good example. Tonight I did not really have any weather problems, the wind was steady and the waves were normal. As I was sailing back towards the harbor from out at sea, suddenly I was frightened out of my mind by what sounded like a lady crying out in pain or my dog being run over by the boat! It honestly sounded a little different than a human voice but nonetheless freaked me out! Thankfully it was neither as I was alone and my dog was safe and happily sleeping in the V-birth. But here's the question. What WAS it? All I can guess was that I must have scared a sea gull or a seal. I'm also pretty sure there was no one swimming there too! They would have been sure to of seen my navigation lights or yelled out for help. Okay, so would that have happened it I hadn't gone out at night? I think not. I guess its not exactly a positive thing to happen for the seal or bird but it sure was weird! I've gone out at night for three years and never had anything like that happen. Birds and seals are usually very aware of what's happening - much more than you or I. So I'm still honestly unsure of what it was. But it was a tiny adventure non the less. And this brings me to my second insight.

2) Second, do NOT use your engine for any reason except for emergencies. This alone will take ten years off your life! But after you get good at it, watch out because it gets exciting and it has its benefits. For one you are forced to become a much better sailor.

3) Third, sail each and every week in whatever weather may come your way; ie...calms, storms and what may. After a year of this, you will have some hair raising stories! Just be really careful, as you will no doubt have some adventures you may not want.

Okay, now that we're clear on the basics, let me give some instructions before you go for it. When sailing at night, always make sure you have navigation lights and a couple flashlights handy, an extra lantern and a fog horn. After escaping being run down by big party boats many times, I'm glad to tell you one of these will help save your life! One night I put out my lantern, flashed my lights, turned the boat so my navigation lights were obvious and the party boat still didn't see me! So I finally blew the fog horn a couple times and that worked! Thank you God!

Now if the fog horn did not work I could have gone on my VHS radio and hailed the boat on channel 16 and then used my oars to seriously get out of there! I know, yes you would have put on your engine by that time. But you would have never learned that rowing a twenty foot boat and larger is actually possible and will get you somewhere if you're persistent. Really when you think about it, I would never had that problem if I was using my engine in the first place and wasn't sailing at night. Its true that a temporary calm put my sails out of action and slowed me down to almost a standstill. So you say, how fun is that? What can be learned by such foolishness? Well, I'll tell you. One of the first things I learned after losing my engine, was that the wind becomes fickle after sunset. It sometimes takes half an hour to an hour for it to come back - but it usually does. After this, you have a couple hours before the GREAT CALM happens. So this means that if your not using your engine - make sure you get back before then! Now how did I learn this lesson? By sitting patiently for endless hours without wind is how! So you must be thinking, 'isn't it just better to learn from your mistakes? Now that I know this, I can still use my engine - right? Well, not if you want to learn how to sail in very light winds and how to save your life if your engine DOES ever happen to fail. I'll tell you, one year on a nice evening, the wind started kicking in and gusting and I did what every normal sailor does and took down my sails after getting safely into the harbor. My engine then proceeded to die and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. So what to do now with the wind gusting twenty knots down the channel and with the inevitable just waiting to happen! I needed to figure something out fast! Well I tried raising my sails, but I couldn't get into the wind like I wanted and with the gusting winds, the mainsail just got stuck. So did the jib. You'll be happy to know that even with the mainsail three quarters up and the jib only up partially, I was able to crawl away from hitting the docked boats and get back to my slip. But it was scary and REALLY stressful! Now from plenty of practice, I know how to sail into my slip even in a storm and using an engine is just one more plus.
One more thing about night sailing: Know the 'Red Right Returning rule and your buoy and harbor entrance lights. I'd say its pretty important to know coastal navigation too. But for sure its MANDATORY to go out with someone who knows what they're doing first, as its really easy to get lost at sea at night and not know where the harbor is. And sailing in fog is a whole different monster.

Now about going out in storms, my first advice after having been in several of them is to carry storm sails. A storm jib is a good beginning. Second, have safety harnesses available to clip into when it gets rough. Attach a safety line from the bow to the stern in which to clip the harness onto. Third have a good boat with a good keel. Have safety lines running around it from bow to stern and learn all you can about heavy weather sailing from books and video's before you do. My final suggestion is to go one step at a time and if you get scared - really scared, turn back. Of course it's good advice to have someone go with you who knows what they're doing - but good luck finding them!

Now if you're seriously reading this and are going to do what I said, than you are definitely crazy! I only do it because I love sailing at night, I lost my engine in a big storm and I want to be ready and know what to do when the worst happens. If this article really challenges you to try these things please realize that you are at your own risk and that it can be dangerous. Just read some of my stories - you will see! To tell the truth, I learned all I have (which is not much compared to some) by lots of mistakes. IT'S THE MISTAKES THAT TEACH YOU BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE! Hopefully you will go slow, do your homework and ask advice (please, please email me too) and don't make the real costly mistakes!

So these are the three ingredients to making yourself a real adventuresome soup. If sailing in storms and without an engine are too much, try just sailing at night! There's nothing like it! The sea is so dark and mysterious - that alone will scare your socks off the first few times! I remember having this fearful feeling that after having just gone a little too far out to sea, and the boat would just sink. The keel would find a way to come off or something bad would happen! Exactly my point. When you come back and all is well, you'll thank me for a real level one adventure!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Fake Million Dollars and the Sea!

Today Joe got to come sailing with me! It was supposed to be wild weather and a small craft advisory again. But when we left, little did we know that it had blown itself out. But the rain had not left. Closing the hatches we put on our warm jackets with hoods and weathered the sporadic downpours. The wind still seemed to be strange enough to have the storm behind it as it was blowing midday right from the east - which it never does! It blew us right down the first channel without having to tack once. That was a nice treat! Then the wind clocked around to the north. And then when we got out to sea, it changed again to the south and then to the south west and then to a complete calm!

Joe and I sat out at sea for a whole hour with a very light breeze and just talked. 'X Box Live' and the 'Assassin' video game became the topic of conversation. And then we had our first fake million dollar bet (with interest of one penny). I bet Joe the wind would come out at 6:10 pm and Joe bet me it would come out at 6:05. We were both wrong as we sat and watched the flat calm. So then we tried again. This time Joe said 6:20pm and I said 6:18. Again the wind did not come. So I changed mine to 6:30 and Joe's to 6:35. At 6:30 on the dot, the wind switched again to the north and I won the fake million dollars and one penny! We came cruising in over a flat sea with the wind blowing firmly on a close reach. Meanwhile Joe suggested that our original X Box was not being sold anymore by stores and was worth $700. I told him this was a great insight but that we would probably get no more than $100 or less for it. So we took the fake million dollar bet again. We have still to find out who's the winner! Once inside the breakwater, the wind faded almost out again - leaving just enough pressure to take us a quarter of the way in. So we again took a bet on the wind and then had some hot chocolate to pass the time away and warm up. Mmmm! It tasted good and the cup was warm on our hands. Being out there in the water with my son going through crazy windless circumstances, drinking hot chocolate on a cold rainy night was really fun!

We then got the opportunity to row together until the next breeze blew up. The breezes did eventually come and that helped. Rowing was fun at first until it got old (an hour later!) Now Joe was getting tired and wanted to just be home. Someone actually was nice enough to offer pulling us in but at the very moment they offered, the wind sprung up again and I declined the invitation. Tacking twice and with some more rowing after that, we finally got home two hours past our ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival). So we had been out to sea for 6 hours instead of 4. Joe was at first happy to be back - until it hit him that he had truly and unforgettably dropped his cell phone that afternoon in the sea and there was no way of getting it back. I asked him if he would like to write something for my sailing blog and he replied that he was just sad! Okay Joe. I understand. I lost my cell phone in the ocean too and it was definitely not fun. Lost pictures, phone numbers, etc...you know how it is! 'Like father, like son!'

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fear of the Storm

There would be no mistaking those huge monster waves!' I said looking out to sea. Dark silhouettes would form along the horizon confirming the wave height. I wasn't seeing any. The darkness of night didn't help either and made it difficult to make certain. I remember a night like this about a year ago. Coming out of the breakwater, I looked along the edge of the sea and saw these massive forms of water suddenly break out of the dark horizon. Those were the big cresting waves crashing forward with white water as they moved speedily ahead. But I wasn't seeing that tonight. I also looked for white caps too but there was none. The wind wasn't blowing hard enough yet. The weather report had said the wave height was five to seven feet tonigh! And the wind report had been for at least 20 - 30 MPH winds and gusts. Could I be so deceived? Surely I wasn't wrong. So I steered my Columbia 22 cautiously out into the waves. A couple minutes out. Not getting that 'big wave' sensation. But there was something. What was it? I looked up at the next wave coming my way. It was deceptively bigger than it looked! 'Must be five or six feet!' I thought. There also was a significant valley below the wave too, which confirmed my suspicions. The wave wasn't breaking and the intervals between it was long - which took the fury out of it. Still it was definitely bigger than the average and I would need to keep my eye on these.

I tacked the boat to the northwest on a close reach and suddenly I caught a lot of speed. 'This is amazing!' I thought watching how the boat tore through the wave, cutting white water as it went. And yet because of the waves size, it almost seem to squirm up to the top! A very strange feeling! The sailboat must not have had as much wind at the bottom of the trough but as it made its way up, it was hit full on by the increasing wind. Then it would suddenly lean heavy into it giving it this 'squirming' like feeling. It was fun! I crawled out over the deck and knelt at the bow watching the boat approach each new wave. Yes, the swells were definitely bigger than they at first appeared. Suddenly the boat began to heel heavily and I held on tight to the safety rope so I wouldn't fall off into the sea! 'Man alive, we were going fast!' The wind was gaining power before my eyes. 'I better get back to the cockpit.' I thought. 'If anything goes wrong...'
Quickly I exited the safety rope and held on to the bottom of the boom as I jumped down into the cockpit. Taking the tiller in my hand, I turned the yacht downwind a bit and steered it from going so fast. It sure wasn't a storm yet but the sailing was incredible!

I tacked into the headwinds, going out to sea in a northwest direction. The ocean was very dark and foreboding. I had seen it this way many times before and calmed my spirit with the assurance of experience. Nevertheless, its important to remember that just when you think you can handle the sea, the sea can turn it up to the next level on you. This thought always keeps me humble. The wind would just have to increase to 20 MPH and the game rules would change. Right now it must be blowing 8 - 10 - so not so bad. I had my small storm sail all set up and ready to hoist in case things changed too. As it was, my little jib was up right now - but things would have to get a lot worse before I raised the storm sail. Nevertheless, it was true. I was flying along this fast with my small jib. It was after 9pm too. 'Hmmm. Warning signal.' Usually the wind calms at this time - but the wind was just getting stronger. I got a ways out to sea and was greatly enjoying the ride. But I wasn't going to be foolish tonight and either wait for the storm to really hit or for the winds to die. So I tacked back. On this reach, I was close hauled heading directly for the red beacon signal, with the big waves thrusting the sailboat forward with every interval. Nothing seemed to be boring tonight. It just kept getting better and better. I had to keep a watchful eye out because at anytime it could cross the line from 'better' to crazy. Ok, at least I was ready.
And within half an hour the 'crazy' began. Out of control gusts and this 'howling' noise in my ears. Thankfully I was nearing my slip by this time. 'What's concerning me is the angle of the wind! It's coming out of the north east and very hard. Because I don't have an engine, I use the sails all the way into my dock. And I usually ease out my sail as I come in to slow the boat down. But that's not going to work tonight! What to do? I'll have to take the main sail down just before I turn the corner to the dock!' I said trying to figure out how to take it down that fast and safely so I wouldn't crash into the half million dollar boats that would be nearby.
Ten minutes later when the time came to really take the main sail down, I knew I would literally only have 20 seconds to make this work. So I headed upwind into the gusting wind, jumped up on deck and tried to drop the wildly beating sail. I pulled down on it with all my might - just hoping against hope it wouldn't get snagged! It didn't. The wind was now pushing the boat fast sideways and in less than a minute would have me bumping into a docked sailboat. So I turned the boat 180 degrees and entered the last small 'finger channel' where my dock was. I came in to the slip - going super fast as if demons were on my heals! Unclipping the lifelines, I jumped out onto the wooden platform and ran with all my speed to the end so I could slow the bow of the boat down. As it approached the wooden dock, I was just able to stop it from hitting! Imagine how fast I would have come in if I hadn't taken my main sail down? With my main sail up and the wind pushing directly behind, it wouldn't have been pretty!

Albion

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Get Away and Enjoy Some Sailing Adventures!

Welcome to Sailing with Me!
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 dedided 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 wih your friends and with those who you know like sailing!

This week check out my new post: Sailing Adventures And One Million Other Thoughts!

Sailing Adventures And One Million Other Thoughts!

It is odd. My first introduction to sailing was through a book about Transatlantic sailing. I was heavily interested in historical tall ships and pirates and used to read an amazing amount of books on the subject. When I was a kid, one of my favorite topics to draw were sailing pictures! Even today I have yet to master some of the angles when drawing a boat. Which is why I take lots of pictures on my camera phone and draw from these!

Ok, so back to the story. One day I took out of the library a book about a sailboat. I said to myself: 'well if I can get into tall ships, maybe I can get into sailboats too!' Well that was just the beginning of my fascination with sailing. After reading a most amazing story of a man who sailed the Atlantic with his friends and family, I was hooked. I couldn't stop reading more and more books! I also would learn more about the sport of sailing after I ordered the magazine 'Sailing World'. I would enjoy looking at the beautiful sailboats inside its pages and the exciting articles.
I didn't slow down reading all these books and magazines until I finally took my own sailing lessons in Marina Del Rey, California.

When first wanting to learn how to sail, I went to a sailing school. We leaned how to sail on the water - in the marina and out at sea. We learned sailing terms, how to read the nautical map and how to take the boat in and out of a slip. After the basic classes were over, I even took a class in bareboat cruising and coastal navigation in which we sailed to Catalina island. I learned a lot from that class! All in all I highly advise going to a sailing school and taking sailing lessons as this will greatly improve your understanding. It amazes me when I see some people in their boats how they don't know the rules and do all kinds of crazy things they shouldn't be doing. One afternoon I saw a small power boat motoring right down the channel reserved for sailboats. I was so mad at him! I realize the bigger party boats need to use the sailing area (as they are just a size smaller than a ship and need all the draft they can get). But the regular size power boats should use the going out and coming in lanes assigned to them. But if you don't take sailing classes and learn sailing, than I can see how its very possible you will have no idea what to do! There really are few signs posted. You see, you don't actually have to have a 'sailing license', so to speak. Getting a license to sail, kind of like getting a license to drive, as far as I am aware, doesn't exist. I think you only need your regular drivers license to get insurance for your boat. Still, after having sailed around with crazy boat drivers and hearing stories of horrendous accidents, even though you don't have to have a license, I would highly recommend taking them! The sea is not one to play around with! To give an example, one time while at Catalina Island a skipper anchored his boat and went to Avalon to have some fun. When he returned, his boat was gone! He obviously didn't know how to anchor properly and how to give the anchor the proper anchor scope. So the sea took his boat and I believe it was days before the coast guard finally found it!

Okay, so with that in mind, my experience has still taught me that after taking some lessons, the next best thing to do is to own your own boat. There is no better way to learn how to sail than by this. Even if its just a small boat. With a small boat you can learn some of the basics even better! And you need your own boat so that no one is looking over your shoulder telling you what to do. You need to be able to make your own decisions and be able to make your own mistakes. Hopefully you will have learned how to avoid the really serious mistakes from the sailing lessons!

Well after taking lessons, I finally found a boat I could afford. For one hundred dollars I found myself a nice sunfish boat. I began to sail this everywhere. Lakes, rivers, marshes and then even out in the ocean. After finally turning this boat into an outrigger boat with hopes of sailing to Ana Cappa island, I sailed it on a test run out of Redondo Beach. Realizing I had hardly any ability to come up wind with it, I gave up that endeavor. But I did at last sail it somewhere really interesting. One Christmas night I even sailed it onto our roof, me disguised as Santa Clause. That gave the kids something to talk about!

But as for the boat, it finally was getting old and after over use it finally started falling apart in our back yard. After this I bought my own catamaran and took this everywhere too (except this I hooked on to our trailer). Catamaran sailing is an art in itself and I had to read a book about it before sailing it. Out on the water, it was a really fun boat to sail. But it took me a while to figure it all out!

I used to also own my own dinghy. Dinghy sailing is fun if you have a good boat. My dinghy on the contrary, was needing repair on the fiberglass and had no mast, sails or rudder. Me, being the creative person I am, found parts to make do for all it lacked. In the end I learned some incredible sailing lessons but didn't have as much fun as I was hoping!

Sailing boats For Sale!

Finally I bought myself a real twenty two foot sailboat! This I found for sale on www.craigslist.com where I found the owner Bill who wanted to sell his boat for a great price. There are so many sailing yachts down here at Marina Del Rey. I know that many of them range from a couple thousand all the way up to half a million dollars and above. Some of the yachts here are so beautiful to see as I sail by. I have a habit of always looking at the names of the boats as I pass along. Some of the names are so creative!

My friends have owned Catalina 22's and they are great looking boats. I especially like the hatch tops that pop up into a shady like roof for you! One day some visitors came by my dock and told me that they could identify my 22 foot boat by the markings on my sail. They said every boat had the length of the boat on their sails. So for instance, a Catalina 22 sails would have the markings 22 right on them. So, I'm guessing that if you were sailing and had some binoculars, you could see the numbers right there on the sails and know what size the boat is! So in conclusion, whatever the reason is that I ended up with a Columbia 22 instead of a Catalina 22 is a mystery to me. Catalina's are a nicer looking boat. But I believe the Columbia 22's are stronger. Well they should be as I've heard they are blue water rated. And this is probably one reason why I'm still alive after 20 foot waves and two handfuls of gales. So I really have grown to love my boat, but I still think the Catalina 22's are better looking. And that pop up roof is so cool!


Now that I own my boat, comes the job of paying for it monthly! Which takes me to trying to make my slip fee cost effective. As nice is it is to have your boat in the marina near other nice boats, it still costs money. You see, I have to pay quite a bit each month for my slip fee. I've looked for sailing jobs before in hopes of perhaps helping to reduce this cost but have never found anything that would work for me. That is one of the reasons I decided to go after my captains license. I found out that if I do a minimum of four hours each time I went sailing and record my hours, I could get my captains license one day and perhaps people would pay me to take them sailing. Which would help me pay for my slip fee too! So far I have 230 days recorded but still need a total of 360. I'm hoping that when I have this (and after I take the test), I will be able to either get a part time job teaching sailing or be able to have my own sailing school!

A Story about a Storm and Sewing!

I know this sounds crazy but I have greatly enjoyed repairing my own sailboat sails and watch them endure high winds and still stay together! My own story began after I went through an awful gale just off of Catalina in the spring. Coming through 40 knot winds (more than 40MPH)and 20 foot waves, put my Columbia 22 sailboat through unbelievable stress. I'm still not sure how she made it through, but am wildly thankful to my friend Brad, my boat and to God who helped us get through safely! Your probably wondering what this has to do with my sails, so I'll tell you! After that storm, I had my first inch rip across my main sail. I put some white duck tape across it and forgot about it! Imagine my surprise when another storm ripped a two foot 'Z shape' in it! That storm was not quite as bad as the other - having only ten foot waves this time (but then again they might have been bigger waves a little further out to sea). As it was, I was just outside of Marina Del Rey when this happened and was able to get back safely into the harbor. But the rip had devastating effects on being able to control the boat back into my slip. With the heavy winds I was not able to tighten it up enough to make a close reach up wind and get in. Thus I ended up drifting down by someone else's boat who so generously volunteered to tow me into my slip! Thank you Rob!
After this I was forced to either buy a whole new main sail or learn how to repair my own. Since I didn't have the money, I used the heavy thread and sticher my friend had so generously given me. Two years later and more small craft advisories than you can shake a stick at and that sail is still in good shape! That was only the beginning. Another gale ripped my jib in half. I ended up mending that too and half a dozen other small sail rips as well! If you want to know my half crazy method that worked so well on these sails, please just leave me your email and I will share it with you!

After that I took up sewing some of my favorite sailing clothes too! When I go out sailing with my friends on their boats, I often see them wearing nice sailing apparel. I tend to see quite a few things from the West Marine store. Ok, I've bought a bunch of things there myself. Having really nice sailing apparel is fun when you go out sailing with your friends. But when I am alone, the most enjoyable apparel in my estimation, are the clothes and jackets that you have personally sewed back to life!

Which makes me think of my sailing flags! I have had a few sailing flags of my own since I've owned my own boat. And I've enjoyed them all. My first flag was a black pirate flag which I thought was great fun! I flew that flag everywhere including through many gales and storms. A year and a half later that flag looked like a real authentic pirate owned it; as it was so tattered and worn away you could barely see the skull and crossbones anymore!
My next flag was the sailing code 'A' flag. Of course it doesn't look like an A. It is blue and white. This flag my wife bought for me on my birthday as it was the 'A' flag for my name 'Albie'. Another year of sailing put that flag in the tattered category too. By that time my sewing skills had improved and I was just getting ready to sew the hem back to life, when a friend I took out sailing was an expert at sewing and did an amazing job repairing it. Nevertheless, after some 'small craft advisories' (just a step down from a gale) and more high winds, it too came to a place where a whole do-over was essential. For this my mother stepped up to the plate and is still looking for the right material to replace half the flag with!

Thinking of Sailing Vacations.

I've always wanted to go to the Caribbean, Greece or the Netherlands, but its always been too expensive. Sailing Caribbean islands has especially been my dream too as I have heard so many beautiful and half wild stories of that region. The beautiful beaches, the warm weather and crystal blue waters are another attractive reason. For two and a half years I lived in Pensacola, Florida - which is on the Carribean side of the state. The white sandy beaches there were truly an amazing sight to behold! I have never seen anything like it in all my travels around the United States. Perhaps one day I will start saving up to go on a sailing cruise and see the places I have always longed to see. Such areas as Jamaica, Tortuga, Haiti, The Bahamas, the isles of the Lessor Antilles and Cartegena are just a few.

Until that time when I am able to either save more money or make more, I will be content sailing to Catalina and San Diego! I took a sailing trip to San Diego one summer. It took me three days to sail down there. This is without an engine and after a broken shroud and a night stay over in Two Harbor, Catalina island. Yet when I got down there, my most treasured memories of San Diego sailing is the cruising in and around Mission Bay! I loved anchoring there and swimming ashore in the clear water. Sailing around the little islands in the bay was so much fun too! My wife loved sailing there as well - and she is NOT a sailor. Going under bridges and seeing the fireworks at night from Sea World were other beautiful reasons we liked it there.
Not all my experiences sailing in San Diego were perfect, however. After losing my wind just a mile out of Mission Bay and accidentally getting pulled into the kelp bed that night were not my highlights. But that's the risks you take without having a engine! I also made the error of mistaking the Mission Bay entrance for a small beach and got nailed by a huge wave too near the shore! In hindsight it was fun to think about. But I wouldn't want to do it again!
Sailing along La Jolla was also very enjoyable. I also love to just sit back and watch the sailboats at SeaPort Village, in San Diego Harbor. As far as sailing goes, I have sailed in San Diego Harbor a few times. My first time was aboard 'The Californian'. This is a sailing tall ship that you can often find in Sand Diego. In the bay, we fired cannons out into the harbor. We then proceeded to sail to Catalina. Another time sailing in the San Diego harbor involved going to see the Coast Guard and giving them our papers on a return trip from Mexico!

The trip to Ensenada was fun! But that was with a
sailing crew. This crew I joined from searching web sights on the Ensenada race. I payed for my food and then I was able to join! Nevertheless, most crews participate in local races. And if looking online for a sailing crew doesn't get you anywhere than you should try joining a yacht club or sailing club and make friends with as many people as you can. See if you can join one of their crews. If this doesn't work, than owning your own sailing yacht and finding your own friends to crew, would be the next best option. But being part of the yacht club is important still so that you can be part of the races.

Sailing Terms:

Here are some real basic sailing terms that you might see on my blog: Port (left side of boat when facing forward to bow), Starboard (right side of boat when facing forward to bow), Tack (turning the sailboat and changing position of sail), Coming About (turning the boat by way of coming into the wind), Jibe (turning the boat by way of turning away from the wind) Bow (Front of boat), Stern (Back of boat), Halyard (rope or line that brings sail up to top of mast), jib line (rope that controls either the starboard or port side of jib sail - depending), Boom (wooden or metal bar that swings from mast that has main sail attached to it), Main Sheet (rope that controls the boom and the main sail), Helm (the tiller or steering wheel that controls the boat). Slip (personal dock where your boat is assigned). Close reach (sailing as close to the wind as possible) beam reach (sailing with the wind at a 90 degrees to the sail), Running (sailing with the wind blowing on your sails from behind you and the boat). Shrouds (metal wire like rope that hold up the mast; one in back and one in front and two on each side of the mast).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SailingWithMe!: Fog of Death!

SailingWithMe!: Fog of Death!: "How was it out there?" I yelled as I was leaving. "Nothing but fog! I hope you have some extra batteries for your GPS!" Maury shouted bac...

Fog of Death!

"How was it out there?" I yelled as I was leaving.

"Nothing but fog! I hope you have some extra batteries for your GPS!" Maury shouted back.

I wasn't concerned. My cell phone had a GPS and it was charged. And anyway who needs a GPS when you have a map and a compass? I thought. So I waved goodbye and pressed on. Leaving my slip behind, I glided out into fair winds down the channel. It was a pretty foggy day but that didn't bother me as I had sailed in fog before. Out in the main channel I could see how much visibility there was. Not much. About an eighth of a mile. Tacking again on the north side, I could see one speed buoy behind me, one buoy next to me and one in front of me - that was it. After that it was pure white mist. Leaving the breakwater behind me I headed out to sea. Here the fog created its own weird sensation. It didn't even seem like you could see an eight of a mile because there really is nothing to see out there. Soon the fishing boat and the breakwater were completely gone from sight and yet they were not that far away. All I could see now was a little circle of ocean. This was my whole world. I had still my inner sense where the breakwater had been but that was it. Now the only way I knew where I was, was by looking at my compass.

"I had better keep really good records of where I am and get out my map and navigation things." I thought. So I laid them out before me on my seat in the cockpit - instead of in the cabin as I usually did. 'I would need them constantly today. My heading is 180 South.' Yet the boat was determined to head 150 instead. I brought her up into the wind as much as I could and found if I stayed constant on the tiller I could maintain 180. Looking at the map and compass rose, I could see that 150 SE, would end me up on the beach eventually. Taking down the time, 5:40 pm, I then saw something red out in the water. At first thinking it was a life jacket, I aimed the boat at it. 'I could always use another life jacket, an by the looks of it, it appears new!' I then blew my foghorn like I was supposed to every minute or so and headed up towards it. Suddenly another boat came down out of the mist heading my way. But he was not on a crash course as he must have heard my horn and saw me as he went by. The lifejacket floating on the water turned out to be just a real shiny red balloon! So I left it. After sailing for 45 minutes, the winds strength seemed to ease a little. I was not completely sure of this as the sails still remained full, and the feeling of the wind was the same on my face. It was just one of those gut feelings you get. So I tacked the boat around on a reciprocal route back. All seemed fine. On the map the opposite route to 180 was 0 degrees and I knew that sea drift and some inaccuracy would need me to steer more to 10 degrees north. So I did and gave myself a test to see if I could get back to the marina without using my GPS. "After all, even if I got it a little wrong I would hear the breakers on the shore and go up or down the coast to find the entrance." So I wasn't too worried.

By now it was 6:13 pm and I
knew sunset would be at 6:30 giving me just till 7:00pm to get back before total darkness. What I didn't remember was that sunset had changed since I last looked and that it was probably setting around the very time I was thinking all of this! Of course the fog made it impossible to see any sunset or give me any clues at all. So I wrote in my log all these thoughts including my estimated time of arrival to be at 7:00pm. By 6:30 I noticed I was loosing light. At this indication I realized I had better use my GPS as the possibility of losing wind after sunset was real. 'Better to use it and get home than be an idiot just to pass my own test.' I figured.

At 6:45 pm it was completely dark and the wind had definitely lightened considerably. By 7:00pm there was no wind at all and I was freaking out! Not that I was scared of being at sea in the dark. I did that weekly. But it was being out in the dark with no sight of any lights to guide you and with no wind and only a compass reading to go by. 'I must be somewhat near the breakwater.' I thought as it was close to my Time of Arrival. The waves were now very bumpy without the power of the wind in the sails to drive through them. The sails whipped back and forth from the motion - making it all very irritating! My GPS reading put me past Dockwhiler Beach but not quite at the Marina. In fact, when I looked at it carefully, my reading put me a little closer to the beach than I was wanting! All I could think of now was what if the wind died for good? I consoled myself that this rarely ever happened at this time of night. Another fear was what if this was really it and I was finally doomed to crashing my boat on the rocks? Hearing the breakers on the beach just added to my suspicions as I immediately tacked back out to sea. If I could just find the green or red harbor lights - all would be well! I kept getting this longing to just be back in my slip, safely resting. I was really tired too. All this work was really getting to me. I kept telling God to please send some wind and that I really did believe He could do it. And then it occurred to me that God had let me watch a video clip just a couple days ago about navigating through blind areas and trusting the instruments. Seriously, if it had not been for the video I had seen, I really would have thought my compass was all goofed up (as it kept telling me readings that were totally wild. It would say I was going east when I had just turned the boat north only a minute ago!) The video had said people had died because they didn't trust them. So tonight I decided to trust them - even if it made me crazy!

So after tacking back out to sea, the only wind I could get (and it was debatable whether you could really call it wind!) was on a close reach back the way I had come! Still it was better than beaching the boat on the shore. Having a thousand pound keel that went 3-4 feet under the water line, the breakers would tear my boat apart as soon as it lodged into the sand. I steered as far away from that scenario as I could.

Eventually I got a little bit further from shore but my nerves were tearing me apart. Having practically no vision (now that it was dark), feeling the constant pressure of the waves, having to look at my compass and GPS every 20 seconds and with this non stop worry in my head, I was beginning to feel really sick and agitated. I wanted to just throw up and get it over with! But I knew I had not got that sick yet. My inner self was telling me I could still beat seasickness. So I jumped down into the cabin and got myself a butterscotch candy from my supplies and sucked on that. I don't know whether it helped or not but it was going to have to! Then I just gave up momentarily with the constant compass readings. I was falling apart inside but despite that, I knew I could sit out here in the ocean a long time with no power before getting near the beach. So I looked down into the ocean and was half surprised to see little glowing sparkles of green from the bio-luminesance! Suddenly what appeared to be a glowing green streak across the water (like a torpedo) caught my eye! And then another following it! It went from the north to the south with incredible speed. I had never quite seen the trail of dolphins like this before - but there it was! Though this nagging fear of failing tonight seemed to haunt me, the beauty of the water and the dolphins woke me back up to Gods love and protection. Now with the bio-luminesance in the water, anything that touched the water sparkled. That included my oars as I began to row the boat away from land. Each time my oar hit the water, a huge ball of eerie green light would appear on the dark sea. It was as if a huge flashlight was shining up through the water or like stirring a magical brew in a cauldron! I couldn't believe it. As soon as this occurred, my lack of sight was appeased and I started to feel a little more like myself and realized I should just keep rowing. It would take time and a lot of work to just get a little further, but with virtually no wind, it was my next option. Having lost my engine in a big storm didn't give me many more options either - besides just staying out all night and waiting till the fog cleared! But that was risky too.

A good hour must have passed in which I rowed, tacked into a deceiving wind that I occasionally thought was blowing, took down the head sail, put it back up and checked my GPS and compass constantly. And then the wind finally came! It sparkled green on the sea as it stirred the bio-luminesance, giving it a magical feeling! With the fog all around and the darkness and then the sudden sparkles of green light everywhere - it really was beyond description! But I couldn't focus on it for long. There was work to do so I jumped up onto the cabin top and raised the jib sail again. I felt a stirring of joy back in my heart! Thank You God for the wind to get home! If only I could now steer clear of the rocks! There were other concerns too: anchored boats near the breakwater without anchor lights. It would be a seconds warning - if even that - if I came near one. 'Oh please, please have your lights on!' I hoped fervently as the boat took off on a gallop through the wall of darkness.

And then I saw something of a light. I was approaching it quickly. It was very blurred and I could not make out what it was. And then a very dark blurry shape appeared - beginning to look like a boat. It had no navigation lights only the one masthead light - so it must be one of the anchored boats! I steered clear. Step one had been completed. I had found the anchored boats. The harbor was near. Now to find the green and red entrance light! And then almost as the same moment I thought it - there it was, flashing brightly! At least the green one was. It appeared out of nowhere, as if it was sitting in midair without anything holding it up! But I was grateful. Now if I only could remember which side of the green to come in on. If I picked the wrong side, my chances of crashing were greater. I suddenly couldn't remember something I had known for years - even though I racked my brain. Panic does that to you. I had never seen the light alone by itself without anything else to measure it by. So I prayed and asked God to help me remember. And as I prayed, I vividly remembered seeing the red light on the shore side of the breakwater. So that meant the green was to my left. I went with it and steered down. I was going against some rational thoughts as I didn't remember the anchored boats being parallel with the harbor light. But I was determined and besides the red light was nowhere to be seen. As I steered downward of the green light, I suddenly saw the shape of rocks below the light and jumped for joy, for that was the breakwater entrance. Soon the red light appeared too - glowing eerily in the fog. And as I entered the harbor I suddenly saw ten or more streaks of green light as dolphins were all over the place! Two seals came near my boat as well, but all I could see of them was a ghostly green light moving through the water in all kinds of directions. Even little flashes of light went by as fish moved away from the boat. And then the most amazing thing happened. The dolphins must have been diving, for suddenly the circular glow around them got bigger and bigger and bigger until it was the square size of a boat. And this was happening everywhere, so the water was just lit up all over the place! What an ending to a very scary evening. My breathing finally became normal again as my heart rate went down and I took a deep breath of relief. Out at sea I was very fearful - like how I felt in a storm, and my pulse beat twice as fast. But now with the wind blowing fast against the sails and with the harbor lights on each side guiding me in, I sailed on home with excitement and happiness in my heart - very thankful to God to be back!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SailingWithMe!: A Perfect Sail!

SailingWithMe!: A Perfect Sail!: A Perfect Sail! "Tonight the moon light glitters on the sea like magic. The wind dances across the water, pulling the sails and brushes ag...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Perfect Sail!

A Perfect Sail!

"Tonight the moon light glitters on the sea like magic. The wind dances across the water, pulling the sails and brushes against my cheeks."

This is how my wife describes our sail this evening on the eve of our 18th wedding anniversary!

The sunset on the water is beautiful. We are having fun taking pictures of each other, the boat and the suns afterglow. It is very enjoyable just relaxing and talking as the boat sails on its way.

We tack, and the wind catches the sails and pulls the boat over on its side slightly. Suddenly Janette exclaims: "We're falling!" I think its so funny to see the look on my wife's face as she's describing all of this! I answer her: "Its just leaning. That's what sailboats do! (It must take quiet a few sails to get used to this.' I am thinking).

Just as we are heading out to sea, I notice that the fishes and the little breaking waves near the boat are creating little phosphoric streaks across the water! The ocean glows as if it is magical. Little phosphoric trails from the fishes flashes by. Out across the water, every breaking wave glimmers an eerie green, and Janette and I stand out in the cockpit, holding on to the life rail, watching! It is beautiful. Like nothing I have seen before. Though I had seen this bio-luminescance before - its never been quite like this. Suddenly the fishes swim out from under the boat and we see a trail of shining green. And then the waves disperse alongside the boat and they light up! We Watch the waves out at sea break and instead of seeing white, we see instead this flash of green all along the tops of the waves - everywhere. Its so amazing!

Janette and I are having so much fun together. The lights from shore and the waves playing along the sides of the boat are relaxing to watch. But then Janette starts to feel a little sea sick, so I encourage her to rest on the v-birth bed.

As she sleeps below, the wind is making the sails bellow out with the pressure. The constant breeze blowing at a steady rate, is pulling us along the dark bumpy waves. And then the boat comes too far up wind and the sails crack like thunder. Waves lit by a faint glow, pass by without number. Lights off on the horizon - some white, some yellow, orange, red and gold, flicker from shore. Some other lights out in the deep, shine to us from a big ship anchored in the distance. The hills behind the shore lights are these black mysterious silhouettes on the sky line.

We then sail back into the harbor and as we near our slip, we both notice the delightful patterns the wind is creating on the water. In places, the wind is not present and creates this glossy and shiny look - void of motion. It looks like glass. But elsewhere, like streaks across the glass, "the wind dances across the water looking like it is being tickled and creates these goose bumps everywhere!" That's how Janette describes it and I think it is very descriptive and imaginative!

Albion

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sail Surfing in the Moonlight!

Being on the water suddenly brings a peace over my mind. There's something about it! The beauty of the wind on the water and the ripples over its face, perform an amazing miracle in your heart and take you away from the day to day stress that builds up. Suddenly all that matters now is solving little problems like where you will turn the boat next!

I turn and tack to the left (port side) and the sails luff as it loses wind. As the boat changes direction, the wind catches the sails in the 'wrong direction' and they back-wind. The wind being in the sails the wrong way puts pressure on the sails and the boat completes the turn. Simultaneously, when the pressure reaches its highest point in the sails, I let go of the ropes that hold the sail and pull the opposite ones in. Now with the sails pulled in on the right direction the boat takes off. The timing of all this is a graceful thing to watch and experience.

Tacking out of the first inlet, I came to the larger body of water - the main channel. Here the sun was just over the horizon but it was still strong and bright at least half an hour before sunset. I put my sunglasses on as the rays of the sun were often in my face as I came up into the wind and tacked again. But the sunlight was not hot and burning like in the mid-day. Rather the rays were just exciting to watch as they flickered and shone between the masts in the marina.

By sunset I had made it to the last stretch of the harbor and a sweet double masted boat with a gaff rig sail (like a boat from the early 1900's) greeted me. I took three pictures of it as it passed by in the orange afterglow.

I was getting thirsty so I remember my Dr Pepper and thought how nice that would go with my chicken sandwich. But when I got the Dr Pepper out, it was warm, so I put it in the cockpit for the wind to chill it. The wind was starting to chill me too so I put on my windbreaker, but later went for my scarf and gloves too. Even though October in
Southern California is still warm, you wouldn't know it being out on the water! The afterglow fades with amazing deep reds and maroons, so that the sky was almost crimson. Out at sea, the sky is so clear and clean, you can see the lights on the mountains some twenty to thirty miles away! The wind blows from the south east this evening. It makes sailing easier as I don't have to tack much and can just head right out to sea.
After a time of cutting through the swells and enjoying the motion of being lifted by the waves, I turn back towards home.
After tacking around, I notice that the waves are behind me now and the wind - which usually is also behind me - is coming from the beach instead. This is really great news because I can now bring my sails in real tight on a close reach and balance the boat really easily. This means I can sit on the bow pulpit without having to worry about steering and watch the boat surf the waves all by itself. So I put on my life jacket and maneuvered on hands and knees over the moving cabin top to the bow rail and sat down. I held on tight to the grip rope. The waves behind the boat first lift the stern and then begin lifting the keel. When the wave moves under the bow, the whole boat begins to rock and slide down and through the wave! Its so fun and exhilarating. Suddenly I then noticed that the deck was flooded with bright white moonlight! I looked up into the dark sky and saw a full moon shining down on me. What an experience. I can't say I remember this ever happening to me while I was out sailing - and I've been going out twice a week for three years now. Usually the night is very dark at sea and the stars and few lights on shore are all you can see. To have the moonlight, the wind and waves all in my favor was very rare and amazing.

When I came back in the harbor, I had to say goodbye to that experience. But sailing home with the wind on my back was not half bad either and now I noticed I had a cold Dr Pepper to enjoy it with too!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SailingWithMe!: A Golden Day Sail

SailingWithMe!: A Golden Day Sail: As I sit here in the cockpit watching the waves go by, I realize how hard and intricate the sea is to explain fully. In some ways its kind o...

A Golden Day Sail

As I sit here in the cockpit watching the waves go by, I realize how hard and intricate the sea is to explain fully. In some ways its kind of like describing God. Like explaining His voice sounding like the voice of many waters. Try explaining that and you'll know what I'm getting at. Its something so amazing, something you feel deeply. Whenever you may try to describe it, it is more awesome and beautiful than you can write. You just have to be there!

Out at sea the ocean waves roll against the boat in rhythmic motion. They are bigger tonight than last week and sometimes appear quite large - even 'ginormous' by normal standards. I'm not talking storm waves - that's a whole different story. I'm explaining the difference between gentle days and those crazier ones. One wave rolls in - appearing like a wall of water. Not like a wall the size of a house - like in a gale. Just a regular wall size wave. The boat coasts right up its side without hesitation. Sometimes I get caught in big ocean swells. Its like coasting down the side of a small hill into the valley with another 'hill' like wave on the other side. As all this happens, little birds rest on the waves and then fly away. The sun is getting near the horizon. Its glow is a bright gold over the water. The rhythm of the waves creates sounds in the rigging. The wind whistles through the sails. Sitting on the bow rail and watching the waves go by below my feet is another one of those things that's hard to explain. But I wouldn't trade it for a hundred other things.

Coming in the harbor from out at sea and the wind was driving at me. The wind normally comes from the west and as you come into the harbor, the wind naturally tends to swing around and be in your face. I could see the American flag on the breakwater, waving hard in the breeze. I pulled the jib and main sheets tight and the sails were pulled in snug, harnessing the head winds. The golden glow of the fading sun shone brilliantly against the large windows of homes at shore. The mountains of Malabu, now behind me, appeared large and purple set against the blue ocean. I turn east now to go down the large channel and suddenly the winds that were driving so hard at me are now at my back. I open the sails out like wings now on the left and right and the winds push the boat with all its might.

When I come to the channel where my slip is, I again head down it and see the glowing lights on the water. The sun has almost set and the water and the lights now mirror dark purples and blues with flashing streaks of gold and yellow. It was such an amazing and peaceful feeling at the same time. I hope you can imagine how lovely it was and take some of my trip away with you too!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tonight on the water!

Tonight the wind is blowing softly, little lights from neighboring yachts and docks flicker across the water, my kerosene lantern is sending out a warm glowing light from off of the stern of my boat and I feel at peace. Buttercup, my Golden Lab has already jumped off the boat onto the dock as I pulled into my slip and now waits patiently for me to drop the sails and fold them up neatly and then take her for her well earned walk.

Tonight on NOAA, the weather report said the wind to be 10-15 knots of wind and tonight with possible gusts to 20 knots. So I knew there was going to be some wind - or at least the odds were stacking up that way. So I put up the sails and headed out around 8pm. Sunset had already come and gone and so it was dark now. The wind was very light and after attempting to tack, I had trouble turning the boat. Because I lost my engine in a bad storm a while back and have only the use of my sails right now, I had to use my oar a few times just to get enough power to turn the boat to the correct tack. Thankfully I have oars - because if I had not used the oar I would have had to fend off from the docked boat I was coming ever closer and closer too! So I finally made it out to the main channel. It began to get a little cooler at night on the water with the wind in your face, so I donned my windbreaker. And after a while the wind got a little stronger so I then had to put on a warmer coat over that. Nevertheless, even with the stronger wind (which was still comparatively light), it still took me two and a half hours to sail to the breakwater (an hour and a half longer than usual with regular wind conditions). When I got out past the wall, I stayed out at sea in the lake like conditions tonight for about an hour. I say 'lake like' because the waves were only a foot or two high. Out there, the waves brush constantly against the boat. The moon shines down upon you. I feel like I have gone to a different land: The Land of endless water. A place so very distant from my ordinary life at home and work. Here the stress is completely different. If there is stress (which is not very much tonight) it is in the form of a broken or damaged shroud, a bigger wave than normal or getting 'caught in irons' when the wind is light and I am trying to tack. Wind and rain in my face don't help either when things get bad. But that is far away from now. The only thing I worry about this evening as I sit on the bow and enjoy watching the wind in the sails and the bow cut through the deep dark waves, is running out of wind. But that never happens. The wind stays steady and I arrive back safely.

When I got back in to the Marina I could see the glowing lights of two big party boats coming my way. I was glad I had my navigation lights on and my lantern too so that they could clearly see me. The idea of being run into by these big boats was scary! The wind was now at my back coming down the channel. There's a strange peace having the sails all the way out and gliding through the peaceful water at night. To my right I could see the Santa Monica mountains and the distant lights from that area. The sound of music came across the water from the party boats. With the light winds behind me, I was going much faster into the harbor than it took me to get out. While coming in, I dozed off a few times for a couple of minutes. That wasn't going to work so I then made myself some hot chocolate to stay awake! Unfortunately this only helped a little while and I then I had to make myself some tea and ate my snickers to stay awake. The chocolate tasted so great with warm tea. Its funny but things taste differently out in the elements than they do at home. Having something warm really helps. The lantern was turned up bright and the big party boats saw me as they passed by. The wind was steady at my back all the way into the slip and I was happy to turn the corner and get home. So was Buttercup and was off the boat even before the dock lines were secure!

My new Mast!

My new Mast!
Because the mast is now 29 feet, I found a Catalina 27 sail that fits it real well. CLICK on PIC to go to page all about different masts on the boat!.

Sailed to Catalina

Sailed to Catalina
A view of Cat Harbor looking out at the Pacific. CLICK ON PIC TO GO TO ALBIE'S PIRATE PAGE!

After Sailing - bonfire on the beach!

After Sailing - bonfire on the beach!
Wow! It was so hot! You could cook your hotdog two feet away from the fire!
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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!



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Albie

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http://sailingwithalbie.blogspot.com/