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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Catalina Gale - Part II, Darkness, Increasing Winds & Then Dolphins! No Signs of A Big Gale Coming...

     We finally cleared the breakwater wall and got on our rhum line (straightest possible line of travel) towards the isthmus, bucking gently into the swells on a close reach. The further you get out, the darker it gets and you begin to wonder if you were sane to decide to go out to Catalina at night. The Shipping Lane was coming up too - as if I needed the extra worry about being hit by a big ship in the dark!

As we got further out toward Catalina that night, the wind came up and we bucked through bigger waves and stronger winds. It was a lonely watch at 3 am in the morning while everyone was asleep and you're out there by yourself watching the dark seas and white caps breaking on the waves. I had the luxury of taking a couple hour nap earlier in the evening. Still, early in the morning one feels very sleepy but the seas at this time of night - approaching Catalina - were worth watching. But everyone was sleeping down on the v-berth or cabin berths as I moved the tiller to starboard and then to port a bit as each wave tried to knock us slightly off course.

Captain Brad continues the story:
"Our heading was 170 degrees magnetic. It is important to distinguish between magnetic and true headings, since there is about 14 degrees of variation (difference between true and magnetic) in this part of the world. This phenomena being the result of unknown influences or disturbances on the earth's magnetic field. Deviation is another type of error that can have a devastating effect on a ships compass as well, but usually results from metallic objects on the boat itself, that throw the compass off. This could be something as simple as a set of binoculars or a tool set down in close proximity of the compass, to an even stranger situation with ships that are made of steel. While the vessel is being built in the ship yard, if it is sitting in a position from east to west, it will actually become magnetized accordingly, and will always remain that way no matter which way it is facing while on the ocean. These are some of the many things that a prudent mariner must familiarize himself with not to find himself drastically off coarse. One degree off on the compass can be the difference between arriving home safely, and ending up on a reef in the fog. But enough about the technical stuff.

 Needless to say it was the ultimate night for sailing, and it was a great chance for us to clear out thoughts of those things left behind, as the land became more and more distant, and the millions of stars, normally obliterated by the prevailing city lights all of a sudden began to portray themselves in all of their magnificence. Wow!

After some time elapsed, we began to take watches (turns). I can easily remember some of my most profound nights of rest being out on the ocean with the fresh air and the gentle lulling of the sea, rocking me into the most blissful R.E.M. imaginable, but this night it was a little different. With all the excitement of the adventure, it was hard to sleep too soundly for fear of missing anything. Soon this turned out to be the case at dawns early light, when the damp grey darkness began to reveal both earth and sky with prevailing hues of golden colors, which then in turn quickly transformed to shades of green and blue. Now I understand what must have inspired poet Robert Frost when he wrote one of his well known thoughts:

Natures first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold
Her early leafs a flower, but only so an hour.
As leaf subsides to leaf, so Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day, nothing gold can stay

 I can’t be sure, but I believe that Frost was trying to help us realize that there are certain moments in life that God grants us that are just incredible, but that they rarely last for long, and it is sooo important to appreciate them while there is still time.  That’s how I was feeling sailing upon the Pacific Ocean with my son, his friends Matt, Louie, and my good friend Albie, who I consider like a brother.

     Just when I thought things couldn’t get better with such a sunrise as that, we began to see and hear dolphins playing in the wake of the boat. As the day continued to materialize, we began to witness more and more of them, until it became literally impossible to count them anymore! They seemed to have great interest in us as they would take turns darting over to jump and splash all around us. We saw a particularly thick pod of them feeding in a team effort upon a giant ball of smelt (fish) which were literally boiling on the surface. The scene was complimented by squadrons of sea gulls and pelicans dive bombing on to the bait fish, pushed up so close to the surface and to their advantage by the attacking dolphins below. We called all hands on deck to see the spectacle. Braddock and Max took it upon themselves to jump into the freezing cold water to interact with the Dolphins first hand! They told us later that they could literally hear the high pitched communications from the dolphins as they darted back and forth in immediate proximity to both of them. From our vantage point in the cockpit of the boat, we could see they were literally surrounded by the porpoises the whole time with Catalina as the backdrop. The island was definitely beckoning us by now and after retrieving the lads from the icy water, we continued towards the green isle, past ship rock, and into the sheltered waters of Two Harbors. We briefly tied up to the pier, while the three amigos ran up past the harbor masters office to secure a camping spot, just before the place closed."

Next week, come back to check out Catalina Gale - Part III. Thanks also for your comments!

Columbia 22, 1969

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My new Mast!

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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!.

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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!