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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Twenty Three Hours At Sea

A million and one stars greeted me in the dark sky. As I ran before the wind with both sails out like wings, one hundred stars disappeared behind the mainsail on the starboard side and one hundred behind the jib on the port side. As the mast head swung from side to side in the ocean swell, ten new stars reappeared from behind the sail and then were lost again from sight. It was amazing! Eventually the wind came out with gusto and I was already five miles out to sea sailing along the mountainous coast of Malabu. Mysterious lights on the mountains glowed yellow and gold as I passed. My green port light on the right side of the boat 'waved' goodbye!

This weekend I had driven down to the marina wanting to sail as far out to sea as possible in one night and still be able to get back in for Christmas eve the next day. So I left the dock around 9:30 in the evening - just in time for the wind to die down for the evening! It was a very unusual time to leave and as far as wishing to get far on the power of the wind alone - a big risk. But It didn't seem to matter to me tonight. if I had no wind, I was just was going to go as far as I could and if that wasn't far - then so be it. But my long shot hopes seem to pan out. As I soon found out, the wind was far from being over! Soon I was out of the harbor and way out to sea. Now the bright stars and youthful wind played with my imagination as I sailed on.

By 2 AM I was tired and made a temporary bed in the cockpit so I could keep watch between cat naps. I laid down my sleeping bag upon my cabin cushions and then over my sleeping bag I put my itchy blanket (which I found to be dew resistant!) As there was a lot of dew at this time of night - that itchy blanket was the difference between waking up with the sleeping bag all wet or nice and dry.
I scanned the horizon but as usual at this hour, it was void of all boats. It had been for hours. So I felt relatively safe cat-napping for fifteen minutes at a time between watches. This worked fine most of the night as I kept waking up and viewing the horizon for any little moving green, red or white light on the ocean. But my report always came back empty, so I just went back to sleep. Sometimes the wind would change slightly or the boat sails would need re-adjusting, so I would blindly reach out and turn the tiller an inch hoping that would do the trick. Sometimes it did and other times not. At any rate, I kept this procedure up all night until about 5am when my body temperature really dropped and I had to go in the warm cabin and cat nap for an hour. About 6am I came back out in the cockpit and noticed that the dark night sky was turning to grey.
'The sun will be coming soon', I thought. So I lied on my 'bed' with my hands behind my head and watched the early morning sky. The mountains began to turn a light maroon color and the dark sea turned grey. Then all the mountains on the eastern horizon and the island of Catalina to the south were highlighted as they turned a brighter red. Soon they all turned orange and before I knew it the sea was this beautiful blue highlighted against the brilliant orange mountains and sky! What a sight. I sat there in disbelief at such an amazing scene. I thought how blessed I was to be able to see this. And then like the burst of flame from the ashes, the golden gleam of the sun suddenly flashed in the east. Wow! How amazing. But then everything started to change. Soon the colors had left and the morning blue sky had returned. The morning was born and with it - sight of where I was. Point Dume was there off my port bow - still an hour away. And now the mansions and 'castle' like estates, high up the malabu mountains, were clearly visible. I was still a little too far out to sea and I wanted to come in toward land a little closer. So I pulled in the jib and mainsail tighter and headed north west into the headwinds that were coming sharply down the coast. In half an hour I was nearer the shore (about a mile) and could see the sandy beaches and all the big homes right along the edge of the water. Many had large pylons and pillars holding them firmly up on the sand. This was as close as I wished to go as I could see where the wind petered out nearer land. My wish had been granted and now it was time to think about heading back home for Christmas eve. I still had eight hours to get back to the marina and that seemed like a good margin. It didn't feel like I was trying to cut it close and I was happy about that. So I texted my wife my approximate time of arrival and then turned the tiller, aiming the bow eastward. During the night and in the early morning hours, the wind had been full of zest. But now the wind was light - an interesting flashback to my voyage out here a year before. But I was full of hope for a normal day at sea - which included fair winds at key times of the day such as after ten in the morning and around 2pm in the afternoon. The morning winds were in order - though light. But by the time I could clearly see Santa Monica Pier - the wind had died. And of all the strangest things - it remained that way - for five long hours. I suppose out of every ten or twenty days at sea, that one is unusual like that and has no afternoon wind. I was astounded that this one day out of twenty was to be my lot. So for what seemed like eternity, the boat moved like a turtle through the water - only getting some forward motion from the waves - which made the boom flop backward and forward, creating enough energy for 1MPH of speed! Having no control over these events, I became frustrated - realizing that I may not be able to keep my committed time to be home for Christmas Eve. Deciding to do something constructive with the time I then began drawing the mountains in my captains log book. Then after this I read books and ate food. I then realized how tired I was from cat-napping all night and could rest now with more ease as my boat was clearly visible in the day time. So I took a pillow out onto the bow and in the wonderful shade of the jib, fell asleep for hours! Since I was miles from land with hardly a boat in sight it was okay. When I awoke, the wind was still dead, so I just sat there taking in the amazing view of the sea from the front of the boat.
By evening time, a little wind returned and I got the boat moving along with it. Now another fantastic view presented itself. As the sunset turned orange on the horizon, all the windows that were angled correctly along the coast, reflected the setting sun and appeared like gold flashing stars on the dark mountains! 'Constellations' of golden stars now appeared and it blew me away. The sunset in itself was beautiful too and I raised my hands up to heaven to praise God. Then the wind came - this time with some gumption. Happily I pulled in the jib sheets tight and sailed for Marina Del Rey. I had been out at sea for twenty three hours and it was time to get back. Christmas Eve with my family at home was waiting and I was anxious and excited to get back.

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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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/