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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sailing to San Diego and Back - Alone without an Engine

The First Leg: Sailing to Catalina Island.

It was our vacation time!  We had a couple weeks open and we thought that it would be fun to stay on the water in San Diego for a holiday. So I thought I would sail down there so we could stay on the boat in Mission Bay.

 I was impatient to start the trip and began the voyage late at night. However. the wind was too light and there was not enough wind power to sail very far. So I headed back and instead went to bed in the v-birth. First thing in the morning when the wind came up, I sailed out of Marina Del Rey. Here is what my wife Janette and I texted each other:

 A: Just heading past lighthouse. Wind is light we will see how wind gets when @ the breakwater! Love u

t  J: Don't push u r self...pace urself.

 A little later...

 A: Position is about 33.46 and 118. 29. Just wanted to let u know. I can see Long point (& Pt Vicente) at about 9 o clock from me

 J: K thanks

 A: All is well. About 1/2 - 3/4 way across. Heading 180 from MDR. For 2 harbors. I love u all! Xxxooo please tell mom too!

 J: I will tell mom. Be safe. R u going to rest? Sail in morning to Oceanside. Love n miss u.

 It was only shortly after texting this that I made my big mistake. I had begun to feel nauseous. At this time I usually didn't get sea sick unless the waves were getting five foot or higher. And this is what was beginning to happen as I got out past Point Vicente. And it was this sick feeling that made it harder for me to take more careful action. All too slowly the wind had been picking up faster and faster without me really identifying the significant change - or if I did it was without care as I didn't want to move. And so the wind was putting an enormous strain on my large genoa jib sail. Since it had taken the strain okay up to this point, I thought it could take just a little bit more until I got to Catalina. But it came to pass that suddenly, the wind did for me what I should have done myself. Indirectly it took that sail down, because my lower shroud (one of six super strong wires that holds up the mast) suddenly snapped! The mast instantly flexed and bent and looked like it was going to snap! In terror I quickly turned the boat into the wind - taking the pressure off the sails and mast. Then I crawled over the cabin top to the bow and trying to stand up amidst five foot swells, I let out the jib halyard allowing the sail to fall quickly to the deck. Then very carefully I crawled back to the cockpit and guided the boat back on course with only the mainsail up. Now that the big genoa sail was down, the pressure on the mast was not as great. I turned the boat onto the other tack so that the boat would sail at another angle to the wind and thus relieve all pressure on the right starboard side shrouds. In this way I was able to sail to Catalina without having to turn back for home. I still had no idea how I was going to fix that broken shroud and finish sailing to San Diego. But I was still sailing and thus thankful.


 I arrived at Catalina around seven pm and was so glad. I thought that only another half an hour would take me into Two Harbors. But I was really mistaken, because the main prevailing wind decided to end its day and left me just outside the harbor without enough wind to get in! If I had an engine things would have been much different but that would have been a different story. Now I had no other choice but to tack another direction and try to come in the harbor at an angle where there was still some wind blowing. Even though the giant rocks rising from the sea, the tiny mystical islands around Catalina and the evening sky were all so beautiful, all I could focus on was trying to get in the harbor and anchor before dark. But it was not to be. I was going so slow due to such light and varying winds that it was dark before I even came close to the harbor. In fact it became quite a battle. One time the wind suddenly died completely - leaving the boom swinging back and forth from the high swell, when it swung dangerously close to hitting me in the head. As I pinned the boom away on its hanger so as to stop it swaying and moving from side to side, suddenly the boat moved to a different position, and a huge gust of wind arose that pulled the boat down on its sides nearing me to the water! The mainsail being hung on its hanger was reacting to the gust and creating all the power. Yelling with anger, I quickly unleashed the mainsail again, letting out some pressure as I rode along. As I went quickly through the dark water, I felt utter frustration and anger at the seas for playing games with me and such games as could possibly bring the mast crashing down too!

 Finally I arrived at an area where I could drop the mainsail completely and attach the bow securely to a mooring cann and rest for the night. But when I did I was 'anchored' (so to speak) to one of the most unshielded mooring canns in the harbor and the ocean swell would rock the boat like crazy making a lot of noise. In order to get any sleep I had to put ear plugs in my ears! Little did I know but this was to be one of many nights sleeping on a rocking boat at sea. But before I end this part of the story, there is a little more to tell as I realized I had attached the mooring cann ropes to the boat completely backwords and as I tried to rest I could hear the rope pulling against the bottom of the keel. I couldn't help but think this was dangerous as it might put unneeded pressure on the keel and perhaps create a leak or something bad. So I got back up, very irritated, and pulled the boat around undoing everything and pulling on the wet ropes and finally half an hour later got the boat secured properly. But as I was involved in this, the Two Harbors Patrol came out and wanted to tow me over to a better mooring cann (to a more sheltered area) and while this was nice - I was just plain tired and didn't want to do a single thing. So we worked out a deal and I went to sleep! I missed Janette and couldn't wait to see her in San Diego. My text to Janette that night and hers back to me went like this:

 Albie: I'm safetly over @ Catalina! I'm moored to a mooring cann (like an anchor). I miss u too! I will try to call later. :-) xxxooo

 Janette: Yeah! U r safe.

This was the first leg of my voyage sailing to San Diego. In the next section I will share how I temporarily jury rigged the lower shroud and headed toward San Diego. I will add the next leg of the voyage to San Diego shortly. Feel free to share any comments with me about the trip. I would love to hear them! -Skipper Albie

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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!.

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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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