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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sailing to San Diego Part Two: A Day at Catalina

 After a difficult time sailing to Catalina the day before, I was looking forward to fixing the broken rigging and resting up. I had no desire to sail further to San Diego today and besides there were things I needed to complete before I left. 

My day started early at 5:30 am. I awoke, got myself ready and then set the jib sail and texted Janette as I awoke to the most glorious sunrise:

Albie: "Oh my gosh! Most beautiful sunrise I've seen since Philippines! can see distant mountains toward San Diego wrapped in golden light shooting 2 heaven!"

Albie: "Goodmorning darling! By the time u get this I'm already had a good sleep and am rowing or sailing 2 shore 2 get my shroud fixed. I love u. Talk 2 u when awake."

   I undid the mooring lines (similar to an anchor) connected to my boat and floated clear. Raising the jib sail halyard, the boat now had power to go to Two Harbors. I stood up on top of the deck near the mast overlooking the peaceful sea. Passing by the island and the other boats, I could see the gentle wind blowing softly on the ocean and into the jib sail at the bow. It was so beautiful to watch the sail fill slowly with wind and see how it pulled softly on the boat taking it where you would like to go. The morning was so peaceful and the deep blue and green sea so lovely to sail upon. The cliffs and coves of the island passed on by. It was such a refreshing moment that I inhaled and remembered why I loved sailing so much!

 At Two Harbors there would be a place to fix my shroud and also retrieve my mainsail halyard (rope). The night before it had got stuck in the rigging and got all mixed up. Unfortunately I had made a bad mistake in trying to undo it - accidentally letting go of it and the rope had gone up to the top of the mast! It is truly amazing, now I think about it, how many problems I had the day before! Also how the next two two nights sailing to San Diego would bring more painful moments to really learn how to deal with these situations at sea. For instance, when the wind would stop blowing and the windless waves would rock the boat, it would make the boom swing out of control across the deck and the mainsail halyard rope would often get snagged on the upper mast light. It's hard to understand even for me being on land reading this in my comfy chair but these painful gut wrenching moments would have to happen a couple times before I would learn the 'secret' trick to un-snagging my twisted halyard and how to keep it from getting mixed up like that.

So after sailing peacefully by under a light breeze, the harbor patrol man named John came roaring by in his patrol boat and knowing I had had problems with my mast the night before, saved me a lot of time and gave me a tow into the dock where I could retrieve my halyard and attempt to fix my shroud. He also set me up with a man who was good at repairs to help me. With his help I was able to finally get my halyard rope down. To do this I had to attach my oars to my long 'man overboard pole' and rig a hook attached to the top of it to snag the line. Swaying back and forth on my feet with my eyes and head strained upwards at the top of the 30 foot mast (holding a very long - wildly swaying pole and aiming for a small knot hole to snag onto) was almost insane to even think I could succeed! But with my friend holding me steady so I wouldn't fall into the water, I finally achieved it and we shouted with joy when we pulled it down on deck!
       Once this was done, the kind gentleman left and this whole proceedure gave me an idea of using an extra strong bungie cord hook attached to a rope in which I would hook into the place on the spreaders and tie down the attached rope to the deck in order to procure a make-shift shroud. The spreader arms (which look like a cross on the mast) are only half way or so up the mast - so I accomplished finishing the whole job in only half an hour! This being done, I tightened my new make-shift shroud and believed it would work quite well! In reality it did get me to San Diego but as I would later find out, the metal bungie hook was not really strong enough. The metal needed to be stainless steel in order to take the heavy pressure of the mast and sails pulling on it. But this I would find out later sailing in San Diego harbor.

I then got another tow from the Harbor Master to an area I could anchor. While anchoring near the sandy beach on one side and near these beautiful protruding rocks on the other, I noticed a lady sitting on her boat anchored near me curiously watching us set the anchors. After two anchors were set, I promptly went below into the v-birth and fell asleep for a couple hours.
    I awoke to the sounds of children and parents swimming in the beautiful aqua green sea just offshore. I decided I needed a try at that too and promptly got into my swimming things. The lady from the other boat was still watching everything going on and all I was doing now as I jumped over the side of the boat. Truly the water was as glorious as it had looked! The water was refreshing from the hot summer sun and beautiful to swim in! I swam all the way around my boat and then got out. As I was changing out of my wet things, there seemed to be no escaping the ladies eagle eyes, so I went below and shut half of the hatch door so the beautiful cool breeze could still come through, but not those gazing eyes! After changing, I ate some tinned fruit. I had had such an unrestful night I then realized I was still tired. So I opened the forward hatch to get some cool sea air while I rested and fell asleep again.

    I awoke the second time hearing the lady outside yelling: 'Columbia!' I awoke realizing that she was calling out the the model of my boat. I then looked out the forward hatch and realized my boats' anchor had slowly drifted during the afternoon. I climbed out the hatch and began to hesitate a little in fear what I should do to remedy the problem. I promptly began to pull the boats main anchor line and the boat moved away from her boat. The lady in the meantime had called the Harbor Master on her cell phone or portable VHS and this didn't help much as when they came out it seemed like I had everything under control. But that did not stop the lady and the Harbor Master from getting in a nice argument over it all. She seemed to have a chip on her shoulder about them for some reason and the Harbor Master could feel it and didn't appreciate her grumpy and whiny attitude. She blamed the whole incident on the fact that they had said to call if there were any problems. The Harbor Master came back at her for being unappreciated of their help and there necessity to take care of important business and leave that which could be handled by mariners on their own - to themselves. I however, tried to distract the argument from going any further and suggested to them that I lengthen my back anchor and also attach my third anchor 10 feet from the end to hold it down since I did not have any chain on that line. He thought this a good idea and also suggested that I row out and drop this extended anchor much further away this time and I did so, while his boat revved up his four engines and steered through the green ocean and held my boat at bay so that it did not drift toward the ladies boat in the meantime. This, it seemed, worked really well and as I look back on it, became a standard procedure with my anchoring and I am very grateful to that negative circumstance for teaching me this lesson. Due to this I was never to have an anchor problem during the three more times on this trip that I would anchor.

     So after this incident was over, I stayed on the boat for a good while longer just to make sure the anchor was holding. When I saw that it was, I put my cell phone in a plastic watertight bag and got into my dinghy and rowed to shore. Once there I pulled the dinghy up on the shore and taking the paddle with me for a walking stick, took a pleasant walk up through the campsites over the hills near the beach. The walk was very pleasant and the trek over to 'Cat Harbor' was beautiful. Over there the dreamy blue mountains on the far side of the bay meat the sea - truly lovely! After all the hiking, I arrived at Two Harbors and then called Janette. I needed to get her insight on my new plan I had just come up with. You see, I had begun to entertain the possibility of leaving Catalina this very evening and sailing to San Diego at night. Before my walk, I had pretty much convinced myself to stay the night at anchor. But sitting around doing nothing is hard for me - especially when I feel refreshed and ready to go. And also Janette was leaving for San Diego tonight too. I wanted to be there with her and didn't want to waste a moment. So I discussed these thoughts with her. Ultimately the decision rested with me so while I was at the dock I got the weather, coastal wind and wave report to help me. This report seemed to support my belief that there would be plenty of wind and so I felt encouraged further to leave this evening.

Later when getting back to the boat it would take all my skill and strength to get the anchors in fast enough before I drifted too close to another boat, the sails up and sail the boat upwind and downwind, in and out of all the other boats - without an engine and get out to sea fast enough before the wind had a chance to die down for the evening.

This night sailing to San Diego was to be one of the most adventurous sailing moments for me - one I would not forget! Join me next time in Part III to hear the rest.

-Skipper Albie

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!