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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles, Part VII: Oceanside to Dana Point

After leaving Oceanside, I sailed the rest of the afternoon toward Dana Point.

 It was late afternoon when I was sailing past San Onefre Nuclear Plant.

I was about a mile or two from shore and the closer to land I got the heavier the kelp got. It started getting really thick all of a sudden and I decided to change tack and head out to sea and get away from the kelp. The kelp must have been good for fishing as I saw a couple fishing boats near the kelp beds.

While I was doing this I was reading a book. I didn't have to worry about steering as I had the tiller on "auto" by using a rope that connected to the tiller extender and then back to the port and starboard cleats - essentially locking the tiller in place. It was easy to keep the boat balanced with the rudder/tiller on a close reach (sails being pulled tight to head up as close to the wind as possible).

Soon sunset came and then darkness. And sailing out here there were hardly any lights from the land and it was really dark! The wind came out too and I was sailing along at a good clip. The waves started getting bigger too and in an hour or two they were four foot high.

Suddenly I happened to notice something swinging loose on the starboard side. I went to investigate by crawling on the cabin top and discovered that the lower shroud had come undone. I was stunned. How had that happened? The bolts that held it in place were not easy to come loose. But it had and I had to deal with it, in the darkness with a strong breeze. 

So with a flashlight in my mouth, two sets of pliers on the moving cabin top (both put in place so they wouldn't fall into the sea) and some miscellaneous parts to help me get the job done, I held on with one hand and tried to work on the shroud with the other.

 It was very difficult and time after time I failed getting the shroud secured. It was a very tight fit and hard to do when the boat was moving and tilted on its side from the power of the wind in the sails. My teeth could not get the flashlight to focus on the right area. I kept failing over and over and was beginning to feel desperate. What would happen if I couldn't do it?

Thankfully the boat was on the other tack. But if I had to tack the boat to the other side the mast would not be secure and could fall!

Finally, with a little creative power, I was able to get it done and get it to be tight too! But it had been a very stressful struggle. 

Hours went by out on the dark sea and finally I saw a lot of lights on land far ahead of me. It might be Newport Beach. That's the only place I could think of that would have that many lights. It would be a while before I was able to get there as it seemed far away. At least the wind was strong and steady.

By 1 am I was getting closer to the lights on shore when I happened to notice a blinking red and green light. I carefully observed how many seconds before the lights came on and realized that they were not traffic lights. They were definitely ocean navigation lights.

Suddenly it dawned on me that this was the harbor entrance to somewhere! I wasn't exactly sure where but maybe it might be Dana Point. I couldn't believe that I had just accidentally seen the harbor entrance lights. I had almost passed on by too!

So I sailed directly toward the lights. Still it was SO dark I couldn't even see the harbor entrance. All I saw was a rocky wall and was sure hoping I wouldn't sail into that!

The closer I got the more I could see the angle I needed to sail at to get into the harbor. It was a little tricky but suddenly the way was obvious and I sailed into the harbor. I called the Harbor Master and asked them where I could dock or anchor. They asked me if I was Albie and being very much surprised, I answered 'yes'. They immediately informed me that my wife was worried about me and was waiting for me at the dock! That was really great news! They then told me I could anchor for four days for free at the southernmost part of the harbor.

I then proceeded to sail up toward the harbor wall to anchor. My first attempt failed and I pulled the anchor back out of the water. I then reattempted it and sailed closer to the sea wall this time. I then dropped the anchor and pulled on it to see if it had caught hold. It had. I was in about twenty foot of water and put out 100 foot of line including the anchor chain. I then dropped the stern anchor too.

I then texted my wife to see exactly where she was. After I found the place where she was, I rowed the little row boat over to it:

Wife: Where is the jetty?

Albie: Let me know when there. I'll row back. I'm on boat waiting 4 u 2 find it. So tired darling.

A: No sweet friend - at the boat launch! Diagonal 2 where u first parked resting waiting 4 me. Where u bring ur boat down to launch. There's parking lot right next to it.

W: K

I then rowed the family out on the dinghy and we all slept on the sailboat that night.
The next day we had fun exploring Dana Point together and playing at the beach. :-)

It would be a couple days before I would set sail again out of Dana Point for Newport Beach and then Marina Del Rey.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles. Part VI Up to Ocean Side!

The wind was up and all seemed well until I got a ways out to sea. From that point it was apparent that the wind was going to continue from the north making it clear to me that I could only sail north west close hauled.

 After a couple hours I got about five miles out and then the wind promptly stopped! 

So much for getting anywhere today. I watched the sun go down and then darkness came on.

 I could do nothing but take the sails down and wait for the wind. But there was nothing but sheer calm all night!

I took notice of all the land sights and lights around me. Tonight I decided to sleep in the V-birth instead of out in the cockpit. Basically the reason for this was because of the dead calm. The ocean waves were pretty flat too.

Throughout the night I would wake myself up every fifteen minutes or so and look out the hatchway above my head to see if any boats or ships were coming my way. Nothing came.

 I could see the fishing boats bright lights however, scattered here and there over the ocean horizon. For some reason this night is etched in my memory but for what reason I am not sure. Not really anything happened!

 But perhaps it was the feeling of being alone at sea overnight without any stress or adventure that I remember.

I reflected back on what we did in San Diego as a family before I left. Basically, here's what happened:

Upon arriving and anchoring in San Diego (Mission Bay), my family had a nice time swimming in the clear water around the boat, making sand castles in the sand and collecting shells.

After taking the dinghy over to the boat or swimming there, we cooked dinner on my boat stove, lit some candles for light and eventually fell asleep on the boat night after night.

On the way down to San Diego, my lower shroud had broken near Catalina Island and I had to fix up a jury rig to help support the mast on the trip. Now during the vacation, I took the time to take the jury rigged Lower Shroud off and attach it to the mast with a real stainless steal 'S' hook. This seemed to really do the job and I was ready again to sail.

So to test it out I took the family sailing around Mission Bay.

 This was a bit of a dream come true as my wife and I had always wanted to sail there.

At one point we were sailing under a bridge across from Sea World and the mast barely cleared the top of the bridge! That was a harrowing experience! We sailed on the calm water all around all the different isles and bays. It was fun!

On our last day we visited Sea World! But I eventually had to sail back up to Los Angeles and left the following day out of Mission Bay. Bringing us back to where I was now.

It had been a nice vacation! I especially liked swimming in the warm teal green water near our boat. So that's what happened in San Diego.

The dark night at sea passed peacefully. I remember the faint glow of the candle I had lit glimmering in the cabin, the occasional flicker of my flashlight on the countertop to get a snack.

Slowly through the night I drifted with the current unawares a couple miles south down toward Point Loma.

In the morning I was not aware I had drifted so far as the landmarks had not changed that much. It was only the visit from the Coast Guard that woke me up to the fact that I was further south than I realized. 

After giving them permission to check my boat for drugs and hideaway people - they promptly believed that I was not hiding anything after I confirmed I had nothing and after checking my drivers license. They then decided not to come aboard.

 Revving up their four huge outboard engines, they took off.

I was then left alone to wait for the wind. And I waited and waited.

Usually the wind picks up around 10 am but not today. I waited while the suns heat beat down upon the boat. Thankfully I could go down into the cabin and open the hatches for ventilation and get some relief from the sun! 

Finally around 1pm the wind came out and I slowly began to sail north past La Jolla.

But it was a slow ride as the wind was not exceptionally strong an I was fighting the current too. What should have taken a couple hours took all day and I was just clearing the San Diego area by nightfall.

Thankfully the wind kept up nicely till 11 pm and even after this there were enough spells of wind to leave the sails up and I very slowly made my way toward Oceanside.

 I just kept on sailing as long as there was wind and by early morning had made my way to the two big smoke stacks near Carlsbad. It took a while to clear them but by morning I could see the Oceanside area. 

I remember the feeling of sailing up the coast that night. The wind was constant but not very strong. Sometimes it seemed like it had completely disappeared but when I looked at the sail it was still full - so there was must have been some wind somewhere! 

By sunrise I was closing in on the harbor. But I couldn't see it. In fact only the landmarks I could identify on the map confirmed I was even at Oceanside. Without the map, I could of been anywhere!

The closer I got though, I started to identify a lot of tall masts rising up. But for some reason I couldn't see the harbor entrance.

The wind came out stronger as the morning progressed and I kept heading closer and closer. The thing that surprised me was how long it took to actually get in. By 11am I finally came in through the rocky harbor entrance! I docked the boat at the harbor patrol extra dock and finally got to get a solid hour of rest!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sailing to San Diego Part V

"Before my eyes closed I noticed how beautiful it was sleeping under the stars out at sea! And then I fell alseep for a short while. All went dark in my mind and then I woke up about 15 minutes later to adjust the tiller slightly as the sails were making noise and the boat was slightly off course."

Many hours earlier however, I had been on a mission to sail into Mission Bay by evening time. But the wind had almost died and the current was against me. Besides this I didn't have an engine so that put me at the complete mercy of the wind.

Here's what happened: I was constantly watching the wind when after discovering the red harbor beacon, the wind decided to blow so slightly that I could barely feel its effects on the sails. Yet it was still there as the windex still held its true position. But the current now I believe was stronger than the wind and I sailed around for the whole hour realizing in time I was getting nowhere really fast!

 But I had been so excited that I had made my goal of getting to San Diego today and I was determined to get in that harbor so I kept hoping against hope that I was surely making at LEAST a little headway.

I tried staying awake for hours in my
quest. I remember nodding off many times. I would wake up trying to spy the red harbor beacon again and sometimes lose its excact position again and having to fight for five minutes or more to reclaim its position. By 2 am, my body was becoming quite cold - even with two jackets on. My body temperature was dropping as it does late at night and also I was exhausted.

 So I jumped down into the cabin and then into the V-birth to grab my sleeping bag and blanket and dragged it up into the cockpit. Also I  grabbed the smaller blue rectangular seat cushion as it was so perfect for me to lie on tonight. Then placing them out on the cockpit seat, I got in.

 Looking all around me I took notice of every boat out at sea. There was still a couple boats on the horizon shining their bright fishing spot lights out into the dark ocean night. But they were far away so they didn't bother me. It was then while thinking all about this that I decided it would be best to turn on my upper shroud deck light just for added safety besides my running lights, so other boats were sure to see me.

After doing this I hastly got back into the warmth of my brown sleeping bag and then pulled my daughters 'Sleeping Beauty' blanket up over my shoulders. Before my eyes closed I noticed how beautiful it was sleeping under the stars out at sea! 

And then I fell alseep for a short while. All went dark in my mind and then I woke up about 15 minutes later to adjust the tiller slightly as the sails were making noise and the boat was slightly off course. I took a look around me another time, then I went back to sleep. Thoughts of some boat crashing into me sometimes worried me. But the lonely sea was still just as lonely when I sat up in the sleepinbag and looked around.

And then I went back to sleep again. After a while and the boat and I had really not gone anywhere, so I hove to. I backed the jib sail on the opposite side and this made the boat go back and forth but not really forward. But as the wind was so slight it took a while for the boat to do anything!

This routine of waking up every fifteen minutes went on for at least a couple hours untill the sheer exhaustion had left me, but I was still tired.

And then suddenly the wind just died out completely. I could tell because the boat rocked and swayed in the three foot swells without the pressure of the mainsail or jib keeping the 'nose' of the boat tilted slightly into the waves and moving forward. Without the winds pressure, the waves just rocked me around any which way they liked!

And the waves were not tiny. There was a big swell running tonight and the waves were typically about three foot high - but not dangerous. So I got up out of the brown sleeping bag and hooked the boom up to the back stay. Now that it couldn't jump around from side to side with the boats motion and whack me in the head, I jumped up to the deck and took down the main sail so that it wouldn't flap around making noise and such. Then I went back to sleep. I continued to watch every fifteen minutes or so but I was very tired and only cast a seconds look for ships and then fell asleep again.

 So this time I must have slept longer for when I awoke I notced that the boat and I had drifted into the kelp bed.

So I carefully put on my life jackeand got a flashlight and an oar and put them and the large ropes into the dinghy. I then attached the two ropes together and attached the new larger rope securely to the boat by way of the back cleat. Then un-attaching the line that held the dinghy to the boat I pushed the dinghy and myself away from the boat out over the big three foot swells. Even in the kelp the waves were substantial.

The dinghy just rode them 'matter of fact' like but it was more of a serious matter for me because about a month ago I had tipped the dinghy upside down and had to swim back to my sailboat. But getting back to the big swells - the previous reasons though, for tipping the dinghy, were nonexistent tonight so in that I was glad and when I got out to where the dinghy finally stretched the rope taught and was at a place to tow the sailboat, I paddled harder trying to manually pull the boat out of the kelp.

It was kind of hard and at first all I managed to do was row in circles! With the weight of the sailboat pulling hard against any forward motion, I was getting frustrated. At last though, I figured out that if I paddled at a steady pace first on one side and then the other, the sailboat began to move.
I got the boat a certain distance with great struggle and effort. After half an hour I was truly worn out and had only pulled the sailboat half way out of the kelp. I gave up at that point and knew that I was going to either have to try again later or wait till the wind came out for more power. So I returned to my sailboat.

 As I pulled myself in with the connector rope, the distant lights off of Mission Bay and Point Loma helped illuminate the dark night sky and the dark black ocean. Each wave was illuminated on its hump as it rolled inward toward shore.

When I got back, I wanted to go to sleep but I was partly fascinated by the boats slow movement with the tide and partly worried to see exactly how far and at what speed I was traveling through the kelp bed. At first it appeared as though I was not moving at all. But after a few minutes I saw that this was not true and that I was indeed moving very slowly.

I realized that the kelp was kind of good and bad. It kept you in but it also kind-of held you still so you wouldn't drift much. So I was kind of thankful. I must have sat there watching my slow movement through the kelp for at least half an hour. By that time I knew that I would have some time to rest, but at some point the boat would get too close to the shore.

I attempted an experiment and threw out a bucket on a rope as far as I could toss it. I wanted to see if the pressure on the bucket caused any further reduction of drift. But I couldn't see any real difference so I brought it in. Then I decided to sleep in the V-birth on my bed instead of out in the cockpit as I was extremely tired by this point having been awake now for an hour and a half at least. Also I was not in danger of hitting anyone or vise-versus inside the kelp bed.

The next morning before the sun had fully risen, I tried to reach down over the side of the stern and unwrap all the kelp that had worked its way around my rudder. I knew that the keel probably had a bunch of it too but there was little I could do about it. When the wind came up around 9 am or so I sailed very happily out of the kelp. I was surprised how easily I did so and realized that this would not be the case if I was a motor boat!

I thought I saw the entrance to Mission Bay, so I headed straight for it. But alas, as I entered that area I saw that it was a beach instead of the harbor entrance and that the entrance was just on the other side of this sea wall!

 I saw that I still had time to cut across and get to the other side without tacking - so I did just that. In hindsight it might have been a little impulsive though because just as I was cutting across the sea wall, a huge breaking wave hit my boat broadsides and knocked me and the boat for a major roll. Even though I've been out in huge ocean waves during storms and gales, I've never been hit by a breaking wave like that before.Thankfully it just have me a big shock but the boat handled it quite well!

Soon I had got over the shock and was heading into the harbor entrance. I called the Harbor Master on my VHS and they told me a good place to anchor.

Soon I was dropping the anchor in about 20 feet of clear water from the beach. I had found a place that was away from the other boats and in no danger of swinging near them. Dropping the stern anchor too - just in case helped give me peace of mind. I was finally here! I immediately gave my wife a call and went down into the cabin to relax a little.

 Come visit my blog next week to see what adventure I had next leaving San Diego and then heading back up to Los Angeles once more!

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sailing to San Diego Part IV: Sunset Sailing Past La Jolla

"...Darkness had almost taken over the sky and yet the wind was as sure as ever. In fact with all the attention I gave the boat and with the good steady wind, I felt like I was cruising along at six knots! I could feel the wind in my face and I felt the exhilaration of speeding along with waves breaking white on either side of the boat."  This was the highlight of sailing and passing La Jolla in the evening. But before I had reached San Diego and was only half way down, this is the situation I faced:

I had let the boat sail herself most of the night. Having tied down the tiller I just kept up a real basic watch in the light winds. I finally had fallen asleep around four am and woke up two hours later wondering where I was!

The day started with cerial and evaporated milk which I mixed with water. The milk tin I opened with my big pocket knife that I kept on board. Then I had a banana. That really helped. Some hot chocolate would have been nice, but lacking the ability to heat water put an end to that idea.

 I looked at my map to get a sense of where I was. Using my pencil and fingers, I estimated using the average speed I had traveled throughout the night and the map. My Dead Reckoning position placed me somewhere near Oceanside.

     Off to the left horizon I could see large skyscrapers. I couldn't help but wonder if I hadn't already passed San Diego and was now heading to Mexico! But if that was the case I sure had traveled fast in the night after all. There was quite a difference between Oceanside and San Diego. I suddenly became very confused and fearful thoughts of going into Mexican waters came to mind. The thought of passing San Diego and having to turn around and go back was also a big decision. Suppose I was wrong and went back and it turned out to NOT be San Diego. That would be a waste of two to four hours at the least.
While I was thinking these things I made sure the empty horizon was still empty and then stepped down into the cockpit and grabbed my cell phone out of my shell and attempted to text my wife Janette. I wasn't sure If I was too far out at sea to send a text but after all on the sailing race to Ensenana I had managed to get a few messages through. The texts did go through and these were what they said:

Albion: Goodmorning darling!

Janette: Where r u now?  R u safe?
J: We r @ moms.  Where r u sailing to?

A: Well, I believe I'm near San Diego as I heard them come on Channel 16. I think I see La Jolla Mt. I'm a little unsure yet as I cannot get an exact fix yet.

J: Hi.  Miss u.  Mom just made banana/blueberry bread.  Can u smell it?
J: What else do u see?  How long have u been awake?

A: Yum yum! I'm hungry 4 that! Does Capistrano or Oceanside have large buildings?

J: Oceanside does
J: I love u.

A: Mmm.  I am ready to eat the bread.  I love u 2

A: Just spotted the 2 domes. What r they called? San Onefre?
A: On map there is a dome near La Jolla 2. But two? And one @ San Onefre is not on side of Mountain? San Diego it is?

J: Yes.  U have spotted Dolly Parton.  U r North of Oceanside and Camp Penelton.  B safe.  Love u."

      Seeing San Onefre confirmed my whereabouts. It made me realize that I still had quite a ways to go to San Diego. I was unsure if I could make it by the days end, but I was sure going to try.
    All during the night I couldn't keep my eyes off the bottom of the mast to see how my lower starboard shroud - I had jury rigged - was doing. I had shined my flashlight up on the mast step to see how it was fairing. Now this morning with the morning breeze, I noticed how the mast continued to lean ever so slightly. It was threatening, by small degrees, to break free of the mast step and callapse. That would mean disaster and I knew I would most likely have to call for assistance by the Coast Guard if that happened. That was one of my fears that I tended to not want to think about. So I very carefully kept my eye on the pressure the wind was putting on the mast instead of worrying. And every time the pressure increased significantly and the mast would lean even harder, I turned the tiller slightly to turn the boat on a less stressful tack. I kept this up also during most of the day. But often I laid down to rest a little as I got tired; but only when the wind and tack remained constant and as the boat didn't need my assistance so much.  After a while past San Onofre I could see these big round white bubble like formations on the land a couple miles away which were on the map showing that I was soon approaching Oceanside. I was excited to be in that area. But no matter how hard I looked out at the shoreline even with the binoculars, I couldn't make out anything that looked like the harbor for Oceanside.

    Around 3 or 4 pm I finally came to the tall stack tower off of Carlsbad. Time was going by and much progress would need to be done before the afternoon turned to evening and the winds settled down to a calm or reversed direction after dark. Each evening it seemed almost to be a roll of the dice whether the wind continued after 7pm or a calm would settle on the sea and I would then face an evening rolling around in the windless calms. But this evening would not be a windless evening. 

It started out a little slow and for a whole hour it seemed I was sailing but not gaining any distance as the large stack tower still persisted to stay in generally the SAME spot as 1/2 an hour ago. I couldn't seem to figure out what was going on! For one moment it seemed very obvious that I had passed it and then about 10 minutes later I realized that in fact I had NOT passed it! How could this be so? I was thinking hard as to the reasons for this and could only figure out one reason at the time. Perhaps it was because I was I was subtly heading in a diagnal direction slightly out to sea and as I was going  two steps forward - so to speak - it was only actually one step seaward and one step past the stack tower. In hindsight it also could have been 1/2 step seaward, 1/2 step passed the stack and one step backword with an undercurrent of some kind. But I would think the current is southerly so the current should have been one more step in my favor. But passing the stack seemed like three steps back and one forward! But finally I managed to clear it as the sun was intending to set. I knew I did not have much time. It was at this time I noticed that the wind had picked up slightly. And to help the boat along even more, I pulled on the jib line to tighten the sail - when the wind lightened momentarily. I was furiously passionate in my longing to get to San Diego this evening and anchor before 10 or 11 pm. I didn't know if I could do it, but I was going to give it 100% of my attention and effort to make it happen. And as the sun slowly made its glorious departure - every moment of its beauty was etched in my mind along with the memory of the total concentration I gave to the tiller, the sails and the boat as it sped along over the dark blue waves.

As I held on to the jib line, I could feel the power of the sails pulling on the boat through each wave. The waves would come against the boat either pushing against it or pushing it gently forward. Though there was a general pattern to the waves, there also was an intimacy with each one as each contacted the boat slightly differently. As evening gave way to night and darkness crept firstly over the sky, and then over the water and then into my cockpit, I took every last inch of light the sky could produce to create productive energy within myself to make the journey faster. Surprising, to be sure, was the fact that darkness had almost taken over the sky and yet the wind was as sure as ever. In fact with all the attention I gave the boat and with the good steady wind, I felt like I was cruising along at six knots! I could feel the wind in my face and I felt the exhilaration of speeding along with waves breaking white on either side of the boat. But when my averages were done later on my map, if I did do six knots it was not consistent. Three or four knots showed up as the average. Still I made great time. I measured each section of land in my minds eye seeing how long it took me to reach each. Each section of say, one or two miles, could be seen quite easily at sea with the land creating its own notch of measurement by a section of trees that stood out, or a cliff, or a piece of land jutting out into the ocean. And as I counted off 5-7 miles down the coast, I could see as far as the huge land mass of La Jolla that stuck out by at least a mile into my ocean world. After that darkness seemed to loom. And when I would arrive there my distance to land would shorten by that same distance nearing me to the shore.

And in the time it took me to make 10 miles that day - I made it in half the time that evening. Across the water - now in the twilight - was the darkness of La Jolla Shores with all its trees. To me it was a long stretch of mysterious black seen three miles away on the restless ocean. I was drawn to its loneliness because it looked how I felt: alone, hidden from most of mankind, dreamlike.
And so I passed off each mile finally arriving a mile off the looming land mass of La Jolla. All was dark except the red port, the green starboard light and the white stern lights on my boat. The ocean was a hidden world of waves that I felt but could only see faintly. Sillouttes of their form rose up out of the blackness. Their shadows could be seen in the faint lights from shore. Lights such as street lights or red and green traffic lights were like stars far away. Yet the warmth of human kind could be felt from them.

    From La Jolla I thought it would be only a skip and a jump to the harbor of Mission Bay, San Diego. But it took me a whole hour to just clear its protruding land mass.  From there I then sailed another hour down the long stretch to the opening harbor entrance - which I finally found with my binoculars. There were so many red street lights that competed for my attention that it was so hard to make out the red harbor light that blinked three or four flashes before pausing. I finally found it and was exctatic with joy. However, it should be noted that from 10 pm to 11 the wind had been waning and I knew it would end soon. I was only hoping I could get in the harbor safely first. But all my work to beat the dying wind was in vain. For before I knew it, I was becalmed only a mile from the harbor and now would have to be out at sea all night waiting for favorable winds! Come check out Part V and read what happened after passing La Jolla, the adventure that befell me that night and how I finally made it to San Diego!

Skipper Albie

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sailing to San Diego Part III. Passing Avalon by Night

That evening as I rowed my dinghy over the teal green sea I enjoyed looking down, down into its clear mysterious depths. I slowly arrived back at my boat. As I climbed up over the four foot sides of the boat, and then proceeded to set my things down in the cockpit, I looked out to sea just in time to see a glorious sunset. I looked up at my pirate flag and saw the wind blowing it steadily and so having had lots of rest during the day, I decided that with the wind being strong and myself feeling well, I would venture out tonight for San Diego. As I got some food from a tin ready to eat, my mind was still racing in thought. The night would be upon me soon and so I would have to act fast so as to at least be able to clear the harbor with some wind.

As I ate more of the delicious canned peaches, I then began to think hard upon the best method of raising anchor and realized that having no engine, I would have to raise one anchor, then raise the jib sail, raise the main anchor and then the main sail very quickly all in very strict order and with as much preciseness as possible, for a big mistake could end up getting me in trouble at the least and end up washing my boat on the rocks at worst!

    So that is what I did and when my hands started undoing the halyard line (rope) that raised the large mainsail, I began to feel very stressed and couldn't seem to do it skillfuly as I usually do. But I managed nevertheless, and pulled hard on the mainsail. It stopped half way up and I about had a heart attack (you know how I felt). I suddenly noticed that one rope line was still holding the sail leashed up to its resting place on the boom and I jumped down into the cockpit with urgency and unleashed it quickly. I then looked out at the water and noticed the jib sail was pulling the boat in the right direction and then ran back up on deck pulling the mainsail up as soon as was humanly possible. With it up, I soon felt the boat make it's way steadily out and head upwind in the channel between the other boats. I felt mostly relieved. Now if only the wind would hold to get out safetly! It did, but sometimes with a little difficulty tacking; and in half an hour I was sailing away from the dying sunset, away from the little island a mile from shore, and dangerously between another island and the rocky Catalina shore. I say 'dangerous' as I was afraid the island would block the wind and the tide would wash me up on the rocks. I had little choice in the decision as this was the best, safest and fastest route (at least it could be argued). But the wind did not get blocked and instead seemed to funnel right around it getting me out and away safely to sea.


 In fact the wind had really picked up out here a mile from shore and I was really 'clipping along at a fast pace (at least 6 knots I recorded in my log). The waves this evening were about four foot running with speed up to my boat. The waves would appear like they wanted to crash aboard but then just as you thought they might hit, the stern of the boat would lift up and they would pass under pushing the boat with great speed through the water. What with the wind and the waves pushing so hard the boat was really going fast! I had to really hold on to the tiller and watch as the waves came from behind and make sure that they didn't do any mischief. The wind too, as it was just waiting for me to mess up so it could jibe the boom really hard to the other side. But I was wide awake and watching. About a mile away, I could see the dark shore of Catalina passing by with each wave. Tonight the moon shone a brilliant yellow and made the water sparkle. It was such an amazing night. I had imagined it so much differently - mostly many fearful thoughts of being stuck out at sea on a dark night without much wind and having a long way ahead of me going all the way to San Diego. But thankfully my fears were not validated. Only the strong wind gave me any concern as it was giving me trouble. But as soon as I let out the main sail all the way, it settled into a manageable position and sped me quickly on toward Avalon - ten miles away.

I was quite surprised when I suddenly noticed some very bright lights far away on the island (now about 5 miles off) and began to wonder what area that could possibly be. I then realized that the island had a large cliff on the southerly end and that it appeared very familiar. Familiar like the end of Catalina island: Avalon itself.
"No!" I said to myself. There's no way I've arrived here so soon! It was at least ten miles down the coast and I had only been sailing for a couple hours. Well I had been going quiet fast - at least 5 knots an hour to get here so soon. I couldn't believe it. But there it was in a perfect silloutte. There Avalon lie for sure - wrapped in mystery from sea. I wondered how I had at first not realized it was Avalon, because everything about it now gave it away. Even a boat passing mine did as well. For where do you suppose they were heading for after having just come across the channel - Avalon.

I can't quite express the feeling of being alone out amidst the dark ocean waves at night passing the sillouette of Catalina many miles to the West; the lights of Avalon shining warm and cheerily to me as if waving "hello!" My boat pressed on with the wind driving it and as if waving back "Goodbuy! We're on our way alone to San Diego. Say a prayer for our safety!"

An hour or so later away from Catalina - it now being a smaller black sillouette on the horizon, the wind suddenly and completely died. It was now around 11:00 pm. "Oh no!" I groaned to myself with a touch of fear. Fearful because I was somewhat near the shipping lanes. Fearful also of a passing ship on the way to Avalon not seeing me -though I turned on my navigation lights anytime a boat or ship was in sight. So some of my fear was groundless. But still the unknown fears and thoughts of being out at sea without wind had finally begun to unfold. The sails flopped lifeless. Without the pressure in the sails the boat lost its speed and angle beating through the waves. Now the waves had complete riegn over the boat and it bounced to this side and then that making the sails and the boom swing dangerously from side to side nearly hitting me in the head! Besides this the noise from the sails cracking, the boat rocking and the boom swinging was truly a nightmare! Sometimes the boat would rock so violently that the angles of sight were dramatically different than moments before. One moment I would be viewing the sea and waves, the next the sky and moon. At first I felt overwhelmed and wondered what to do first. The only thing that I could think of was to take the main sail down to stop that awful cracking sound and then set the boom in its hanger so it wouldl stay still.
With the rocking it made it a bit like playing dodge ball or some other interesting sport that kept you on your toes. One wrong move and I would bump into something, bruising my shin or elbow or knee.  With difficulty I brought the mainsail down and then with it done realized that the main halyard had swung around the mast and got messed up and tangled somehow just like on the night arriving at Two Harbors. But this time there was no land to fix the messed up rope. So I fiddled with it for fifteen minutes just hoping to figure out how it got so tangled. Finally I got the long 'man overboard pole' and 'fished' it out from the mess it was in up the mast. When that was done, I tried to relax but it was still emotionally draining and all I could think was 'how long was this going to continue?'

    At some point the boat caught a newborn wind at a perfect angle and actually stayed on course without my help. And so I  actually got to rest for two hours without interruption which really helped me out tremendously. I almost felt like I had rested all night. But the key word here is 'almost' as I was still tired but I felt comparably very much better. I awoke to the beauty of the morning just before sunrise. A large fog bank stood more in toward land. It was 6:30 am and I was thankful I wasn't caught in that.

-Skipper Albie

PS: Come back soon to see what happens next after passing Avalon. Thanks for your comments! :-)

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!