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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!

Thanks for your comments!

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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!