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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.

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!