Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sailing from San Diego to Los Angeles Part X: From Point Vicente to Marina Del Rey

Marina Del Rey Breakwater

 It was while crossing from Newport Beach to Long Beach and then from there through the San Pedro channel that I had my hardest battles with the sea.

 For one the winds were really cooking at beginning speeds of 15 knots. These rapidly changed into gusts to 20 knots and up. One can tell by the development of whitecaps on the waves. It was during this time that, though the waves were yet small, they were nonetheless still very powerful and had a very aggressive nature about them. 

I can remember standing in the cabin opening to the cockpit resting my arms on the top hatch and feeling the pounding the boat and I were getting on each wave about every 5 - 6 second intervals. The boat would go down and them up and smash into a forceful wave trying to win the battle the wind was playing too of pushing us back into the lee shores of despair. Of course the waves were not winning, but with the giant force of the pressure on the sails - and ultimately the shrouds (metal cables that hold up the mast), all the wind and waves had to do was send my mast crashing down for their victory. So I watched and nursed the sails (by moving the tiller of the boat) in and out of the gigantic loads of pressure against them.

 Finally I had to make the decision to stop the boat, head it into the wind and get a smaller jib head sail up (that would cause less strain on the boat). This helped, but as the gusts increased in velocity even this sail had trouble later on. As I watched the sails pulling down the boat lee rail near the rushing white ocean water, I had to trust God that the boat could handle the strain and just try to relax a little. 

So I would often pop down into the cabin to get some lightly salted peanuts to munch on or some Gatorade to drink and refresh my mouth a little. Finally, the sea and the wind leveled out  and things got back to normal. 

I was reflecting how I enjoyed the cool air on the ocean. I would start off by wearing just a wind breaker during the day usually to keep the sun from burning my skin. But the sea breeze eventually would cool me down to a degree where I was thankful for its warmth. As the evening drew on I would put on another jacket over the wind-breaker and eventually I would then pull the hood on my windbreaker over my cap. This really seemed to keep most of the cold air out and I would be very cozy and warm in this, but still enjoy the cool night air against my face too. Sometimes I remember the wind blowing very aggressively at night and making my head cold even inside my hood, so I put on my warm woolen cap under the hood and put a scarf on too.

 This seemed to help, but on this particular night only the shelter inside the cabin was the answer. I would go below and suddenly the chill of the night would leave. Looking out the dark cabin windows the bright stars would shine. I could see the dark ocean waves passing by too. Turning on the cabin lights would add a warm glow inside. Looking at the map to get my bearings on the distance my boat was from shipping lanes, I then turned out the light and went back outside to the cockpit. Here I could see the stars truly gleaming. I put a blanket around me to keep off the chill and settled down near the tiller (like the wheel) and made sure the boat was truly on course.
For an hour or two more I sat out watching the boat sailing with a slight angle to the wind blowing against me. The Point Vicente oscillating light was now clearly in sight and remained so until the wind died around 11:00 pm

Finally the morning came and with it the hope of the wind coming out again and being able to finally get going and sail on again to Marina Del Rey

But the wind wasn't listening to me or my hopes and didn't come out for most of the morning. Nine o'clock came and went and I thought 'well, the winds not going to be early today.'

After 10 o'clock rolled past I said 'well, the winds not going to be on time either.' I conveniently found a sail to sew and mend up and after doing that I cleaned up the boat. It was a bit foggy but the sun burned it off later in the day. I was generally happy but with only one thing missing - wind! As 11:00 am came and still nothing, I started feeling upset that I was just going to sit here all day and waste it by just waiting. Suddenly I felt something on my cheek. The wind was light but there it was. I finally set off - very slow at first but I was moving and happy. 

Soon I could see the orange ball buoy between Redondo and Point Vicente.  The very same buoy I saw floating on massive twenty foot waves coming back from Catalina in a gale. This time I passed it on three foot waves as I sailed north to Marina Del Rey.

Here's what my wife and I texted each other around this area: 

Albie no just fog but I'm only 15 miles from MDR. It should be easy. I feel like a mess. I want 2 take a shower so bad. But the boat is in top shape. Even mended sail.

Wife: Glad 2 hear boat is in shape.  Call or text when u r entering MDR.  Will u b ready 2 b picked up and head home?

A: Oh today's mom & dad's anniversary! Oh - I wish I could be there. Don't wait 4 me though till I call u @ MDR. I want 2 see the movie too! Yeah - I'll be ready! 

A: 10:23 and still no wind? W/ all the fog the land must b taking longer to heat up and create the wind. Getting a lot of little things done, but frustrating wait.

J: Mom said she will take us to dinner @ Souplantation in MDR.  U can shower down there.  Where r u now?

A: Passing Redondo! That would b real nice!! Tell mom great idea! Doing 6 knots right now! Should be there by 2 at this rate! We'll see. So look forward 2 seeing u

A: Comin up 2 big ships near MDR!

J: Yeah!  Call when u r entering the harbor.  Love u. You have been sailing 4 2 weeks!

Soon I had passed R2 Buoy and within the hour would be coming into Marina Del Rey's breakwater.
It had taken me two days and a night to sail down to San Diego, have a few days vacation with my family at Mission Bay and two more days to sail up to Dana Point. From here I spent a couple more vacation days and then set sail back up to Los Angeles. From Dana Point to Marina Del Rey took me two and a half days (without the benefit of an engine). In all I had been gone for two weeks of which I was at sea nine days and nights out of fourteen. It was a highly memorable trip! 

Thanks for your comments!


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