Sunday, December 21, 2003

San Diego - And they're off!

San Diego

The big news -- we've left!  We're actually doing it!  But more on that later, a little catching up first ...

So much has happened since September (last journal entry) that I'm not even sure where to begin.  Somewhere between Sept. and Oct. Chris and I both stopped working.  No, that's not true, it was then that the real work began!  We were both so busy and things were so crazy that there would be days we wouldn't say more than two words to each other!!!  But it's a different kind of work, and [I think] a better goal.  I won't bother with the details of the final preparations ... mostly because I can't possible recall all the work that Chris did, nor accurately describe all the errands and provisioning that I did.

Ventura To San Diego

We did get another "practice" sail in (to Smuggler's Cove and Prisoner's).  It was a great trip because we were able to test a variety of sail combinations - including our goofy spinnaker ...

Not having any clue when we would truly leave, we randomly picked a day for a Bon Voyage Party. What a great time!  It began with an "open boat", followed by an outdoor gathering at our friend's house (Thanks again John, Salli, Annabelle, Jack, and Simon).  As the crowd thinned, we broke open some champagne and a round of toasting commenced.  We are so lucky to have such great friends & family.  We were too busy gabbing to take too many digital photos, but here are a few:

In mid-November we pulled the the boat out [of the water] for three days of The Karate Kid reenactment;  sand off - paint on, wash off - polish on ... I've never done so much manual labor in my life!  We also had our first medical "emergency" when I hit my head on the prop zinc, which resulted in my look a-like contest to Carry (from Stephen King's book, Carry) -- for those who haven't read it, just think lots of blood.  Luckily it wasn't a real emergency and within the hour I was back to sanding.

Probably our biggest nightmare in preparations involved our engine.  It took a over five months, two diesel mechanics, and a certified letter to finally get our oil leak fixed.  Of course the fun didn't end there, we were confronted with a number of engine hassles over the final months. Knock on wood, persistence seems to have paid off ... on our journey to San Diego we clocked 26 engine hours with no major problems!

Which gets us to our departure.  The first time we actually picked a day to leave was one week before Saturday Dec 6th (where the 6th was our planned departure date).  And, as expected, we didn't make the date ... reconfirming why we had never bothered to pick a day to begin with.  Foul weather was partly to blame ... rain delayed a few epoxy-involved boat projects, but in general our delay can be summarized by the saying, "it's the last 10% that takes 90% of your time".  We re-adjusted our schedule, targeting a mid-week departure.  That was a no-go as well.  We couldn't leave on a Friday (some sailor superstition), and so we decided Sat or Sun (13th-14th).  As we were frantically rushing around we decided that this wasn't how we wanted to be ... what was a day or two?  And so we re-set our expectations and hoped for a Monday departure.  It was truly blowing like stink on Monday, and we weren't sure about backing out of our slip (we did not want to start our voyage being blown into another boat).  The wind died around 4pm - at which time we could've left.  But we were tired, and an overnight sail when I was already ready for bed didn't sound fun.  We were ready though ... for the first time everything was stowed, all major projects were finished, our cars were sold, our storage spaces had been condensed to a single 10 X 5 unit, she was filled to the brim with water, the spare diesel was strapped on deck, and there wasn't an inch of water line to spare.  We decided 8:30 am Tuesday morning would be our departure time.

8:30 a.m. came ... as did my Dad and Archie, our friend John Zilles, and our friends from a few slips down.  The wind was still outrageous.  Chris decided to shower with the thought "if I come out and the wind has died we'll just leave, if the wind has picked up we'll wait" ... the wind picked up.  Everyone said their good-byes (after all they couldn't stand around waiting), and Chris and I borrowed our friend's car and went to a movie.  As we left the movie we both turned to each other with the same thought ... the wind had died.  "Let's see how it is at the harbor" ... same -- it was calm.  As I told Chris, "Maybe we should just leave!?!?", my stomach jumped and my nerves switched into high gear.  Within the next 30 minutes, the engine was going, our dock keys were turned in, and we were backing out of the slip.  As we untied the dock lines my emotions got the best of me ... and just as I was trying to get it in control Salli called to say, "I think I'm actually sad" (yes that's a direct quote) -- well, I knew I was sad, so I practical hung up on her because I couldn't take it.  Chris asked if I needed a minute, but no, if I had a minute I'd need an hour, and if I had an hour I'd want a day -- you get the idea.

We pulled out gracefully (in other words without hitting anything) and did one last tour of the Ventura Harbor (we were stalling as our friend was coming to take photos of our departure).  It was great to see the Zilles family waving to us from the breakwater ... but sad too.  I remember thinking "What the hell am I doing?" -- a huge part of me wanted to turn back ... surely I wasn't ready for this, how could I leave all my friends and family???  At that moment I couldn't visualize the future -- I couldn't see the remote islands, the new cultures and friends, the adventure of a lifetime -- I could only see what I was leaving -- Vegas with the Girls, Monday night football at the Zilles', nieces & nephews, instant access to family, sushi with friends, and the list went on and on.  It was tough.  I'm not sure if I've ever experienced such a wide range of mixed emotions in that short of a period.

It was a beautiful departure.  The sun was near setting and just outside the breakwater a dolphin performed a few jumps just port of our bow.  Thanks again John for the pictures!  [Larger pictures coming soon]

We left Ventura around 4pm (Dec 16th).  At 8pm we dropped anchor in Smuggler's Cove (Santa Cruz).  We decided to stop as I wasn't feeling quite well (always seasick the first day out).  But the anchorage was terrible ... rolly-polly.  So at midnight, we pulled anchor and headed for Cat Harbor, Catalina.  The wind had picked up, and swells were hitting us directly at our beam.  We had in 3 reefs in our Mainsail and our hosted our smaller Staysail instead of the Genoa.  Wind was blowing 20/25 knots with gusts to 35.  For the first time I was truly seasick (i.e. nausea turned to regurgitation).  I went down below to try and sleep it off while Chris took watch.  Luckily by morning the seas & wind had calmed a bit.  We arrived in Cat Harbor around 2pm on Wednesday (17th) .  After lunch and a nap we decided to continue to San Diego.  With no wind we motored the entire way.  We arrived in San Diego around 8a.m. Thurs morning.  A huge navy ship was departing the channel, and as we came in a submarine emerged behind us!

Look close to see the sub behind Chris!

We decided to dock at the transient dock rather then anchoring out ... which makes visiting our San Diego friends easier.  We've been relaxing, visiting with friends, walking, and doing a bit of work (on the boat).  [Dr.] Flipper drove down from L.A. and spent a few hours showing us how to suture.  We practiced on Bob the Chicken:

We've seen some amazing sunsets, moonrises, and sunrises.  We've passed dolphins, sea lions, and tons of seagulls.  And we've crossed paths with some gigantic & interesting boats.  See more pictures here!

We'll probably head out for Islas San Benito (Mexico) on Monday or Tuesday.  Hoping to arrive by Christmas.  It's a small fishing island and we have some used dive suits which we hope to trade for lobsters and abalone!

It still hasn't sunk in for either of us -- and we're not sure when it will, in the meantime we're just enjoying time off from "working on the boat"!!!

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