Mother Nature and Pirates on a sailboat

Mother Nature and Pirates on a sailboat

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October 16, 2013 – It took a while, but we did finally leave the marina on Monday, September 30. The sun was shining, and there was virtually no wind, so we started motor-sailing from Oxnard to Santa Cruz Island, where we planned to spend the night before sailing to Catalina Island the next day. Well, Mother Nature had other plans because the closer we got to the Island the more the wind started to build until we saw gusts of over 50 knots – which was a little alarming. But, since we know the wind funnels through the Channel Islands late in the day, we pressed on expecting the anchorage to be calm by the time we got there. As you’ve guessed by now that was not the case as the wind was still “blowing like stink,” the anchorage looked dangerous, and it was starting to get dark. By this time our options were limited. We could stay and hope the wind died, try sailing overnight to Catalina Island or turn tail, and go back to the safety and comfort of our marina. I’ll give you one guess as to what we did? It was still rough, and we didn’t get in till dark, but it was an eventful start to our journey. Day 1 – 40+ miles to our marina with Mother Nature asking if we’re sure we want to go?

The next day was much better. We started very early, but there was no wind, so we motor-sailed to Catalina Island, with no incidents, anchored in Cat Harbor and settled in waiting for the start of Buccaneer Days – the infamous party weekend. It was incredible to be at anchor and officially off the dock, and we spent the first couple of days just enjoying the calm before the storm – which we thought was Buccaneer Days. But, once again, Mother Nature decided to test us by sending Santa Ana winds to Catalina. At first, everything was okay as we had set 2 anchors (bow and stern) and had been sitting in the same spot for 4 days, but on Saturday afternoon just as we were comfortably imbibing ashore with a few pirates at the party we heard the dreaded words “Celebration your boat is dragging” over the loud speakers – yes, at the party!!!. Well, we hauled ass back to the vessel, reset the anchors and spent the rest of the night listening to the party from our cockpit. Was Mother Nature really trying to tell us something?

After the “incident”, the weather got better and we enjoyed the next week at Catalina with our friends Patti and Michael Froelich on Windfall and Paul and Jean Swenson on Whiplash Smile who sailed down from our former home port in Oxnard to spend a few more happy hours with us before we really had to say goodbye (until they come to see us in Mexico).

By then we’d spent almost two weeks on Catalina, and it was time to start making our way south. We left the next morning for what we hoped would be an uneventful journey to Oceanside. But, once again, (although we can’t blame Mother Nature this time) we had another “event” because just as we were leaving the harbor, the engine alarm went off. Long story short, before we left Oxnard, we had a problem with the sensor and had to bypass the warning. It was working fine up to that point, but lo and behold that morning the bypass was no longer working and set the alarm off. Of course, we couldn’t spend the entire trip listening to the warning sound, so I went below to check the wiring and accidentally shorted out the engine. I won’t repeat the words that came out of my mouth at that time, but they were so offensive and loud that Audrey thought I electrocuted myself…

At that point, the only option was to hoist the sails – although there was only a faint whisper of wind – and keep the boat moving away from land while I tried to diagnose and fix the problem. Fortunately, and with a great sigh of relief, I got it started after 20 minutes or so. Then we had a truly uneventful sail to Oceanside, where we got a slip, had a few recovery drinks and crashed after another interesting day.

The next day we had a very uneventful motor-sail to beautiful San Diego, where we are now anchored in Glorietta Bay just off Coronado Island, getting ready for the start of the Baja Ha-Ha on October 28. Hopefully, Mother Nature has tested us as much as she needs to and the sail down the Baja will be a fast spinnaker run in 10-15 knots — somehow I don’t think so. Stay tuned….

By | 2017-03-22T07:59:40+00:00 March 14th, 2016|Categories: Automobiles and Energy, Travel & Leisure|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Richard James
Richard and Audrey James are living the dream of many of us. They are sailing from California to the Caribbean via the Panama Canal then along the north shore of Colombia to the Caribbean.. After 23 years of working at General Motors North America and GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East (LAAM) James and his wife bought a sailboat and ventured out on the high seas. Sailing has been in James' blood since he was a student in Australia on an exchange program at the University of Toronto. He has raced and cruised sailboats wherever he happened to be living and on charter boats in the Caribbean. He also took a previous sabbatical earlier in his working life, sailing a 36-foot sailboat from Toronto, Canada to the Bahamas. Follow James and Audrey as they traverse the world in their sailboat, and as they reimmerse themselves into the work world.