I started this on the last days of the trip but was so worn out by the time we got in that I’m just getting around to completing it.
After over 1000 nautical miles, 10 days, one fractured hip, 82 gallons of diesel, an insured cell phone overboard, countless numbers of dolphins, infinite waves, hours staring out across the many different views the ocean offers up, we arrived at Ventura West Marina at 1:10 Monday.
In a lot of ways it was what I expected. But it was also different in many ways than I envisioned. For one you’re only moving through the water at 4 to 8 knots which really does feel like a slow boat to China. When we crossed the Bar the ocean was really calm and it stayed that way until the next evening when the wind picked up to 10-15 knots. I can’t emphasize enough how much a monohull sailboat pitches and heels in the ocean under full sail. Add darkness to the equation and the fact that I have no experience as to the boats safe zone and what’s normal and it made for a very anxious night. Morning breaks and the boat is still making steady progress and you gain confidence and comfort. People that know me well know that sleep and myself aren’t always best friends and I’ve struggled with insomnia at times. If you would have told me that I would sleep like a baby on a boat that was bucking and tossing and rolling like a wild bronco with the wind howling through the sails and the waves slapping against the boat in the “Graveyard of the “Pacific I would have never believed you. There is something about it that I figure has something to do with what being in your mother’s womb must feel like when you’re sloshing around inside her.
Another thing that I didn’t anticipate is how tiring it would be. I attribute it to almost constantly having to adjust your balance and I think that really wears you out more than you realize. The first couple of days were pretty warm until night came and then it would get cold and we would have to bundle up for night then for several days it stayed cold all day.
Thanks to winds on our nose and more motoring we were forced to make the detour to Bodega Bay for fuel and water. We were pretty excited to get Internet access, some high fat low fiber fast food and more importantly Coke Zero but Bodega Bay is just a small little fishing village that doesn’t have an AT&T cellular tower anywhere near by, doesn’t have any fast food and it doesn’t have a real grocery stores near by. We met a guy named Doug at the dock and he gave us the keys to his 2008 Ford F150 so we could drive to a minute mart a couple of miles away and pick up a few supplies. Later that evening we wanted to go out to a restaurant so we asked Doug if we could use his truck again but he couldn’t find the keys so he gave us the keys to his 2013 Audi. We loaned him a pair of wire crimpers.
After leaving Bodega Bay Friday the next morning we motored for awhile but then we got the wind again and had some nice sailing averaging about 6 knots for most of the day through Saturday afternoon. Winds and swell started building as the day went on to 15 to 20 knots with an occasional 25 knot gust and the waves were about 9-12 feet. Sometimes depending on weather elsewhere you can have multiple wave patterns which we did which makes for “confused” seas. When a sailboat gets overpowered by the wind they are designed to turn into the wind to take the power out of the sails and it’s called a round up. This happened a couple of times in the late afternoon and I’m here to tell you it’s a pretty exciting situation because the boat is basically out of control and you can’t get control of it until the boat has turned into the wind enough to reduce power. We reefed the main which means we reduced the size of the sail about 1/3 and things settled out. Winds continued to build and when it was my turn for watch at midnight winds were 25 knots with gusts of 30 and the boat was pitching and bucking like a wild bronco. Captain Skip said to furl (take down) the jib which we did and things were much more manageable. None the less my watch from 12:00 am to 3:00 am was one of the most exciting nights of my life and yes I was a bit scared, nervous and anxious! But I made it through my watch safely without incident and then went down crawled into my bunk and slept like a baby. When I woke up in the morning I felt a really serene feeling having made it through the worst conditions we had been in and a new confidence in Desiderata. Somewhere through all of this my navigation lights got ripped off and I have a new item to add to the list now. After this conditions calmed down and we ended up having to motor most of the way to Ventura.
I had originally planned to leave Ventura at the end of October but due to the hip I think it will be more like the last 2 weeks of November.