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Friday - October 20th 6 a.m. - San Diego (via Oceanside): We left the Avalon harbor at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. Again the winds were very light. We were beginning to worry our guests would spend a week at sea and believe sailing was nothing more than a slow drift across the sea. About an hour out we ended up in the middle of an extremely large school of porpoises in a feeding frenzy. There were certainly many hundreds completely encircling the boat. They covered an area of at least a half mile in all directions. To make sure Ralph got a good look at these amazing animals, we circled through their midst for fifteen or twenty minutes. Often they'd come jumping high out of the water so close to us we could almost reach out and touch them.
It took us about eight hours to reach the Oceanside harbor in light winds. We radioed ahead and got the end-tie of a dock in front of the Jolly Roger restaurant. For the first time in days we enjoyed all of the comforts of a marina including spacious showers and a nice restaurant twenty yards from the boat. At about 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning, we turned on the CD player and adjusted the volume to a comfortable level in the salon. After a few minutes we realized the speakers in the salon had been turned off and the speakers outside in the cockpit we playing music at a volume sufficient to shake the San Andreas fault free. Fortunately, we had breakfast and left Oceanside before any boaters that we'd awakened could load their guns and find us.
The sail to San Diego was again plagued with puny winds. They kept us moving, but we weren't going to make good time without a little assist from the iron-sail. The seas had developed a little bigger swell, usually an indication of a storm to the northwest, but they were still calm enough to permit the crew to lounge about and get in some good reading. It was just a bit sad Ralph wouldn't get to experience the exhilaration of sailing in more feisty conditions. By about 3 p.m., we were about ten miles from the entrance to San Diego Bay. The wind instruments showed winds were picking up. The increase was gradual enough that the crew really didn't notice. However, by swinging the Tempest a bit to the west, it appeared we would be able to sail in for a few miles under some respectable developing Santa Ana winds. The crew didn't know what was in store. Neither did the captain!
Sailing vessel Tempest is referred to as a "blue water" boat. It is designed for cruising around the world in big seas and can withstand the big storms. It is not a "light-winds" boat. She really just begins to play a little bit when winds start getting to around twelve knots. As the turn was made toward the east, a following wind was turned into a crossing wind of about fourteen knots. The Tempest perked up like a hound ready to hunt. She instantly gained speed and heeled hard to starboard. Ralph was going to get to "sail hot" after all. The winds continued to increase until we had twenty to twenty-five knots steady on the port beam. The boat heeled heavily as the waters crashed over the bow. Ralph looked like an animated creature with alternating wide eyes and wide grins. I'm afraid we have no pictures of this segment of the trip. The task of handling the boat took all of our attention and provided more excitement than any of us had expected.
When we reached the entrance to San Diego Bay, the crew unanimously agreed it was time to turn around and head back out to sea for some more excitement. How exciting was it? For those that don't know of sailboat design, there is a certain "hull speed" for any given boat, a speed that is in theory a hard limit. The hull-speed on the Tempest was thought to be about eight-knots. Yesterday, we set the record for the boat as we hit nine knots (10 miles per hour). This isn't much in a car, but in a sail boat, it's just plain screaming.
When we finally headed toward home, one last adventure awaited us. Getting a big sailboat safely into its slip with twenty-five knot Santa Anas blowing is challenging to say the least. The crew performed like seasoned masters of the sea and we tucked the Tempest into her slip as if we were gently putting a jewel into its velvet case. The crew packed up and left the Tempest for the last time - at least for this trip. Ralph exits in the picture, but we're betting the salt on his cheeks, the memory of the adventure and the call of the sea will bring him back again.
Friday morning in San Diego was greeted with a cool, fall sunrise across the Bay. The lights of the City and distant Tijuana show on the final page of a great adventure.
Tuesday - October 17th 9 p.m. - Avalon: The day started with a trip to the Avalon hospital. It seems Liz had placed her face directly into a mass of rosemary to enjoy the fragrance. She loved the smell, but one of her other senses (vision) in a fit of anger decided that if she was to show preference to the olfactory senses, the eyes would simply swell shut to get some attention. All is well or at least getting better.
Upon our return to the center of town, we found ourselves in the middle of a movie shoot. We may appear in some background shots in what we're certain will be an Academy Award winner. Zombie Nation starring what's-his-name as Demon Jones and what's-her-name as "The Babe" will be in theaters soon. When we got a break from the filming, we returned to the boat to pick up Ralph who had stayed onboard to catch up on his relaxation. As you can see, Ralph perfected a new way of entering the dingy. He has since decided to pursue other entry techniques.
In the afternoon, we rented one of the ubiquitous golf-carts and spent a couple of hours driving around the island. We're please to say there were no incidents of significance. The day ended with a good steak at one of Avalon's better restaurants. Victoria can be seen saying good-night to the charming host.
Monday - October 16th 9 p.m. - Avalon, Catalina Island: Hard to say how much more pleasure we can withstand. The day began without a beginning. The sun rose and gradually the crew followed. Everyone hurried to accomplish their non-existent goal for the day. Finally when a hint of industry struck, Liz and Victoria took the water-taxi to the shopping mall at two harbors. Perhaps "shopping mall" is a bit grandiose. The "store" might be more appropriate especially in view of the fact that other than the restaurant, it was the only business in town. The water-taxi driver brought them back shopped out and fatigued from battling the Monday crowds of one and sometimes two other shoppers.
A gentle sail on gentle seas brought us into Avalon harbor. Avalon is the "big city" on Catalina Island. There are actually choices in restaurants (although not many) and choices in stores (although not many) and choices in other things (although not many). In truth, Avalon is a quaint and picturesque town plucked off the side of an Italian hillside. We made it to town around four-thirty and we polished ourselves for the dance that never came. A patio table overlooking the ocean allowed us to prep for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant. Discussion around the dinner table proved lively and although threats were made, no blows were actually struck. Genetic engineering has never been so exciting. Tomorrow promises to be another day of intense relaxation.
Sunday - October 15th 8 p.m - Two Harbors, Catalina Island: Another brutal day of relaxation. We "sailed" from about 10 a.m. until our arrival at the Isthmus on the west end of Catalina Island. The "town" of two harbors is visited by many, but few. In fact, few have ever heard of it let alone been there. The members of the crew that have never been here were treated to a tour of the town. A hand-sweep and you've seen it all. One restaurant, one general store, a set of showers and a small bed-and-breakfast. It doesn't take long. However, once oriented, a visitor must experience the elixir accessible no where in the world other than "Two Harbors". Buffalo Milk maketh people smile (not to mention, fat). An interesting mix of ingredients into a milk-shake like drink and it's hands-and-knees back to the boat. This becomes a serious challenge when the boat is two-hundred yards off-shore. Liz and Ralph are seen waiting for the water-taxi while other members of the crew are apparently swimming for the boat.
The "sail" from Dana Point to the west end of Catalina was nearly impossible. Were it not for the beans from dinner the previous night, we would have had no wind. We finally had to fire up the iron-sail and the trip took about seven hours. The seas were incredibly calm. Rick Baker from the Ocean Institute had tipped us off that the "Pilgrim" was to be returning to Dana Point on Sunday. As luck would have it, we crossed paths in route to Catalina. We waved and took a few pictures as she passed us on the port side. Calm seas didn't keep the porpoises from joining us for the sail. We had a troop of porpoises that put on a great show playing off the bow of the boat, jumping, twisting, turning and singing in their high pitched voices as if to say "Look at me! Wasn't that a great trick?"
Saturday - October 14th 7 p.m. - Dana Point: A hard day in port. We relaxed very hard today. Nearly wore us out! Following a three mile hike and a nice breakfast on board, we set out for the Ocean Institute. Ralph had arranged for a visit through a friend. Little did we know what was in store for us at this magnificent scientific and teaching facility headquartered in Dana Point. Rick Baker, the Senior Program Director of the Institute personally gave us the grand tour of the entire facility. In addition to research facilities, museum exhibits, gift shops and the more, the Ocean Institute has the Spirit of Dana Point and the Pilgrim in service as teaching facilities. The Spirit of Dana Point is a large schooner of the type used during the revolutionary war. The Pilgrim is a duplicate the ship on which Richard Henry Dana, author of Two Years Before the Mast sailed around the Cape and up the coast of South America and California. Both ships are used as teaching facilities where grade school aged children stay aboard and live the lives of 19th century sailors.
In the museum area of the institute, Victoria has a fish-eye view of the underwater world. Throughout the course of our visit we got up close and personal with an array of ocean critters such as an extroverted octopus, numerous jelly fish and a particularly large lobster. If you ever get a chance to visit the Ocean Institute, don't pass it up. It was nothing short of spectacular.
The next stop on our heavy relaxation tour was the famed Mission of San Juan Capistrano. Famous for its return of the swallows every year, the Mission is an indescribably beautiful place to visit. Although we were threatened with thunderstorms most of the afternoon, the clouds did nothing but give us a great photographic background for some of the pictures. Once our Mission visit was concluded, we indulged ourselves in an exotic lunch, a little shopping and a return to the boat. We're now recovering at the boat and about ready to pop-a-cork. This regimen of rest and relaxation is certainly a tiring quest. Tomorrow, we'll be at sea again headed for Catalina Island.
Friday - October 13th 9 p.m. - Dana Point: We arrived safely in port after playing with a Pacific storm for a good part of the day. You can see the lumpy seas as the storm fades away in the distance. Light rains and the constant chop made for an interesting sail and now the newbies on the crew can say they've started to develop their sea-legs. Dana Point was named for Richard Henry Dana, the author of Two Years Before the Mast. He sailed here from Boston in 1835 on the Pilgrim. His captain was no more cruel than the captain of the good ship Tempest. However, I'm certain the crew of the Pilgrim was far more obedient than that of the Tempest.
As we arrived in the Dana Point marina, we found a true "surfer dog". Notice he's paddling as he stands on the bow of the surf-board. Marina life seems to offer an unending sequence of strange and interesting things. Once we tied up the Tempest and tended to our duties of getting everything ship-shape, we went ashore, rented a car for a couple of days and finally headed out for a fabulous dinner at one of Dana Point's finest Italian restaurants. It was a fitting end to a fine day at sea. Tomorrow we're land-based and headed for the mission at San Juan Capistrano.
Friday - October 13th Noon - at sea: The storm has arrived. The rookie sailors now get to test their sea-legs in some pretty lumpy seas. The winds are still light (10 knots) and from astern. We're trying to sail "wing-on-wing" where the mainsail is 90° to starboard while the big genoa or jib sail is 90° to port. The problem is that with the choppy, following seas, the mast is swinging so drastically sail sets are good only as we pass through the right angle on our way to one side or the other. Liz just prepared a great lunch. We've found soups are easy to prepare and tasty to eat while sailing. The pea soup was no exception. Unfortunately, with the rocking of the boat, the soup is now on the walls, the counters, the clothes, and a variety of other locations. Anyone wanting seconds will have to stake out a section of the counter and lick it clean. But frankly, this is the kind of thing that makes these trips so much fun and so memorable. We've got porpoises running with the boat right now. Quite a site. As you can see from the picture, Ralph and Victoria are sunning themselves in the warm California sun.
Friday - October 13th 6:45 a.m. - Mission Bay: We wake to a cool 58° morning anchored in Mariner's Cove near Mission Bay. Yesterday's trip up from San Diego was intended to be a short, easy sail to test the sea-legs of the newest crew members of the Tempest. Ralph Reynolds, a.k.a. "The Luna Kid" and Victoria McCarty have signed on for this trip around the Cape of Good Fun. The problem with yesterday's leg was the Pacific was as calm as I've ever seen it. Had we not resorted to the "iron sail", we'd probably still be sailing up here. Most of the day we wrestled with one-knot winds sometimes gusting to two-knots. It wasn't exactly the kind of torturous sea capable of testing the metal of our young sailors. When all retired to their bunks last night, the waters were so calm it was hard to imagine we weren't at anchor in a parking lot rather than nestled in a little cove on the great Pacific.
As breakfast is prepared, the captain readies the vessel for a long day at sea. Hopefully, we'll be entering the harbor at Dana Point before sundown. Winds are supposed to be light again today and there's a good chance we'll get a few thundershowers. Ah . . . perhaps a little excitement after all.