8 September 2011
As the washing machine switched from rinse to spin, the heavy change echo as it switched gears was answered by a stifled silence of the entire household. My internet connection suddenly crashed and as it turned out, the rest of San Diego County came to a screeching halt. Dammit, I thought to myself. Of all the times for a brown out. I was to meet Malcolm S- in just a few short hours to head over to the museum and Californian. We were transiting to Dana Point for this weekend’s festival.
Squeezing as much water as I could out of the clothes that I was planning to pack, I draped them over every possible surface I could find in the backyard in order to dry. After a few hours, my last remaining pair of work jeans were being stubborn.
The brown out was revealing itself to be a far more major event than everyone at first imagined. Bringing up my truck, what radio stations were available were in emergency broadcast mode, the blackout ranged from Orange County as far south as Ensenada, Mexico. Initial reports were the blackout could last as long as into the next evening. Although there was nothing I could do, I turned my attention to the girls. The could be rolling with the punches or on the other side, worried and scared.
It took awhile to get a hold of them, but they seemed ok, but without air conditioning, Jen was planning to take them to her sister’s house in Temecula, which apparently had avoided the blackout.
On my drive towards Malcolm’s, lines formed at any convenience store that was able to provide business. With the heat and the promise of more tomorrow, water and ice were instantly big commodities. A short stop at Malcolm’s we were at the museum as the last light of day departed. It was refreshingly cool on the waterfront.
Irving Johnson surprisingly had not departed yet, although they had earlier mentioned a 1600 departure time. A victim of the blackout, their skipper was stuck in the commuting back-up on the coaster train service.
By 2200, the Irving Johnson was off, and we were waiting for John M-, Paul D- and Jim E- to depart. As 2330 rolled by and we readied for departure, the San Diego skyline lit up and shouts of joy were heard from the street.
For the transit, I was put on second watch with Paul F- and Malcolm. Eight to twelve both am and pm meant that after setting sail, I’d actually get a decent night’s rest. Or so I thought.
We set all three lowers, meaning the main, fore and stays’l. This was my first overnight, out-of-area sail on Californian so I anticipated a lot of new things to be sure.
Having sailed Californian only in a passenger day sail context, the thought of a crew of eight handling the fore and main concerned me only in that I expected it to be a hard haul and long in time.
The fact that with such a small crew the task was actually easier than I had ever experienced with a boat full of passengers laying their hands on the halyards filled me with wonder. Certainly, small things were done a bit differently. Once the peaks were at a satisfactory height, they were stoppered off with those hands moving opposite to help finish off the throats last few feet.
As we exited the channel past Point Loma, the swells were immediate and frequent. A good night’s rest never materialized, the rcking and pitching was just too interruptive. By morning, I had only managed perhaps about four hours.
In the fo’c’sle, through the late and early hours of Friday, the heavy swells could be heard washing over the deck. There was room in the main cabin area of Californian to bed down with my mates, but as with the Bill of Rights I felt my place forward. Officially “A” compartment on the Bill, the fo’c’sle feels like the home that I belong to.
But if you live in the forecastle, you are “as independent as a wood-sawyer’s clerk,” (nautice’,) and are a sailor. You hear sailor’s talk, learn their ways, their peculiarities of feeling as well as speaking and acting; and moreover pick up a great deal of curious and useful information in seamanship, ship’s customs, foreign countries, etc., from their long yarns and equally long disputes. No man can be a sailor, or know what sailors are, unless he has lived in the forecastle with them–turned in and out with them, eaten of their dish and drank of their cup.
~ Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Two Years Before the Mast
At eight bells, I began my first watch of a calming sea. The farther north we continued, the swells flattened but not completely.
We arrived in Dana Point long enough to step again on land, breathe a sigh of relief and stretch our legs. The window was short until passengers were expected to be boarding for the afternoon’s parade. Additional crew that made the drive north joined us as well.
I Love a Parade
Unlike The parade at San Diego, the route at Dana Point is a bit different as the harbor is not a large one. This time around it was Pilgrim and the Spirit of Dana Point’s party, taking the lead off shore.
Californian was next to last in line. As with the previous week, the hulls were all of a familiar note, Pilgrim and Spirit as already noted, Irving and Exy Johnson, Curlew, Amazing Grace and Bill of Rights.
All the boats were manned with some sort of gun, from a humble signal gun (which still produces a considerable bang) to Californian’s six pounders. The ships of this line proceeded east along the shoreline and cliffs of the point proper.
As the breakwater juts out from the point south, it creates a turning point for the parade. Located at this corner the Ocean Institute provided the target for each vessel’s salute.
With each crack of a gun, a brief moment of breath brought the report back from the cliff. It was impressive as the revenue cutter waited for its turn. All four six pounders waited on the port side, primed and ready for action.
Four six-pounders, a rolling broadside against the cliffs of Dana Point echoed each in turn as one continuous roar, alternating between gun and echo. The collective gasp could be heard from the passengers, shore and other vessels.
We furled sail motoring back up the channel. The remainder of the evening was spent with dinner and visiting among the other boats. After meeting a number of people from the ships the previous week, it was great to follow-up on some developing friendships.
Unlike San Diego, the layout created a more intimate atmosphere among ships, moored to two sets of four. Crossing someone else’s deck to get to your own fo’c’sle was inevitable.
Tomorrow, the fest would kick into gear. I had one watch duty between 1200 and 1400, an odd interruption to the day as it was becoming apparent that internet access was not to be had in the area of the OI. Walking would be a large part of that quest. I still had remaining work to be done via the internet for the MMSD.
Still, tomorrow will come and interesting it will be no doubt.