The day following Christmas, the schooner Bill of Rights loaded a cadre of Navy Sea cadets for a five day run to Catalina island and back.
Unlike the previous trip of cadets, the sea was calm nearly the entire way. Not one case of sea sickness to my disappointment. I’ve always seen sea sickness as a bit of a right of passage for anyone who chooses to tread upon the water. And yet, this voyage isn’t over yet with the chance of inclimate weather later in the week.
By sunset, San Clemente island was passing in the distance to the west.
To my surprise as I awoke for watch at 0130, we were already passing Avalon. A fresh cup of coffee, no sooner had I assumed the watch when I caught my first shooting star.
The Pacific was still calm as Bill continued to plod North along Catalina’s shoreline, albeit at a safe distance. A waypoint lay ahead, correcting course from 305 to 280 degrees. Changing helm personnel hourly, sometimes this old schooner kept on course, on other occasions she swam through the water like a sea snake. Being young kids, there would even be the rare instance of looking forward to see the west coast, specifically LAX, ahead. But they’re kids, and that’s what I’m here for.
As the dark hours of the morning coursed by along the flat Pacific, intermittent claps along the surface caught my ear. Black waves, small, no bigger than the typical crest of water than one seas. Yet they contradicted the expanse that they interrupted. I grabbed into my jacket for my flashlight and lit the waters.
Dolphin. Bill was inside a pod as we cruised along the Northeast shore of Catalina. I invited the young helm over as I took the wheel. For me, pods never get old, it’s almost like it’s always the first time. For the kid at the helm it was the first time. Bow watch was getting vocal as well as the Cetaceans were surfing the bow wake.
Watch had gone by fairly quickly with one more shooting star for good measure. In talking with K-, my relief, our lack of attention was interupted by the bow once again facing in the direction of the coastline. Oy.
A few hours still til daylight and breakfast. A final glance at the stars, I lowered myself down into the focsle.