Friday, July 29, 2005

Catalina Cruise, Part 6 (passage to San Pedro)

Part 6 (Passage to San Pedro)
Friday morning we showered and breakfasted. Pat then made a run to the Pavilions (Vons) store for ice. By this time, the Bahia Corinthian was coming to life again for the day; kids and instructors were beginning to swarm the piers and load Sabots into the water and some sort of dock officer barked out orders to clear the way for the arrival of a group of racers arriving later that day.

We got a chance to meet Susan Broderick, the club’s pleasant and knowledgeable administrator, and bought some souvenirs as a memory of our trip and in appreciation of the club’s hospitality. We even learned one of the club’s most closely-guarded secrets: the location of the ice machine. Although I’d just schlepped down with two blocks of ice, the icebox had room for more, so we topped enough with enough cubes to last for the rest of our (all too short) remaining voyage.

Desert Blue with Tim and Amy, Kacey and Kevin, left the better part of an hour before Hägar. Unlike the day before, when the harbor was swarming with sabots and every other manner of craft, the harbor was rather quiet on Friday morning, with a small but steady stream of boats heading out and a few heading into port.

We motored during the morning calm, then motor-sailed, then cut off the motor as the winds steadied and we approached Huntington Beach on our sail to weather. As we continued past Bolsa Chica beach and past a couple of oil rigs, the winds freshened, and by the time we were in sight of Long Beach we were in almost a small-boat sailor’s mini-gale, with the wind meter topping out at 28 knots and lots of whitecaps and some breaking waves overlaying the swell. About half of our sail was in winds of around 20 knots or more, so the life vests were broken out and worn. The main was reefed and the genoa rolled in according to the varying winds. Tacking became more of a chore under shortened sail.

With spray and sometimes more water coming aboard, we took advantage of an opportunity to tack into the Long Beach harbor entrance and work our way up through the outer harbor toward San Pedro. The advantage of this maneuver was the relatively calmer waters inside the breakwater; even though we still had whitecaps and some breaking waves, the swell was gone and the ride much easier. The disadvantage was that the waters were more crowded with jetties, moored ships, and moving vessels to be avoided, so we had to do much more tacking. Also, toward the end of our beat, the winds became more fickle, softening enough to tempt us to run out more genoa, and then renewing their fury and forcing us to reduce sail again.

Coincidentally, this was about the time that Aequanimity and Desert Angel arrived in the harbor from Avalon. Although their ocean passage was successful, their arrival in the harbor was not without incident. Jeff, sailing without a usable motor, found himself unable to cross the path of a big ship and had to tack toward shore … and all the way aground upon the shore, further banging up his unfortunate MacGregor. With some damage to the boat and a lack of maneuverability, Jeff had to call for a tow to the (fortunately nearby) county boat ramp and put his boat on the trailer and haul it out of the water after which Buzz and crew were able to continued on into the marina.

We found our way to the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, where dockmaster Dean had found the three remaining boats a corner of the marina where we could tie up close together. Stan and Capt. Al on Hägar cooked dinner to use up more of their abundant provisions, while most of the rest of us searched for a friendly restaurant. After finding a nearby seafood place oversubscribed with a long waiting list, we wound up on 6th street at San Pedro’s brewpub. The beer may not have been the most exciting sudsy stuff and the place only had two flavors on tap, but they had a varied menu and lots of good food. Sleep was then welcome, though some construction/industrial noises from across the harbor were a nuisance; there was a sort of a siren or “hooter” going off from time to time from about a half mile or more to the east.

The next day, we enjoyed the peaceful morning quiet of the harbor. The morning soon became warm, but we had a lot to do. Captain Al climbed the mast, using a special ladder that was hauled up the mainsail track, to retrieve an errant halyard. Much work had to be done to prepare Hägar for haul-out; lines and sheets needed to be coiled and stowed, the sails put down, the boom stowed below, and the dinghy taken apart, washed, and stowed. Then it was time to say farewell to our friends at Cabrillo Beach, motor to the boat ramp, and begin the haul-out process.

After backing the trailer into the water, nudging the boat onto the trailer, securing it snugly with quarter-lines, hauling Hägar and trailer out of the water and re-attaching the trailer to the truck, loose gear was cleared away, the spare tire was attached to the trailer, and the a-frame for lowering the mast was assembled and raised into position abaft the mast. By then it was eight bells; noon came and went and I had to leave to catch a 1:00 p.m. shuttle from the Catalina Express terminal to Los Angeles airport. Captain Al planned to take me, but the one glitch of our trip together rose up: a gear broke in the trailer jack and the truck couldn’t be disconnected from the trailer and (mast still up) boat.

So, in about one hour and a few minutes, I power-walked first to the yacht club, printed out my boarding pass from the computer in the member’s lounge, turned in the card-key for the marina, and power walked north up the harbor to the ferry terminal. Arriving at about 1:10, I found the parking lot thronged with a hundred or more Boy Scouts, parents, and leaders; a big contingent had just debarked from the ferry after spending a week in summer camp on the island. Relieved to find my shuttle still waiting for me, I introduced myself to the driver and settled in for the ride to the airport.

Quickly arriving at terminal one of LAX – Saturday traffic was light by L.A. standards and easily dealt with by the driver – I paid the driver, walked around the external luggage check-in area and into the security screening line. Well, sort of a line. There were four screeners and only a handful of people at the time, so I only had to wait a minute for the person ahead of me to be screened. Having left my duffle on the boat to accompany Al and Stan overland, I was traveling light and was strolling down the concourse by 1:47 with plenty of time to kill until my 3:20 flight. Strolling through a Brookstone and a cat-and-dog pet gift store killed some time, then a stop for an ice cream cone at one shop and then a soda at McDonald’s killed more time until it was time to board the direct flight to Albuquerque.

The rest of the trip was a welcome, efficient anticlimax to the hardships and delays of the outbound trip. Although the plane was about 10 minutes late leaving, it made up that time and the time sped while I conversed with my aisle neighbors, a lady on my right who grew up in Albuquerque and a retired former pipefitter on my left who lived in Mora County. With no luggage to claim, I rapidly went to the shuttle van area and found one waiting to take me to the parking lot; the driver was happy to take off with just one passenger, so I was in my car a few minutes later, chatting for a moment with the gate attendant, and on my way home.


At 1:04 AM, July 30, 2005, Blogger Carol Anne said...

"After backing the trailer into the water, nudging the boat onto the trailer, securing it snugly with quarter-lines, hauling Hägar and trailer out of the water and re-attaching the trailer to the truck, loose gear was cleared away"

Man, that's some talented loose gear.

At 12:37 AM, August 01, 2005, Blogger Carol Anne said...

I see you still haven't found the checkbox to put the comments into a separate popup window the way they are on most blogs. It's more than a bit annoying, since I'm used to just closing a window to return from the comments list to the main blog, but when I do the same thing here, it shuts down my Web browser instead.


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