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About 5 miles due east of Avalon Harbor, Catalina.

Posted by admin on September 7, 2006 at 10:55 pm  

Heading: 102 degrees (east-south-east)
SOG: 9 knots

We are passing a salty little sail boat on our starboard as we both head east across the shipping lanes between Catalina Island and the mainland. Once across we’ll head down the coast on our return to San Diego.

We departed for Catalina from San Diego at 04:30 PST, September 4. My 13-year-old son, Sam and I were about as sick as you can be almost the entire way. Once we cleared San Diego bay we caught 6-8’ swells left over from Hurricane John well to our south. They hit the two of us like a sledge hammer. My daughter, Laura, and First Mate Doug Harris, did fine; although after the fact Doug admitted to having a somewhat difficult time also.

When we left San Diego, the winds were calm but it didn’t matter. I should have known better. A closer look at the NOAA sea-state report would have told us all we needed to know.

So, it was a very rough slog for 68 nautical miles from San Diego to Avalon Harbor on Catalina. What should have taken less than eight hours at a very comfortable cruising speed, took us more than ten.

Lesson learned: I don’t need to rush! I’m 57. I have nothing to prove. I own the boat. Slow down, for crying out loud! We should have waited. We should have waited. We should have waited. And I certainly should have popped a couple of Dramamine, and given Sam one. Sometimes sea sickness is unavoidable, but in this sea state it was totally unnecessary.

Most of the Labor Day boat-owning crowd had already left Avalon when we arrived, but passengers from the cattle-car cruise ships hit Avalon like a tsunami. The discount cruises must have been in town when we arrived, because, to be perfectly blunt, I’ve rarely seen such a motley crowd. Seriously. Endless fat, dirty people who could barely waddle from shop to shop. Man!
You know, as a nation, we really are just plain fat. Wake up, America! And take a shower and wash your clothes for crying out loud! You look terrible!

Speaking of weight, I did have about the best cheeseburger I’ve tasted in a long time there – at one of those tiny little street-side window stands. Of course the flavor might have had more to do with there being absolutely nothing in my stomach. Same with Sam. He fell in love with his hot dog.

To top off our scintillating evening in Avalon, we went to the incredible old theatre there that has been featured in so many movies itself. The circular building with its vast theatre is a real treasure. They were playing an artistic classic: Taladega Nights with Will Farrell. You know, it was really funny! Exactly what you’d expect from Mr. Farrell – a dumb funny movie – and I mean that in the most complimentary manner possible!

We moored in Avalon Harbor the night of September 4. The next morning we had a battery problem with our 14-foot Caribe rigid inflatable. As Doug worked diligently to fix the problem, Laura and I rented a skiff and delivered Sam to a camp at Toyon Bay about two miles up the coast. His seventh-grade class from Scottsdale Christian Academy is on a week-long field trip there, and had arrived just a couple hours earlier.

Sam is such a good guy. He never complained on the way over although he wound up sleeping on the floor when he could sleep, and he was every shade of green and grey imaginable.

Speaking of good guys, Doug Harris has truly distinguished himself this entire week. Doug is about 30, and has his own business, Trusted Marine Services. He does a lot of work for folks around the Dana Point Harbor – mainly one off stuff to fix ships. He has been working on boats for fifteen years, and knows many people in the boating community here.

When we discovered that the battery on the dingy had been left on and was out of juice, Doug had calls out to friends on Catalina within minutes. A nice lady named Marie, appeared immediately, called a friend of hers – an off duty vessel assist person – and they had the dingy working in no time.

While I’m not entirely a rookie at this stuff, I am definitely learning plenty from this young man. While I continue to learn about the ship, I’m encouraged that Nordhavns are carefully designed to be run by retired couples anywhere in the world. I plan to take a crew of two with me around the world. We’ll do fine.

My wife, Lynn, has blessed our planned trip, as I travel the world to explore the economics, politics, culture, and investment opportunities of distant lands. She will fly to meet me at various destinations, and I will fly home frequently. I’m also hoping that all of my five children will join me periodically, as well as friends, sponsors, listeners to our radio show, and visitors to our website. In short, The Global Adventure will be a busy, safe, and exciting – place!

We left Avalon yesterday afternoon, and cruised up the eastern coast of Catalina past a place called Two Harbors (where the wind was racing through like a banshee), and dropped anchor in a beautiful little inlet known as Emerald Bay.

There were only a few other boats there. Although moorings were available, we chose to drop anchor and to use both our flopper stoppers.

It was the first time we have deployed the anchor, and the winch system worked flawlessly – using both the foot pedals at the bow, and the control switch at the fly bridge. Nordhavn has the 300’ chain market every fifty feet. Since we dropped the hook in about 30’ of water, we let out 150+’ of chain. It was a sandy bottom on a fairly still night, so a five-to-one ratio seemed plenty.

We used the GPS system to set an anchor alarm. However, we chose a radius — .015 of a mile – that was too small. The natural rotation of the boat around the anchor set off the alarm on several occasions. But despite some sleeplessness, we awoke the next morning to see that we had not moved at all.

The flopper stoppers (FPs) proved interesting. Although we probably didn’t need them, we deployed both of these monsters, mainly to see how or even whether they would work.

The basis concept is that large metal plates, each hinged like a book, are lowered into the water as they extend from poles on either side of the boat. The “books” closes on each side as each plate descends, and opens as the plates rise, slowing the pitching motion of the boat.

The FPs are intended to slow pitching motion while at anchor. For a boat this size, we rely on our fin stabilizers to reduce pitch while under way. The “FPs” worked very well, but were surprisingly noisy. We may not have deployed them properly. We’ll try a couple of variations next time. But I can definitely see how they will be a significant advantage on choppy nights when we’re “on the hook.”

Last night Laura made us a fine dinner – our first real sit-down mean on board: Chicken Kabobs on the outdoor grill, pasta, salad, and veggies. Too bad she can’t travel with us all the time!

This morning we hauled up and secured the rigid inflatable, and the FPs, and returned to Avalon Bay where we dropped off Laura. She will take a ferry back to Long Beach, there to be met by friends for a wedding she’ll attend this weekend, before returning home to Scottsdale for work on Monday.

I’ve very proud of Laura. She graduated from The University of Arizona this past spring with a degree in molecular-cellular biology. She now works as a representative for Merck, the giant drug company. She calls on doctors all day, and, I’m pleased to say, her route keeps her in Arizona where we can see her more often (when I’m around!).

It’s now 12:30 PST. We’re a few miles east of the shipping channel leading up to Long Beach, about 28 miles due west of Oceanside. We are heading 141 degrees south, south-east. Our SOG (speed over ground) is 9.2 Kts (knots).

Our return trip is shaping up as the polar opposite to our trip up to Catalina. Cruising conditions are ideal.

And get this: I’ve been happily typing now for a couple of hours, sitting in the pilot house where you can literally hear a pin drop. Doug is taking a well deserved nap. I have the helm. I get up occasionally to do a visual inspection around us, and to check the engine room readings. But otherwise, it is as calm and as quiet as you can possibly imagine.

The peace and tranquility I had hoped to find at sea is definitely here – right here right now in the pilot house of our ship, The Global Adventure.


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