09/17/2014, Monterey Bay Marina, Monterey, CA
I encourage you all to read Robert's detailed response (see the comments to Rogue's Gallery, Biopic Robert) to my characterization of his time on board Mabrouka. I'm happy to leave it there as-is because I'm sure his recollection of events is better than mine in many instances. It's certainly more detailed.
My own response to his original comment stands, although it should probably be expanded. In particular, I welcome further criticism and/or support on how I'm approaching this blog. Surely it's obvious that I am having some fun with the way I describe events and people, which opens the door to hurting some feelings. Should I restrain my tendency for entertainment in favor of accuracy? Should I resist talking about people at all, knowing that my view from the outside looking in will never match my subject's view looking out? Should I take notes, actually interview people, and cross-check all my facts?
If these turn out to be the consensus of recommendations, writing for you will become overwhelmingly tedious and I fear that the blog will devolve into a bland travelog of, "...I sailed here. I anchored there and went ashore. I walked around a while and drank beer and tropical drinks. I pulled up anchor and went to another blue-watered, white-sanded cove where I did it all over again." BORing!
Although it has never been and never will be my intent to hurt anyone or distort history to anyone's detriment, I also never intended this blog to be anything but my story. Sometimes I don't write down my thoughts until days or even weeks after-the-fact. Through my imperfect memory I'm sure I will reveal my own faults and sensitivities. Is that the way of being an author or even, as is probably a more accurate label for my blogging activities, just a diarist? I think so.
In summary, I apologize to Robert and to all future participants in this story for mis-recollections and mis-characterizations that have occurred and will yet occur. My only caveat is that my writing should always be taken as a story told from my point of view. You might even call it historical fiction which, as I understand it, is basically an entertaining imagination built around a few basic facts. Robert's criticisms are part of my growing process and I, for one, will not ignore them.
09/16/2014, Monterey Bay Marina, Monterey, CA
No drama today, ...except for sea lions and whales. Lots and LOTS of frolicking whales! Oh, but you're probably not interested in that.
I woke at my typical early hour on Monday morning, but rousted myself out of my bunk and off the boat with more intention than usual. I'd posted a blog entry the previous day recounting our dramatic sail down from Half Moon Bay, but had traipsed off for my rendezvous in the blogiverse without having prepared pictures. That morning I was on a mission to satisfy the visual needs of my faithful following. With everything I needed in my backpack, I clambered into the little Portland Pudgy, cranked up the motor and nudged my way through the dark to the dock.
Now, this dock is a treacherous little affair that's stapled to a small landing accessed from the pier 30 feet overhead by a stair. The landing is six feet above the water and has an industrial grade aluminum ladder down to the dock. The dock itself is treacherous because its deck is only about 6 inches above the water, if that. That means two things: first, the proximity to the water's surface doesn't give you the usual feeling of security you get in a marina where the deck is a foot or a foot-and-a-half above the water; secondly, it provides easy access for the sea lions.
We'd dealt with the sea lions before. As big, noisy, and generally intimidating as they are, it seems that, if you are respectful in your movement, they stay out of your way and even bail into the ocean if they are particularly nervous. I must have been the first one to make my way in that morning because the dock was occupied with 400 to 600 pound beasts from end to end.
My tiny dinghy with its dinky little 2.3 horsepower motor doesn't impress anyone except with the ridiculous sight of me maneuvering it, but I used the noisy, air-cooled motor to advantage. By running back and forth and around in circles five or ten feet away, I succeeded in intimidating enough animals off one end of the dock to land and to make it to the ladder.
That was fine, but one of them had laid a big pile of sea lion poop right next to the cleat I needed to use and then attempted to rinse it off with a flood of sea lion pee. How pleasant. Think an ooze of coffee colored soft-serve ice-cream melting into a pool of stale beer. Still, there was nothing for it, so I dealt. One big guy (I don't know, ...could have been a gal.) held its ground about four feet from the ladder, but I braved the close encounter and have obviously lived to tell the tale.
Back pack slung across my shoulders with my laptop and camera inside, I set off at a deliberate pace toward the coffee shop I'd reconnoitered the previous afternoon. Remember my statement above, "With everything I needed in my backpack..."? Not. About half way in to my mile walk I remembered my glasses. That made uploading, sorting, and captioning photos a special adventure.
Anyway, I accomplished my mission and was still moving with intent when I got back to the boat around 8 o'clock. Ruthless in my industry, I disregarded Jim's penchant for lying in and did a major chore up on deck: raising the main sail section by section to scrub out the dirty smudges that had accrued on it since the very first day it had been on the boat. After a while even he couldn't take it any more and Jim got up to stumble through a wake up routine. We fed ourselves breakfast, hoisted the anchor, and got on our way about 10 am.
The day started out windless, so we motored southward toward Monterey some 19 miles away, following Andante into the mist that hung grey a mile or three distant. Friday was laying in until later in the morning when they hoped a wind would have risen.
An hour out we got a VHF call from Andante. They cruise a knot or so faster than Mabrouka does, so are able to call back with scouting reports on weather and wildlife. This time Kevin got on the horn and announced that they were surrounded by about 100 whales.
"A hundred," I asked incredulously? Well, maybe dozens, but a lot, and they were ALL around. I marked their estimated position on my chart plotter and motored on southward in great anticipation. We could see some cetacean activity ahead of us as we approached the big electronic "X" I'd placed on the sea, so we cut the engine and began to sneak up on the unsuspecting ocean denizens under sail.
Long story short, we did see some interesting activity with flights of seals charging across the water in pursuit of the same game the whales seemed to relish so much. Dolphins thrashed the water to foam in the distance and came to visit us once, but Mabrouka didn't interest them as much as lunch. This show was actually a little frustrating in light of Kevin's earlier report, but we sailed on earnestly toward Monterey still harboring high hopes of whale sightings from horizon to horizon.
A mostly fruitless hour later with Jim standing lookout on the bow, he pointed toward the shoreline that was appearing in the distant haze, claiming a lot of whale activity was coming in to view as well. He was right. After a while I could make out dozens of whale spouts near the shore. It was comparable to a geyer-fest at Yellowstone. We got closer and closer and our interest got more and more intense.
I think I'll leave most of the rest of the story to pictures, so go to the album for the San Diego half of this trip. There were at least two concentrations of whales within a mile of each other, each with at least a dozen animals circling and splashing, diving and breaching in an area of half a football field.
We doused the genny and drifted in their general direction, eventually getting to within about 500 yards of the main activity while separate whales meandered to and fro around us. My camera clicked and clicked and clicked and clicked until the batter ran out. I ended up taking over 500 pictures, of which I think I kept only about 350 and have posted only 30 or so. We were absolutely amazed, but by the time my battery died we were actually ready to move on. Oh, how easily jaded we are, but it was an experience I will never forget.
The effects of the sunny day were being felt aboard Mabrouka and the right side of my face was slightly a-sizzle as we sailed on toward the marina. We wound our way in to the far, back corner and found the Monterey Peninsula YC's dock occupied. Foretelling of minor calamity ahead, I'd felt something clunky happen in the steering as I was backing and filling to maneuver to a temporary tie-up while I cased the joint for mooring options.
Eventually we decided to go back outside the breakwater and anchor next to Andante and Friday again, hoping for reciprocal moorage at the yacht club the next day. The entrance to the marina is a tight little affair with restaurants and a tourist pier overlooking the west side. It was right there that my steering decided to lock up, leaving me able to turn to starboard only. Although Jim hurriedly clambered over board to the dinghy and stood by to perform tug duties, I was able to get Mabrouka to a dock without incident.
An hour later I had her fixed. The quadrant, the single-most significant part of the system short of the wheel and the rudder, had slipped down the rudder post about an inch, misaligning the cables which then proceeded to jump out of their grooves. I shifted it back up, pried the cables back in to place, and torqued down the bolts. All was now good, but I was dirty and sweaty, so called the harbor master back and arranged for a slip.
09/14/2014, Anchored off Santa Cruz pier, Santa Cruz, CA
[At the risk of never properly catching you up with the most epic part of Mabrouka's voyage south, I've decided to focus more on adventures that are fresh in my mind from previous days. I'm also unhappy to see Robert's biopic sitting atop my blog for so long with the negative connotations raised by his rejection of my characterization of his time on board. I didn't mean to summarize his time in that way and don't want it to be the banner under which this blog sails. So, on with more fun-filled accounts.]
I'm sitting here in the Santa Cruz Roasters coffee shop trying to recreate the image of yesterday's sailing in my mind. About midway through an awesome day surging downwind from Half Moon Bay, I went up to enjoy my favorite spot on the boat, Mabrouka's sprit. I sat facing forward on the narrow deck that thrusts out from the bow and over the water, one leg on each side, forearms resting on the lower course of the bow pulpit. Mabrouka's stem parted the Pacific waters with a steady growl as she did her Mamba with the ocean waves. The gennaker occasionally rattled and snapped above me in a great round breast of blue, green, aqua and white. I love that place, unique in the universe for its feeling of harnessed natural power. I can look down into dark depths that stare back at you with a single huge, blue eye that reflects a shimmering image of your boat and the sky above. This time the colors of the sails above me were caught about three feet below the surface, shifting shades and catching the sun to lay an eerie, slightly fluorescent carpet beneath our passage down the California coast.
The previous day's sail had taken us on a 30 mile run down from Sausalito, just inside the Golden Gate Bridge, to Half Moon Bay. That day's run had been nice enough, picking up a little wind on a broad reach an hour or so out. The skies lifted and the horizon's grey curtain stood back a few miles in the late morning as the wind filled in enough to carry Mabrouka along at a brisk, strolling pace. That faded into memory by mid-afternoon and we motored for the rest of the day.
Half Moon Bay was nice as well, but not the kind of place that attracted us to hang out. Andante and Friday, who were there well ahead of us, warned not to anchor too close downwind from the inner jetty which reeked from the pelican rookery that had taken it over. Jim had prepped for steak salad on the way down, so he whipped it into final form while I lowered the dinghy for a dessert run ashore. Although the town was rumored to be very nice, it involved a walk across the highway that was not supported by the energy left in our evening legs. Instead, Jim and I settled for gelato in a shop just outside the little mall up the hill from the waterfront. We returned to Mabrouka without further adventure.
It was a calm, if smelly anchorage and I was lulled to sleep by the hoot of the fog horn on the outer jetty not far away. It was a background noise I much preferred over the soundtrack of Saturday morning sport fisherman's outboard motors that started parading by well before sunrise. When Jim finally arose around eight, he complained of nightmares in which the fog horn played the part of a ghostly, but ambiguous warning that he could never quite respond to. I calmed him with pancakes for breakfast and soon we hoisted our anchor to follow our friends south through the flotilla of fisherman that schooled for miles outside the breakwater.
That brings us back to yesterday, a day that might well register as the very best sailing day I've ever had on any boat. We'd started out motoring in the usual morning calm, but when a little swell set in from the starboard quarter, Jim raised the main sail to dampen Mabrouka's increasing roll. That seemed to encourage the wind which, though still gentle, was rising graciously to Jim' effort. It wasn't long before I hoisted the mizzen and the gennaker and the wind took the further hints.
From there our wind meter registered increasingly higher velocities, all from the right direction. It was soon blowing steadily over 12 knots from the northwest and later in the day we'd reach 15, 18 and occasionally over 20 knots. Mabrouka danced well with her partner, maintaining over seven knots, several times surging upwards of eight, and even enjoying a quick fox trot around nine once or twice.
This carried us throughout the afternoon's 45 mile run. Maybe three miles out of Santa Cruz, we jibed over, took down the gennaker, and hoisted the genoa for the final reach into harbor. We were taking down the genny just south of the Point Santa Cruz light when Kevin hailed us on the VHF, advising of whales in the vicinity. Man, you have NO idea.
As the Santa Cruz pier came into sight, so did a panoply of nature's wonders. We were hard pressed to pay attention to putting Mabrouka's sails away as thousands and thousands of sea birds swirled in great clouds around us, the water foamed with anchovies, and humpback whales barreled through the underwater smorgasbord. Kayaks on the bay were literally hidden from view behind fluttering curtains of black wings. Islands of shining, black whale appeared and disappeared around us, sometimes within only a few yards of the paddlers and sailors that had come out to join in the melee.
Earlier in the day Facebook had informed me that our friend on Friday, Jared, was celebrating a birthday. That was an understatement. Apparently in the short time he'd already been anchored next to the pier he'd partaken of several shots of various strong alchohols. Someone had let him have the mike on Andante's VHF and he was broadcasting enthusiastic and sometimes inappropriate encouragement to us. Mabrouka was looking "sexy", but we were "effin' wimps" for not having sailed to anchor. We were notified of whales to the left of us, whales to the right. Suddenly Jared went silent and we later learned that Andante's skipper had had to rescind his microphone privileges.
After more than a few oh-mans, this-is-incredibles, and I-can't-believe-its, Jim and I finally controlled our delight enough to put the sails away and prepare to set the anchor about fifty yards away from Andante and maybe two hundred feet from the pier. This is when more evidence of the swarming anchovies that had attracted the whales and the birds became apparent. I couldn't get a water depth with which to determine the amount of anchor chain to put out. The depth gauge was indicating 23 feet, then 9.5 feet, then 12 or 16 feet, back to more than 20 feet and less than ten. Worried that I'd soon find Mabrouka, with her 6-1/2 foot draft, perched on the sandy bottom, I radioed to Andante to see what depth they sat in. Kevin assured me of at least 20 feet. He had a fish-finding type sounder and could distinguish between schooling fish and sandy bottom. Reassured, we paid out about 100 feet of chain and settled in.
Our anchorage was bracketed by the towering amusement pier to the west that was frosted with the neon lights of bars, restaurants and tourist stuff shops; a beach that curved from the base of the pier to cover our northern and eastern flanks; and the broad ocean to the south that still fluttered with birds. The boardwalk above the beach dazzled with the flashing neon lights of Santa Cruz's amusement park, dominated by the Big Kahuna roller coaster, but no less glamorous for the swinging hammerhead rides, smaller coasters, and arcades.
We had a quick nosh to take the edge off our hunger, launched the dinghy, and found our way over to visit Kevin, Susan, Zach and Amanda who were celebrating our arrival and Jared's birthday aboard Andante. The birthday boy himself had been sent to bed on his own boat and would not be seen alive until well into the next morning.
Cake and sundowners later, we motored in to the pier, braving enormous sea lions on the dock, then crowds of tourists and a phalanx of tee shirt shops and seafood bars to find dinner and enjoy some shoreside people-watching. Cruiser's midnight (9pm) rolled around pretty quick, though, and we were back on our boats for sleep.
According to Jim, the sea lion chorus began about 3am, but I didn't really notice it until I woke up around five. The rude bellowing, barking and groaning had neither kept me from sleeping nor woken me up, but it did keep me from going back to sleep, so I clawed my way out of bed around first light. The morning set an amorphous grey background to the now sleeping tourist park. A crowd of wetsuit-clad competitors had gathered on the beach for today's Iron Man half-triathlon and their emcee (later dubbed Loudspeaker Lady by Kevin) blasted encouragement to the waiting swimmers, adding a whole other level to the morning sea lion cacophony.
Mabrouka sat on a silvery field of calm water that was frequently breached by browsing dolphins and a few sea lions who'd forsaken their boisterous crowd. A lane of water was soon turned to foam by swimmers who alternately stretched left and right arms toward and around two big orange buoys that had been placed at the head of the pier. I made my morning latte and took out my marlinspike (sailor's sewing) kit to tame some unruly frays sat the ends of miscellaneous lines while all this went on around me.
Sometime after eight, Jim roused himself from bed and sang the praises of ear plugs. I shamed him into action when he tried to use laziness as an excuse to wimp out on his promise of fried eggs, bacon, and hash browns for breakfast. Afterwards we went ashore, he on a search for a long, hot shower and me for this coffee shop.
09/01/2014, Berkeley Yacht Club, Berkeley, CA
Robert is the hardest of the crew for me to characterize. With Jim I feel potential for a real friendship. With Ed I am entertained by his presence and inspired by the youthfulness with which he burrows into his old age. With Robert I'm wary. One particular incident sticks in my craw and I'm not as good at forgiving people as I'd like to be.
Robert's generally friendly enough and comes with a good set of skills that are built on solid experience. Though I haven't probed for details, he's spent quite a bit of time crewing on Pacific transits of various sorts and durations. That and the fact that he volunteered to do all the provisioning and cooking convinced me he'd be a good man to have aboard.
The proof of Robert as an asset for the cruise had been delivered several times over by the time we got really serious and departed Neah Bay. He deserves great credit for organizing and doing the lion's share of the leg work to provision the cruise. His skills in the galley, though unashamedly heartless when it comes to the clean-up crew, were way beyond expectations. His meals were unerringly delicious and healthful and he modestly took our appreciation in stride. He was right on top of caring for the stores, too, religiously checking the fruits and vegetables for spoilage and rearranging things to keep problems from spreading. Wonder of wonders, he cooked fresh bread on a regular basis! From tortillas to flatbreads, from rolls to an impromptu cake celebrating Ed's 79th birthday at sea. All absolutely amazing morale boosters for a weary crew.
It was during our unplanned mid-cruise respite in Bandon that things came to a head between me and Robert. Robert's girl friend, Karen, had driven down from Seattle to meet us and he had basically disappeared with her while we worked to solve a couple of problems on the boat. Some personal issues had apparently cropped up for them and Robert may rightfully have been distracted from contributing to our efforts aboard Mabrouka during that haitus.
Beyond a couple of minor convenience/comfort issues I wanted to take care of, our primary concern was an electrical problem that kept us from charging batteries properly. I'd reconnected this and that in transit and managed to get us by, but a real solution was evading me. Though not alone in voicing his concerns, Robert emphasized his worry that a primary system upon which other primary systems depended (primarily the autopilot, duh) was not functioning properly. This is where I got the distinct impression that this valuable crew member had a real knack for identifying and maintaining focus on issues, ...but not on solving them.
So, it came to Sunday night, the night before our eventual departure for the final leg to San Francisco. I'd been working for two days straight performing the nautical version of pushing a rope up hill, i.e. pushing a halyard up a mast. Solutions to the electrical problem had not come easily and were not assured, but things seemed okay. Most of the other odds and ends had been addressed, too, but all had come with a fair level of stress and I was dog tired when Robert finally showed up at the boat around 7 or 8 pm. With everyone together, I tried to give a briefing on the situation and gather input from the crew.
The denouement of the meeting turned on Robert's insistence upon bringing us back again and again to basic points that we were all already in agreement on, refocusing the conversation on worries rather than solutions. At the same time, he insisted that our planned departure the following morning was news to him. Well, that may well have been God's own truth since he'd hardly been around to discuss, or even hear rumors of the decision. Though I was later corrected, I didn't remember a Tuesday or Wednesday departure ever having been seriously considered. Anyway, I reacted to Robert's surprise by saying something like, "Well that just isn't so!" Almost those exact words. Robert's response was to launch the F-bomb at me and start in on a tirade that implied he was more concerned for the welfare of the boat and crew than I was.
Well, I blew up and pretty much of a shouting match ensued in which neither of us made a positive impression on the other. I am ashamed to recall that I actually went so far in my anger as to tell him to get his stuff and get off the boat. As the decibel level went unabated I realized that one of us had to clear the impasse, so I stopped and let Robert vent. After he'd made his points the third time with never lessening animation, I finally asked him if he was finished. Apparently he was finished enough, so we actually moved on and we decided that we were in good enough shape for departure around seven the next morning.
Robert returned to Karen and their hotel room after the meeting, planning to see her off on her oh-dark-thirty departure back to Seattle in the morning, agreeing to be back with the rest of us by 5 AM to get the boat ready to go. He was apparently anxious and/or unclear enough to come back to Mabrouka at 11 PM to interview me again in my bunk about the solution to our electrical problem. He must have been satisfied because he did show up the next morning.
My sleep was disturbed through the night by regret at having lost my temper and by worries that I could not move forward with a crew member that felt he could challenge my authority as skipper and owner on the boat with foul language and a loud voice. With everyone back on the boat in the morning and nominally ready for departure, we were settled in around the salon table at about 5:30 and I took the opportunity to set things straight.
What Robert had reacted to seems to have been my attempt at keeping the conversation moving forward, taking my statement that we'd gotten his message as an attempt to shut him up. After apologizing for losing my temper, I said that, though it was never my intent to stifle anyone's opinion, I had needed to get the group to a decision. I assured them that I valued each and every one of them for their insight and that I had invited them aboard Mabrouka for the express purpose of filling in gaps in my own offshore experience. However, I emphasized, I am the only person aboard the boat that is indispensable, that Mabrouka would go no where without me, and I would not be engaged by anyone aboard my own boat the way Robert had the previous night. If anyone had an irresolvable personality conflict with me that they could, indeed, go right on home.
Though I never got an apology from Robert, it seemed I'd obtained a degree of acquiescence, so move on we did, making our first attempt to depart Bandon that morning soon after 7 AM with the full crew intact and with only one false start due to fog. Robert and I got on well enough for the rest of the trip to San Francisco but, from my side anyway, relations felt pretty cool and only warmed up a little in the last day or so. At goodbyes Friday, Robert seemed genuinely appreciative of having been on the cruise and wished us well for the remainder. I'd recommend his experience, skill and participatory vigor to anyone, especially if you're looking for a solid watch stander and good, hearty meals in tough sea-going conditions. More than enough said.
09/01/2014, Berkeley Yacht Club, Berkeley, CA
Jim's probably the crew member that I relate most closely with, although I didn't expect to when I first got acquainted with him. I gather he was basically canvassing possible boats to crew on for the trip south and had come aboard Mabrouka to check her out.
Most people comment on how pretty she is. That always surprises me because, like a teenager, I am dreadfully aware of how woefully I maintain her complexion. However, underneath she has beautiful lines and a great Bill Garden pedigree that shines through her flaking varnish and blotchy gel coat. Anyway, Jim didn't comment on that, apparently seeing through the skin to the old girl's bones and organs. He asked probing questions about had I done this and had I thought about that? As I recall I was pretty worn out at that particular time and was dreadfully aware through my mental fog that my answers were not likely to impress. Embarrassment comes to mind. Afterwards I was pretty sure he'd be the last person to sign on for the San Francisco run, ...but he did.
Although Jim's been around boats since he was knee high to a guppy, his offshore sailing pedigree wasn't particularly extensive. He'd been on the delivery crew for Neptune's Car, a go-fast/tourist attraction on the Seattle waterfront, when it was brought up the coast to San Francisco, so that put a tic mark in the plus column for experience with west coast sailing the hard way, northbound. He was trained as a boatwright by the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, another tic in the plus column. Mabrouka's not made of wood, but has plenty of wooden fittings, so his appreciation of wood work if not his specific expertise earned him a warm spot in my heart and did, indeed, come in handy on board when the main mast's starboard spreader needed to be replaced. Mostly, though, I thought his probing insight might uncover some important issues to address, so I decided to invite him along. It flattered me to have him agree.
As with the rest of my crew, Jim's motivations were to get experience with the Seattle-to-San Francisco run for his own transit with next year's Hoho. He's been building out his own Northsea 27 for several years and is about ready to set off cruising in it himself. Manwe is a beautiful showcase for Jim's craftsmanship. Here's a great picture of her with Jim and his honey, Max, at the Coho raft-up in July. The boat came with basically just the hull, the deck and a few internal bulkheads. Jim's arranged the interior very thoughtfully and fitted her with wonderful wood trim throughout. Beautiful.
Jim and I started to bond on our trip to Port Ludlow with Ed. As I've described Ed previously, I won't go into additional detail. It's just that, as entertaining as Ed can be, the intensity of his quirkiness can get a bit annoying from time to time, so Jim and I learned to buff the edges off with knowing chuckles and little asides to one another at Ed's expense. (No offense Ed. We love you!)
Here's a note to Max: Jim misses you. I can tell. When you get him on the phone he disappears up forward or, if we're tied up, goes for a little stroll in search of privacy. He always comes back with a smile on his face. I can tell he's supremely entertained by and proud of you, so whatever you're doing, you're doing it just right.
If it can be imagined, Jim is even more easy going than I am. At one point on the sail to San Francisco, Robert and I had a pretty intense head-to-head. That doesn't happen often with me, but you can only push me so far, especially when I'm stressed out. Anyway, Jim made a good arbiter. He's also served me well in reminding me to tend to priorities and get the right things done at the right time in the right way. Thanks, Jim.
09/01/2014, Berkeley Yacht Club, Berkeley, CA
Perched on the edge of the world, I'm still scrambling to gather loose ends. The autopilot remains non-functional, the VHF radio has developed a temperamental display screen, the wind instrument is with Raymarine back in Nashua, New Hampshire for repairs, and my venerable old White sewing machine has proven itself incapable of making the lee cloths. Solutions for these challenges are staged for the next few days, so I'm hoping for the best.
One success I'm especially pleased with is Mabrouka's new sails. They look great and draw great. She got new sail covers, too, so here's a pic:
Mabrouka's shakedown cruise in the San Juan Islands with the southbound crew went very well. Everyone gets along amiably enough, considering we're four old coots that will be confined together on a forty foot sailboat for a couple of weeks. I expect a personality clash or two, but everyone is positive and eager to share their experience and unique skills with one another. I was entertained to find that I'm the youngest of the crowd at just shy of 62 years old. Jim and Robert are both 64 and Ed will celebrate his 79th birthday a few days after our scheduled departure. Here's what I know of them.
One of the first things I said to the Coho Ho Ho group (a few of us now refer to ourselves lovingly as Hos) was that I wanted to take on volunteer crew for the transit to San Francisco. If Ed wasn't the first to express his interest, he was the most eager. At that time I was still thinking I'd be able to make my shakedown cruise a circum-Vancouver Island affair and Ed touted his resume of having already done it six and three-halves times. That's six full circumnavigations, two half-ways, and one trip up into Alaska that included sailing up the east coast of the island.
Attracted by the salty old guy's exuberance and the sea miles he had under his slickers, I invited Ed to sail with me over the July 4th holiday from Eagle Harbor to Poulsbo and back. Of course, sailing provides plenty of time to get acquainted and our various conversations included some good story swapping sessions. He had me intrigued from the beginning when he announced with a twinkled eye that he had a new girl friend, but "...I haven't slept with her yet!" Okay! Moving right along!
(Post script: JoAnn's made an honest man out of him. Ed, in a somewhat coy-proud way, let on that they're getting married! "For heaven's sake," we said. "You've only just met her!" "I know," Ed said, "but she makes me feel like a kid all the time." What a character!)
Ed was as spry as a billie goat on the trip to Poulsbo, handling lines with ease and enthusiasm, skillfully steering the boat, and generally being a good shipmate. Trudging around town and sharing a couple of meals convinced me that his vigor, experience, and good humor would make him good crew for the trip south, so soon after we threw off the dock lines from Poulsbo Yacht Club I invited him to join me. Before answering, he fessed up to having some health issues. He didn't give a lot of details, but they involved some circulatory problems that he has since addressed by taking a phalanx of natural supplements and modifying his diet to what he referred to as a "flexitarian" regimen. I was a little put aback by this, imagining how I might deal with a heart attack victim while 100 miles off the Oregon coast. I hadn't planned on installing an AED and didn't know how much space to allow for a stash of body bags, but assuming he'd take care of his special needs, decided to let my offer stand. Half an hour later he announced that he liked Mabrouka and would agree to sail to San Francisco.
We put up the gennaker after we rounded the northern tip of Bainbridge Island and when the colorful sail blossomed above the foredeck, Ed and his camera were drawn forward to the sprit, levering himself out over the water with one foot hooked into the bow pulpit so he could lean back and take photos looking up the mast. He spent fifteen minutes up there, craning this way and that, generally enjoying the sight of the sail and Mabrouka's movement across Puget Sound. When he finally came back to the cockpit, he amended his acceptance, saying he really liked how the boat sailed and he'd sign up for the trip to San Diego, too! How flattering.
Now having spent several more days sailing with him, Ed's demonstrated a couple of quirks that, while they remain a source of some entertainment to good natured people, may rub a bit after a while in close quarters. We'll see. One is to repeatedly call me Joe, but he even used Honey once. I don't know where the heck THAT came from
Another is that he's a strong proponent of labeling our cups and mugs, maintaining that it cuts back on the amount of rinsing required. Okay, that's easy! Jim and I humored him on our trip to Port Ludlow with blue masking tape and a Magic Marker, but I removed the tags the following week to reclaim a little bit of my personal space. It was only a few minutes after coming aboard in Kingston on our way to the San Juans that he promoted his idea once again, so the name tags were reinstalled. This time we used white duct tape and, excepting Ed's, the monikers on our mugs evolved to nicknames. Somehow the duct tape doesn't hold onto the marker as well, so they had to be rewritten a couple of times, devolving a little each cycle. Yesterday I institutionalized Ed's idea for the cruise south by getting out an actual label maker and semi-permanently assigning tumblers. Ed is now the Ed-meister, Jim has become Sparky (I can't remember why) and Robert is Le Chef. I'm Captain Joe.
The quirk that threatens to irritate is that, in situations where the data seems to be of particular interest to him, Ed will continually read out the boat speed or the depth to everyone. Well, not just read it out, announce it in increasing decibel levels as he approaches what he considers a critical value. Sometimes the increase works in both directions, getting louder with the excitement of approaching the goal, then even louder still as the goal recedes. How is that possible? Monday, as we were fighting north against the southbound ebb current out of Guemes Channel, he'd found a back eddy that was contrarily helping our progress. While our speed through the water was around 6 to 6-1/2 knots, our speed over ground had been down in the three-points. Ed's helmsmanship had taken us over nearer to shore where we'd sky-rocketed up near six. As it increased even more he began, "Six point one, ...six point TWO, ...SIX POINT THREE!"
Jim escaped to the bow of the boat and I laughed. Robert was oblivious down in his usual station cooking up a storm in the galley.
Well, I'd intended to do profiles on Jim and Robert in this post as well, but I've used up too much of your time on Ed alone. He's just provided so much fodder. Stay tuned. I can't promise as much entertainment with the rest of the crew, but time perhaps will tell.