Mission Bay to Oceanside
25 June 2017
Great sail up to Oceanside, some motoring, but mostly sailing, 7 hours. With Jim easy sail up. Left an hour late. Went up Friday at 1 pm.
Got a slip at the guest dock.
Sailed back Sunday with Dana, Jim and Stephanie. Used the asym, lots of wind for the first two hours, then lighter, then motored, wind picked up strong for the last two hours.
Saw a band in Oceanside, reggae band, 10 band members at least.
Red Bull Air Show at the Marriott
16 April 2017 | Marriott Marina, San Diego
Indian Summer: Sailed to the Marriott in three hours flat from the Bahia with SN and JN. Very fast sail on Thursday with a nice following sea, straight into the harbor and down to the Marriott. Really the most comfortable and quick sail I've ever done down the coast if not ever in the last three years of owning that boat. I didn't even turn on the motor until directly outside the Marriott Marina, if I was a little braver I would have sailed into the slip. One crew member described it as epic. Maybe it was, I don't even know anymore. AM Ubered down later in the afternoon to the Marriott with the food and spent the weekend on the boat. The dock key didn't work, couldn't easily get out of the marina Thursday night... or Friday morning...
LFolmer drove down Saturday for the show. But, the real show was Friday, everything was open and they did continuous practice runs. To be honest, it's impossible to tell the difference between a practice run and the real thing.
The Marriott is a very nice hotel/ marina, close to downtown with a great pool. It's also very expensive, 135 per night. The view from the slip of the air show was really bad and the office girl was kind enough to give me half off the first night and out of the contract for the last night. So, we stayed at Southwestern Saturday night. Correction: Marriott only charged me one night, although I was there four days. Very nice of them.
It must have been spring break because with all the hot college girls in bikinis the pool was a good place to be that weekend. I'll likely go back, although it is a pretty far sail in that boat, it could have been four hours easily if the wind wasn't as strong as it was.
Cool little getaway, bbq'd most meals, and had the usual english muffin, egg and bacon sandwiches for breakfast. Everything seemed to work fine on the boat with the exception of the battery which just needed charging. The new cooler worked great, held ice for the full 4 days.
I was a little tentative to go at all because a few days earlier I had taken a friend from SF and his son out on the boat and he broke the transmission cable, brackets, mounting screws, basically broke everything with the exception of the transmission itself. It's a good thing that happened really, because when I was installing the replacement parts I realized it had been initially installed incorrectly, mounted wrong at both ends and with the wrong hardware. One bolt on the engine was stripped out too. Really bizarre but not surprising knowing the boat now. LFolmer made me some hard stops which will prevent someone from pushing the shifter lever to the floor so this won't happen again. Update: They are installed now and working perfectly.
The engine may need rings, it's blowing blue smoke now upon starting and chugs a little until warmed up spitting out blue smoke. Just one more little project I guess.
The motor back early Sunday morning was uneventful with almost no wind.
Vern and Jolly Friends Summary
03 April 2017
I'm back in San Diego, it's taken me two weeks to get my head straight. Well, straight enough to make an honest assessment of Vern and his boat Jolly Friends. And, it's taken me this long to finally decompress and write this without being hostile. For a while I was seriously second guessing my ability to sail a boat at all. Writing this blog is cheaper than therapy so here it goes.
Wasn't this supposed to be a fun trip?
This whole experience from beginning to end was an adventure, more than I anticipated. The boat, the weather, and the islands all had their unique challenges and rewards. But, what challenged me the most was Vern himself.
Vern is a very friendly person, very social, and loves meeting new people and at one time he was probably a very good racer and a fun sailor to cruise with. However, he is now 92 years old and a burden on every person he meets. He requires, and expects, fulltime attention. Additionally, his boat reflects several decades of neglect.
What I discovered quickly, not quickly enough, is he misrepresented his physical condition, the condition of his boat and his financial situation when he asked me to sail with him. To be fair, his step daughter did try to warn me. I should have jumped off when I first arrived in Bequia... when he hit his first boat.
Finances: Something that I should have realized immediately and I'm embarrassed to say he had me fooled for a week or so. He exaggerated his financial situation when he recruited me for the trip. He doesn't have any money. He doesn't even have money necessary for simple repairs to the boat, dock fees, customs fees, food, etc.
Vern: When there was emergency or something requiring urgency his reaction time is measured in minutes, and his judgment is generally poor as you'd expect from a 92 yr old.
He's nearly deaf, or at least appeared to be deaf when it suited him... And he's unable to distinguish speed, distance, or time. Oddly though, his vision was perfect, he can read without reading glasses too. We had several accidents, and countless near misses.
He was seriously injured the 2nd day of the trip while sailing North from St. Vincent. I took him to the medical clinic, then to the hospital for xrays, then the clinic again, then the pharmacy, and on and on, he was completely helpless. And, he argued the whole way, and pretended he didn't have money for the bus. Bizarre.
On the bright side, he would sit in a coffee shop and attempt to send an email for 12-13 hours straight... I'd drop him off and leave him for the day, when I wasn't working on the boat, then pick him at night. He was fine being by himself all day tapping with his pencil eraser into his 20 yr old laptop.
The local boat boys would take advantage of him, it was a full time job keeping him from getting robbed. Literally, if you are not with him somebody will rob him. And, if you're not careful they'd rob you while you're occupied with him. Ask him, he's been robbed a dozen times over the years, I think he's underestimating.
I found myself saying, "Fuck You!" quite often. To be honest I enjoyed that part of the trip the most, sick huh? He'd respond, "You don't have to yell at me." I know.
About a week into the trip he talked money (I didn't know at the time he didn't have any) but I did assess the condition of the boat and him... and knew what I was in for. He smugly said he was providing knowledge and a great boat for me and wanted to know what I'd be paying for the experience. My response, Fuck You.
Vern's health and physical limitation and his dire financial state were just two of the picks in the making the perfect trifecta. The boat completed the winning combination.
Within 10 minutes of arriving in Bequia he announced his toilet was broken, and he couldn't fix it; he said he'd have to use my bathroom until his was fixed... I fixed that in an hour, and that's when I first experienced his crazy mumbling and inability to fix or repair anything himself or put together a coherent thought. I should have jumped overboard right then.
It became obvious he wanted me there to mainly to fix his boat... and pay for his trip... and take care of him... Sure, all boats need repairs. But, this was abnormal; it was neglectfulness, carelessness, arrogance. He simply ignored problems which should be fixed and this led to bigger dangerous problems. That boat was quite literally held together with broken parts. He would mumble incoherent directions and spew ad nauseam about his phd in mechanical engineering and how together we can fix anything. He was generally very, very confused most of the time. BTW, I'm also a mechanical engineer.
Later, upon return to Trinidad, a local boat mechanic at the yard relayed with a wink every year the boat comes back worse off than the year before. No kidding...
Aside from the obvious problem with the batteries, electrical shorts, alternator, and useless self-steering, the windlass, winch handles, fraying ropes, cabinet doors, gauges, toilet, etc, the boat still has several other major mechanical problems he was fully aware of but did not share with me until underway. Again, I should have left sooner, but I had this urge to finish the trip, like climbing a mountain.
Here's an anecdote to summarize the trip. Some anchorages are 3/4 mile or more from the dock, some have marked channels some not. Grenada has five red buoys marking the entrance to the main channel for all ships and dinghy's. Coming from land to the boat you turn sharp right then sharp left out the channel. Easy. He likes to point where the dinghy is headed or he wants to hand... Well, it's the last night, it's dark, and we're motoring the same course I've taken the last three days out the channel and he sticks his hand out as if to go straight. I turn left to show him the blinking red lights out the channel... "Nope, it's over there." He barks. Ok, I'm in a good mood, why not. I drive completely across the channel even past the blinking green buoys to the other shore the whole time he's pointing straight then right, then left and on and on. Finally, I'm losing interest in this game, stop and slowly turn the dinghy around to the five red buoys behind us. He thinks a few minutes, literally a few minutes, then points to the buoys then to me and, honest to god, says, "It's back there, you missed it."
Vern would be a very friendly person in a nursing home or a yacht club. He's got some great stories, he really should write a book. However, the only boat he should be on is a 900 foot cruise ship with a private cabin and buffet. It's just not safe for him or the crew. If it were possible I'd call the port captain in Trinidad and insist they impound the boat to prevent potentially seriously hurting or killing someone. Picture if you will, a 92 yr old man driving a car he purchased in 1985... Would you get in the car with him? I did, but I wouldn't ever do it again.
To summarize: If this sounds like the trip was awful, it wasn't. If Vern was in better health and the boat was in better repair it would have been a great trip. As it is though, Vern and the boat should never leave terra firma again. The boat needs a total refit and Vern needs a full time caregiver. If you are asked to crew for him you should pass. There are several other boats to crew on; this one isn't worth the aggravation. Vern simply wants to keep himself and that boat moving through the Caribbean at all costs, and if that costs you money, your sanity or your life that's okay with him.