Susan’s version – The arrival of the great unwashed
17 September 2009 | SDYC
Okay, okay, it's my first entry in the blog, not because I haven't wanted to write but because I haven't had a moment to write! Today, as I sit on the bow of the boat soaking up the SoCal sun listening to an old Eagles tune in the distance not making endless calls about house or medical insurance, or packing up the boys room for the "final time", or worrying about if I will have enough food for the crew (more on that later)...I can write...so here it goes...
Finally leaving. After what seemed like endless weeks of packing, saying goodbyes to dear family and friends, and ticking off endless chores on the to do list, the day was here.
Kelly Wharton, a dear friend and avid sailor, was kind enough to shuttle me down to Semiahmoo Marina the Friday before we left and helped to complete the provisioning for the crew. "Do they really need to eat anything more than gorp (nuts, raisins, chocolate concoction) she asks?" Apparently they do...oh yeah, and they drink too...lots and lots of alcohol...everything on board (save for the coveted bottle of Burrowing Owl that I hid from them) was consumed.
A final, final farewell. What a lovely surprise to see a familiar smiling face heading down the dock as we headed up to the pub for a final feed before the early morning departure. Sue Gibson and husband Jim sought out the crew of Mulan to join us for a celebratory drink, provide us with last minute sailing advice and yes, to have another drink.
The care and feeding of crew. I thought I had done pretty well provisioning for the"10 day passage", complete with meal plans and some interesting yummy food supplies. I knew from research (and Andrew instructing me) that I needed to have at least 2 days reserve on hand...in the end we were 4 days past our estimated date of arrival (due to taking the first 5 days on the nose) and I was serving baked beans with the baked beans...the crew were too polite (or tired) to complain.
The crew. We were an eclectic crew, a united nations of sorts and got along famously...we often found ourselves in the cockpit mid afternoon with Chester's cryptic crossword that I am still convinced you need to be a Brit or Kiwi to understand it's logic...and after 14 days at sea, it is amazing how the same joke tends to get funnier and funnier...and our movements got slower and slower. We chalked this up to "tropo-madness" a term Vern used for lethargy setting in in the tropics and where manyana (tomorrow) is the answer for everything!
The wildlife was abundant and fantastic! However, the evening that Rob and I were on double watch (9pm-12am and again from 3am-6am) we were certain that there was a shipwrecked sole survivor out there as we listened to the distant moans coming from astern. So certain we were that we used the high powered flashlight to search for this unlucky soul, only to find a whale 50 feet off starboard blowing away. She managed to follow us for about half an hour with her pod all clearing their blowholes and coming a tad too close for my liking...
The evening when I thought it was all over. We knew the winds were building and that the night watches were going to be rough (30 + knots predicted). We took three reefs in the main and had a sliver of a headsail out for balance. It was my night off for watches (with the intent that the person off would get a good 8 hours solid sleep). Ha. I went below at about 8pm and tried to wedge myself into a space where I would not roll about as the seas hurled the boat from side to side and bucked me every so often about a foot out of my berth My legs were cramping as I braced myself for the inevitable buck and toss and I was sure it was not going to end in my favour. The sound was deafening as the freight train (aka the wind) blew through the boat and every shackle, sheet, and piece of rigging was amplified to the point where one would have thought we were in the eye of the storm (perhaps we were). Interestingly enough, both Mulan and Sam pulled me through. We had all been having auditory hallucinations (common with lack of sleep) and mine were coming fast and furious. At my darkest hour, I looked up expecting to see Sam in the doorway as I heard him say cheerily, "hi mummy!"...that was all I needed to see me through the night. As always, everything looks brighter in the morning (although we did clock 40 knots that day)...and I even took the helm for a stint to see how it felt...with experienced crew on board, it was exhilarating! I had survived the night, and my first gale.
We have arrived! Arriving into San Diego after the 14 days was a welcome respite. We decided to splurge and registered at the SDYC...off to the pub for real food and drink, but not before having our first shower in over two weeks (Chester's baby wipes came in handy but were no substitute for the real thing). We are having a change of crew tomorrow, where the old experienced salty sailors are shoving off and the new ones arrive - yippee (it's been three weeks since we have seen the kids, and four for Andrew)...
On the horizon. Sitting here on the bow of the boat, with a Pacifico in hand, abundant sunshine, and the first leg behind me, I wonder and look forward to what the next few weeks will bring.