Water & Wine

Sailor since the age of seven. Wine guy. Regularly wandering, wondering, exploring, and living aboard Windrunner, my Catalina 42, docked in Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro, CA.

01 February 2016 | Cabrillo Marina
09 December 2014 | Fourth of July Cove to Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro
09 December 2014 | Avalon to 4th of July Cove
09 December 2014 | Cat Harbor to Avalon, Catalina Island
06 December 2014 | Catalina Harbor, Catalina Island
06 December 2014 | Cherry Cove, Catalina Island
04 December 2014 | Cabrillo Marina
30 November 2014 | Isthmus Cove, Catalina Island
02 August 2014 | Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro
03 November 2013 | Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro, CA
05 September 2013 | Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro, CA
19 August 2013 | San Pedro, CA and west...
06 August 2013 | San Diego -> Oceanside -> San Pedro
01 August 2013 | San Diego, CA
26 July 2013 | San Diego
20 July 2013 | Nowhere, Texas
05 July 2013 | North Atlanta, GA
07 June 2013 | 30,000 feet somewhere between LA and Atlanta

Paraphrasing My Way Back East

01 February 2016 | Cabrillo Marina
Clear, cold, gusty. Stable in port.
A few years ago I moved from Atlanta to Southern California, and onto Windrunner, my Catalina 42, my home, the cocoon for me and my daughter for most of the first year here. The boat and the lifestyle have been just what was needed, and it has been a gift to live this life in this place, aboard this boat; to heal and grow and come back into balance.

But there was also a question in my mind about something crucial to a happy, full life - a question summed up well in a stanza from a U2 song released at the time. It spoke perfectly to where I was, and to one big question I needed to know the answer to, as I reset my life and began to look forward. To paraphrase U2's song "California"

There we sail into the shiny sea
The weight that drags my heart down
That's what took me where I need to be
Which is here, Catalina,
watching the sunset cry like a baby.
California, at the dawn I thought would never come.
But it did, like it always does.
And all I need to know is,
there is no end to love...


Amazingly, while re-discovering myself, while bonding even deeper than before with my daughter, I also found that there is absolutely no end to love - when you are lucky enough to find the right person to love and be loved by. I found someone I'd always loved and appreciated as a friend, could be so very much more.

But if life were always simple... I found this wonderful love while living aboard a sailboat on the ocean and she lived 2200 miles away and four hours from the ocean. Luckily, when we started as a couple, we decided to ignore that reality, and live fully in the times that we did have - about one week/month for the last 15 months. And we kept living our time together like that until the complex question of "place" became a simple answer.

The "person or place" question is one that brings a lot of strong answers from people, particularly people who live on and love the ocean - many can't ever imagine giving it up for any reason. But to me, like much else in life, it depends...

It depends on who the person is.

And that brings me to my next paraphrasing. The right person is the one who makes the question of person or place disappear, makes the decision an easy one, makes it feel like it isn't really a decision at all. For me, the right person looks and feels like these paraphrased lines from Prartho Sereno:

I have so much water
within me
so many wild winds
and more
than enough salt.

Man of the sea
I will be your ocean.


The right person is an ocean to a sailor (or a forest to a person of the woods, or a mountain to a climber, etc), and she has become that to me. My ocean.

So, my Windrunner is for sale. And I will move back to Atlanta as close to Michelle as I can be, and we will sail into uncharted waters together, and see what we can become. I'm betting on a long horizon; the kind with a sunset that seems to last forever, until the sky turns full of stars to wonder at, rejoice in, and navigate by until the sun comes 'round again.

I remain a very lucky man; one of the few who has no trade-off to make, but rather feels like I have a chance to have it all. It is an adventure I can't wait to begin with her.

Bon voyage to everyone, no matter what your journey.


Circumnavigation Day 5: Back to America

09 December 2014 | Fourth of July Cove to Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro
Tom, sunny skies, stiff wind from the west, whitecaps, building swell
We knew when we left we'd be coming back, but on the day we were supposed to, we kept finding things to do, places to explore, seemingly, reasons not to leave. Among the most interesting and lovely was a little chalk cave in the back of a white cliff walled cove we took the dinghy over to. But eventually, we had to go, and headed out before sunset.

Back in Cabrillo Marina we put put presents around a palm frond we found on Catalina that was decorated with some lights and one ornament in the shape of a sea star we had baked the night before. It felt like quite a perfect setting to exchange gifts and thanks for so much we'd experienced and found together, including the Christmas present from Miranda two years ago telling me that "Home is wherever the wind takes you."

I'm going to miss Michelle more than other times we've said "until next time," but am thankful for a few quiet days to replay, absorb, consider, and be thankful for her and this experience. I'm feeling extraordinarily humble and thankful.

Circumnavigation Day 4: Closing the circle

09 December 2014 | Avalon to 4th of July Cove
Tom, sunny with a nice breeze from the west, calm seas
Today was our fourth straight day off the grid and on the water; all water we brought along, all electricity we generated ourselves. I've found living aboard the last 18 months that living a simplified lifestyle brings a lot of clarity to self and surroundings. That is definitely taken up a notch moving past uninhabited stretches completely disconnected from modern things as basic as a water and electrical system. And Avalon didn't fit that feel.

After a quick and nice breakfast at Jack's, we headed back towards the Isthmus area early. It was the warmest day yet, and we got to enjoy being up on deck without being completely bundled up. Before long we were approaching the Isthmus, and passing the spot on the island where we anchored our first night to complete the circumnavigation before heading for an empty Fourth of July Cove for the evening. It is really a beautiful little place, surrounded by cliffs and tucked in behind several points and other coves that give it great protection from prevailing westerly winds and swells. The quiet isolation of it felt much more in line with our mood.

We spent the day taking the dinghy around the little coves, walking around the quieter parts of the island, finally finding a tree we could climb into and enjoy some poetry while the sun set. It was a quiet, reflective and really quite magical day. But the lights of Los Angeles were 24 miles across the ocean, and tomorrow would draw us back to what the locals of the little village of Two Harbors refer to as "America." More than ever before, I understood the sentiment.

Circumnavigation Day 3: Around the East End

09 December 2014 | Cat Harbor to Avalon, Catalina Island
Tom, sunny with nice following wind and seas
I'm a few days behind updating the last bit of our circumnav of Catalina Island, and am doing so from my home port of Cabrillo Marina.

Day 3 started out warm, sunny, and only a very light breeze. Having not sailed the first two days due to wind conditions (strong on our nose on Day 1, and no wind on Day 2), we decided to put up the sails and see if the wind would pick up as we headed out of Catalina Harbor.

It turned out to be a great way to show Michelle some of the more subtle aspects of wind/sail dynamics. Our route had us going DDW (dead down wind), but the wind was so light and the swell following so that Windrunner would, with the slightest of breeze, begin to move as fast as the wind, emptying the sails and stalling the boat. So, we discussed true wind vs. apparent wind, and shifted course so the wind would come off our stern quarter. In essence, we changed the direction the boat was going so that each bit of wind would make it move through the wind faster, thereby actually generating apparent wind, and enable us to sail faster.

It was very cool how Michelle got it in her own way that was not at all how I have ever heard it explained nor understood it, but she got exactly the essence of it. In all the years I've known her as friend, one of the things I've most enjoyed in our conversations is how she is consistently like the kid in math class who comes to the right answer in a way that is unlike it is taught. One of the many ways I feel expanded through conversation with her, and one of the many reasons I enjoy her company so much.

The south side of Catalina really is much more rugged and wild and primitive looking than the much more accessible north side. It is really striking, and it was great to be able to turn on Otto the auto-pilot as the wind built up to 13kn, and sit on the deck together talking and taking in the stunning beauty of that side of the island. It was one of those afternoons that makes sailing beyond so much more special than sticking to the normal routes, coves, anchorages and moorings. We felt very lucky for the experience.

The sun began to set just as we rounded Church Rock and the east end. I was at the helm of Winerunner for the rounding of the west end, so this was Michelle's well deserved turn to round the other end. With the sun setting on the south side of the east end, we came around the north side to an absolutely stunning moon rise; massive and orange and slow-rising, it was a spectacular way to enter into the busy port town of Avalon.

After mooring, we took the dinghy into the town of Avalon and hit the famous Marlin Club for a couple of beers, a game of pool (she beat me again!), and a pic with our heads through the holds of the famous Marlin Club "Mermaid and Merman" paintings (which you will not see posted here or elsewhere...). While Avalon is a nice and fun town, my previous visits have always made me appreciate and miss Two Harbors that much more. Michelle agreed, and we were both thankful that tomorrow we would be completing our circumnavigation back at the Isthmus.

The best terrible anchorage ever

06 December 2014 | Catalina Harbor, Catalina Island
Tom, overcast and still
This morning, after working for a few hours, Michelle and I pulled anchor and headed for the West End, on our way to Little Harbor. Skies were overcast and the wind was so still the ocean was like a mirror. Past dolphins and sea lions, we rounded Arrow Point and saw the West End in front of us. Following the coast as the 1300' peaks tumble away to this tiny point that fades into the ocean is humbling. To round the point and see the wild dramatic south side of the island and realize that if we turned right, we wouldn't see land until we hit Hawaii some 2.5 weeks later, was awe-inspiring. Wow.

Given that Cherry Cove was empty last night and it is one of the more accessible coves, we thought there was a chance the quite remote Little Harbor would be just ours. On approach we saw another sailboat in the little harbor behind the natural jetty. When we circled around to see where we could anchor in the same little space, the other boat captain (officially, and forever known as Captain Ass Hat) tells me he has 80' of chain down in 20' of water and no second anchor set. Basically, We need to give him wide-enough leeway to allow for a 360 degree turn on an 80' radius, which means he's basically taken all of the sheltered side of the little harbor for himself. We make an anchor closer to the shoal than I'd normally like, but the winds and swells are pushing us away from them. We made sure the anchor was set, then Michelle and I headed for the shore.

When we returned we found that both boats had turned around due to a very strong low tide. Windrunner was uncomfortably close to the jetty, so we pulled up anchor, swung around to another less protected area and dropped anchor again. But this didn't feel any better, so we pulled up anchor again and headed to Cat Harbor where we are now. It was pretty high tension experience. Michelle was really great though she'd never been through anything like that before, even handling the helm as we were fairly close to the rocks at one point.

It was a terrible anchoring in Little Harbor - difficult, lots of stress, etc., and all because of Captain Ass Hat. But, it was the best terrible anchorage ever; such an awesome time with Michelle in an unbelievable setting. A really special day.

Day 1: San Pedro to Cherry Cove

06 December 2014 | Cherry Cove, Catalina Island
Tom, clear and breezy
Thursday the sun came out for the first time in several days and we set out across the San Pedro Channel 23 miles to Cherry Cove on Santa Catalina Island. The day had nice sun and really nice wind, which was, unfortunately, coming from the direction of our destination. So, we had to decide to motor the first leg of our trip and arrive with a bit of light left, or sail, tacking the entire way and get there long after dark. So, motor we did. It felt like a waste of a good breeze, but practicality outweighed the desire to always use cloth rather than diesel when possible.

When we arrived, we took the dinghy over to Two Harbors only to find everything was shut down for the staff holiday party, which we could see and hear going on up the hill at Banning House. These are hearty people here in this little village as attested to by the fact that everyone who was supposed to be up at sunrise manning the cantina and general store, were up and happy.

Dinner was a nice pasta, sausage, artichokes and olives in a white wine sauce with some slightly burnt garlic bread (Oops!). Pretty darn nice galley grub!

We've put in some work this morning with a cup of good coffee, and are about to pull up the anchor and head around the west end, out into real, open Pacific Ocean. Pretty exciting!

T & M
Vessel Name: Windrunner
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 42
Hailing Port: Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro, CA
Crew: Tom Lynch, and whatever friends stop by to sail.
About: Skipper: Tom L. Liveaboard, single-hander, sailing guide for friends and neighbors. First mates: Mo and Michelle. Neither aboard permanently, both aboard regularly (though not enough for my taste). Crew: John and his brood, various friends, family, neighbors, etc.
Windrunner's Photos - Main
Sailing with Michelle
1 Photo
Created 2 February 2016
One of the main reasons to live aboard in San Pedro is the proximity of Catalina. Isthmus Cove is my favorite and I know shore patrol and bartenders and regulars there by first name now. It is one of my all-time favorite places.
2 Sub-Albums
Created 3 August 2014
Labor Day Weekend 2013 in Two Harbors
26 Photos
Created 31 August 2013
Pics of friends out sailing with me.
9 Photos
Created 19 August 2013
Sailing Windrunner from San Diego to home port of Cabrillo/San Pedro, via Oceanside, CA.
11 Photos
Created 6 August 2013
Windrunner was in dry dock for a week right after I got to California. Here are a few pics of her, hull and all.
3 Photos
Created 1 August 2013
Shots and thoughts of my cross-country trip to California from Atlanta to start living aboard Windrunner (photos ended up in reverse chronological order)
11 Photos
Created 20 July 2013
I spent a day in San Diego with brokers and surveyors, checking out Windrunner before finalizing purchase.
8 Photos
Created 25 June 2013

Water & Wine

Who: Tom Lynch, and whatever friends stop by to sail.
Port: Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro, CA