July 18, 1974

 To all of our friends, 

Contrary to popular belief, the sea did not open up and swallow Oliver David Jones. Had the mighty Pacific swallowed us, then you certainly would have heard about us—and since you haven’t heard from us in so long, there must be another reason. The reason is that we have just recovered from a protracted, severe, and almost fatal case of procrastination. However, we are both on our way to full recovery (as this letter attests), and you should here from us at more frequent intervals. This malady has much in common with malaria, colic, and priaprism, in that it may reoccur at odd intervals, all of which is just my way of saying that our intentions are good, but it still may be a long time before we write again. Since the last letter was written by Mary, I’ve decided it’s "my day in the barrel," and I’m going to try to do as good a job as she.  

 Our stay in San Diego Jan-July 1974

First, we should bring you up to date on where we are and why we’re here. We’re in San Diego, and have been since January, living within 50 yards of the Pacific Ocean and 100 yards from beautiful Mission Bay. We have rented an apartment within walking distance of tennis courts and Oliver David. The tennis courts have become a welcome attraction as Mary and I play a set or two almost every evening after work. We both enjoy the game very much; it’s good exercise (I haven’t felt this good since I left the army). We’re closely enough matched for good competition even though she whipped the hell out of me yesterday evening. And, of course, the proximity to O. D. J. allows us to sail any time the spirit moves us. I ride the bus to work, and Mary rides to work with Kay, the woman she works with; so we are one of the few couples in California that doesn’t own a car! 

I mentioned jobs. Both Mary and I are working, partly to pay for our stay here and partly to save up money for continuing our cruise. I’m working for an electronic firm as a technical writer, and Mary is a "hackout. " I guess these jobs call for some explanation. Specifically, my job is writing test procedures, instruction manuals, and specifications on telemetry transmitters that are installed in satellites and transmit data back to the ground. Mary’s job as a "hackout" is to replace broken windows in housing tracts under construction. It sounds like an odd job for a woman; but, surprisingly enough, she works with another woman Kay who owns the business. Kay has a specially built and equipped trailer that can be towed to the housing tracts and upon which she can cut and fit the glass panes to the frames. It’s a good job that gets the girls outside, the pay is good, and they have a lot of freedom. Often when Mary’s not out on a job, she rides the bus to downtown San Diego to the Adult School’s Skills Center. At the center are instructors that teach office skills to interested adults. Mary has been brushing up on her typing (up to 65 wpm) and learning the "touch system" on a 10-key. All this is so that she’ll have some marketable skills for an office job if she ever wants one.  

This kind of brings you up to date with where we are now, and I’d like to continue by telling you what our future plans are and more about our trip down here. But before I do, let me extend an invitation to any of you to come and visit us. San Diego is beautiful; there’s plenty to do; they’ve got the world’s best zoo; Sea World is a blast; and we’ve even got a roller-coaster three blocks away! We have the bay at our front door and the ocean at our back door with great clamming, fishing, and, if the moon and tides are just right, we’ll go "grunioning"; and, of course, Mexico is only 15 miles away. Accommodations are no problem. After all, Oliver David is almost like a motel room, only cheaper; besides, we have room in the apartment, so come on down and see us. We’d like to share a 3- or 4-day cruise to Ensenada with some of our friends as crew. We made this trip over the 4th of July and it’s great.  

Many of you are probably wondering about our future plans. I’m sorry we haven’t told you sooner; but up until a couple of weeks ago, we weren’t sure ourselves. In fact, I guess one of the reasons that we decided to write at this time was to assure all our friends that we plan to continue sailing. While plans are subject to changes, what our intentions are now is to move back aboard Oliver David in September in order to get her (him?) ready. When we’re fairly sure that the fierce summer storms of Baja are through for the year, we’ll sail. According to the coast pilots, sea guides, etc. , the frequency of storms drops off to almost zero in October. So we’ll probably leave about mid October or early November. We would like to spend Christmas in Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Guaymas, Mexico City, or maybe even fly back to California. Beyond that, we will spend the rest of the winter and spring cruising the Sea of Cortez and Mexican waters. We plan to do a lot of traveling ashore in Baja and the mainland. By June of next year, we should be out of Mexican waters (because of storms) and off the coast of Central America. We plan to continue south until we reach Panama. At Panama, we face a big decision—continue south to Columbia, Chile, the Andes, and Machu Pichu, (2) turn east and through the canal with eventual sights on Europe and Africa, or (3) turn west to the Galapagos, Tahiti, and eventually New Zealand and Australia. However, we have made the decision to continue, whether east or west has not been decided yet; but we will continue! 

So much for "here and now" and "future plans. " Let me see if I can convey to you some of the experiences of our voyage to San Diego. I’m going on the assumption that you have read Mary’s first letter describing our journey from Sacramento to San Luis Harbor (near San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay), so I won’t spend much time on the details of that part of the trip. But, since it’s been a long time, I’ll quickly try and refresh your memories with a short synopsis (kind of reminds you of the Saturday serials of the "Perils of Pauline").



Summary of first trip south as seen by the Captain

We left Steamboat Sough last November 19th bound for "points south. " A frantic last minute rush to get everything aboard. The two tons of food sent the hull down deeper than the designer planned. We cast off the lines and were swept down the Sacramento River in flood stage (it had rained for two weeks straight). We spent a couple of days in Antioch, visiting with Ted and Bonnie Gaw aboard the "Grand Turk," and having O. D. J. out for a new paint on the bottom. We spent Thanksgiving there and feasted on a "striper" I caught. 

The sail from Antioch to San Francisco was all "uphill" and "downhill" because of the currents—"uphill" for the hours that we battled the 8-knot current around Benicia and Vallejo, and "downhill" when the tide changed and we made 12 knots good—just like a bobsled ride! A "first" that night (the "first" of a thousand "firsts" since then) was mooring to a buoy in Hospital Cove on Angel Island. The next day, rounding Angel Island, past Alcatraz and into Aquatic Park near Fisherman’s Wharf. Boy, did the memories every come back—I used to fish off Muni Pier (which encircles Aquatic Park) when I was 12 or 13. I used to watch the boats and say to myself—someday, ME. Believe me, dreams do come true! When Mary, Bret, and I rowed ashore, we landed at the Sea Scout dock—more memories of me at 13 or 14 and Sea Scout Troop 129 and the "good ship" Dolphin. I wasn’t a Sea Scout long (I think I made Able Seaman), but I remember the few trips out on the bay in that converted lifeboat. A great time in my old hometown. Days spent running around for passports, FCC licenses, Coast Guard registration, etc. —hectic days in San Francisco with a lot of fun, thanks particularly to Curt Kaufman and Monique Lowy for the fun-filled evening.  

On the eve of our departure---Merlyn Adams came aboard, he and his sea bag completely soaked—Bret, captain of the dinghy, had a "small accident" trying to shove off with Merlyn (200 lbs. plus), the sea bag (at least 50 lbs. ), and himself (115 lbs. ) all in a boat rated at 290 lbs. maximum load. But by splitting it into two trips, they made it.  

Then the day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life—sailing out to sea under the Golden Gate!!! We passed under the bridge at 0630 on November 29 and first felt the mighty swell of the Pacific. We spent the day sailing south with little wind and a lumpy sea. Thank God Merlyn was along because the big, old world-voyager me was seasick—not so sick that I threw up, but I sure didn’t feel too good. We made the first night as planned at Half Moon Bay.  

Going in was a wild ride through the breakwater opening as the "seas were getting up" with swells of 4-6 feet. I’ve since learned that you can tell a lot about tomorrow’s weather by today’s seas. The swells range out ahead of the storm that spawns them. The storm that gave birth to those swells pinned us in Half Moon Bay all day Friday the 30th. How lucky we were to be in a snug, safe harbor! The anemometer showed gusts up to 60 mph with sustained winds over 50 mph, a full gale. The winds were so fierce that they tore loose our metal radar reflector and sent it hurtling through the air to splash down 100 feet astern. Listening to the weather reports gave us hopes of being able to continue the next day. We all decided that we would get up early and, if the latest report was good, we’d leave. Sure enough, at 0430, there wasn’t a whisper of the wind that only hours before was howling like a fury. So we kicked on our diesel and slowly motored across the harbor and out through the breakwater. So long, Half Moon Bay; here we come, Monterey! 

A we cleared the breakwater, all hell, and everything below, broke loose! While the harbor water was glass smooth, the swells outside waited for us like a lion waiting to pounce on an antelope. They say a lion can break an antelope’s back with a single blow; well, I really thought that Oliver David’s back was broken when that first swell hit us broadside. Mary and I were both flying across the cockpit as the port side dipped down and looked like it was going under. The noise from below told me that everything on the starboard shelves, bunks, drawers, and cupboards had just finished an aerial journey to the port side. Just breaking the surface, instead of hanging five feet under the waterline, was the keel, almost 4,000 pounds of lead. Like a great pendulum, it brought us upright; but when that much mass gets moving, it just continues, and now our starboard rail swung down and we were flung back the other way. Below, everything from the starboard side returned "home" by the same aerial route; however, in this transit they had the company of everything from the port side. This wild pitching continued for perhaps 30 second until I got Oliver David’s stern to the swell. During the rolling, I got a look at the inclinometer and it showed that we had heeled 50 degrees from vertical! To give you an idea of how steep this is—it’s too steep to walk up—it’s steeper than the steepest hill in San Francisco. Once we cleared the shallow area near the breakwater, the swells decreased in size, and the pitching rolling was less. After daylight, we estimated the swells to be 8-10 feet, and I’m sure that the swells increased an additional two or three feet at the breakwater because of the shoals.  

Mary went to work below trying to sort things out. She had yelled out at the height of the wild pitching, "Is it always like this?" Merlyn yelled back over the din, "No, sometimes it’s worse!" The laugher in his voice did more the alleviate Mary’s fears than all the words I could have used. The day had started badly—and it decided not to change its ways. The seas were still large, and the small amount of wind would be blanked out as we slid into the trough between swells. The storm had left a protégée in the form of squalls—we worked from one squall to the next to seek the wind in each one; but we paid the penalty of a downpour that left everything soaked. I, the captain of the stalwart ship, spent most of the day in my bunk—still didn’t have my sea legs; and while not being really seasick, I still didn’t feel too hot. By afternoon, it was obvious that the estimated time of arrival at Monterey (or as an alternate, Moss Landing) would be 0300 or 0400 the next morning—in other words, an overnight trip. A conference between Merlyn, Mary, Bret, and I caused a change in plans with Santa Cruz as the next port of call rather than Monterey—but even Santa Cruz could not be reached before dark. We slowly worked our way down the north shore of the bay, making out the lights and buoys as we slowly motored along. I was disappointed, for as we passed the boardwalk area, it wasn’t all lit up as it would have been in the summer. It would have been a thrill to see and hear again the sounds and signs of the roller coaster and merry-go-round.  

We crept up on the small boat harbor entrance. The entrance was lit by a buoy just outside but no lit buoys inside the channel, according to the latest chart. As we swung around the jetty to line up with the channel, instead of an unlit channel, it was ablaze with what seemed to be 30 or 40 red and green buoys. A quick yell to Merlyn brought the helm over, and we headed back out to sea so we could spend some time trying to dope out the unexpected lights.  

Trying to look through binoculars from the deck of a sailboat is tough enough business; but at night, the lights are only pinpoints that dance up and down and make little swiggles on your retina and you feel like you’re ready for the "funny farm. " As best we could tell, the lights were beyond the first floating docks, so we decided to enter the channel between the breakwaters. Maybe, because I was a little tired, somewhat seasick, and admittedly worried, what happened next may not have been as bad as it seemed; but at the time, it sure seemed bad enough.  

Santa Cruz harbor, in common with most small boat harbors, is subject to shoaling. That is, a sand bar builds up across the entrance that makes the water shallower at that point—and for those not up on fluid dynamics, as the water gets shallower, the swell gets higher and higher, until it gets too which in which case it spills over and becomes a breaking wave. So much for science—back to the entrance at Santa Cruz. As we entered, I had this strange, prickly feeling in the back of my neck. Then I heard the hiss that I knew as a wave spilling into white water; and when I turned around and looked back, there it was! It was at least 6 to 9 feet above us "spilling" foam and coming on like a freight train. All I could yell was, "Hang on!" The stern started lifting up while the bow settled into the trough; and then we started racing forward, just like a surfboard. The only difference was that we were in a channel only two or three times as wide as our boat is long; and instead of a 6-foot, 30-lb. board, we were a 30-foot, 15,000-lb. boat. For hours we had been traveling at two or three knots as we felt our way down the coast; and now when I wanted to go as slowly as possible, this blankety-blank wave had us surfing at six to seven knots. I learned another lesson that night (another one of those firsts); that is, when the boat is moving at the same speed as the water that it’s floating in, the rudder doesn’t work! Honest, you have to be moving through still water or at least have a different speed from the water for the rudder to work. So there we were, roaring down the narrow channel without an control over the direction that the boat was going! We started twisting side wards, swinging into the nearest sea wall; I knew something had to happen, and it did! As I was to find out later, in almost every harbor we entered, this same thing happens with almost the same results; but, remember, this was my "first. " Oh, what happened? Well, the wave went by us, naturally; or perhaps the channel got deeper and the wave disappeared. I can’t tell you which ‘cause my eyes were closed! But suddenly we again had control and the harbor waters looked as smooth and as black as oil. The boat swung back in line and we were in! I looked at Mary, her eyes were big as I’ve never seen them, and she looked plain scared. I then looked at Merlyn—a big grin on his face and a "hey, that was great" expression. Thank God there wasn’t a mirror around. I really didn’t want to look at my face just then. I probably would have gone ashore to stay. Then, a flood of relief! "Wha-hoo," I shouted. "Drinks and steaks at the best restaurant we can find; we’ve made it. " Bret popped his head out of the cabin and said, "French-fries, too?" "Right on," came the reply as we swung alongside the guest dock.  

After looking up the harbor master and getting a dock assignment, Merlyn and I climbed back on board to move the boat while Mary and Bret stood by our assigned slip, lines in hand. I pulled the shift lever into reverse and O. D. J. started backing away from the dock. With the helm hard over, we swung in a big arc; and when I knew that the bow would clear, I shoved the lever forward. Instead of the O. D. J. slowing his stern way and starting forward as it should, all I got in response was a horrendous mechanical clattering and clanking, which told even mechanical idiot me that something had gone wrong! The old Volvo diesel still said "chunk-chunk" as solidly as ever; and the gear lever seemed to snap into forward, neutral, and reverse. We just didn’t move. Merlyn and I looked at each other and almost as one movement shrugged our shoulders with the universal "I don’t know" sign. "Any suggestions?" I asked. Merlyn stood there for a moment, then a big grin seemed to grow from somewhere near his left eye, then spread until it covered his whole face. "O. K. , wise guy, tell me," I said, just a little piqued. If possible, the grin grew even larger; but he said not a word, just turned and went forward. Before I could form any opinions about what had happened to Merlyn’s sanity, he reappeared with the dinghy oars in hand! Now I knew he was nuts—row a 30-foot, 7-ton boat! But just to humor him (after all, he’s 6-foot, 4-inches tall and could be dangerous), I did as he said and started paddling—and, wow, we actually moved. We paddled close enough to throw a line to Mary and Bret and, within a minute or two, were secure for the night.  

In a rash moment I had promised steaks and drinks to the crew, and now they descended on me to fulfill my promise. Pleading temporary insanity, tiredness, seasickness, and other excuses was to no avail. I thought I had the perfect ploy in order to get out of it. I called the crew together—put on my best, most serious captain’s face, and told them, "Look, I’m a man of my word, and I know that in the heat of a tense moment, I made a rash promise, and I’m sorry that I can’t keep it, as much as I really want to. " The crew stood there somewhat crestfallen until someone asked why I was backing out. This was exactly what I wanted; now my most serious look was changed to grave and thoughtful. "Well, good crew," said I, "you know that the prime consideration is the welfare of the ship. " There was a general round of agreement. "And," I continued, "that for a ship to be handled in a diligent manner, it requires an alert, shipshape crew, right?" The nod of agreement circled the crew who looked even more crestfallen as they saw my next, logical step. I paused for dramatic effect, knowing that when I made the final statement linking the "drinking" with the "unfit crew" with "ship’s safety," then I will have saved a twenty-dollar bill. "Neat," I thought. As I waited for the proper time, I felt that old tingling at the back of my neck. I knew that it wasn’t a wave bearing down on us, but I knew somehow that things weren’t right. A glance at the faces of my crew—all still crestfallen over the windfall they had almost had. But something made me stop and look back at Merlyn. Yes, there it was—that little area near his left eye—from whence grows his big grin—it was starting to glow. In that instant of time, I knew I was defeated. That twenty bucks was blown—and even as I thought this, Merlyn’s grin grew like the sun coming up over the sea. Before I could hasten on to take advantage of the groundwork that I had laid, Merlyn spoke up. "I agree with you," boomed Merlyn with a grin from ear to ear. " (Look out, John. ) "When you said it takes an alert crew to assure that the ship arrives safely in port, you’re absolutely right. " The grin still remained on Merlyn’s face as he continued, "Yes, John, on the night before a big cruise, like to Monterey, we shouldn’t go out and booze it up. " I jumped in quickly before Merlyn could say more and said, "Well, then, it’s settled—early to bed, and early to rise, and no carousing tonight. " But before I got done with my little speech, I knew Merlyn had one last thing to say. "I’ll just say it once—you’re taking us out to dinner a promised," said the smiling Merlyn. "But," I protested, "we’re going to Monterey tomorrow, and we just agreed that before a sail . . . . " "Whoa," said Merlyn. "How are we going to get to Monterey?" 

"Sail, of course. "

 "And if there’s no wind?"

 "Then we’ll turn on the engine and . . . . "

"Clankety-clank, rattle-rattle," said Merlyn.

 I was wrong. The evening didn’t cost me a twenty-dollar bill—it came nearer to forty!

 Sunday has been traditionally a day of rest and football on television, but this Sunday was not to be traditional. Right off, it started with emptying out the port lazarette. Now for our non-nautical (funny word) friends, a lazarette is just a fancy word meaning a closet or storage space. Specifically, on O. D. J. the port lazarette is all the area under the left cockpit seats clear down to the bilges. It’s maybe four feet deep, six feet long, and three feet wide, and stows one hell of a lot of stuff. In fact when we got everything out of the lazarette and on the dock, we had spectators betting that it couldn’t all fit back in. You know, they were right! The reason we had to empty the lazarette was for me to get down to where, when standing on my head, I could just reach the drive shaft. What I expected to see was bits of metal, twisted propeller shaft, and all kinds of extraneous items because of the magnitude of sounds from last night. What I did find made me feel better.

 The problem was that between the drive shaft and the transmission output coupling was two inches of air! My first thought was that the propeller drive shaft had sheared off a couple of inches outside the coupling; but after I had fiddled a little bit, it was apparent that the bolt that went through the coupling and then through the drive shaft had broken. The broken bolt had allowed the drive shaft to slide aft, disengaging it from the coupling.

 I was relived to find it a simple fix, just replace the bolt. This was promptly accomplished. O. D. J. was back in shape ready to head for Monterey on Monday. Merlyn’s wife Gail drove down from Camino to pick him up; he had to return to work on Monday. We had a second evening out at a great, family-style Italian restaurant. Merlyn was a great help those first days. If you read this, my friend, thanks again.

 Monday dawned bright and beautiful, and the passage to Monterey was our first pleasant day since leaving San Francisco. Warm sunshine; light winds; bright, sparkley water; and our first visit by those "clowns of the sea," the porpoises. Bret was on the foredeck doing some schoolwork when I first spotted them. I was sure that they would cut across our bow and frolic for us. Mary went forward to join Bret just as the pod started cutting back and forth across the bow and riding the bow wake. Later Mary told me that Bret had asked her if she was sure that they were porpoises and not killer whales. His concern was that he had just read Dougal Robertson’s Survive the Savage Sea. This is a fine book about a family that drifted for more than a month in a small life raft after their boat was sunk by a pod of killer whales. I’m sure that this story was still vivid in Bret’s mind. After he was certain that they couldn’t and wouldn’t sink us, he came to enjoy them as much as we did.

 The entrance to Monterey is probably the noisiest of any in our travels. It’s not noisy from traffic or airplanes or anything like that—it’s noisy because of the thousands of sea lions lying on the rocky breakwater. Our original intention was to spend one or two days in Monterey before continuing south; however, the flu bug caught me and I spent a couple of days bunk ridden. So our stay stretched out to four days.

 Monterey was sure nice to us; even though I suffered from the flu, we had a fine time. Mail awaited us at General Delivery thanks to our good friend Bill McGowan.

 Mary’s cousins Chet and Margaret entertained us like royalty! Chet’s martinis will be remembered a long time, and Margaret’s meals were delicious and so beautifully served. We enjoyed immensely the many beautiful slides they had taken in their travels around the world. But as we have had to do so often since then, we sailed out still headed south. The jump from Monterey to Morro Bay had to be nonstop for at least 24 hours, possibly up to 36 depending on wind and tide. We left at about 11:30 with the expectation of arrival at Morro at about noon the next day. I had rested up for several days, and a full 24 hours awake really didn’t bother me. This leg of our trip was peaceful. I gave up the tiller about three or four in the morning. The moon was full when I roused Mary and said, "Take over and steer 210º". I went below and was asleep instantly.

 When I again came on deck, the sun was high. Mary looked good and began to tell me of the beauty of watching the moon set and the sun rise. I remembered telling her about the phosphorescence of the wake, and she told me of the brilliance of it during the rest of the night. It was probably 1000 or 1100 hours when I awoke, having slept a good sleep.

 The coast in this section between Big Sur and Morro Bay is rugged, without any definitive land marks. The wind failed us about noon and again we kicked on the "Volvo wind" and made our way through a warm, sunny afternoon. By late afternoon we had Morro Rock in sight and a fair wind sprang up. We shut off the engine, hardened up on the sheets, and on a broad reach (wind abeam) we made good time until we reached the breakwater jetties.

 The captain’s command to "lower sails" was promptly carried out by Mary and Bret. To enter the narrow channel we had to drop the sails. The channel was dead into the wind, which is the one direction a sail boat can’t go if it can’t tack. We started the Volvo again; and as I shifted the lever forward, we made a short spurt after which the rudder would not respond! We had lost all way and were not going forward; in fact, we were going leeward (side wards) into the crashing surf that lines the breakwater on the starboard side. Thank God for good crew—because as soon as I yelled, "Give me sails," they sprang to and before long we were underway heading back out to sea. Twice to tried to drive O. D. J. into the channel, but the wind was "spot-on" our nose and we couldn’t get it.

 I decided that since there was a Coast Guard Station in Morro Bay, I would call them and request a tow into the harbor. I turned on the set and let it warm up while Mary kept us tacking back and forth across the entrance. I switched the transmitter to the calling and distress frequency, pushed the mike button, called the Coast Guard, and got not answer. Thinking that something might be wrong with that frequency, I shifted to the regular Coast Guard shore station frequency. Again, no answer. It was plain that I was not transmitting.

 Mary shouted down to me that a fishing boat was heading in and that maybe we could get a tow. I waved and waved without getting a response. Finally, in exasperation, I turned to Mary and said, "You try. " On the first wave of her red jacket, the fishing boat altered course. All it took was a good-looking, bikini-clad body to get their attention! As the Santa Rita came close, I threw them our 1-inch-diameter anchor line while I turned to unhook the anchor from the opposite end of the line. The shackle holding the anchor to the line was stuck and wouldn’t come loose. While I struggled with it, the crew of the Santa Rita had made the line fast and was heading for him in high gear! The rope was rapidly disappearing over the bow when I made a grab for it. The rope slid through my hands, causing some really bad rope burns. Finally I got a good grip on the line, but the force was too much and I got yanked off my feet. If it hadn’t been for the forward pulpit and stanchions, I would have gone overboard. Now the whole weight of O. D. J. was resting on my shoulders, literally as well as figuratively. My right shoulder was jammed tightly into the stanchion and both arms extended hanging on to the line with all my strength. I’m not sure whether I yelled or if Mary just sensed something wrong; but she turned the tiller over to Bret and came forward just as I was getting ready to let go. She quickly sized up the situation and belayed the last few feet of line to the anchor chock. Then I could let go. It was stupid of me not to have belayed my end of the line before passing the rope to the Santa Rita. One more lesson learned, and it was reinforced every time that I had to use my badly burned hands. However, in a week or so, they had healed nicely.

 Once inside the harbor, the Santa Rita dropped our line and we quickly anchored. I had two immediate jobs: fix the drive shaft and fix the ship-to-shore radio; but first I had to fix the shaft in order to move to a dock. This meant unloading the port lazarette again. What I should do is just leave it unloaded; this is the second time in a week.

 "Ahoy," came a shout from a 12-foot skiff. "I’m the harbor master. Anything I can do for you?" he shouted. "Yes, can you tow us to some sort of dock or a marina if you don’t mind?" "Hey, what yacht club do you belong to?" he shouted, pointing aloft. There, fluttering in the afternoon breeze, was the burgee of the Diablo Sailing Club, an organization that we had joined some months back. Really, I don’t know if it could be called a yacht club as we had no facilities, just a bunch of sailing people who met once a month. I told him that we belonged to the Diablo Sailing Club, just east of San Francisco. He immediately yelled, "Throw me a line and I’ll tow you down to the Morro Bay Yacht Club’s dock". I’m sure he thought that I was a bit balmy when he saw what care I took to make sure the tow rope was secured to the bitt before I passed him the line.

 Ten minutes later we were standing with a drink in our hands in front of a roaring fireplace, watching the sun plunk itself into the Pacific.

 That night I wrote up the log: we had made the hop between Monterey and Morro Bay in a little less than 30 hours, and we had covered 122 nautical miles or about four miles an hour. Well, that’s faster than walking but slower than running!

 Our stay at Morro Bay was pleasant. There’s a fine state park with a natural history museum that even Bret seemed to enjoy. Morro Bay also has the finest ship chandlery that we’ve seen. We saw it in the winter and part of its charm may have been due to the lack of tourists. We must go back there again in the summer.

 While we were tied up there, we met some other cruising people. Aboard the Gloriana, a 34-foot ketch, were Bud and Helen Howard from Walnut Creek. This was their first extended cruise with La Paz as the eventual destination. Bud had retired a few months before, they sold their house, bought the Gloriana, and were off to see the world—and they’re starting after their 60th birthdays! Bud told me that their grown children thought that they were nuts.

 We also had the pleasure of meeting Doug Walsh who owns the 38-foot motor-sailer Ellan Vannin. . He was waiting for fuel-pump parts to arrive from England. In fact, he had been waiting so long that he (1) joined the yacht club, (2) claimed that he was going to run for mayor, and (3) said he was going to homestead a "piece of the rock," meaning Morro Rock that stands at the head of the bay. Doug and his 2-girl crew were headed for France via the Panama Canal.

 The time that we spent in Morro has left us with wonderful memories; but like all things, it had to come to an end as we moved on. The next leg of our journey would also be the longest of our entire trip to San Diego. There are no small craft harbors between Morro and Santa Barbara which are 150 miles apart. Not only is it a long passage, but this stretch is also known for its bad weather. Two major points, Point Arguello and Point Conception, have to be passed. The Coast Pilot warns of fog and high winds with large seas in this area. In fact, one book refers to Conception as the "Horn of California," which set Mary and I both to wondering and worrying about bad weather and fog, neither of which we had yet faced at sea. We left Morro and motored slowly around Pt. Buchon. Here a huge construction area had scarred the hillside where the PG&E is putting in an atomic power plant. Little did we know then that we were to get a good look at the reactor later.

 After rounding Pt. Buchon, we could make out Pt. Sal, just off Vandenberg AFB, and beyond that, in veiled mists, Pt. Arguello. The wind came up so we shut off the Volvo and hoisted sail. The wind proved fickle and within an hour or so, we had to restart the diesel. Then it happened for the third time. The drive shaft bolt had snapped again! Well, there was nothing that we could do but fix it at sea—we emptied the lazarette and I crawled below and, almost standing on my head, completed the repairs. I knew that once we were underway with the prop turning, it would keep going. It only seemed to shear the bolt when power was first applied. I eased the lever forward and the prop began to turn—we were again underway. I had decided to keep the prop turning all the way to Santa Barbara; there we would get the boat out of water and fix the blankety-blank thing.

We hadn’t been making very good time; it was evening and we had just passed Pt. Sal and were opposite Vandenberg AFB. I was standing at the railing, looking at the shore, remembering details from the many trips I’d made to this base for Lockheed. Little did I suspect then that I would be here now!

 Mary interrupted my reveries by asking if there was an island or land off to the west. "Sure," I jokingly said, "Japan and mainland China. " "Then what is that I see?" she said in a small voice. I turned around and what I saw made my heart sink—it was a fog bank that looked as solid as rock. I took a quick round of fixes using the handheld compass. I got bearings on Pt. Arguello light, the aero-beacon at Vandenberg, and the light at Port San Luis 10 or 15 miles north of us. I had barely finished drawing the last bearing line on the chart when it closed in so solidly that we could not see the masthead light only 15 feet up the mast! I made a quick decision that we wouldn’t try to continue through the fog. My first consideration was the drive shaft—it had failed me before and I did not want to face the possibility of drifting around in the fog. Secondly, the shipping lanes swing in close to shore around these two points, and I didn’t like the prospect of being run down by a big ship—at least in clear weather we could see their lights and avoid them. The best decision was not to proceed but what were the alternatives? The first one that came to mind was to turn back north and head for Pt. San Luis; I had a bearing on the light and a fix of our position. Even if it were foggy, we could motor back and probably feel our way in; the main drawback was losing the distance that we had gained going south. The second option was to run toward shore. We were five miles out and we could head in until the depth sounder indicated 60 feet or so. Then we would drop the anchor and wait it out. We decided to run in and anchor.

 With the engine at slow speed, we crept through the fog heading almost due east. As we motored in, I got a running fix using the radio direction finder. For those nautical friends who may someday do this, I offer the following hint on using a RDF; forget that the antenna turns—you just can’t move the tiller with one hand, the antenna with the other, keep one eye on the compass (to steer a straight course), and one eye on the tuning meter (to see the signal null). Instead, turn the antenna so that it lines up with the keel, then steer the boat side to side across the null; as you cross the null line, quickly look at the compass and you’ve got a bearing. So much for the school work.

 The fix I got showed that I was slightly north of Pt. Sal, off Pismo Beach in about 30 fathoms. We kept moving until the fathometer read 15 fathoms. We dropped anchor and shut off the engine. We could hear the breakers crashing on the beach in the distance.

 Using the RDF and the fathometer, I fixed our position as two miles offshore. Suddenly a sharp wind came up. I had mixed emotions; the wind could blow the fog away or push us on to the lee shore only two miles away. The wind increased to 40 knot gusts, and I decided that an anchor watch was in order. I put on warm clothing and foul weather gear and sat in the cockpit listening to the surf to see if it got louder and monitoring the depth sounder from time to time. If we started to drag anchor, the surf would sound closer and the depth would decrease, all of which said, fog or no, we sail out to sea.

About three in the morning, the fog began to break. I got a good visual bearing on the Port San Luis light and decided to run for it since I didn’t know how much higher the wind would get and I certainly didn’t like our exposed position. When I called Mary, she appeared almost instantly. I knew that she had been lying there in the bunk fully clothed, wide awake, and scared.

 The engine kicked over on the first try, and we both held our breath as I eased it into forward. The bolt held! What a relief. Mary took the tiller and eased us forward as I tended the anchor line, trying to gain back the 300 feet of 1-inch nylon. The wind was so strong, and the anchor set so deeply in the sandy bottom, that we couldn’t get the hook up. That did it! We weren’t going to move until the wind dropped, but I had a world of confidence that the hook was buried so deeply in Old Mother Earth that we weren’t about to drag anchor no matter how high the wind would get. So Mary and I went below, climbed into the port bunk together with the sideboard up (Bret was in the other main cabin bunk), still with all our gear on, and tried to get some sleep.

 I did a lot of soul-searching in the next few hours about whether it was really worth it—following this dream of mine, that is—a question that I still consider to this day, and I still answer that I think it is, regardless of the hardships and uncomfortable times. But much of my soul-searching concerned Mary—every once in awhile, when the wind howled louder or the surf sounded closer, she would wake and shiver all over, partly perhaps from cold, but more from plain fear. The combination of fog, high winds, and a lee shore is enough to scare even an old-time salt let alone babes on a big sea.

 Like all things, this too passed; and by 0900 the winds dropped, the fog burned off, and we had a new day. The memories of that night remain in my mind today, just as fresh and vivid. During the long hours of the night, I had decided that we weren’t going to attempt rounding "the horn" without a good, reliable means of motoring. So, after a leisurely breakfast, we motored back to Port San Luis to see what could be done about the drive-shaft problem.

 Port San Luis is an open road stead (which means a relatively unprotected bay) that affords protection from north winds and seas; but if the winds swing around and come in from the south, everybody clears out, generally by running with the wind, thirty miles around Pt. Buchon into Morro Bay. While Port San Luis may not be the greatest harbor, it is our opinion that they have the greatest harbor master. If any of you get to this little-known port, by all means drop in and meet Ken Jenkins. He really is a great guy.

 When we got to Port San Luis, I rowed ashore and found Ken, told him of my problems with the drive shaft, asked if he could help or recommend someone who could. He told me to go back aboard and he’d have someone there in half an hour. True to his word, Ken showed up with his dock foreman. We had emptied the lazarette, and we took turns standing on our heads to assess the problem. The essence of the problem was that the hole that went through the shaft had elongated from a hole that just fit a ½-inch bolt to an oblong that was nearly one inch by one-half inch. The reason that the bolts kept shearing was that the bolt had to pick up the inertial load of the prop and draft shaft after staring. This was just too much of a shock, so tow things would happen: (1) the bolt would further elongate the hole (throwing an even bigger load on it the next time), and (2) the bolt was stressed so that if it didn’t snap this time, it was sure to the next time.

 One method of fixing the problem was to cut off a couple inches of the drive shaft, slide the shaft back into the coupling, redrill, and rebolt. Two things were wrong. First, we were doing the same thing as before, and it had already failed. I wanted a fix that would actually strengthen the arrangement. Secondly, I was not sure that the shaft had the extra couple inches to spare. If we did cut the shaft, then slid it forward, the propeller might hit the hub before the shaft was all the way into the coupling. The best "ship-shape and Bristol fashion" repair was to haul O. D. J. out of the water, pull the drive shaft, and have a new one made; an expensive process, but the best way.

 I should describe how boats are "hauled out" for the benefit of our non-nautical friends. Most boat yards use a big machine that looks very much like a lumber carrier. You’ve probably seen a lumber carrier. Its wheels are on legs that are 10 feet or so high with the motor and controls way up in the air. The "boat haulers" are similar except that in the open area between the tall legs is a pair of big, web straps. The boat is sailed into a special slip, and the boat hauler moves astraddle of the boat, runs the straps under the keel, then lifts the boat straight up out of the water. The boat is then moved into the yard where it’s set on the ground on blocks for repairs, etc. Now that I’ve described the normal haul-out, I’ll tell you that it’s not the way they do it in San Luis Harbor.

 In all fairness I should say that while we were there, they were building a facility to haul out the way I described it. What we did get hauled out on was what Ken called "the San Luis hurdy-gurdy," which essentially is a section of wharf that is raised and lowered by cables on all four corners. Concrete weights below the wharf planking cause it to sink, the boat to be hauled sails over this sunken section, which is then lifted to wharf level. This sounds like a simple arrangement, but it has one major drawback. Port San Luis is exposed to the open sea, and a constant ground swell is present. When the platform is being lifted, the boat will float on the crests of the swell and then bang down hard on the platform as the trough of the swell passes. Also, the boat will be shoved sideways against the uprights (used to keep the boat from falling over once it’s hauled out) by the force of the swell heading shore ward.

 Mary and I fended off of the dock pilings as we were pulled over the now sunken platform. Four men and Bret kept lines from O. D. J. tight to hold us exactly in the center of the uprights. When the swell pattern seemed just right, the platform cables were shoved in gear and we started up at three inches per second. We had taken the precaution of starting the engine (hoping that the bolt would hold!) So that if anything went wrong, I could put her in gear and get out of there. It was a lucky thing we did because after some severe bumping, when we were almost clear of the water, an extra large, grand daddy swell picked us up and swung us hard against the port side upright. The cracking of timbers sent cold sweat over my body—I didn’t know whether we had been holed or whether it was just the upright that had snapped under the strain. However, there was no time to contemplate. I shoved O. D. J. into gear and was relieved when the sound of the engine told me that it was loaded and the shaft was turning. This is the one time that it absolutely had to work. Meanwhile, the crew on the wharf had reversed the hears; and after a few more bumping, we were afloat and heading out away from the dock.

 I yelled for Mary to take the tiller while I scrambled below and tore up the floor boards over the bilges. Not a drop of water! At least O. D. J. seemed sound, but I was really anxious to get her (him) out to see for myself what damage was done. I was also anxious to get O. D. J. on the dock for another, unrelated reason. We had monitored the Coast Guard forecast that morning, an they were predicting strong winds and big seas out of the south. Many of the boats on the moorings had already taken off to Morro Bay, and I either wanted to be 30 feet up out of the water or 30 miles north in Morro Bay.

 Meanwhile, on the dock they were surveying the damage to the platform. The 4x4 upright had been snapped in two, and the heavy, metal fitting that clamped it to the platform had been bent and cracked. A shouted conference was held between us and the dock crew about trying again after repairs. They were reluctant to try again as the swells seemed to be increasing in size, but I insisted we try one more time. A couple of hours later we were again over the platform, fending off of the pilings, trying again. Mary and I were both keyed up, ready for anything; but this lift went as smoothly as the proverbial silk. Tow or three light bumps and we were airborne. Damage to the O. D. J. was nil, just a scratch in the paint.

 The next morning Ken drove us to Morro Bay to Eddie’s Machine Shop. Eddie was a big, friendly guy; he laughed when I showed him the shaft and coupling. He told me that mine was the third Volvo coupling that he had seen that month, each with the same basic problem!

 We decided to "beef up" this arrangement because I didn’t want it to fail again; and Eddie said, "O. K. , I’ll take care of it and have it done tomorrow. " Man, you sure can’t get service like that anywhere else. I had already prepared myself for the old, come-back-in-a-week routine. The next day, I couldn’t find a ride over to Morro in order to pick it up. I phoned Eddie to tell him that I couldn’t, and he volunteered to drive it over! One hour later, he drove up and wouldn’t take a penny for the 40-mile trip. However, he did settle on a cold beer for payment. The shaft and coupling looked like it was built for a battleship, or at least a destroyer; and I’ll never have to worry about that problem again.

 That afternoon, we were ready to be lowered back into the water; but as predicted, we had winds and high seas and so decided to wait for calmer seas. During those three days that we sat high and dry on the wharf, we got a chance to see the huge, atomic reactor that was destined for Pt. Buchon. It must have been at least 200 feet long and 75 feet in diameter. It was on a special carrier that had 196 wheels. Within a couple of day, it would start is 15-mile trip over a road especially constructed just for this one trip. It really impressed all of us and reinforced my belief, although many of you may disagree, that the only way to solve the energy problem will have to be with atomic fission or fusion.

 When we finally got dropped back into the water, it was as smooth as the lift-out. We didn’t even scratch the new paint job of the day before. The next day was spent in making preparations for our second attempt at the "Horn of California. "

 My preparation consisted almost solely of sleep and rest in anticipation of 20 or so hours at the tiller. Bret and Mary took care of checking things out and stowing everything away.

 Early the next afternoon, we lifted the hook and motored out of Port San Luis, happy to be on our way but somewhat sad to leave. We had timed our departure in order to arrive in Santa Barbara during daylight hours. Evening found us again off Pt. Sal at about the same spot where the fog got us the first try. Mary had been carefully watching the wet-bulb/dry-bulb thermometer, and from the reading she was predicting fog. As usual, she was spot-on because within an hour a fog bank swept over us just like the first time out. I made the decision not to continue because, even though we had good motive power this time, we would still have to enter the shipping lanes in fog. So, again we turned toward shore to anchor. Before we could find shallow enough water for anchoring, the fog had swept by us and we could see stars and the lights on ships way out to sea. Mary continued to monitor the wet and dry temperature readings and predicted no more fog. So, once again, we pointed our bow at the Pt. Arguello light and continued our journey.

 We motored slowly along until around midnight when we got enough wind to raise the sails. About 0200 the wind really started kicking up and I got Mary up on deck to drop the mizzen and take a couple of turns on the roller reefing on the mainsail in order to decrease our speed. We passed Pt. Conception light about 0300 and almost immediately the wind decreased. So, we had rounded the horn with only a good blow of 25 to 30 knots. We put up the canvas that we had dropped before, and I turned the tiller over to Mary.

 I awoke about 0800 very refreshed. I could look up from the bunk through the open companionway at the sunny, blue sky and at Mary’s smiling face. She saw that I was awake and shouted a "good morning" accompanied by a big grin. As I lay there rapping on her face, I saw a huge, green mountain of water rear up behind her. I didn’t shout to her because I did not want to frighten her, and I could feel O. D. J. lifting up and then the big swell slid by. Thank God, I thought, a big wave like that could break aboard and fill the cockpit with water. I’m glad it was just some big, freak swell. Yet in another 20 seconds, there was another, and then another, and finally it dawned on me that we were running in 10-14 foot swells.

 When I got topside, Mary shouted, "Great sailing, isn’t it?" It really was; the boat was handling beautifully and we were doing 7 knots and the sails were full. However, while it was great sailing, I felt a little "chicken" so we swung our bow toward shore.

 One hour later we were in a dead calm! What we had done was run in under the "wind shadow" of Pt. Conception. It was weird. Three miles to the east the wind was 20-30 knots with 10-14 ft. swells, and where we were not it was like a mill pond. So we turned around and went back out to sea.

The rest of the day was a fantastic trip down the Santa Barbara Channel. The channel is one of the most beautiful and, at the same time, one of the ugliest sights we had seen. The beauty of the channel is that the rugged mainland drops sharply into the sea, and you can almost picture the sweep of the bottom until it comes reaching up to form the islands only a few miles west. From the standpoint of a scenic area for sailing, it has much to offer. But, no matter how pretty, I wanted out of the channel as fast as possible. Why? Because of the OIL. This black, slimy stuff covered miles and miles of water. Huge patches, where there was no sparkle of sunlight—only a dead, dull brown. When we took spray aboard, the oil stayed while the water rolled off. The very air smelled of oil; and before we reached Santa Barbara, our newly painted hull was a dull gray and the decks were covered with the stuff. I think that they should outlaw matches on the boats around there; I’m sure if one flipped a lit match overboard, the whole channel would soon be ablaze.

 We got into the harbor in early afternoon accompanied, up until the last few miles, by a pod of gray whales that kept blowing a few hundred yards away. We only spent a single night at Santa Barbara as we were anxious to get to Ventura, only 30 miles away. Mary’s brother Ed McCombs is the city manager for Ventura. He and his lovely wife Nell have a beautiful home within walking distance of the harbor.

 The next day, en route to Ventura, was one of those really rare sailing days with everything perfect. Bright, sunny weather, good winds, and a flat sea. Bret became an all-day helmsman while Mary and I scrubbed the decks, trying to clear off the oil. Just after 1700, we tied up at the Ventura Yacht Club dock and began a week-long layover that combined wonderful meals cooked as only Nell can cook, a visit to the beautifully restored City Hall that Ed had been working on for so long. Ed has done a fantastic job of preserving the old and blending the new. Mary and I played tourist with a trip to L. A. and the art museums, theater, dinner out, Farmers’ Market, Olivera Street, Marina del Rey, etc.

 We drove our rented car back to Santa Barbara to buy each other Christmas presents. For me, a new, manual windlass, a mechanical helper for hauling up the anchor. For Mary, a new stove, one that uses kerosene or diesel fuel instead of the expensive, hard-to-find alcohol.

 During our stay at Ed and Nell’s, Mary’s mom and dad, Lila and Elmer, came down from Turlock, so we had a nice visit. An especially good time was enjoyed when everybody—Nell’s parents, Mary’s parents, and Ed and Nell’s family—came down to the boat, signed the logbook, and went for a short sail around the harbor. Mary and I both remember with much pleasure the night we went out to dinner with Ed and Nell. After dinner, we went dancing, which was fun. Hope some day to return for another visit.

 After a week in Ventura, I had the urge to move on. It was going to be kind of a new trip from here on as the sole crew would be Mary and me. Bret had decided to go back to Camino to his school and friends that he missed. We were both sad to see him leave, but Mary had taught both Bret and Kristi that they were independent people who could make up their own minds, and we both respected Bret’s decision. It was hard on Bret not to have his friends along and never to be in a place long enough to make friends.

 So, a couple of days before Christmas, we sailed out of Ventura and swung the bow south again. We had monitored the weather reports and were aware of the small craft warning for strong winds; but in the harbor they weren’t evident, and it wasn’t until we were near Port Hueneme that the wind and the seas built up. Rather than take a beating, we decided to pull into Channel Island Harbor only a few miles from Ventura. The wind died down that night, and the next morning we continued through glass-like seas.

 On Christmas Eve we anchored in Paradise Cove and went ashore in the dinghy. We had a wild ride through the surf and ended up wet and laughing hard over our lubberly approach. We had gone ashore for a Christmas Eve drink and to call Bret an Kristi and wish them a "Merry Christmas. " After our lubberly landing, I was wondering about returning through the surf, but Mary handled the dinghy so well that not a drop was shipped and neither of us got wet.

 Christmas Eve dinner aboard O. D. J. was turkey with all the trimmings. We didn’t have a whole turkey as the leftovers would be too much; instead, we had bought a drumstick and breast. Together with an ice cold bottle of champagne, we had a feast. A beautiful, cloudless, star-filled night provided fireworks in the water. A large school of bait fish had surrounded the boat; and as they darted back and forth, they left a brilliant, phosphorescent streak. Thousands, maybe millions, of the streaks wove patterns that looked like hieroglyphics. It was a fantastic Christmas Eve.

 On Christmas Day we sailed into the largest small-craft harbor in the world. Marina del Rey has to be seen to be believed. We stopped at the harbor master’s office to ask for a berth assignment, and we were informed that the largest small-craft harbor had no public berths. In other words, we had to go to a yacht club or a marina, and they were sure that all the marinas were full.

 Mary and I cruised up and down the rows and rows of full berths until we came to a whole section that had a number of empty slips. We decided to pull into an empty slip and see if we could locate the marina office for some sort of overnight accommodations. It turned out that the only reference to a marina office was a phone number that didn’t answer. So we ended up staying but not paying. That night was a special treat. We went out to a fancy restaurant and dined royally. We had intended to spend a few days here in order to see more of the sights in and around L. A. , but both of us felt very out-of-place. Oliver David may have looked a little scruffy, but she (he) was more seaworthy than 50 percent of the "plastic, Clorox-bottle" boats that were twice as big; and I’m willing to bet that 90% of the thousands of boats here hadn’t completed a journey as long as ours. Somehow, neither Mary or I liked it here—maybe it was just too big or too impersonal; but, whatever it was, we decided to move on.

 The trip from Marina del Rey to L. A. Harbor (San Pedro) was made under motor power in a smog that only allowed 2-3 mile visibility. It seemed funny to have to steer a compass course because of inability to see the shore on what was otherwise a sunny day. The L. A. smog was unbelievable even in December.

 I had a real shock when I thought I had seen my first UFO. Something made me look aft and there, looming out of the smog, was a huge, silver disc. It was positioned vertically with radial lines all converging into the center. It wasn’t until it turned on its downwind leg into L. A. airport that I could see that it was the Goodyear Blimp. It had had its nose down pointing directly at me. For a minute there, I was all set to swear off Korbels!

 We arrived at the marina just at dark and the marina office was closed for the day. We picked a slip and hoped that whoever was renting it wouldn’t be in tonight. The next morning I went up to the office to pay, but the guy who ran the office said to forget it and then lent us the keys to the showers. I guess that proves that there are some nice guys left in the world.

 The next stop was one that I was particularly looking forward to. Newport Beach is the home of "Tiller-Master," an electronic autopilot that connects to the tiller and steers the boat on a compass course. The ads for Tiller-Master said that they would give a free demonstration on your own boat. If it did as promised, it would be like having a third "hand" that stood all the tiller watches and never slept, ate, or drank, and would certainly be worth the money. So I was anxious to get a demonstration. One of the highlights of the trip between L. A. and Newport was that we sailed through the largest group of porpoises that I had ever seen. Every day since we left Santa Cruz, we would have two or three that would frolic around the boat; but on this day they must have been having a convention because I’m sure there were several hundred in sight at one time, all jumping and rolling. Every few minutes there would be 10 or 15 playing around the boat only to move off and be replaced by another batch. It was a great show that lasted nearly all day.

 When we entered Newport, I mistook Balboa Yacht Club’s dock for the harbor master’s dock. But soon as they saw that we were flying the Diablo Sailing Club burgee, they welcomed us and offered the guest dock for as long as we wanted to stay. The day before New Year’s, I finally got hold of the Tiller-Master people and got a demonstration. It was exactly what we wanted, and we bought it on the spot. Mary and I agreed that, henceforth and hereafter, our new "crew member" would be named "Merlyn" after Merlyn Adams who had spent so much of his time at the tiller the first couple of days out of San Francisco. While we were at Newport, we had a nice experience that proves how great people really are. While cleaning out the lazarettes and cleaning in general, we were hailed by a young couple who introduced themselves as Ruth and Flint. They had come over to welcome us and to offer us the keys to their car. They wouldn’t need it all day, and it was ours to use if we wanted it. My faith in fellow man is being reinforced by the good things people have done for us.

 On the second day of 1974, we cleared the Newport Beach breakwater and headed toward Oceanside. We got a late start because of a small problem with the main halyard winch; and had I been prudent, we would have put in to Dana Point instead of trying for Oceanside. But the day was good; and even though we would get to Oceanside after dark, I felt that with a calm sea and clear visibility, we shouldn’t have any troubles. We sailed past San Clemente and the Coast Guard helicopters and patrol boats gave proof that "King Richard" was home. They buzzed us to make sure that we stayed well off. Nightfall caught us off of Camp Pendleton where night maneuvers were underway. Parachute flares lit up the night sky, and we could hear mortar shells exploding and the rattle of small arms fire. It reminded me of another January second, 23 years ago in Korea.

 After what seemed to be hours of looking, we finally found the buoys and breakwater beacons at Oceanside. Both Mary and I were tired and nervous as we slowly approached the T-shaped breakwater. Mary had just reread the Coast Pilot’s recommendation that persons unfamiliar with the harbor would be wise to contact the harbor master via ship-to-shore. Upon such contact, the harbor master would then detail a small boat to guide you in.

 I guess I should have paid attention to the advice. I know that Mary was urging me to, but I felt that I had a good mental image of the layout and knew what I was doing. In a lot of ways, what happened next was a repeat of Santa Cruz—a large swell lifted us up and made us surf down the narrow channel. As the stern lifted up, I said, "Oh, my God!" and I guess that just scared the hell out of Mary—knowing that I was afraid. Soon as the wave passed, so did the danger, and we were home free. I turned to the left when the channel ended and headed for the yacht club. When we got near the yacht club, we could see that all the lights were out, so I threw the helm over and we returned to the transient docks.

 No sooner had we gotten the sails down and the tie-up completed than a young couple appeared and introduced themselves. Bob and Jane Renkin had been sitting at the bar watching the harbor when we entered. They owned a 27 Cheoy Lee named "Thumper," so they knew what sailing was all about; and they had come down here to congratulate me on how well I had SAILED a fully rigged ketch in that tight basin in the middle of the night. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the engine had been going the whole time and that there had not been a breath of wind for hours. I was just going to live with my little white lie rather than disappoint them.

 I could tell that they were curious to see below decks; and since I felt a little sheepish about letting them believe that we had actually sailed in, I invited them aboard for a drink. After a nice visit, they asked us to join them for a drink at the Jolly Roger where they had been watching our entry. After a couple of drinks, we had dinner together and Bob insisted on paying the tab. Who says there’s not any good people in this world? We parted with the promise that we would look them up if in the area again.

 We had made too many entries into unknown harbors after dark. I decided that we would make the next harbor, San Diego, in daylight. In order to keep my promise, we left Oceanside at 0400. As if the elements had tuned in on my mental promise, this was the first day that we had head winds. Our course was SSW, and that’s exactly the direction that the wind was blowing from.

 All day it was tack out to sea, then back to shore. When the day wore on, it became evident that we were going to make Shelter Island in San Diego after dark, so we changed destination to Mission Bay, a few miles north of San Diego.

 During the day, a ketch caught up to us and then passed us—it was our old friends, Bud and Helen Howard aboard the Gloriana. We had met them weeks before in Morro Bay. When we finally got into Mission Bay just at dusk, they had tied up to the transient buoy next to the one to which we were assigned. We had them over to dinner the next night—barbecued oysters and steak. From January 4th to the 7th, the winds blew and the small craft warnings flew.

 On January 6, Mary flew to Camino to see Bret and Kristi. During the week that she was gone, I moved O. D. J. to a slip in the Hana Kai Marina and went looking for an apartment. We had come this far and now we had to spend some time thinking about whether to leave for good. Were we ready?

 Sailing south is downhill; if we continued to Mexico and then decided to return, it would be all uphill and hard. When we leave to head south, we must be fairly sure that we may not return.

 It has taken many months to make sure that what we’re sailing to and for is worth more than what we’re leaving behind. This decision has now been made, and we leave in a few short months.


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