Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rain in Alameda . . . Sun in Monterey Bay

Our first 24-hour sail is completed. We left Alameda at 7:30 a.m. on Wed’day, October 17, 2007, and arrived in Monterey Bay Marina at about 9 a.m. Thursday, the 18th. Luckily for me, Mike is going easy on me with the non-stop, overnight sailing business. One, I’ve been sick and am still coughing and two, I was seasick all day the first day. Believe me, next time I’ll listen to the captain and take some preventive Dramamine! He was fine. Being seasick (sorry, Mom, but truly there is no better word) sucks. I was miserable. Mike says there are only two ways to combat the queasiness; stay up top where you can see the horizon and get fresh air, or go below but only to lay down with eyes shut and sleep. I tried the first and it was ok for awhile. Finally, I had to go below where I ended up sleeping most of the day.

Mike, meanwhile, got treated to a whale sighting. It came up and blew nearby, and he thought he also saw a youngster, but it may have been the dolphin that was accompanying the whale. The whale almost immediately flipped its fluke up and dove but the dolphin (or dolphins, it was hard to tell if there were multiple) played in our wake for a few minutes. I did get to see the dolphin(s) but missed the whale.

On the flipside Mike also got to experience the RAIN. Yep, it rained during our departure. Then it poured. Mike had a bucket up on deck and kept an eye on the level of water in it. He estimated at least two inches in just a few hours. He was in full foul-weather gear but I’m sure it was not pleasant. You have to really love sailing to stand at the helm of a sailboat in that kind of weather and still be able to smile!

I was finally up and around and a little better (though still eating nothing but saltines) at about 6 p.m., just in time to take my first “watch.” Mike had us on course and the Monitor wind vane keeping us there. All I had to do was watch out for other boats and anything else big enough to sink us, and make little adjustments to the wind vane if needed. The GPS was on and showed the route we were to follow. Mike went below and wrapped up in a quilt for some much needed rest.

I had nervously anticipated my first watch alone but it was actually really nice. I was dressed warmly in layers and the sun had not gone down yet but was low in the sky coloring the water and sky a gorgeous reddish-orange. We were motor-sailing (using the engine but also with the sails up) because the wind was too light for sails alone. Not the best wind for sailing but it made for a calm & easy night for me.

The first thing that happened was three sea lions surfaced near the back of the boat, blowing the water from their nostrils, and then they romped around like 10-year old boys. They only stayed a few minutes then were gone. I watched the sun go down and the stars come out. An almost-half moon had been up for hours already and it grew brighter. I tried to picture all the sea-life going on below the restless surface of the water. Then I began wondering why God covered so much of the surface of the earth with water – and the majority of it salt water, which we can’t even drink!

I noticed the bright green phosphorescence in the water to either side of the boat and in our wake. I could see why Mike is so fascinated with it; it’s mesmerizing. I was leaning over the railing at the stern staring into the wake when Mike quietly came up behind me and gave me a start. The two hours was up already. My turn to go below and get some shut-eye.

My subsequent watches got progressively tougher. Eight to midnight was not too bad. I got to see an awesome sunset. I tried wearing a headlamp to read but found it was better to just place it in my lap and train it on the book’s pages. I couldn’t do too much reading, though, it being a bit of a strain on my eyes. During Mike’s watch he had switched from the wind-vane to the auto-steering device that electronically adjusts the rudder to keep the boat on its prescribed course. It’s definitely better in light winds. Again, all I really had to do was keep an eye on it, and of course, watch for obstructions in our path. It still wasn’t too cold to stay up top so I did, using a small timer set at 15 minute intervals to remind me to get up and take a look around.

My next watch should have been at 2 a.m., but Mike let me sleep through that one and woke me at 4 a.m. He figured I needed the rest and he’d been able to tell by my frequent coughing that I hadn’t slept much during the first two hours. Four to 6 a.m. was much colder! Mike told me he’d been spending most of the time down below, going up every ten minutes to look around. I found he’d had the right idea and did the same. This third and final watch of the night was the hardest. I was bleary-eyed and cold and had a dull headache coming on. I sat on the settee across from the table with my head in my hands with the timer counting down the ten minutes. Then I’d quietly as possible climb the ladder into the cockpit and take a 360 degree look around, check the GPS, make a small adjustment if necessary then retreat below and start the timer again.

We’re spending today and tonight here in Monterey Bay. I’m happy to be in a cell phone service area because today my dad is having surgery to remove one of his kidneys and I’ll want to call my mom around noon or 1 p.m. to see how things are going. I didn’t like the thought that she wouldn’t be able to call me should anything go wrong. I don’t expect anything to go wrong, not with all the prayers on his behalf, and the blessing he received, but I still want to be reachable. Mike couldn’t have planned our schedule better. My dad has been on my mind all night and morning.

We had breakfast at Lulu’s, also known as The Griddle in the Middle (remember that place, Susan?) and as we were walking over there we remarked that the ground was rocking under our feet. Guess we got our sea-legs just in time to walk on solid ground again. We took a walk along Fisherman’s Wharf. I’ve been here many times but this is the prettiest I’ve seen it. Very few people are here yet, the sun is up, and everything looks so fresh. Sea lions are everywhere on the docks and buoys and are they ever noisy!
Don’t know how we are going to sleep tonight; I wonder if they quiet down when it gets dark?
There's so much more to tell....but I'm at Starbucks, on battery power (why I didn't bring my power cord I don't know) and I still need to check my e-mail so hopefully I'll have a chance to post again soon. I have already started my digital photo album for this trip. The title? "Two Months Before the Mast, or, Dragged Aboard the Baja Ha-Ha."

1 comment:

Susan said...

Ahoy, Deb!
Wow, what a trip so far. Yes, I remember Lulu's! Sorry to hear you're still sick, and I hope you are getting better, not worse. What beautiful photos! I just love the bird--a pelican? So cute. I noticed he has new "anklets", too--seaweed! I'm glad you like yours. I figured Mike wouldn't object to it because it is so small and lightweight. The sunset is to die for, also. Oh, I can't wait to see your book! Will you post pages as you complete them? I dunno about those two-hour night watches, though. Not sure I'd be up for that. Kinda cool, but I would be a zombie!

Take care, my friend, and the best of everything to you! Get well!