Monday, September 29, 2008

No Wind in My Sails

Some adventures just don't turn out quite the way you planned. Take this weekend's sailing trip to Catalina island. My friends and I had planned this trip over a month ago. Mark, the captain, (shown below) had made the trip several times and guessed it would take about 4 hours from Marina del Rey to Catalina as long as we had decent wind. The plan was to get to the island, romp around for awhile, go back to the boat for dinner, stay the night and head back the next morning.

We all arrived at the Marina eager for our weekend getaway trip: Me, my roommate Stacia, new friends Crena and Herman, and Mark. It was surprisingly cold--much colder than our cozy home in Tujunga. No worries, though because we all brought jackets. Although Mark and I have been friends for years, he needed to give us all the obligatory rules and instructions, including "posts" for each of us. Stacia got to be the galley boss--meaning it was now her kitchen! Herman was 1st mate as he has had a lot of sailing under his own belt and Crena and I were deck hands.

Our boat, "Day Dreams," was a 36-foot sailboat and was a good size for a party of five. Any more of us and it might have gotten a little tight. After getting all our gear and food on the boat, we were ready to go. "Port clear," yelled Stacia. "Starboard clear," I yelled. Mark smoothly pulled the boat out of the slip and we were off.

At first it was fun. Something new. Something different. Fresh air. It was just cloudy. Very cloudy. We kept thinking it was a morning fog that would burn off. It was even predicted to burn off by 1pm at the very latest. But lo and behold, it didn't. And the wind never came either. Hours went by before we even attempted to sail (We had been motoring this whole time). Along the way though we saw a lot of wildlife which kept us quite entertained. First it was the seals. They were napping like the one pictured below. Some even wrapped themselves in seaweed to float easier. Silly seals.

Next we saw the most amazing event of all (unfortunately I have no pictures). Dolphins. Dozens of them. Possibly over a hundred. It was one of the most awesome events in nature to see....kinda like seeing a herd of wild horses. They were jumping really high in the air, swimming along side the boat, and just generally having a dolphin good time. We were all in awe. For a couple of minutes the sun even came out. But then, back to reality. "Are we there yet?," Crena asked. It was 3:00pm. No, we still have hours to go. Bummer.

Around 5:00pm the sun came out again, this time for a little bit longer. And out of the blue the island appeared. Wow, we actually made it there. Next we had to get the boat moored. Another 45 minutes to get there. And guess what? No mooring available. Bummer. Back to white cove where they had mooring but no taxi access. Didn't look like we were leaving the boat. Hmmm. We all talk about getting drunk. Thank goodness we had brought plenty of food! Stacia (below) prepares chicken with peach salsa. Yummy. We make the most of our situation and start drinking. Actually it was really nice. You should have seen the stars. At least the sky finally cleared up!

The next day had an interesting start. I don't drink coffee anymore, but Crena and Stacia do. The power outlets in the boat weren't working so the coffee maker didn't work and they had to make it the old fashioned way. What was funny was how badly they needed their coffee! It was like "get out my way, I need coffee right now" kind of thing. It made me laugh and I wondered if I was like that when I used to drink it. Amazing how we get so hooked on these things... And of our course it could have been the confinement of being on a small craft, not being on stable ground for almost 24 hours now, or a number of things. But as soon as coffee was consumed, everyone was happy again. It's the little things, you know.

Today we had some wind--about 10 knots per hour--so we set sail right away. The waters were a bit rougher though so the ride wasn't quite as smooth as the day before. Mark, Herman and I all took turns today sailing.

What was really fun was trying to prepare food below or even go to the bathroom. We laughed every time someone went down below because we'd see them holding on, then flying across the room as we hit a big swell. And of course you couldn't stay down there too long or you'd start feeling a bit nauseous. My stomach was on edge for most of the trip, but I never got sick. I just kept drinking Ginger ale and eating ritz crackers. Definitely not zone food, but better to cheat than be sick. Crena probably had the worst sea stomach, so she slept a lot to keep it under control.

Although hard to believe, we had a repeat of the dolphin party again. Not as many as yesterday, but these swam much closer to the boat. It was so exciting to see. It was the highlight of the whole trip. You can't always plan the perfect trip, but no matter what happens, you make the most of it. And that's what we did. And it was fun, despite the obstacles.

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