Sailing, sailing over the bounding main…

Ahoy there maties! Here is a picture of our little tub, soon to be renamed the “Giulietta” (after the little Alfa Romeo sports cars). Isn’t she cute? Isn’t she “yar”? (at least Kate Hepburn would call it that).  She is a Catalina 27 with a little bitty kitchenette, a wee little ‘head’ to go potty, a couple of berths wherein one can sleep or lay down moaning and trying not to throw up. It has everything one would need to go offshore sailing and a perfect size for first time sailors.

Something you may not know about my hubby, he has a great love of the sea. We were both raised near the Pacific, spending our lives near the sea. About oh, 7 or 8 years ago or so Dave started getting interested in sailing. I am not sure what triggered it. But he started looking at magazines and collecting books. Not just “Sailing for Dummies” either, (those are the ones I read) but books, every book he could get his hands on. We have at least 1 whole bookcase now dedicated to tomes like “the Mariners Weather Handbook”, “Steeling Away”, “Surviving the Storm”, “In the Wake of the Spray” , “The Call of the Ancient Mariner”,  “The Seafaring Trilogy” and about 100 others. New ones, out of print ones. We would make fun of him for buying PFD’s for the whole family, cases of flashlights and  batteries, knives, sailing gloves, extra hats, I think at least 2 or 3 sextants (for which he had to take a class), an airhorn, spotlight, sleeping bags, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, charts, a captains log and I don’t know what all else. We would say he had eveything but the boat!

But when we pulled all his carefully sealed crates and boxes out about a month ago, after we bought the boat, who had the last laugh? It was fun, kinda like a mariners christmas. Some of it had to be replaced of course. And frankly, the boat is not big enough for all his gear, but it was nice not having to start from scratch. Did I tell you when we took the classes back then, he went out and bought us all sailing jackets, gloves, matching sweatshirts and hats, each with a little pocket with its own chapstick, our names clearly initialed on the little caps? He wanted us to me ‘team Mericle”. Oh, and sunglasses with the little floating things attached to they would float if they fell off, he bought them too. Of course that did not stop me from loosing mine anyway. I had my regular glasses and thought I had better keep those safe, so I put the floaty thing on them instead. Then sure enough, I was wearing the sunglasses and “ploop” they went over board and sunk to the bottom of the channel. Oops. Sorry hon.

Phil waving good-bye as they set sail.

There is an inboard motor to get in and out of the harbor with. When it starts put-put-puting, it brings to mind the African Queen. In fact, my oldest son does have a Bogart look about him, not having shaved in a bit and tying a kerchief around his neck.

All the men in the family have constitutions of iron. Not a sea-sick one in the bunch. I don’t know about my daughter yet, but as I recall, she is not prone to motion sickness either. Thank goodness I did not pass along that tendency. I feel queasy just seeing a boat on TV. Of course, I did take three sessions of sailing lessons, but that was in a safe smooth channel, not out in the open sea. We had our oldest two take lessons as well. Then last summer Paul, the youngest, earned his small boat sailing badge with the boy scouts and decided sailing was the best thing ever invented! They are just like their dad. Bad weather? Bring it on! Choppy seas, mountainous swells, gale force winds? They laugh in the face of danger-HA!

Sean, Paul and Cole having fun top deck

We recently went for a sail for Paul’s birthday. It was a short sail. Maybe because I was with them and that made Dave nervous. But I had my sea-sick pills starting the night before and all was well with me. Still, I saw no dolphins. Every time they take a trip out, they see dolphins. (sigh). The meds did make me a little sleepy, but nothing compared to that night and the next day. I could barely keep my eyes open! It took a while to get out of my system. But well worth it, as anyone who has been sea-sick would tell you. Better sleepy that up-chucking over the sides. Someday I will tell you one of my sea stories, but not today.

The hardest sailing the ‘Giulietta’  has seen since coming into our hands was her trip from Dana Point, where she was tied up when we bought her, to Los Alamitos Harbor, her new home. She started her trip with docile seas and little wind. In fact she had to motor up the coast to get anywhere.

Then the winds picked up. “Hoist the mainsail! Let out the jib!” the skipper would holler. “Steer off you land lubber, the sail is luffing!”

But the winds kept picking up.

And up.

I got a phone call. The skipper didn’t sound quite so blustery now. “It’s pretty rough out here! We aren’t getting anywhere fast. Check the web for the marine forecast.” Sure enough, “gale force winds, small craft advisory”. Oops. I drove out to Pacific Coast Highway and made it to a pier just as they were sailing by. They looked so small out there.

To make a long, scary story short, they made it to the marina safe and sou..safe. A young man, Collin had gone along to help. Dave did not like the idea of just himself and Paul. But Collin got sea-sick too, then fell asleep under the harsh sea-sun. Did I mention he is a red-head? Yep, the poor lad fried. He did not know, none of us did, that the 4-5 hour trip would turn into a harrowing 7-8 hour trip.

Paul, it turns out, was a capital sailer. He held the tiller much of the trip and never freaked out (like I would have done). He passed some kind of test of manhood as it where, pitting him and the sea. His father gained a greater respect for his sons capabilities. I’d say it was a bonding trip.

Phil was already talking about signing on to a vessel during the summer, to crew a boat up the coast. Now he can go whenever he wants, weather permitting. He is a natural at sea as well.  I guess you could say this was the best little investment we could make. Even if it is only for a year or so (or 10 or 20) it will be a year to remember.

Next port-o-call, Santa Catalina! (and yes, I will take the flyer over and greet them when they pull into shore.)

Sit right down and you'll hear a tale...
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