Tumultuous Trip

It’s been a while since I posted, but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening about the good ship Nereus.

Last reported, I was installing the new boomkin with arch. That went well. Upon completion, I had to revisit the new bowsprit. When I installed that, the riser I built was about a half inch to high. A HALF inch! So, I removed it, took the riser down the required amount and reinstalled the whole thing. Then, to finish up, I installed new beautiful Samson posts made out of some Purple Heart I got from my ol’ buddy Ron Elder of the Westsail Summer Wind. Finally, everything is as it should be. All new stainless “wood” parts installed and Nereus seems stronger than ever.

Time for a shake-down cruise…

I’ve been promising Sanaz I’d take her to Catalina. We sailed out there last Labor Day, but there was no moorage available and Nereus still doesn’t have a primary anchor (but it’s coming soon!), so we turned back for an excellent day of sailing. But still, Catalina landfall was elusive.

So, we planned that Saturday would be the day! Finally! Yay!

The problem with plans is usually that Mother Nature doesn’t care about our plans. We woke up Saturday morning to 10-15 knot winds in the marina!

I attempted to call it off. Sanaz began asking poinient questions like, “Didn’t you say heavy weather is manageable?” and “I know it will be rough, but you said we need to do a shake down cruise and we are here, so let’s go!”

“I’m the captain!” I barked, “And you have only been out on the Pacific twice, do you really want this to be your third experience? And 20+ knots of wind isn’t what I envisioned as a ‘shake-down.’ It’s a little over doing it.”

Off we went…

I was admittedly nervous. I get sea sick and my partner is inexperienced – there’s a lot t to worry about. The nerves didn’t help, as I indeed turned green. However, Sanaz stood up to the challenge like a seasoned sailor and off we went!

It was clear we wouldn’t be making landfall at Two Harbors as the wind was on the nose from that direction. However, Avalon was doable; it immediately became our new destination.

Onward we sailed, managing with a reefed main, our staysail and our yankee. It wasn’t long before the yankee got furled up, as the winds were increasing rapidly. The waves built to7-10 feet. I was flat on my back trying not to barf!

Once the wind topped 25, Sanaz asked it we could reduce sail. I came to my senses enough to go forward to pull down the staysail, continuing along with just the reefed main.

As the wave mid-channel peaked at more than 12 feet and started breaking all around (and sometimes under) us, Nereus chugged along. Then, the winds increased further – to a sustained 35 knots! However, with the wind increase, we noticed the wind began to “knock down” the swell. Sailing was faster and easier! We continued on.

By this time, I was imagining myself as Captain Ron (or maybe Lieutenant  Dan from Forrest Gump) in the hurricane. I wasn’t going to be beat and took the helm. Sanaz hunkered down in the cockpit and together we sailed the shit outta that gale! We pulled in to an almost empty Avalon Harbor and picked up a mooring 191. What a day.

We went ashore long enough to walk the dogs (who surprising survived well below), make our “landfall,” and survey the locals doing their Saturday night bar crawl before returning to Nereus for a well deserved hot meal from the pressure cooker and passing out in bed.

We easily sailed back the next day, but that was so uneventful, there’s not much to talk about. Hundreds of dolphins, a bunch of sea lions, and a few pelicans were out fishing, but who cares?! They weren’t doing that yesterday with us when it mattered!

I guess we can consider the rig “shaken down,” as Nereus handled better than ever. Biggest waves I’ve ever seen and strongest winds I’ve ever sailed reminded me precisely why I own a sturdy old Westsail 32.

I do need to give special mention to the my girl friend and partner, Sanaz. She’s not an experienced and that weather would have turned the stomachs of even the most salty of sailors. Yet, she handled it with strength and grace. Bravo, Beauty! You rock!

Plus, she took the pictures and gave the day the name Tumultuous Trip:

After we were all settled — Casino at night.

Good Morning!

Avalon from the harbor

An empty anchorage

What a difference a day makes — these were NOT the seas we sailed in on the day before!

Leaving Avalon in our wake. Until next time, Catalina.

The one photo I did take is when we got back:

Seal on his back, fins in the air, enjoying the sun while watching containers get unloaded.