Part four; Since no one is complainung

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Part four; Since no one is complainung

Post by capt.fred »

Since no one is complaining, I'll continue on with the boat building adventure after we started sailing;
Part four, chapter 13 of my autobiography.
Draft copy 12/20/13

Chapter Thirteen
1977 thru 1979 (First real experiences on the Daedalus)

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity

We pulled away from the Santa Barbara dock once and for all during the Christmas Holidays, 1977. We just wanted to go and we novice sailors left at the beginning of a winter storm. The wind was out of the south so we headed north, not only thru the treacherous Channel Islands, but among and past perhaps, dozens of rusting barnacle encrusted oil storage barges chained to clanking moorings in the middle of nowhere close to the coast off Golita, somewhere between Santa Barbara, UCSB and Point Conception.

We sailed close to the largest and very popular swimsuit optional beach in California. It is one of the nicest ones too, facing south, protected from the northwest ocean swell. It is located just kind of east of UCSB. Can you imagine 12,000 sun bathing coeds and people of all ages? I don’t think a swim suit was hardly ever sold in Santa Barbara. Well we had previously anchored close to that beach inside the kelp line many a weekend while in Santa Barbara.

Now back to another reality. Shortly it was dark and raining, that cold dank Pacific rain. We navigated past the unlit barges solely by the sounds of their clanking mooring chains. We couldn’t see anything in the black freezing rainy night. Sometimes we avoided a barge by the skin of our chinny chin chins. We were cold, wet and tired. Finally dawn came and we were clear of Point Conception, The winter sun came out and Carol and I took turns napping. Point Conception is one of the most notoriously dangerous and rough points of land on the Pacific Coast.

We made it to Morro Bay and tied up at the hospitable Morro Bay Yacht Club, where you made yourself a drink and tended the cash register yourself. Have you ever heard of such hospitality before? And that was only the beginning of it. Well that two day sail was enough for us for a while, so we settled in at Beautiful Morro Bay for a couple months, until winter let up. Carol got a job working at the local Log Cabin Motel.

Morro Bay is isolated from the general hub bub of California. It’s off the beaten track and is a safe all weather harbor. The bay is mile wide at high tide and just a hundred yards wide stream at the 6 foot low tide. The bottom was all thick heavy mud, covered with oysters. Most docks were commercial seafood ports and you know we ate the best of it. The tidal current was very strong and anything that wasn’t securely tied would swiftly drift out of the harbor entrance into the huge breakers and be smashed on the rocks or sunk at sea. I forgot to mention the huge waves that were typically breaking over the entrance located at the north end of the bay.

The monumental stone breakwater was very intelligently installed diagonally to the natural breaking waves, so in order to enter safely; you had to damn well know what you were doing. A powerful fishing trawler could time the wave sets and dash in, going hard to port as soon as the rudder was back in the water. A sailboat does not have that dashing ability or option. According to the printed ocean guide, a sailboat with an engine just goes for it. The waves are coming west northwest, the breakwater is on your port side (left), You aim for the breakwater with your portside and when your rudder and prop are back in the water you slam hard to port around the inside of the breakwater on your left. It is even trickier during an ebb tide. If you missed all that maneuvering, the waves just washed you up onto the sandy rocky beach. I went thru that entrance several times.

Recreational boats don’t usually use Morro Bay Harbor, unless they are very experienced or don’t know any better. I am a survivor. A large Pacific swell from the West North West slams into the unprotected areas of the California Coast. I mean not protected by islands or bays. This swell brings on the icy Aleutian Current, which is a down welling current, which means, the surface waters come ashore at approximately ¾ knots per hour and then this current submerges to the bottom of the sea. So, if there is no wind and you don’t have an engine you had better have oars, or you are on the rocks. The West Coast has several harbors like Morro Bay that remain unspoiled.

FYI, at the extreme south end of the Bay is the Point Lobo Nuclear power plant that faces out into the ocean. One day I was sightseeing, motoring along with my 7 year old daughter in our 11 foot Boston Whaler that fit easily on the Daedalus deck, when I noticed about a mile off to my port side a raft of some sort with two men using the distress signal of waving ones arms up and down along their sides. I was along side them in short order. It was the owner of a local seafood industry, including, crab, fish, sea urchins, assorted clams, muscles, lobster, abalone, oysters, etc. We rescued him as the current was rushing him out to sea and he had about $35,000 dollars of oyster spat piled high on board, that he was seeding his area with. His barge engine had failed and other safety gear was awry. He was so happy to see my Boston Whaler and 25HP Evinrude, that towed him back in. At the time I did not know who he was.

The next day he showed up to present us with his gratitude. I pleaded it was unnecessary and ignoring me, he asked my visiting little girl, if she would please sit down at a table. He pulled out a jar of pearls, dumping them carefully on a cloth and said to my enthralled kid, “Ok, you pick one then I pick one and they split that jar of pearls. Here we are 35 years later and I’m still wondering what ever happened to those pearls. He also continuously presented us with fresh seafood in the weeks ahead.

Moored out one night, Carol awoke, and said”What’s that scraping noise?” I jumped up onto the deck in my birthday suit in time to lash a big beautiful wooden sailing yacht to the side of the Daedalus. I immediately assumed it was drifting out to those breakers. My mistake, ho,ho,ho, it was the Daedalus that had broken loose with the mooring ball still tied to the bow. The Mooring shackle came loose. Bad shackle wiring job by the marine contractor that contracted that work from the Yacht Club. Shackle lesson #1, Single shackle wire for deck shackles, double shackle wire for anchor shackles, and triple shackle wire for mooring shackles. I didn’t make a fuss, but yet that was one of another of thousands of lessons to be remembered.

All that time in Morro Bay was spent working on the Daedalus. When the warmer weather approached we sailed for San Francisco. We spent one night anchored off the Santa Cruz beach in the protection of the north corner on Monterrey Bay. The next stop north was Half Moon Bay. Then it was non stop to Sausalito in the north corner of San Francisco Bay.

It was a cold and windy, predawn morning as we anxiously approached the back lit Half Moon Bay harbor lights. I don’t remember all the details, but what I do remember was hard to forget. I always enter a harbor in bad weather reefed, in case the engine failed, I’d still be able to maneuver. The channel markers are south of the harbor entrance, perpendicular to the breakers. Then, once inside the reef, you swing hard to port and head North a hundred yards or so, straight past the breakwater, into safe harbor. Well, OK, let’s backtrack to riding the swells entering the difficult channel; I noticed my bilge light was on. Carol took the helm and I went below with a light to notice the engine was partly submerged due to the hose clamps breaking lose on the rubber hose at the shaft log. My hands were freezing, the hose was spinning with the shaft, I continually hollered blind instructions to poor Carol and there was a mighty stream of icy water. I threw several towels on the spinning hose, grabbed the mass with my hands, extradited the hose, which I now had a firm grip, in a split second, Carol handed me some tools. I retightened the hose clamps, to rush to the helm, to see that Carol had turned to port and with breaking swells abeam, was entering the breakwater…As soon as we dropped anchor, we changed into dry clothes, cuddled, warmed up and fell asleep…Amen

Arriving in San Franscico the next day, we were welcome quests at our own yacht club, The Sausalito Yacht Club. We had maintained club membership from 1974, all the way up to 2002, when we sold the Daedalus. In a couple days we looked for a slip or dock for our precious home the Daedalus. Ned Martin, a friend in Sausalito, had now built “Pelican Harbor” a huge magnificent harbor and marina and he catered exclusively to very valuable classic wooden yachts. Like the “Lord Jim” and the “Xanadu” etc. What a show place.

Well our Daedalus wasn’t a wood classic and to some, she did not look like very much, but she was our baby and she was beautiful to us. 3 years, previously, we had made friends with Ned and now pulled into his marina that had explicit signs for everyone to keep the hell out! He saw us coming in and rushed down the docks to shoo us away. He recognized us and asked, Where did you get that piece of s _ _ _? He put us in a far corner where we could not be seen; that was OK with us.

Now here’s the punch line. As we were motoring into his harbor, amongst some very expensive boats, a line in my hydraulic steering burst loose. Several problems occurred at one time. 1, I had to stop my boat in the middle of a tiny space, which, I did immediately with a ready anchor fore and aft. 2. I had to turn off the bilge pump, so hydraulic fluid wouldn’t fill his harbor. 3. I had to repair the leak immediately, so not to block the waterway. 4. I had to avoid appearing to be alarmed or that there was a problem 5. I could not let Ned know, what the problem was, because Ned did not want or like problems. I succeeded in solving all 5 problems in a couple of minutes and explained to Ned I had the runs and had to hit the head. That he could understand.

After a few days I found a job in facilities design with the Cetus Corp (a genetic research laboratory) in Berkeley, across the Bay and we moved over there, close by in Richmond at the Blue Bahia Marina. It was imperative that Carol finish her BA and graduate from the University of California @ Berkeley. Carol struggled to get accepted at UCB and we would not give up. UCB did not accept transfer students from within the system and that was it no if, when or buts, However through an ombudsman and much cajoling, Carol was enrolled and in one year 1979, she achieved her under graduate degree a BA in Science.

We eventually moved to the Berkeley Marina, Let me put it this way. Although it was very convenient to SF Bay and the town of Bizerlekeley, It was also directly in line with the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and great view of the City by the Bay, but boy it was Hell. Every afternoon the hills would heat up behind Berkeley. The warm air would rise up and the freezing wind from the cold surface water of the Pacific would come racing across the Bay from under the Golden Gate and blow all the pleasure off your deck in the Berkeley Marina, The saying went, “You couldn’t lay your hammer down, ‘cause it would blow away. ‘Er, quote me on that!

While working at Cetus Corp in Berkeley, Carol and I sailed as often as possible. Many times we’d spend weekend days loaded with fellow employees and friends. We got down the rudiments of sailing. One long weekend we decided to round trip it to Santa Cruz in 4 days. No big deal. We warmly bundled up for our trek outside the Golden Gate. As we approached Mile Rock Light House a huge wave smashed into the Daedalus and tore the forward jib sail in half. I went forward mostly under icy water, I pulled down the torn sail and secured it, as Carol steered back under the Golden Gate Bridge. The next time we left the Golden gate, we were prepared for “Hell and high water” but it was a beautiful balmy day. You never know, so be prepared
Back to the torn sail. The big around the Farallon Islands Race was the next weekend. I entered my 1st race. In the beginning of the race the fleet left me far behind, I was chided by motor boaters watching the race, “Hey they went thatta way.” I said, “Oh yeah wait’ll I get this jib sail up”. I don’t know how I had forgotten about the torn sail. Lot’s of laughs and snickers all around.

Disgruntled I went back to the YC; had a nice lunch, a gin martini up and a couple of Guinness, to brighten my day. I did perfect my racing skills and once in a not very important race, I took 1st in my class and 1st overall. In time the Daedalus became respected as a fast all weather boat.

That evening and all night it was noted one of the well known young sailors had not checked in yet. Some supposed she just went elsewhere. She was beautiful 18 year old Amy Boyer, Quite a celebrity to be. She soloed the Transpac race and came in 1st in her class and 2nd overall. That is 1700 miles by yourself to Hawaii. Also, she soloed the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, all in an astonishing tiny racing boat “Lil Rascal”, a Wilderness 23.

Before dawn Carol and I thought we would go out of the Golden Gate and maybe just look for her. Nobody else appeared concerned. The Farallon Island Race is a treacherous freezing 25 mile round trip out to sea around the islands and back. As dawn broke about 2 miles out, we saw a tiny sail. We pulled along side this half swamped boat finding this young woman in a semi-hyperthermia state still determined to finish the race although disqualified since sundown last night.

We helped her on board, tied her boat astern and called a doctor thru the YC, who suggested some steps to take. We dried her, fed her a bit of hot soup, wrapped her in an electric blanket and she slept most of the day on the Daedalus tied up at the YC. There were many anxious visitors milling about on the dock. We since have tried to follow Amy’s adventures in various sailing magazines and believe she found her guy and moved to the mountains in the North West somewhere.

If I didn’t say this before, I will say it again “If you love doing something and do it again and again, you will actually become very good at it” I wasn’t perfect by far, but was building confidence and knowledge. Although I enjoyed working for the great people, at Cetus Corp., Carol and I had a hankering for an adventure. In late 1979, we sailed to Mexico.

1980 4th Jul Cetus in Navato.jpg
1977 Aug Fred's family.jpg
1977 Aug Fred's family.jpg (129.71 KiB) Viewed 27861 times
1977  Santa Barbara fire almost to boatyard.jpg
1974 Carol Thesis Boom.jpg
1984 Daedalus.jpg
22. 1978 Carol low tide in Morro Bay.jpg