out the gate and turn left!

As it got closer to high noon last Saturday, my heart rate and pace picked up.  I was finally casting off the dock lines and leaving Emery Cove marina behind for a life of sun, sand and fresh fish in Mexico.  Not to mention the fact wifey, who I hadn’t seen in almost 6 months thanks to the efficiency of the US border insecurity dept, was waiting in Ensenada for me.

The reason the ol’ ticker was goin over time, apart from the steady diet of Rockstars and coffee that had gotten me through the last few months, was that I knew once I left the dock, I couldn’t go back… Not back to West Marine, the almost one-stop shop for boat stuff, or Home Depot to replace the screwdrivers that kept committing themselves to the deep, or British Marine, where I often stopped in just to break up the day and have a ciggy and chat with Brian and/or Donna…

So the crew were all there, Chuck , Dean and Danny, all blindly heading out the gate in a boat they had never sailed on with a captain whono doubt looked a little nervous! We had also gained an extra set of hands in my good friend Mike , who had sailed on Sea Raven, almost every time she had been out in fact, and had apparently decided around 1.30 the night before that he was coming along. And after sending me a txt that he was getting his sleeping bag, proceeded to drive to the marina, and sleep in the car park in his truck… which is where I found him around 7 the next morning!

So the last load of laundry was in the dryer, and the boat was as ready as she was going to be, time to take a breather… and return the rental car.

Fired up the engines to check everything was ok, and noticed a tiny drip from the fuel filter… probably be ok, maybe I should just tighten it a little, hmmmm can’t getto the nut, lets just take this off here and…….. awesome, diesel everywhere! Seems the drip pan is attached to the filter by the drain plug, great idea! So now I’m swearing like a sailor, and trying to catch a little over a litre of diesel (a quart for my gringo friends) in a litre paint can….

Fixed it, and after being reminded byseveral people, went to get my laundry, “don’t forget your laundry” was the mantra of the morning, jammed it all in the laundry bag, fold it later, and went into the office to pay the final bill.  Turns out my delays had inflated the bill somewhat, so off to the boat for more money I went… settled up with Andrea, said goodbye to Mike, and away!

The lines were off, good byes and waves a plenty, and out into the bay to find somewhere to calibrate my new autopilot!  Just because I got everything installed and working, doesn’t mean I knew how they worked or had set them up! So as we headed over to the lee of Angel Island, I quickly studied the instruction manual and figured out what we had to do…. A couple of large slow circles to set the compass… right, real easy to do anything in the Bay without having to change course to dodge someone… but we pulled it off somehow, and our new crewmember Otto beeped into life and we turned towards the Golden Gate.  That’s about when Andrea called me and let me know I had left my laundry in the office at the marina…. Yeah, umm thanks ….

We weren’t alone on our trip under the bridge, a friend of mine from the marina, Marty, had offered to escort us out under the gate in his Nordic 44 – Perspective, and Captain Donna of British Marine fame, had joined his crew as team photographer, I would love to say that some of the photos that you see today of Sea Raven where taken by her, but I guess they are still in the editing stage!

That’s it! I thought, the long awaited “under the gate and turn left” manoeuvre that I had been talking and dreaming about for so long was about to happen!  I had a song lined upfor the moment, and s

eeing as it was of the folk-metal (who knew!) genre, I decided loud on the headphones was the best option for the rest of the crew… so as I passed the great gate for the very last time, both hands on the wheel and music blaring from the headphones, I couldn’t help think that in just a few days, all of what I’d known for the last 6mths would be a memory, and we could finally start our life on our own terms, me and my trusty co-pirate aboard our floating home/fortress – together FINALLY!

The first few hours were pretty uneventful, with the wind on our nose and Sea Raven not renowned for her pointing, we left the San Francisco bay under power and turned south, where Mike and I took a few minutes to play a song by our late-great friend Tom Kennedy, Dr Strange-McCain, as we passed Ocean Beach where Tom sadly passed a few years ago.

Eventually we got some canvas up, and settled into a steady motor-sail at around 8/9 kts.  Took the sails back in again before dinner, not enough wind to keep them full, and its a lot easier to deal with the sails in daylight… everything carried on as planned through the night, and I took watch at 1am.  The phosphorescence was out and our wake was glowing for the first hour or so, then it started clouding over, and half hour before the end of my watch the wind picked up from the south and started kicking up some wind chop and the belly slapping started! Pretty standard for a catamaran, the oncoming, and as it turns out some of the following too, waves will meet the bottom of the bridge deck – the bit over the water between the two hulls – with a pretty healthy SLAP!   And so it continued…. For about 12hours, getting worse around dawn when Mike came on watch to find Danny clipped in at the helm and soaked through as the bows were now burying on almost every on coming wave, drenching the helmsperson and pouring over the deck, helping me find all those leaks I had missed!

This is where the most frustrating part of my trip occurs, not the weather, not the incessant pounding and beating on my boat, or even the leaks everywhere… I was sick! And I was pissed about it.  I managed to fix the things that needed attention – the batteries had stopped charging, and then the table top bounced off the base – but couldn’t shake it… I knew the guys on board were fine without me, they’d been sailing since before I was born and had been up and down the coast many times on many different boats,  but still, I should have been in better shape… I’m sure the months of bad diet, stress and over caffination didn’t help, not to mention the confused seas and my home getting the shit beaten out of her!Eventually it calmed down, as did my nausea, and the rest of the afternoon and evening was a lot more mellow… the next night watch saw me eyeing up the infamous Point Arguello and Point Conception, where many a well plann

ed trip has gone wrong, but for us the seas lay down and I motoredaround on a near lake like ocean.  Admittedly I was supposed to wake Danny up for his watch at 4am, but we were still half hour away from rounding Pt Conception, and like the Golden Gate, it was a landmark I wanted to turn!  Then I was still enjoying myself and the quiet, and figured Danny copped a pretty shitty watch the night before, so I let him sleep in.  He was a little confused to wake up in daylight, but was happy to get the coffee on for us!

Not long after that, the rest of the crew started moving around, and someone pointed out that we had company, a pod of dolphins had chased us down and was playing in the bow wakes, sliding from hull to hull and jumping around! More came and I guess we were the cool thing to do for a while in the Santa Barbara channel if you were a dolphin, you could see them swim in from miles away and join the crowd playing! Between them and the humpback whales on both the first and second days and the Orca the day before, we had a pretty scenic trip!

Stopped in Santa Barbara for a few hours to haemorrhage some more cash at the fuel dock and stock up on paper towels – no running water yet!  Even found a machine to change the jar full of shrapnel I had accumulated into paper money at the store!

The rest of the trip was pleasantly uneventful, I am disappointed that we didn’t get to explore the Channel Islands and spend some time in SoCal, but such is life.  At around 5pm on Tuesday, 74 hours after we left the San Francisco Bay, we pulled up to the dock at Baja Naval Marina in Ensenada Mexico.  Unfortunately Sabine had asked the marina when we would get there based on our last gps message, and they had underestimated the speed of Sea Raven so she was across the road having a coffee! But she was almost there!

As quickly as it had all begun, it was over… the crew were off in a taxi to get the bus to Tijuana and a rental car back to Emeryville, and Mike disappeared into the sunset as mysteriously as he had arrived in the sunrise!


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7 responses to “out the gate and turn left!

  1. Wow! Sounds awesome! Cant wait for the next update. Congratulations! Proud as! Ps Hi to your ‘co pirate’

  2. Congratulations Terry! What an amazing adventure.
    The orca and the dolphins you met, wonderfull !

  3. I woke up Saturday night with charts, phones, flashlights, sunglasses and other stuff off the table on my sleeping bag. It seemed ok for a few hours, but after a while I started to wonder how much of a pounding Sea Raven could take?! After soaking wet Danny unclipped from the helm, I too watched her bows bury over, and over again under the waves! She held up very well!
    It was nice to see the smiling Copirates on board together in Ensenada! What love. What romance!

  4. Terry and Sabina, (Youth and Enthusiasm) Way cool that you are Heading the correct (Southern) direction! We wish you guys the best and will be looking for you if you are still in Baja this fall…”Conception like glass” Love to hear it! Blog-on! Hugs, Jim ans Jess

  5. Terry and Sabine

    Congratulations with the start of your searavensailingbusiness. We wish you good luck in Mexico . Jan en Elly Raafs

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