Merry Christmas! Dolphins or ????

First let me say Merry Christmas to all that have followed me and my journey! I love the positive comments I have gotten and I am actually going to be stepping it up in 2012 with some VERY cool things on the horizon! Now on to todays post…

I went out early for a sail…well I knew the chances of good wind were VERY low, bt I had a full day planned and I would only be able to get out between 8 and 11am. So I motored out and sat in the calm ocean for a bit…then decided to head back in…thats when I spotted what to me looked like dolphins…I turned to get a better look. Something seemed odd. They looked bigger than the grey dolphins that I normally see in the Newport Beach waters. They were also black and white in color, not grey. My mind said “Killer Whales!”. I dismissed the thought. I was 1/2 mile or so offshore! Orca??? No way, so wanted to get a closer look…as I got close to them I had them on both my port and starboard side. They still seemed a bit strange…I got pretty close and unlike the normal playful dolphins, these guys seemed quite serious and well just swam away…then dove and disappeared as if they didn’t want any human contact…very unlike the normal dolphins which seem to want to play and come feet and sometimes inches from the bow. I took some video with the iPhone and when I got home I looked even closer…well…I’m not sure, maybe someone who is familiar with marine mammals will chime in and tell me more, but they are not the normal grey dolphins…thats all I know…it was VERY cool to see them! Here is the video…

Smooth Seas…Smooth Sailing…

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It’s been a while since I have posted but not because. Have not been active. I have been sailing probably twice a week even though it’s getting colder. By colder I mean 50s and 60s. I have been doing more ocean sailing and little by little pushing my limits and learning from every outing. This is Santa Ana wind season and some days it’s light and some days it’s HEAVY. I did sail around the harbor in gusty wind conditions and I realized it was not very fun sailing in gusty conditions. It was light winds mostly, maybe 2-3 knots and then out of nowhere a huge gust of a 20 mph wind would hit and push the boat over uneasily far. Nothing I couldn’t handle and I probably should have reefed the main a bit, but I decided it wasn’t very fun so I headed back to home base. That was far different from the sail I just did on the 21st. This was nice, not cold at all…maybe 70-75 degrees on the water. A nice gentle breeze that pushed the boat at a good 5-7 knots. The waves were no more than a foot or 2 max and it wasn’t choppy at all, more swells. Here is a quick video and GPS map of the sail…it was shot AND edited on my iPhone 4s. This is an amazing little phone with pretty amazing quality and capabilities….The boat is amazing…nothing has broken and its an great shape…I still can’t believe that 6 months ago I had never sailed before and now I am singlehanded sailing in the Pacific. Amazing.

Sailing WIth Dolphins…..

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Santa Ana Winds are here. In some areas of the California mountains the winds have gotten to 100+ MPH. Here on the coast maybe 40. The coolest thing about all of this is that it blows all the haze and So Cal smog out to sea and gives us a super clear sky. A good friend came to town and I took him out for a sail. On our way out of the harbor we looked all around the boat and there were DOZENS of dolphins swimming all around the boat. Literally everywhere we looked there were dolphins. I love it when I see one or two on a sail. Seeing dozens was magical. Such amazing animals. So graceful. So peaceful. Once out of the harbor there was near pefect sea conditions. No waves, light winds and an epic sunset. We could see all the way to Catalina clearly and the sun setting behind the island was amazing. The deep purple blended into the gentle blue waves as Cuajota glided across the ocean with ease. The sound of the water giving way as the bow of the boat cut through the water was relaxing as the boat gently rocked back and forth. After 42 years of living on the west coast and always within 5 miles of the water I now get it. I now understand what it all means and what it’s all about.

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Lost Time…

I was worried that with daylight savings time and winter that I would be on the boat less and less. Well I am on it at least twice a week. Last week I took the boat out looking for some wind and I found some of the most enjoyable sailing conditions yet. NO waves, medium air and some breathtaking views. There was a storm that was going to be passing through and that brought in some low and dark clouds which are ALWAYS the best for dramatic views. I sailed down the coast for about an hour and saw the sights. It was an amazingly calm day and the wind was just perfect. Moving the boat through the calm water at about 7 knots without any issues. I tacked and turned around and came back into the harbor. It amazes me that I have only been sailing since August. I was terrified of the open water and now I am getting so comfortable in it and really enjoying being out in the open water where I feel so free. Discovering this at 42 is such a blessing and a curse. If I had known at 22 I would have probably done some very foolish things, but maybe I would have done some amazing things, like sailed to Hawaii, or South America. I would have definitely chartered a boat in the Caribbean or South Pacific. Who knows what kind of boat I would own now…maybe even living aboard? Probably not..lol…but I would have a lot of experiences under my belt. So I feel in some ways I have missed out on some experiences that I may not have. On the other hand I’m still young enough to enjoy and sail to my hearts content and I live in the sailboat capital of the US so I can sail year round and make up for lost time. So its now time for me to make some lifetime memories…do some truly magical things and make up for lost time. The first step is Catalina. Its a 24 mile trip west off the coast. From there…who knows? I will sail in the Caribbean. Since I am from the Bay Area, I will sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. I will sail the Mediterranean and enjoy Spain, France,Italy and Greece. But for now, one step at a time and one day at a time. Lets just rack up the smiles and experiences and make up for the lost time.

Enjoy some pics from the sail, and a video of the sail as well…..

Pacific Ocean, Cuajota, sailing, iphone 4s, storm clouds

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean, Cuajota, sailing, iphone 4s, storm clouds

Pacific Ocean, Cuajota, sailing, iphone 4s, storm clouds

First Singlehanded Ocean Sail

A few weeks ago I ventured out of the harbor singlehanded looking for wind. I didn’t find any so I motored about the coast for about an hour. I have been out again a few times since then but it was never solo. The other day I went out and it was about 15-20 knots in the harbor…I dared not go out but had an amazing sail in the harbor. So today I prepped the boat and went for a sail. I didn’t know what the wind would be like or the waves either so I opened up the sails and realized that I wasn’t going anywhere fast in the harbor with the light wind I had. Motored to the ocean and just as i shut the motor down, I caught a nice breeze. Maybe 8-10 knots. Waves were minimal. Maybe a foot. I was able to get in a few tacks and a few jibes in and it was the most exhilarating and terrifying thing all at the same time! I loved the freedom, the peace and quiet, and the calm water but in the back of my mind I was prepared for the rogue wave or the 40 knot gust out of nowhere. Neither ever came. The only drama was when a 60 foot yacht punched it out of the harbor and made a 10 foot high wake that kept the ocean choppy for what seemed like 10 minutes. It made the 30 foot Cuajota seem like a dinghy in a storm. Boy do I dislike powerboats. After about an hour sailing about, just doing different things, close hauled, beam reach, running, tacking, jibing, up the coast and back down again, I decided to head back into the harbor. I heard a strange noise. I heard it earlier in the sail and I thought it was a whale but didn’t see any spray in the air as you do with whales. I then wondered, “Do you hear anything when a thru-hull goes bad, or you spring a leak?” I looked and saw a dorsal fin 5 feet from the boat. It then submerged. I looked again and saw a pair of dolphins swimming next to the boat and they escorted me all the way into the harbor before disappearing. Excellent sail! Here is a short video of the sail.

First Solo Ocean Voyage!

My first trip out of the harbor solo happened! It was VERY uneventful which in the sailing world is always a good thing right? The day was absolutely beautiful for November. It was about 65 degrees and a perfectly clear sky. The problem was there was NO WIND! I had lunch on the boat and the wind started to pick up ask I prepped the boat for sailing and 20 minutes later I was in the harbor looking for wind and just as it normally happens the wind died completely. I practiced my wing and wing technique in low wind and slowly sailed down the harbor. I thought hmm…maybe more wind down by the middle of the harbor. Got there and NOPE…no wind. OK maybe past the ferry. NOPE…no wind…OK how about by the Coast Guard station….NOPE! At this point I am looking out of the harbor and see its very clear. I decided to put my offshore life vest on and test the wind just outside the channel.

Here is the view from the boat heading out of the channel. Notice the electric Duffy boat coming in from the ocean. You almost NEVER see these boats in the open ocean as they are designed for harbor use only. Also here is a pic of the Sea Lions on the buoy outside of Newport Harbor.

SV Cuajota on the way out of the Newport Harbor
Sea Lions on the buoy outside of Newport Harbor

Once I got out of the harbor I was surprised at just how calm it was. Perfectly calm, and NO WIND. The was enough to fill the sail at times, but not enough to move the boat at all. I stayed out in the Ocean about an hour, hoping for some wind to pick up. I realized I didn’t put enough money in the meter, so I pulled back into the harbor, added more money to my meter and then went back out into the ocean…again NO WIND. I decided that this was good enough for the day and pulled back into the harbor and moored the boat. All in all a GREAT way to get used to being out of the harbor. Here is a video of the trip.

Here is the GPS track of the trip,