THE BELL AND THE WHISTLE
Found my journal from July, 2014. First of all, Thank You Oregon Coast Guard!
An interesting read, hindsight is 20/20. Observing my observations, how I handled it. How bad it was and how I downplayed it, to survive it, I think. Had to wait a while for permissions from everyone. Everyone has given me permission. Still waiting for the photos. They may not ever arrive. So, writing about it and maybe someday, someone will send me an email.
During it, there was no time to write properly, I completely omitted and quite frankly dismissed entirely, what happened at the Honda store buying the new kicker for the zodiac. I understand why I did that. That was a mistake. Now I understand why the salesman was becoming upset. Christian was choosing a kicker that was both too big for the raft and too small for the yacht, on purpose and we were probably going to use it in a way it was not intended. We weren’t going fishing. The salesman was ok at first. Then he became visibly shaky, as in, he began a small quiver. The quiver went up and down his entire body and landed on his face and this poor guy’s eye began to twitch involuntarily. Shiver me timbers, right? He knew something was wrong. He was feeling it in every fiber of his being. We ignored it. We chose to ignore it. We were with him, heart and soul. He shared a story with us, that’s how he handled it. With a story of absolute caution. The most horrible sailing disaster I have ever heard. Straight from the survivor. He seemed to be in his 40’s I guess. When he was a boy in Hawaii, he went for a sail with his father. Routine. Then they were hit by a squall and he was just a little kid. They dis masted, the engine died. They floated I think he said, for 93 days? They ran out of food and water at like 84 days. They were rescued but clearly, it was still with him. Memories like that don’t go away, ever. We were standing there looking at him. He didn’t cry. We were so freaked out, we left. We bought the new kicker down the street from some one else. Then there was the problem with the zodiac. We had to repair it. So, I sat there patiently holding down a patch in foggy conditions, hoping it would seal properly. I sat until I was certain. We ended up needing both that zodiac and kicker. Using the kicker in the zodiac to tow the yacht off shore in adverse conditions. Who knew? (The Honda salesman!)
Today, I’m CERTAIN, it’s safer to sail to Alaska without an engine than it is to try to sail to California. Now there are the bigger races to Hawaii, but they usually begin in CA or FL. Well except for the Vic/Maui, but they veer off Cape Blanco way in advance. And I know crew from La Orcas who when racing the Oregon Offshore, totaled, due to a very large humpback whale using the mast as a stick to remove a stuck barnacle from the whales back. Guess I mention all the races because I was with racers. Racers I met racing, Christian and I have raced together, even the Grand Prix. Put the three of us together and it amounts to many miles and many years and many storms and many wins and many losses.
Saccidananda Sadasiva Shiva is Vishnu and Vishnu is Shiva. In the heart of the one is the other.
Cape Blanco, Oregon, USA
Lots of shipwrecks. Now I know why. When I went out I did know it is the furthest point West- Continental United States.I did NOT know that there is no tow service in Oregon. That truth was a very cold and painful slap in the face. Completely unexpected I might add. All we cared about was that the boat was insured. We weren’t concerned about her making it. We knew she would. Of course now, I know way too much about diesel marine engines. prior to this i had never heard of water backflow through the exhaust system. The backflow preventer broke. You’ve got to be going backwards with force to break something like that. Engines simply aren’t designed to do that for very long.
- first mention of Christian’s boat. There was a connection electrical in nature when he let me hold the helm. still haven’t mentioned the series of nightmares I had after that moment. the trip had Doom written all over it. I was so stubborn, I had been training to race off shore, running 10-20 miles a week. *One of the things I dreamt was of a towline and that I was holding it, or better was in a tug of war with it, couldn’t see who was holding the other end. * 2nd dream, an aerial view from a helicopter, abandoning the boat.
May 15th, 2014
Making the boat ready for Swiftsure. Scrambling for crew. Saw Christian today with his very sexy Meg. What a beautiful boat, very well maintained. Thousands of hours of wood work. He’s taking her to Cali so he’s not racing. Damn. He gave me a tour today and I fell in love with that boat. It screams bring me the horizon. I have alot of respect for people who choose to live that way. I don’t know if I could do that. The sea is so big. It seems to me he is a genius. That kind of work takes decades of experience. Very nice nav gear, epic sailing books in a modest library and a chess board. His compass sits directly on top of the wheel. Stepping off and back to my boat, right off the big difference is that our compass sits an easy ten feet before the helm. Two entirely different animals. (Korina Korina placed 1st in division, Classics Race, Long Course. The longest race and the original course.)
June 1st 2014
On the way back from Swiftsure in the middle of the Strait, they dismasted. Yes, they also brought home a trophy and they said, hey look, it’s for the United States of America. Ok. But My God. Then he said, Thank You, for supporting my magnificent obsession. And it has taken many beers and the life of the boat has flashed before my eyes. She was designed for The Admiral’s Cup. She’s won everything in every country she’s raced. They totaled her. My guilt is tremendous. I should have been there running the back stays, somebody fucked up. This after racing the Oregon Offshore. I never should have let him race them back to back. But it was something like a soul retrieval for all of the sailors. After that ridiculous show at the America’s Cup. I’m happy he came back with a trophy. But I’m going sailing with Sid for the rest of the season. Lulu has an ice maker and a bathtub. So there. Met Sid in Victoria years ago. He was crewing a Vashon boat named Darby and I met them walking to my boat. All I said was hey vashon. It was early and I had a huge bottle of tequila. Big crew party days ahead of the race. Plenty of time to recover. Good times.
From sail blog- pressure-drop.us published 5-12-2014 One For The Record Books: The 2014 Oregon Offshore.
The stretch of water from Astoria in the very southern end of the Washington Coast up to Victoria, British Columbia is some of the most unforgiving stretches of water on the West Coast. It’s to no one’s surprise that the area is populated with ship wrecks from centuries past to the present, the remote Western Washington Coast has but a few harbors facing the mighty Pacific Ocean, and for the most part, do not provide easy quarter for boats seeking shelter from the tumultuous conditions the North Pacific can deliver. There is not a whole lot of offshore racing in this area, but one event, The Oregon Offshore. (Neptune’s Car saw first place.)
July 6th, 2014
Rj, Emmet and Jon moved a baby grand piano into the house for me. It was strange. A renter bought the rental and the piano was in it and she didn’t want it. Neither did the previous owner. So they gave it to me.
July 7th, 2014
Turns out, Sid and Christian work together? Christian didn’t make it to Cali. Meg is in Coos Bay. Maybe a trip down the coast. Upcoming crew dinners to sort it out. Have been looking for more off shore miles. She’s a 36′ Pearson.
July 10th, 2014
Leaving for Coos Bay on the 14th.
July 15- This place is a shit hole. The seagulls are weird here. They mass like crows and shit all over everything. Have to wear my hood up and dodge them. They have aim.
The boat isn’t finished, we aren’t ready. That’s ok, going grocery shopping. His nav gear is so nice, entering all the way points onto my garmin, I was dreading that, but I think I have it. One tavern walking distance to the boat. It’s pretty bad, but they have a pool table and Neil Young on the juke box.
They sent me up the mast and made me tape the spreaders and shrouds. They left me and left the boat and in front of all those fishermen. Not to show off, it was because they were running from me. While up there I flipped my knife in the air and caught it. One of the fisherman said, Finally. Was wondering why you brought her. Sid and Christian laughed and agreed to get back on the boat if I would stop tossing my knife and instead they would send up a bucket of tools for me and they made me tie the knife to my wrist. Great view. Noticed that all the fishing boats had huge spot lights fixed to the top of the mast, but pointed to the sky not the deck. Had to ask Sid, he said they were for the coast guard. That should have been an ominous observation!
Spotted a boat selling tuna from its catch.
Christian gave me cash and sent me to go visit the tuna boat. That was insane. After being on a clean boat, it was shocking to me. Something like picking out a christmas tree but more of a massacre. I was sent with this huge fish to a guy on the dock who was cleaning them for people. There was a counter with a hole in it, a garbage can with fishbones and a hose. Big signs everywhere, Don’t feed the seals. So this guy was cleaning these fish and I heard this splash and looked under the counter and there was a hole in the pier and there were these huge seals swimming around fighting over fish guts.
July 11th, 2014- Asked the tuna fishermen for a galley recipe. Went back to the boat and gave it a try, it was excellent but I burned the rice. They wouldn’t stop bitching about it. There are two pans on his boat and this is his best. This went on all night at the tavern. We closed the tavern and they were still teasing me about it on the walk to the dock. Got up early, quietly left the boat and went back to the tavern for breakfast. Brought the pan and asked the cook if he could help me. Told him I was leaving in the morning and can’t take it out to sea like that. He nodded but sent me away. He was getting slammed. So I put on an apron and bussed all the tables. Went back and loaded the dishwasher, did a few loads for him to catch up and he stopped me. Scrubbed that pot until it was so shiny it was like new. *WD-40, Comet & Copper Scrubber. Brought the pot back to the boat and that shut them up.
July 28, 2014 Home. We didn’t make it. Blame the seagulls. They nailed Christian while walking to the boat. Flying rats. Opportunistic filth. They are so nasty. Count on them as laughing at bad luck. For them it is good luck.
*That was my last hand written entry.
It was sunny when we left the harbor. It’s all a blur after that. That boat is tipsy compared to mine. The sea was agitated and though I had been wearing scop patches I lost my lunch. I was fine on deck until I had to pee. I might have just stayed on deck and hung off the rail. Instead I hit the head and got knocked around. Took forever getting my gear off. By then it started. The stress. Peed at an impossible angle in an awkward yoga pose with the boat on its side. Layered all my gear back on and got hot and that was that. Was trying to make it just a few steps to the ladder and up. Grabbed a bucket and there went all the tuna. I will never be able to eat tuna again. Dumped the bucket over the side, rinsed it and sat back. They were laughing at me. Sid said it was a washing machine. I felt like a novice. Stayed on deck for the next like 2 days and nights, only brief sleep because there were so many sails to set, it took three people. Around sunset things began to get nuts. I took the helm around 8pm. Both of them were toast. Christian had to sleep. Sid wouldn’t leave my side.
They clipped me in port and starboard and Sid went to work on deck. We had to bring the sails down. Reefing the main? Forget it. So these two storm systems converged out off the cape and we sailed directly into it.
There were these rollers coming from North and South and when they met, the boat like a roller coaster went up a hill and at the top, spun. The boat spun and the wheel spun and the compass spun like the gravitron. Had to wait between 90 seconds and three minutes for the compass to sit still so I could read it, make a course correction and bring the boat back around South. After the first hour, even though I was wearing my snowboarding knee pads, I asked Sid to bring me cushions and for the rest of the night that’s how I drove, on my knees round cape blanco in hurricane conditions.
We were hurled around the cape. The engine was barely above neutral. Still cannot reconcile the time. The storms. They did whatever they wanted. Could have very easily tossed us upon the nearest rock but we were spared. It was nothing we did. We were carried. It was very difficult to keep the cape’s lighthouse on port after being spun sometimes it was on starboard. It kept moving. It was like that all night. It was all I had to keep the boat as far as I could from the light. My mind was playing tricks on me or the sea, sometimes the lighthouse was closing in on me. I couldn’t view the nav gear, it became like a pac man screen. It was so dark and the screen was blinding me. I used the compass atop the helm and made the course corrections by my memory of loading way points into my hand held garmin.
It was bad. Sid puked over the rail, came back and settled in on the deck and fell asleep. It was so dark, nothing to see but darkness. Then the sea lit up with electric blue lights. I kept seeing phantom cargo ships and thought I was balls to walls hallucinating. Absolutely dizzy and spinning. (that hindsight is 20/20 thing? at that point the exhaust system was probably failing. it was the exhaust smoke we were breathing, that’s why he got sick. had he passed out with it? …)
The phos was flying along the wave crests, soaring above the troughs. I thought I was seeing trails. But they were demonstrating which way we were being knocked down so I used that information to make course corrections to stay way off the shore. Waited until I nearly passed out and woke them up and called Christian back to the helm. Wanted to make sure he was rested. The night was beginning to turn into day. The horizon was becoming a lighter blue.
He took the helm and I began taking off gear on my way to the bunk and face planted. Then I heard the motor stop and my eyes opened wide and I listened. After a few minutes the motor started, but then it quit and that was that. They were stomping for me to return to the deck. The seas had calmed and he gunned the engine. Now we had to raise the sails. We believed the starter was acting up. Ha ha.
We had rounded the cape, but now we were being forced back North, back into it like being flushed down a toilet. Now it was about staying so many miles off shore. Then the wind died completely. Unable to steer. We were no longer heading South at all. It was a constant struggle, we were being pulled like a magnet to a certain rock. It didn’t matter how far out we went, in any pattern, I watched the nav screen for hours and calculated it. It was Indian Rock. We had to find our holding pattern and while the two of them took a look I tried again to sleep, even for 5 min. Only recently discovered the petroglyphs on Indian Rock, googled it.
Then Sid came down and woke me up-Whales he said.
The seas were calm and now it was foggy. It was quiet. As I came up from hatch, one of them breached off starboard and it was a completely involuntary reaction, I sprang backwards like a cat and luckily Sid caught me, or I would have kept going until I hit the water and then I would have really freaked because there was a pod of them and they surrounded the boat. At first it was awesome. We took lots of photos. Then I became nervous. There were babies. Sometimes the mommies let the babies play with sailboats. They like to butt their precious little heads on the keels and rudders and break them. No photos so I can’t say what kind of whales they were. Their dorsal fins were like Humpbacks, but Sid said Minks. I don’t know about that. Minks are smaller. They stayed with us for a long time, I guess they got bored and finally they spread out until we could no longer see them and I went backto bed. Or at least tried. I was afraid of making a mistake. That’s when I made an attempt to call my husband. It worked, we were close enough to shore for the cell phone to work. Explained the situation and he suggested we begin to think about the anchor line. He said it happened to another sailboat recently, in the same area, they died. They tried to set the anchor line and they wrecked, husband and wife. He said it was a slim chance and to prepare the raft. So off I went for the ditch bags.
By that time both Christian and Sid were onto the same theory. We talked about the anchor line, dismissed it and Christian boarded the zodiac and we loaded our ditch bags, just in case. Threw Christian a tow line from the bow and got behind the wheel. For the next part of the day we pulled the boat off shore with the zodiac.
Sid had to leave and go downstairs, I think because it was difficult to watch. Christian was zig zagging under the bow while falling off waves and I caught myself screaming at him… God Dammit Christian Knock It Off. I couldn’t see him and didn’t want to kill him. Must have got through to him because he stopped. Tied up the raft and climbed back onto Meg. It wasn’t easy, he could have torn his arm off. The boat went up and the raft went down into a trough, the raft went up and the boat fell down into a swell. He made it after several attempts. Then I had to face plant.
Above me, I could hear a heated conversation, Christian said Coast Guard? Sid said NO COAST GUARD. Christian and I both said, enough, we have to go Way Out. Again, Said said No, stuck to his guns. I agreed, we all agreed no coast guard. We all would have rather died, I think. About that time we all pulled our towing insurance packages and picked up phones. No tow service in Oregon? That’s when Christian called his insurance company. Then the shit hit the fan. We waited for them to call back and we waited and waited. Then the radio came alive and we listened to the call in complete horror.
This is the US Coast Guard for this vicinity… disabled vessel, Meg, three crew, are any boats able to assist? Nothing. No answer. As an aside, we were sitting there, looking at the radio screen and on the radar we saw boats. No one would respond. So the next radio transmission was directly to us, US Coast Guard to Meg. Our jaws were jacked wide open. We were in complete shock. Christian’s insurance company called the fucking coast guard on us.
From that point, The Coast Guard called all the shots. All we could do was comply. They were on the way. From that point on, they hailed every 30 minutes. Who ever was downstairs had to answer. We couldn’t get an ETA because they were so far away. After about 6 hours I guess, I was downstairs and the radio was all distorted and the wind had picked up and it was getting dark and the sea was becoming restless. Even if the radio was working properly, couldn’t hear because the wind was noisy. So I answered while adjusting the radio, still pure distortion until his voice became clear and he was angry. He demanded did I receive the last message. I answered No. The radio was all static. He immediately calmed his voice and resent the message. The Coast Guard vessel broke down, had to return. They were sending another boat from another station, no ETA.
From that point, totally exhausted, I fell completely asleep. I don’t know when the Coast Guard showed up. I was totally out of space and time. But in my deepest sleep I could hear their engine from miles away and woke sitting straight up. Marched back up to the deck and caught the towline and fastened it around the mast myself upon their instruction. It was the most joy, hearing them on the horizon. To see their smiling faces. It was epic. Still I was toast, so under tow, I went back down and passed out. Then it happened again. I heard their engine stall and my eyes opened wide. We stopped and I was back on my feet.
The radio blared and I heard the call… they prop fouled. but they have twin props… but they have to call another boat… It was so dark and the sea was agitated. It was impossible. The conditions were impossible.
Round and round we went around a bouy. It was a long time until the other boat arrived and I don’t remember much of it. Just stepping onto shore and being asked not to go too far as Coast Guard boarded and inspected the vessel. We stood by and waited, staring at the clip board until we saw the gold slip. We were in an even shittier shit hole, Brookings, Oregon. Walked off and got lost in a maze of crab pots stacked like lego’s, acres of them. In late July, the smell was horrible. A squad car drove by and stopped. I was looking for a cup of coffee. He knew who I was already. Heard the whole story on the radio. Let me know the whole town knew who we were. Walked for a couple of hours and went back and finally slept. Woke to the beastie boys and the guys were drinking beer. We sat for a few days. Other boats came in after getting their butts kicked and left. We were not so lucky we had to wait for parts. Everyday had to shuffle up to the VooDoo Lounge and check for a fed ex delivery for Christian Waters. It was another week before he realized it wasn’t the starter, or that he needed a new engine. In the mean time, we drank a lot of beer. One night I went looking for them at the bar and found them. They gave me pizza and the box had a note written to me. Hi, this pizza is for you. Call. So I did.
During our down time Sid and I went for coffee and we walked the dock. Saw the memorial and images from the tsunami and began to realize how small the world is. There was a pelican and Sid told a story about a cafe someplace where the locals made a special point to feed the blind pelicans. Blind? I didn’t know. It’s from all the diving, they can’t help it, fatal flaw in the grand design.
Stopped for coffee the following day while doing laundry. coffee with retired fishermen who heard about us coming in. wanted to chat it up with me. this old man, cautioned me and waved his hand in front of my face. all of his fingers bent in different directions.
the women’s restroom on the dock in brookings? As i walked up i puked in the trash inside the door way and a homeless woman looked up and said, well you made it. went in and there she was a meth addicted prostitute sleeping in a stall with a puppy next to her in a baby stroller. concrete shit house with no locks and clear plastic shower curtains. so women can see out i presume. after that, showered on the boat. I wouldn’t have showered unless the woman stayed so i wasn’t alone.
It took this long for me to find out what I saw out there that helped me navigate… It was these guys… millions and millions of them…. that’s what I meant. was trying to describe it as electric blue flying phos. have been stung before by lions mane. while swimming in lit phos. raised welts all over and in one spot, a spot not covered by wet suit, near my ankle, that spot felt like getting kicked by a horse and it hurt for months. velella velella didn’t behave like that at all, very friendly, they weren’t stinging.
The motor was replaced in Brookings and Christian hired more crew from the island and I heard the boat was safe in a slip in Cali. So she did make it. It took three trips, three different crews.. Vashon to Coos Bay, crewed with Gabe Mondragon. Maybe he should have replaced the entire engine before he ever left Coos Bay. The Washington Coast was probably hard core. Coos Bay to Brookings. Brookings to Cali, crewed with Danny and Randy. But then we got a call from Christian, he later dis masted her. I think the mast was replaced and he’s still living aboard. Delivering Christian and his boat proved to be an awesome challenge for everyone involved. No doubt every single one of us walked away shaking our heads. It’s hard not to like him. It’s hard to stay mad at him. I don’t know what else to say. Everyone gained experience. That’s why we were all there.
Sunday May 15, 2016 Crew Call. Sigh. Bartender Position in Costa Rica. If I had one drink to share? Probably call it a Red (mango) Rita. A spin off Hemingway’s Papa Dobler. In the blender: 8 Ice cubes, 1 shot white rum, 1 scoop mango sorbet, 2 T maraschino, I C ruby red grapefruit juice. serves two. deliciously dangerous.
PS… the Pizza Box. So I ate the pizza drank a beer and called these guys to thank them. Wanted to meet to thank them face to face. So they came back down to the bar and played pool with us. Turns out one of them, *2 dream, a helicopter pilot. Now these guys were not sailors. My crew had chatted me up. So I said yes, it’s all true. It really happened. I Liked them. They offered to make us dinner. What a Nice offer. So I said yes. Maybe it was later that night or the next night? My guys had to go back to the boat so I sat at the Voodoo with strangers while I kept drinking. Then I looked down at my watch and realized how much time had flown by. Looked back up at them and said, I guess they aren’t coming back. So they handed me bags of food and left.
Went down the to boat and after cleaning it all day, it was tossed and they were both passed out. Total game changer. This is the first time I became angry. I took out a loud pot and a big serving spoon and began playing the drum in their ears. Bang Bang Bang. You left me at the bar with strangers. Looked at Christian and said, I quit you bitch. Then I packed my gear and unloaded it and called the guys from the bar. Christian said, look she packed yesterday. I was going to find my own way home, but Sid left with me. Yeah the guys came back down to the boat and picked us up. I was waiting on the dock with all my gear. Sidney was like Switzerland. But he packed his gear and left with me. He said something like, yeah I have to go home and face her husband, I promised to make sure nothing would happen to her.
So they took us for many more drinks and tried to help us. At one point this guy pulls out a notebook and a pen. Handed it to me. Write down the problem. All I wrote was….. I’M DONE and I handed it to Sid. It was late and better to change the subject. Somehow we did manage to change the subject and I remember laughing all night and had a great time and calmed way down and Sid and I slept in the guest room. We woke and they new guys were gone and I remember feeling very hung over and drank lots of water, coffee, juice and tylenol. Went for a walk on the beach and found all the valella. Went back and they guys were back from early am salmon fishing. I was totally bummed that I missed out. Damn. Haven’t been salmon fishing in so long I can’t remember. Now THAT would have been fun.
Around cups of coffee it was back to problem solving and I called my husband and was looking for a bus or train station or even a taxi and I was thinking about a car rental. Not much luck. This was an all expenses paid trip and it became so expensive and I was concerned Christian was about to go broke. I was quickly breaking down. We didn’t want to leave Christian, but we didn’t have any faith left that we would be able to repair the engine and keep going to Cali. We went down to the boat and convinced Christian that it was time to go. I can’t remember how we did it. I had to ask permission to board the vessel and quickly apologized for My part in the other night. He met me half way and we instantly forgave each other.
I seem to remember driving home, but I can’t remember how we got back to Coos Bay, where Christian’s truck was parked. We found a slip for Meg. That was the other thing. There we no slips. The harbor master had to call a commercial fishing boat that was out at sea for months longer and ask for permission for us to park the boat until the new engine and mechanic could arrive. It was a miracle, the fishing boat said yes, granted Christian permission and I do remember getting the boat into the slip. That was tricky.
I was so fried I wouldn’t step back onto the boat. Watched as Christian fired up the zodiac to pull Meg as Sid got behind the wheel. I walked off shaking my head and said I’d meet them down there. What a GOOD CALL. Because, in a few minutes they came around the corner and Christian pulled a stunt and Sid said, oh christian, in a soft voice with pure frustration. We couldn’t make any more excuses for him. He wasn’t going to simmer down. That’s Christian, full flame at all times. So I had to jump, drop all my stuff on the dock and run to them. She was coming in too fast. This was my last act for them and for Meg. She was a wild horse, but she liked me, her soul loved me so She LET Me Catch Her. First put my shoulder into her side and leaned into her which bucked her forward and I sprang like a cricket to the bow and placed my hands on her bridle in the center of the horse shoe bow which at the moment looked like a guilotine blade about to take my head clear off. And she listened to me and stopped. The soul of that boat. OMG. In fact I remember hearing voices from a boat nearby that watched the show and when I caught the boat they yelled, Did You See That!
As an aside, when I made it home, gave the business card that the fellows who helped us gave me, to my husband to follow up. He did, there were several calls back and forth in thanks and appreciation. The story just got funnier as time went by and they even called us on Christmas. They were thinking of us while on a toy drive. What sweethearts. Beautiful people. That’s the fun of sailing, meeting new people like that.
pps… afterward- some people were quick to point fingers at us. but not my husband. so i wasn’t having it, still won’t have it from anyone. some people said the problem was that neither one us pulled the plug which somehow meant that we weren’t on the same page or indirectly suggested that it was two against one or one against two or whatever power tripping accusation. i think the big difference is that the crew has lived on an island together for a long time. we led by consensus, think tank style. anything else would have been delusional.
Crew did not ever raise their voice to me, not once, we were all very calm. It was only the one Coast Guard radio operator who was alarmed that we had missed a scheduled hail because we were all above deck handling sails. That and there was so much static he had to yell so I could hear him. I might add that we had one EPIRB and when they clipped me in to drive around the cape, I was wearing it.
Tuesday August 9, 2016
Not seriously considering costa rica. Not for one day or five minutes.
It’s only 11:23pm. The last hour has been gigantic. Was just playing around with my husband. Mr. Ernest Hemingway has been on my radar. Wrote some things about him on our black chalkboard that is duck taped to the fridge. That led to my husband asking me a question about an ending to one of his short stories. That I’ve read, so I could answer it. That led to him pulling out a book, the complete short stories of Ernest Hemingway. Found a story about a seeing eye dog and had to ask his opinion. Then I apologized for my lack of sensitivity, my husband’s mother, a painter, died blind. He said, actually the thought had not crossed his mind until I said it. So I apologized again.
Then we discussed the story. I said let’s pull up a chair and invite him to be part of the discussion. Pulled up an empty chair for Mr. Hemingway and then another for myself. We went back and forth and I challenged my husband about Mr. Hemingway’s time in Cuba. Looked at the chair and and asked a few questions. All I was trying to do was demonstrate a writing technique from art school. My husband says memory plays games on a weak mind. He worries that when I write I connect too viscerally. All I was trying to do was get my husband to think about Hemingway in Cuba not Florida.
Mr. Hemingway, you died before I was born. If I could set the proper time line to think about you, you lived through the cold war and you lived in Cuba for a long time. In the states you said that you were being spied on. You sent everyone away. Is it because you saw something that our government didn’t want you to write about? They said you suffered from paranoid schizophrenia about the FBI. However, I read that you were correct. You were on a watch list. Hoover destroyed your life. I looked at my husband and said, there you have it, that’s why he killed himself.
It was about that night that Hoover raped one of his straight male and married FBI agent’s. Hoover hated that Hemingway knew and was afraid he would write about it. Hoover was the 1st Wiki, actually when you think of it. All his files on everyone he blackmailed. When President Clinton replaced his FBI director, what did he say? “It’s going to be hard to fill his…pumps.” I was home from school that day and saw him say that on tv. And not only was he pretty much openly gay and a gay hater, he was black and racist. And he ran the world for 48 years.
Then the smell filled the room and I laughed and said see? That’s what happens to writers, dude I can smell his cubans.
He laughed and I let it go, thinking it was just my imagination. Until my husband said he could smell it too. My eyes lit up like Christmas. Let’s sail to Cuba. He said yes. There is already a yacht race to Cuba and one of our friends from Chicago actually raced it. He said it was fantastic.
Fortunate Sun, Cuba- April 2016
Sun August 21, 2016
Jon and his friend from Chicago raced the Vashon Challenge yesterday. When he arrived in the guest room he found the framed race results from 2011 on the nightstand. The start is usually Brown’s Point. A loop around the island and the finish is somewhere near the Tacoma Yacht Club, double or single handed. I’ve done it twice double handed racing korina. Have to rewind to 2011. Jon’s friend has this moore 24 that he always wants to race. In 2011 for some reason I was looking forward to sailing with Jon on our boat. That year it was my anti depressant. Then he said he was racing the moore 24. Out of sheer spite I quietly entered the race with korina and made a crew call on my own. My first time racing the boat without Jon. It was great because Alex was out there on Freedom, a t10. One of my first races was the Grand Prix 05, pregnant, just the three of us, Alex, Jon and I on this other t10. There was a gale that day. The stantion snapped and I held my breath and Alex pulled me back to the deck. I also puked into the wind and it flew and landed in Alex’s face and the next second a wave hit him and rinsed it away.
Anyway in 2011 it was a fun race because we were all on different boats. Alex raced solo, in Jon’s old boat, Freedom. Jon & Per were on the Moore 24, I had the scratch boat.
Just because she was the fastest boat out there that day, didn’t mean a thing. She is ten times as difficult double handed. Also there was another boat out there that day, Discovery. She’s the boat Jon raced to Hawaii when he won the Pacific Cup. A great line up.
It was a dicey start. As fate would have it, there was an out of control freighter coming down the middle of the course. Tugs and radio calls, which on my boat we can’t really hear up on deck. We could see it and the whole fleet had crossed ahead of it and we were tagging behind but too late. The freighter scolded us with its big boy voice and we had to change course and we did, there was plenty of room and we were certainly by then screaming along. Jon said when he heard the blast he knew it was me.
That was a critical crossing point on the course and we wanted to be with the fleet on the Tacoma side rounding the south end of the island. We were forced to the island side. Local knowledge. This time like a two way street. Jon once won the whole thing because on the Tacoma side there’s this opportunity. On the island side a lull with weird tide current. We laughingly call it Knudson’s Hole, named after him. Not that day. We flew right through it and that’s when we beat him. We had hours and hours to go, but he never saw us again on the course.
We had lots of wind up Colvos Passage, it was so fun. But there was an issue. With all the tacking we had really damaged this sail. I can’t remember which one, there were two. All I saw was this big blister. It was getting bigger.
I was so confused, because it was kevlar. I looked at Billy and said well I could pop it. Then it began to unravel like tissue paper in tiny streams and blew. In the next few minutes the tear spread from the foot to the top of the mast.
Billy, retired Navy, was laughing and I thought he was Crazy and he said, no we’re good, now we’re going faster.
He was looking over his shoulder and I saw Discovery. I knew we were in big trouble. She’s fast. We were heading for the finish line on different tacks. We were fully heeled and screaming along with this shredded sail 60 feet tall. Discovery beat us on corrected time by six minutes. I was home for hours drinking beer when Jon walked in. Alex won the overall. I think everybody beat us but Jon. In our friendly race I guess I made my point. That sail we blew out turned out to be an ancient thing that he picked on purpose for training.
(as a total aside. my husband raced and won the Pacific Cup with Norton Smith, aboard Discovery-the boat that beat me during the vashon challenge. After that, Norton quit racing for a long time. a very long time. he returned in 2015 for the R2K. i think racing with his daughter, but they didn’t make it. 2014/2015 was hard core, even Seattle’s Darling- Absolutely, dis-masted that season. boats crashed like Vestas and boats disabled hitting weird stuff floating out there. personally i’ve been waiting to go back out, sitting out and i can’t tell if the seas have calmed.)
Well yesterday leaving Brown’s Point they did the unthinkable and in a split decision went for Knudson’s Hole and got stuck. They DNF’d. But they were not alone. On their way back another boat sailed beside them and tossed them a bag of chocolate chip cookies.
Seriously Jon knows the course so well. Even on a road trip he can tell you which ferry you’ll be on, from Montana. Once we were returning from some race in the city. It was so dark. It was a cold winter. It was foggy, no gps. It was quiet. Pea soup. We made it round Point Robinson. It was a while after that and he said ok that’s it. Drop the anchor. We fell asleep and at dawn we were so close we could have reached over and touched the shore. Well ahead of the Manzanita bouy. He says he did it by memory. He’s sailed it so many times he could just feel it. Like he knew exactly where he was.
In Loving Memory of Andrew T. Bird
Jan. 29 1949 – Jan. 8 2011
Born in Poulton cum Spital, Merseyside, UK.
January 29th 1949, Ted came from a family of fishermen, his father was a fisherman before him. He was in the Royal Navy for 12 years as a Chief Petty officer and a Marine Engineer. When he resigned from the Royal Navy he spent several years in Australia. He lived for many years on the open sea on a 40 foot sailboat. He came to Texas, where he married and had two children. In 1986 he moved to Washington state with his family where he went to work in the fishing industry spending many years working in Alaska. His life was adventurous and spontaneous. He was a sailor through and through. On the water he was unstoppable; on land he spent his time looking longingly out to the sea. He was a mechanical genius. He was very generous and would entertain you for hours with tales from his journeys. Ted was a real life Jack Sparrow! A pirate from Liverpool, his life was the stuff movies are made from. He is survived by his son Galen Bird, his daughter in law Talia and daughter Tara Bird, a brother in the UK and many nieces and nephews. Ted will be missed but his tales will live on through his family and friends.
Tuesday July 26, 2016
The funny thing is I can’t remember how we met. Just racing. It must have been one of the longer races because there were lots of duldrums. It seems to me we raced several times. Back then none of us kept race records, there were too many. There are still too many. I guess that is part of what makes it sacred. Our memories are different. These guys are very spiritual, thier love is the sea. I can say that he called me kitten and I called him teddy bear.
Jon and I and our crew loved him very much. I’m not sure how we ended up racing, the first thing I remember is that Ted, Jon, Alex & Carl raced the long course up at Swiftsure and they won their division in Carl’s boat. I can’t remember what year. It must have been after I had the baby and sat out that Swifsure. Jon and Alex and I raced the Grand Prix while I was pregnant in 05. So we might have raced the t-ten together. By the next spring I think they all went up to Ca. Either that or we raced when we first got the big boat. It would have been between 08-11. I remember being very intimidated, but for teddy bear.
I wish I could remember who was with us. Throughout the entire stressful race we kept laughing and it had nothing to do with the race. He made it so fun. There must have been two races because I have two different memories.
In one race he told jokes and sang limericks for 6 hours. We could not stop laughing.
We all were crying shut up please stop it. At one point Jon was like, how in the world could you keep track of all that? Ted answered in complete shock, ” I’ve know them me whole life! ”
He shared another story with me while he was driving and I was on the running backs. Or he was on the main, can’t remember just that we were side by side and I was a bit freaked about the weather. Of course while he was talking I became calmer and calmer. He had a magnificent accent and he spoke like popeye the sailor man. Everything he said was fun to listen to.
He said he was fishing on a small boat in the northern british isles. He had been out to sea for several weeks and the weather turned on them. Somehow while fishing there was an accident and he was literally hooked by the balls. It was bad and he was bleeding all over the boat. No doctor. Just a cook who managed to sew up his teste with fishing line and a modified needle made from a smaller fishing hook.
They were so far out to sea there was no where to go and they had to keep sailing. He said it had been a few days and they were able to find a dr in northwest ireland, the middle of nowhere. They got him onto a dinghy and brought him ashore to meet a horse and carriage. Their plan was to wait for him to be properly fixed up and then back out to sea.
He went on and on about laying in the back of the carriage for many hours, many miles of bumps and slow going and being miserable. He was stunned when they arrived at a convent. A nun came out to the gate, he took one look at her and said simply, take me back to the boat. He couldn’t do it.
Back into the carriage he went and another 20 miles or something back to the boat.
He was still in major pain and agony. Too modest, too shy. He didn’t say that, but that’s what it was.
It was weeks later that his crew brought him to a doctor in a big city. He was younger then. A tough sailor. When he finally had to drop his drawers the doc said “Fine work, you’re a lucky man, these wounds have healed completely and without infection. There’s nothing I can do, you’ve healed up.”
His version of the tale was so funny, the crew could not stop laughing. There were times that we looked at eachother like omg, he’s full of it. did he say what i thought he just said and then more roars of laughter.
He knew he had us all in the palm of his hands, by the end of the story the danger had passed. That’s how he was. He was very tender.
Now the other story about him is also probably true. He said that when he resigned from the Royal Navy, he did so as the last man ever flogged on deck and thay they don’t do that anymore. He took the last beating.
My husband and I were talking about that the other night. Jon was laughing his ass off and said Yes, he may well have been the last man ever flogged by the Royal Navy.
He said Winston Churchill said this about the Royal Navy. “Rum, Sodomy, Flogging.”
Back in 2010 and 2011 before he passed on, we used to hang out at the Quartermaster Inn, walking distance to the marina here on Vashon Island.
A nice place to stop on the way home. I showed up several times in my foul weather gear after racing. A tiny place with a warm fire and an intimate atmosphere. It seems to me we were there together just a few nights before. That was where he spent his last night on earth. I can imagine he had the whole place roaring in laughter and he probably closed the tavern before walking back to his boat.
It was cold, probably icy and he must have slipped boarding his skiff. The skiff never left the dock where he was found. Pro that he was, he made sure they would find him.
In Loving Memory of Del Two Knives
There’s another sailor who I met through Jon that was larger than life, Del Two Knives. He was this huge guy. Scared the life out of me when I met him. Jon and I had sailed to seattle to park the boat for an early morning race. It was very dark and foggy. As we were pulling in I was standing on the foredeck with the bowline trying to figure it out with limited visibilty it was dangerous. Then this huge hulking man stepped out of the shadows and stood under a lamplight and stretched out his arms for the line. My eyes grew as big as the world. I turned back to Jon and he nodded and I said, are you sure? He yelled out, Hey Del! Thanks man. And that was that, tossed the rope and he pulled us in. I think of that night sometimes. How many people pull into marina’s in the dark like that hoping someone will be there on stand by. What was he doing out there? And yeah, two big knives strapped to his chest. A good reason. What a site. Later that night, Jon told me the story about how Dell got that nickname and what he did for a living. Guess it was the Duwamish Head… looking up the year. A story that holds me by my breath. Drinking from my last trophy, the Duwamish Head, 201 . Have to go back and double check. Has that race been cancelled twice or three times in a row? Still looking he was with Wayne Erickson on a tri during the duwamish head. Wayne has since passed also. Still searching for info…really just us on the boat. We were all just at his feet and like children we asked him, which one of the big cranes, you know, on the west seattle bridge they look like skeletons of a brontosaurus… which one is yours del? he said, with a long pause, actually all of them. I can say that when sailing by quartermaster harbor… he mentioned to the crew… yes, take a long look, we live in the most beautiful place on the earth. jon says he said that everytime he rounded the south end. Back to his nick name, Del Two Knives. He was racing the Duwamish Head with Wayne Erickson on a tri and it flipped. Del was pinned under the wreck and nearly drown and could not reach his knife that he kept on his hip. He was stuck a long while and self rescued and after that day he always wore two knives and kept them strapped to his chest where he could easily reach them.
Delbert “Butch” O. BATES, Jr. 1940 ~ 2009 Born in Kirkland, WA to Del and Char Bates. Attended Lake Wash H.S. Graduated Bothell H.S. Service U.S. Navy Submarine Service 4 years in Honolulu. Signed professional baseball contract after leaving playing for the Navy in Honolulu. Played as catcher for numerous teams until the last game with Philadelphia Fillies, 1970. Went on to a long career with International Longshore Union Local 19, Port of Seattle. Retired in 2004. His loyalty to his Union was undaunted. Loved sailing and golf. Retired with wife Pat to golf course in Deer Park, WA. Preceded in death by parents Del and Char Bates; trusted black lab “Babe”. Survived by loving wife and partner Pat; beloved brother Lee (Karen) Bates; children, Josh (Candy) Bates, Brittney (Mark) Smith; step-children, Heather Lynn, Robyn Huetter, Trisha (Tom) Thoen; 9 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Memorial Service at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 3 at Kirkland Congregation Church, 106 5th St, Kirkland. Donations in lieu of flowers to Tiger Woods Foundation, thefirsttee.com or The Sailing Foundation, thesailingfoundation.org. Published in The Seattle Times from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, 2009 - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=delbert-o-bates-butch&pid=133703503#sthash.hHTCVkZE.dpuf
In Loving Memory of Stephen Graves
Stephen “Step” Graves passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday, March 23-2015 at 12:45 pm, the day after his 61st birthday. Step was born in Virginia in 1954. He travelled extensively from a young age. He served in the Navy in Vietnam aboard the USS Coral Sea then settled in Oakland, California where he received his degree from Laney College. Following that he moved to the Seattle area where he worked for SeaLand for over fifteen years. After retiring from SeaLand, he found his way to Vashon Island, where he started his own auto detailing business “Island Detail”.
Step will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind and loving man. He had many interests including drumming and singing reggae, blues and soul music, sailing, travelling, walking, and drag racing. He was the ultimate “people person” who was a friend to just about everyone that he met but he especially loved women. He could be very opinionated but open minded and quick to forgive. He loved animals and was a keen observer of birds. He will be missed. He is survived by his daughter Vanessa and grandson Elias.
He teased me a lot about sailing. That I should know better. He lived with us for a while and rode out some winter storms. Actually he laughed and teased me about everything I did. It was just a cover for his being shy, modest, humble and protective. The more he messed with someone the more he liked them. The more he held them accountable to his higher values and expectations.