Days 1-4: San Diego to Channel Islands

Sunset near Channel Islands

On April 29 Beau and I flew down to San Diego, dad was already there. We worked on many of the projects still left undone over the next two days, including mounting the life raft and fire extinguishers, placing our name and hailing port stickers (a whole other story!), testing and ultimately buying and installing a new EPIRB (locating device in case of an emergency out on the water), provisioning, trying (unsuccessfully) to locate a tear in our staysail, cleaning and organizing, and so on. A neighboring boat, who had helped keep an eye on things for us while we were away, brought us over some delicious fresh food and herbs. I love this community.

On the evening of May 2 we untied the lines and set sail…sort of. Mostly we motored. On our way out of San Diego Channel we performed a renaming ceremony, officially changing her name to Emmylou.

We had hoped to be able to sail beyond the islands, heading offshore, and run as far north as we could, weather and fuel permitting, away from shipping lanes and land hazards and hopeful to find good winds. We didn’t. Instead we motored into the wind for nearly 30 hours. Around this time we decided to switch fuel tanks and in the process stalled the engine and could not get it to restart. We changed the fuel filter, let it cool for a bit, gave it a few love taps, shorted a wire, and it started again.

Eventually we decided to change course so that we could raise the sails. Unfortunately that did not go as planned either, we ripped a hole in the mainsail at the first reef point and one of the battens fell out (thankfully landing in the boat). We took the main down to the second reef point and flew her there for a long while. My dad and Beau started to feel seasick and we decided that heading back toward land was probably in our best interest. We had a hitchhiker along the way, though it didn’t stay too long.

We spent much of that night trying to avoid islands and rock formations, then crossed the shipping lanes and headed to Channel Islands Harbor. Dolphins swam alongside the boat for much of the night, they look a little like dementors (a la Harry Potter) with trails of bioluminescence and the way they dart around in the wake of the bow. We all took turns on watch and napping in the cockpit. You sleep when and where you can on a boat.

We stayed in Channel Islands for two nights. We showered, napped, took the mainsail to be repaired. Our sailmaker confirmed that we will likely need to replace this sail before too long, but he repaired the rip and the batten pockets. We replaced the steaming light that could not previously be repaired. We scrubbed down the decks, and Beau recovered from seasickness. We tied down the anchors and fixed it so that they would not rub against our new bobstay. We caulked the anchor post where water had leaked in to our v-berth on our previous leg, tightened all the portlights that leaked on our previous leg, and caulked where the hydraulic hose for the boom vang enters our mast and had come loose. We topped off with fuel and water and pumped our holding tank for the first time. We learned some of the challenges of putting our boat in reverse, with an audience and thankfully without any damage to ourselves, Emmylou, or others. We put a hole in the boat, intentionally and very briefly, to remove and clean the transducer that measures our speed and the depth of the water below our keel. You would not believe how much water can come through a small hole in a very short amount of time. We’ll post the video sometime, you’ll see.