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A funny thing happened on my way to San Pedro

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 20, 2008

Written by Karen


Early Monday morning, Jesse and I departed Channel Islands Harbor aboard Lynx, sailing in tandem with Bounty, Seaward, and Californian on our way to safe anchorage at Santa Cruz Island. Soon after getting underway, however, Bounty’s crew found the wind unfavorable for square-rigging, so they furled her sails and motored off into the distance, leaving Californian, Seaward, and Lynx to coast side-by-side under moderate wind for most of the afternoon.

As the three ships approached the protected harbor on the northern side of the island, the trusty breeze died down considerably, and Californian and Seaward announced over the radio that they would surrender to the evening lull and motor the rest of the way into anchorage. Unwilling to strike sail just yet, Captain Craig and our Lynx crew bid farewell to the other two ships, and continued on to the eastern coast of the island in search of stronger winds.

Captain Craig assigned me to the helm just as we rounded the eastern tip of the island and our sails began to fill. The harsh California sunlight had waned to a rich, golden glow that bathed the dramatic, rocky coastlines of the Channel Islands in magnificent late afternoon chiaroscuro. With orders to steer “full and by,” Captain Craig left it to me to find Lynx’s delicate point of balance on a close-haul. I used the same skills that I learned sailing my grandfather’s 12-foot Sunfish to maintain equilibrium between the schooner’s massive sail-area and her seemingly unfathomable keel. I concentrated on keeping the helm from turning up to weather and soon we were heeling over as the weight of the evening breeze pressed against our sails.



We suddenly spotted Bounty on the horizon, making her way to anchorage from the east, and Captain Craig ordered me to sail out to greet her. We tacked back and forth, beam-reaching on alternate port and starboard tacks, all the time getting closer and closer to Bounty. We tacked one final time, and Captain Craig took over the helm as I rushed forward to grab my camera, which was stowed in the foc’sle. Everyone gathered on the starboard side as we blasted by Bounty, only about twenty feet off our beam, waving and shouting to our friends up in the rigging.

                                           BOUNTY  crew waving from the rigging


Capt. Craig and BOUNTY


Still reeling from our exciting fly-by sail, we turned Lynx towards the anchorage. We rounded the eastern tip again, this time from the south, and approached the harbor under full sail. We quickly lost momentum, however, as the wind died down and our sails began to luff in the protected harbor. Though we gradually slowed to a gentle float, the Lynx crew was too proud to switch on the ships’ motor in front of Californian and Seaward, who had surrendered over an hour ago to dying winds. Saul, the first mate, thus ordered six of the crew (myself included) to tie a line to Lynx’s bowsprit, and row the 100-ton ship the rest of the way with the wooden dinghy. When we had successfully rowed the ship to its anchorage, we cruised laps around Seaward and Californian, and their crews gathered on deck and applauded our efforts.

What a day! Exhausted from the exhilarating afternoon, we chowed down on dinner, and quickly retired to our bunks. My arms ached and my head spun as I struggled to fall asleep that night, already looking forward to whatever adventures the next day might have in store.






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