Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore

Open Water Passage

Contributed By Tim Wirth

I  arrived in Redondo Beach on April 15 to join Bill and my
brother-in-law Johnny on a sailing trip to La Paz, Mexico, the first
leg of Bill and Solstice’s round the world voyage. Before this, I'd
spent maybe six hours total on sailboats at different times in my
life.  With that wealth of experience under my belt, I felt a mixture
of excitement and considerable nervousness as I stepped onto
Solstice’s deck for the first time.

After a scramble of last minute preparations that lasted through
the night, the next morning we were ready to cast off.  A
wonderful gathering of friends, neighbors and family helped cut
the dock lines sending us off in style.   Bill fired up the stereo,
and we putted out of the Redondo Harbor listening to Aretha
Franklin belt out “You Make me Feel Like a Natural Woman”.  I
assume the song selection was for Solstice’s benefit, so it seemed
appropriate and she seemed eager to be leaving land behind and
heading out to open seas.

Fast forward a few days…my crash coarse in sailing was now well under way.   I was trimming sails and beam reaching, I could find the port aft cabinet, I knew how to jibe and lived in fear of accidentally jibeing, and I was very tired.  What happened to cocktail hour on the Luau deck?!?  Along the way, I developed a new understanding and appreciation of the variability of the wind, currents and waves and how they interacted to help and hinder our slow progress southward towards La Paz.  At times we were barely moving and then conditions would change and we’d be hurtling along at 10 knots an hour (that’s equal to 11.5 mph for the uninitiated).   I learned that sailing is not an especially efficient mode of transportation. 

After nearly a week of being out in the open ocean, on Easter morning we saw land again for the first time.  As we approached the southern tip of Baja in the pre dawn light, I saw a gray whale breach five times, as if to salute our arrival.  The next day and a half we sailed around the bottom of Baja and eventually into the Sea of Cortez.  This was my favorite part of the trip.   The scenery was beautiful and the water continued to get bluer and bluer.  We saw lots of wildlife: more whales, several dolphins and “flying” manta rays.   It was finally warm, so I shed my long underwear and wool hat and had an amazing shower on the deck.   This was my kind of sailing.

We arrived in La Paz late Monday morning, ten days after leaving Redondo Beach.   I won’t lie, I was very happy to once again be on solid ground.  We spent most of the afternoon jumping through hoops in order to clear Mexican immigration (lots of funny stories there) and then finally settled down for some delicious shrimp tacos and well-deserved cold beers.   We laughed a lot, shared toasts and celebrated a successful voyage.


Tim Cooking



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