Monday, March 11, 2019

Balboa Yacht Club: the passage

        This is the most difficult of passages to predict.
        The website shows the distance from Balboa, Panama to San Diego, California to be 2844  nautical miles.  Make a modest four knot average and you’re there in four weeks, the length of time I have now been in Panama.  However, with perhaps the last thousand miles or more to windward and parts of the rest given to light and variable winds, we will have to sail considerably farther than 2844.  As I have said I will not beat GANNET or myself up bashing into strong headwinds.  I will wait them out.  And almost all this passage will be made under sheet to tiller steering which often does not permit maximum performance.
        Our present position on the Balboa Yacht Club mooring is 08º56’N   079º33’W, which is slightly east of Miami, Florida.  
        The entrance to San Diego Bay is 32º40’N   117º14’W.
        So we sail about 24º north and 38º west, except we have to first go down to 07ºN in order to get out of the Gulf of Panama before we can turn west and north.
        The 38º of longitude is like sailing across the entire United States, with the 24º of latitude adding about 1500 miles north.
        I do not know how far we will have to sail to reach San Diego or how long it will take.
        I’m provisioned for about two months.
        If it takes longer than that I’m in trouble.
        While I could and may fall off and divert to Hilo, Hawaii, which is much easier to reach than San Diego, I very much want the symmetry of completing the second part of my life, which I have called ‘being’ in San Diego where it began on November 2, 1974, when I pushed the engineless EGREGIOUS away from her slip at Harbor Island Marina for my first attempt at Cape Horn.
        More than most people do theirs, I have clearly understood my life even as I have lived it.
        I have called the first part ‘longing’.
        I loved some wonderful women, I learned, I may have written some worthwhile poems; but the first thirty-three years of my life were prelude.  November 2, 1974 was the true beginning.  And when/if I reach San Diego in GANNET that part of my life will end.
        Who knows what I will do next?
        In talking with Carol over the telephone this afternoon, she said that there will still be a lot of ‘being’ in the next part of my life.  I hope and expect that there will be, but it will be different.

        Evening drinks here are a pleasure, sitting in the cockpit watching ships pass fifty yards away.  Tug boats release them in front of us.
        On two evenings sailboats passed—three one night, two another—having just competed what I assume was a one day transit.  Of my three transits of the canal, one was a one day, two were two days.  It is easy and I think preferable to transit in one day if the authorities schedule a boat to enter the upward locks early in the morning.
        I could sense the relief of the crews to be out of the last lock and again at sea level, as launches came alongside to take off the advisor and line handlers.  I have felt it myself.

        I wrote the above last night on GANNET, but can send it only today, Monday, now that I am ashore using the Radisson Hotel free wi-fi.
        I did taxi to a supermarket yesterday afternoon.
        I expect that I will complete provisioning tomorrow, have a quiet Wednesday to look GANNET over and do my laundry, and leave on Thursday.
        Before coming ashore, I rethreaded the reef leech lines on the mainsail and topped up the canisters of protein powder, trail mix, and powdered milk, which is easier to do in port than at sea.  The powdered milk was a New Zealand brand and so has now  been on board for more than two years.
        I will make another grocery run this morning and maybe another this afternoon.
        The things left on the list:  crackers, juice, snacks, cookies, chocolate, museli, water, tonic, dried fruit, whiskey.
        I already have supplies of all these except whiskey and just want to add more.
        Whiskey is not essential, but I would like to have a bottle in case somewhere along the way I desire something more warming than coffee.
        I will take a glass from my third of a bottle of Laphroaig when we reach 21º, the halfway latitude, but the rest will be saved for San Diego.