Adventure is not planned

Well the last week has certainly been action packed.  From Redondo Beach to an unscheduled stop in Port of Los Angeles, then Newport Beach and on to Dana Point.  I’ve been doing some rowing!   And conditions have not always been optimal – especially considering I am closer to the coast than I would normally be in an ocean boat.  One day rows have become 3, and I even found out that Dippers can go faster than 3.2 knots – without any assistance from me or anyone else!  And my list of visitors out on the ocean has expanded.  It is all part of the adventure though and I would not pass it up for anything.  I have met some amazing people along the way and I absolutely know that I am going to know these people for a long time to come.  In fact a lot of them are about to continue the journey with me in just a few months time. 

Some highlights from the last week:

The unscheduled stop in Port of Los Angeles: My row from Redondo Beach to Newport Beach was always going to be a challenge, and I was hoping to try and avoid stopping in the Long Beach area – primarily because I was nervous about the shipping channels.  I just had not been around a lot of large ships before, and given I am a small 19.5 foot boat who can move at a top speed of just over 3 knots (or so I thought), the idea of being in an area with large container ships just did not inspire me.  If I was not making good time though, Long Beach was a stopping point.  I came down the coast and was making good time, but it was already 4pm and the thought of being in an area with shipping channels at night was more scary than the option of stopping, so I planned to stop at Long Beach.  If I just get inside the breakwater I would be fine.  All was good until I rounded Point Fermin and headed for Long Beach.  There were some really strong winds in the area that afternoon, and when I came around the point Dippers took off at 4.7 knots without me even touching an oar!  Now I would have been happy with 4.7 knots out on the ocean, but when you are right on Port of Los Angeles, the boat is going 4.7 knots, and headed right towards the breakwater wall, that is not so good.  Still trying to get over my shock that Dippers could move so fast I tried rowing against the winds pushing me towards the nice rock wall.  Ok I could maintain position if I was literally standing on the footplates to push off, but I could not gain any ground away from the wall.  Time to call Boat US Vessel Assist because I could only do this for so long.  Unfortunately for me there had been another incident that afternoon and Vessel Assist, Harbor Patrol and the Coast Guard were all out dealing with that, so it was the LA Port Police who came out in their boat to tow me out of there.  And that was how I ended up with an unscheduled stop in Port of Los Angeles.  Here I was trying to avoid container ships and now I am in the industrial section of the harbor with goliath ships all around.  Well I guess I am going to work out how to navigate these ships whether I want to or not.

Long Beach to Newport Beach: This was not a huge row and should have taken me a day to complete, but not everything always goes to plan.  This ended up being a 3 day row thanks to a southwest swell and winds which came through.  I had made it from Long Beach to Huntington Beach the first day so I was really quite close to Newport Beach, but rowing against everything meant that it was very slow going getting maybe half a knot if I was lucky.  I don’t think I could even walk that slow if I tried.  So after rowing all day and only getting to Huntington Beach I decided that I would stop and get some rest.  Just row west for a bit (again against everything) so I was away from land.  Then I could put out the sea anchor and get some rest.  I knew that I was still going to drift – even with the sea anchor out – so that night I slept in 20 minute increments.  Every 20 minutes the alarm would go off, I would get up, stick my head out the hatch and check if I was close to land, then go back for another 20 minutes sleep – ALL NIGHT.  Luckily I was not getting pushed into land as quickly as I was getting pushed up the coast, so I did not have to get out there and row during the night, but overnight I was pushed a full 2 nautical miles back up the coast – while on sea anchor.  Ugh.

Next morning I sleepily started rowing at 5am, but once again top speed was half a knot.  I was going to persist for as long as I could though.  I re-rowed the 2 nautical miles I had been pushed back, and then another 2 miles before I had another visitor for the day.  This time it was the LA Lifeguards coming to see what I was.  They were very nice, and incredibly sympathetic to me rowing and only getting half a knot.  You know there is a lifeguard buoy just a mile away if you want to tie up to it for the night and wait this out they said.  Bonus a buoy which would not move so I could actually get some sleep!  So I rowed to the bouy, tied up and got in the cabin.  I was very happy to be able to get some sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time.  I’d been snoozing for a few hours when I was awoken by a voice saying “Rower number 87.  Do you need any assistance?”  Where was that coming from?  I could not see any boats when I looked out through the hatch, it was not coming from the radio, what the???  So I opened the hatch door and found the source of the voice.  The LAPD helicopter was circling me overhead!  Seriously – my visitors are coming from above as well?  I was still kind of sleepy so not quite with it, but the police explained that they had been asked to check on me overnight (the lifeguards asked them), so here they were.  I gave them the thumbs up, they wished me luck for the row and off they went.  I am still stunned that they came, and I really wish I had been awake enough to think to grab the video camera.  Now that would have made good video.

Right now I am in Dana Point, and getting ready to row tomorrow to Oceanside – the second last stop in this row down the coast of CA.  I am getting closer to San Diego and have mixed feelings about actually completing this row.  My hands could use a rest, but I really do not want to stop rowing.  Usually I am someone who likes to plan everything out, but with this row it is somewhat take it as it comes – it is Plan B after all.  I have met some incredible people while doing this and the kindness and generosity of everyone I have met has truly touched me.  In every harbor people have looked after me and made sure I am ok – and Dana Point is no exception.  When I came into harbor there were no guest slips available for me to tie up to which meant that basically I could not stay.  I was tired and my hands hurt though so I went on the hunt for some space.  Enter the Dana Point Yacht Club who took me in with open arms – a spot for the boat, a buffet dinner, drinks at the bar, showers, laundry and bathrooms.  I can absolutely tell you that you will be hearing more about this yacht club in the future and it will be part of what I am doing to try and help the birds of the world.  Once again I have accidentally found a great group of people and I am so thankful for their help in hosting both Dippers and me.

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