SAILING TO HAWAII

When I think of all we had sacrificed to take this trip, I wondered what was driving us. We sold a beautiful home in Woodland Hills, bought an old wooden boat in San Pedro, that took us three years to rebuild. New decking, new rigging, new sails, steamed in ribs, to say nothing of the equipment it took to feel safe on this journey: sextant, auto pilot, knot meter, beacon, generator, pumps, batteries, etc., etc. With the money we spent we could have gone around the world several times in luxury. We could be enjoying our four married children and our five much loved grandchildren. Instead we were setting out in a 34 year old, 44ft. wooden Island Clipper. It was made after World War II along with twenty four others. Ours was hull #18. She was built with the best of materials in 1946: Oak frames, all bronze fitting and cedar planking. She’s a sloop, her name engraved in a bronze plaque in the galley, “Frolic”. Frolic was made by Fellows and Stewart of Wilmington. Fine boat builders in their day. The designer was Merle Davis.

My husband and I wanted to sail to Hilo, Hawaii. We would then sail from Island to Island, taking a year. Returning to the straits of Juan de Fuca, British Columbia, we would sail through the Juan de Fuca Islands, taking another year.

We said goodbye to our children and family, and hardest of all my aged father.

1 JULY 27,1981 - Monday, Day 1

We left the San Pedro breakwater entrance at 10:06 AM. The skies were clear and the sea’s were calm like gray green velvet. I felt anticipation and excitement. The winds were north by northwest. We had breakfast of toasted bagels, cheese, fruit and coffee. We motor-sailed to the west end of Catalina. Our autopilot (Tilly), kept us right on course. A large tanker blasted its horn at us, as we crossed its bow. We had become a little careless. After that we kept a better look out.

Bob discovered our lifeboat had leaked all its air. He rescued the water and provisions we had packed inside. That always makes one feel secure! It is too late to look for leaks. We will have to put it on the list of chores for tomorrow. It is 4:00 PM. We turned the engine off and started sailing as we rounded the west end of Catalina. We sighted Santa Barbara Island and took a fix of our position at 5:00 PM. The winds increased to 25 knots. The swells were 4 to 6 ft. At 10:00 PM, Bob sighted lights on both sides of us. This concerned him because according to the chart we were not supposed to be able to see both lights at the same time. There was a strong current running. He was fearful we would be pushed into one of the Islands. San Clemente Island on the port was particularly bright. We took a bearing from the ends of San Clemente Island and San Nichols Island. I tried to sleep. Bob said a 7 ft. wave almost washed over the cockpit. Night has a way of encouraging one’s imagination. Our fix showed us we are right on course. Bob reefed the main, and set tilly and tried to sleep. He was up and down most of the night. The winds blew 25 to 30 knots throughout most of the night. We felt fear for the first time. We decided our charts were old, 1978, and in 13 years more powerful lights were probably installed. I slept with a radio in my ear. The reality of where I was, was beginning to take hold.

JULY 28, 1981 - Tuesday, Day 2

I woke up early at 6:00 AM and sat in the cockpit. The waves were gentle soft swells now. There was a heavy marine layer that covered the sky. I am starting to feel the distance from shore and isolation, and wonder what was behind our need to take this long journey across the sea. (I liked to think it was my latent genes from my Viking beginnings or my Dutch ancestry. They must have sailed). It was still dark. I spotted lights on the horizon. I imagined it coming toward us. There is little to gauge distance from, in the sea. I woke Bob. He identified it as a tanker, but it was heading away from us. The sun shone through holes in the clouds. A bird flew past and all my fears subsided. We passed a heavy patch of seaweed, a floating island for a seal. He barked at us, dived in and followed us for a short while. The sun shone through the clouds at noon, long enough to get a sextant reading. We pumped up our lifeboat again. We are in hopes we did not close the valve properly. We were making an average of 4 knots an hour. It is 6:00 PM, the winds again picked up to 20 to 30 knots. Bob reefed down both the Main and Jib. We both went to sleep too tired to eat, but not before I read Kate Chopin's Awakening by flashlight. (I had slept a lot during the day).

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