Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best sailing training ground in the country?

About 25 days 'til we shove off and head to sea.

I've been thinking lately about what conditions we might face, looking back at our sailing experience, and hoping it has been adequate to prepare us for our adventure.

We've been sailing and racing in an area called the San Pedro Channel for 15 years now.

The San Pedro Channel is basically the area between Catalina Island and the California Coast. By the way, did you know that at it's deepest the San Pedro Channel is almost a mile deep? YIKES.

The thing about this channel is this: it's a very busy place. Like the song says, it's just "26 miles across the sea..." to Catalina, but on any given weekend there are hundreds and hundreds of boats of every size, shape and speed sailing in all different directions, competing for a pretty small spot of floating real estate.

                                            You've got Catalina fliers:

gigantic oil tankers:

even bigger cargo ships:

Then throw a few dozen of these into the mix on any given day:

and a couple of these:

And don't forget the cruise ships (by the way, just looking at the ship at this angle completely freaks me out! LOL):

We often encounter the Lane Victory out there, a WWII Victory Ship, which takes tourists out to sea and actually does a WWII sea battle re-enactment in the middle of the channel, complete with Japanese kamikaze pilots buzzing low and fast overhead, shooting fake guns:

       They're always towing crazy stuff out there, too. One day a barge motored past us towing a gigantic sattelite launch pad:


and of course we see ocean life of every species imaginable:

In addition, did you know that San Pedro Harbor has the nickname of "Hurricane Gulch?" We have the consistently windiest harbor in the greater Southern California area.

This has been known to happen:


                             and this is what happens when a sailboat gets
                                             too close to a tanker:

          And it's not just the tankers running over the sailboats. There's also tankers hitting tankers:

My point is this: we have spent countless days weaving in between tankers and Catalina fliers and cargo ships, through fog and 30 knot winds. These traffic jams -- while stressful -- have been amazing training grounds.

And as soon as we pass Newport Beach to port, we will basically be free of all that. It will be like living at the intersection of the 110 and 10 in downtown Los Angeles and suddenly moving to Iowa.

Just thinking about it -- the open spaces -- the open ocean -- fills me with such anticipation.

I can already feel my blood pressure dropping by the point...ahhhhhhhh.

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