Saturday, March 22, 2014

Solo Sailor Tacks For Home

I was reading an old Lat38 Mag and ran across a story about a guy who was looking forward to his round the planet cruise aboard his Westsail 32.  I looked him up on the web and found his blog.  He picked a difficult time of year (fall/winter) to head south down the east coast and ran into his share of 25 to 35 knot winds and 10' to 15' breaking seas.  Not to mention a unusual trade wind situation once he reached the Bahamas.  He got burned out and being a solo sailor was very difficult for him.   Here is his story:

Back in '99, Latitude 38 did a little story on me when I was an active duty Coast Guardsman on Yerba Buena Island. In the article, I indicated that I was just treading water for my last seven years of service so I could take my pension, retire, and go sailing. Well, it's happening this month — although I did have a bit of a bump in the road when, in July of '05, the Coast Guard decided to ship me back to Woods Hole on Cape Cod. If only the service had the patience to let me sail Christa, my 1975 Westsail 32 and home for the past nine years, to the East Coast via the Panama Canal. Of course, I probably would have failed to report for duty, as I would have already been out sailing, and that's all I really give a crap about.
It was also in July of '05 that, with a heavy heart and waves of jealousy, I watched my true amigo and fellow Coast Guardsman Tom Larson retire after 20 years. He and his lovely wife, First Mate Amy, bugged out on the '05 Baja Ha-Ha aboard their Yorktown 35 Sandpiper, and now are in Indonesia. I've had the mental struggle of checking in on their blog for the past couple of years. I was very excited for them, but it made my daily rising and heading to work that much more challenging. I'm not sure which was more traumatizing: knowing I was two years behind Tom and Amy, or watching my much-loved Westsail leave KKMI shipyard on the bed of a tractor trailer. Like a nervous Nelly I called the driver daily for position and GPS reports. The thought of my boat transiting Donner Pass was almost too much.
Christa safely 'sailed' across our beautiful country, and landed safely at Silver Springs Marina in Wakefield, Rhode Island. Since then, I've sailed her up to Woods Hole, lived aboard her, and worked on her while biding my time until retirement. I endured two New England winters aboard at Woods Hole, but who am I to complain? And this summer I had the privilege of living aboard at the Navy Base in Newport, Rhode Island, making last minute preparations for my upcoming circumnavigation.
This summer I took some leave and sailed Christa from Newport to the Rappahannock River in the Chesapeake Bay, via New York City, Delaware Bay, and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Now I'm back in New England for my last 10 days in the Coast Guard. My retirement ceremony will have been on October 10, and October 11 will find me on Christa making tracks south toward the tropical latitudes. Man, am I jacked! I'm 40 years old, healthy as can be, my boat is paid off, I have money in the bank, and a life-long pension to boot. Now all I need is a first mate in a flowery sundress. But I couldn't be more grateful to the American public — and especially our troops in combat, past and present — for giving me this freedom. I certainly got the better end of this deal.
On the horizon, I see myself sailing (motoring actually) the ICW until Charleston, where I'll make the jump to Florida. Hopefully, I'll be celebrating Christmas in the Bahamas. I intend to spend the winter of '07/'08 in the Caribbean, and lay up in Cartagena for the '08 Atlantic hurricane season. Then it's onward to the western Caribbean for another season of bliss before transiting the Canal into the South Pacific. Sounds nice, doesn't it?
My connections to San Francisco Bay remain strong. I was stationed in the Bay at the Command Center on YBI, aboard the Cutters Morgenthau and Point Brower, both of which are homeported in the Bay. I even endured a tour at Lake Tahoe, where I purchased my first sailboat. Let's not forget that I lived aboard Christa in Horseshoe Cove and at the Sausalito Yacht Harbor for several years. I used to sail to work, anchor up in Clipper Cove, and take the dink the rest of the way in. What a life I have led thus far, and I'm just getting started. To solidify my Northern California connections, I even own a home in Sonoma that I intend to return to someday.
Christian Allaire
Christa, Westsail 32
Formerly of Sausalito / Heading to the Caribbean

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