We said goodbye to the send off party. As I retrieved the fenders and my dad skillfully eased us off the dock, the small group snapped final departure pictures. Before we entered the open ocean, we needed diesel. My dad asked me which way the fuel dock was and I replied, “I don’t know, I thought you were going to look that up!” I frantically searched Google Maps while we coasted out of WiFi range. I was not successful. Good start…
We managed to find the fuel dock and filled our tanks before motoring past the San Diego Navy base. There was enough wind, so we hoisted our sails before we even left the channel. So far so good. We cruised away from San Diego making 5.5 knots towards the Coronado Islands. Three F-18s roared over our heads for our final send off by the Navy and it reminded me of Top Gun. “Nor’easter, this is Ghost rider requesting flyby.” “That’s a negative Ghost rider, the pattern is full.”
The wind steadily built and we were cruising at 6.5 knots by sunset. I “made” our first dinner, reheated chili that my mom made and froze for us, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As we discussed our plan of attack for the coming days, I saw a spout off the port bow. Whales! 10 o’clock! They ended up passing just behind our stern in the fading light, and although I could identify them as three Gray whales, my attempts to record them with a camera were futile since someone (dad) forgot to charge the camera.
That night the wind increased even more and had a cold bite, cutting through my foul weather gear and two other layers. I looked more like someone in the Bearing Sea on “Deadliest Catch” than a cruiser heading down the coast of Mexico to French Polynesia. The highlight of the night was sailing at eight knots and watching the phosphorescence from the boat disturbing plankton. It looked like the Milky Way in the sea, and if that wasn’t cool enough, a pod of dolphins joined us and had glowing trails from blasting through the bioluminescence. I was hand steering to conserve battery but had to turn the autopilot on as the distractions made me veer off course by 30 degrees. It was an amazing first night with 20 knots of wind and I couldn’t wait to see what the next day would bring.