The Countdown

It's currently 3 AM, Brenda is down below sleeping, and I'm on watch. It's pitch black outside, it's foggy, it's cold, and even though there is a pretty steep 6-8 foot swell, the waves are hitting us from directly behind, so other than the surge from the boat surfing down the face of the waves and the odd out of place wave that hits us on our side, the motion of the boat is relatively calm (relatively is the key word here folks).

We left Monterey early this afternoon with our sites set on Santa Barbara. It's only about 220 nautical miles away, but with the forecasted light winds, the passage should take us about 2 days. 2 days at sea really isn't terribly long, but it sure can seem like forever sometimes. Especially right now while I am struggling to stay awake and I have 2 more hours on my shift before I can wake up Brenda. I'm thinking about moving all of our clocks forward just so I can wake her up earlier.

I have a few things that have been rolling around in my mind tonight while I've been struggling to stay awake. The first thing has me a little upset. I don't know how to exactly say this, so I'll just come out and say it. Brenda ate our entire bag of Cheetos on her last shift. The entire bag. Actually, I take that back, she left me 3 Cheetos and the Cheeto dust in the bottom of the bag. This could be the first time we've purchased Cheetos in our 15 year history together, so as you can imagine, I was sort of excited to tear into those suckers. No tearing is happening from this boy. All I get is 3 lousy Cheetos and the dust in the bottom of the bag. Now, I know what you are thinking, “the dust in the bottom is the best part!” Well, you are right about that, but still, I'm a little annoyed that she didn't just eat the whole bag. 3 and the dust is just a tease.

One hour and 48 minutes to go till I can wake up Brenda.

Hmmmm. What should we talk about now? How about the fact that we are on a big sailing trip and we aren't sailing. We are currently listening to the rattle of the diesel engine because there is absolutely zero wind right now. None. And unfortunately, that's been a large part of our trip south. We have motored for roughly two thirds of our time at sea since we left the Seattle area.

It seems that the west coast of the United States either has way too much wind or not enough. When gales have been blowing, we have been waiting them out in port. When the gales die down, we rush out to sea trying to catch the dying wind and end up with not enough wind to keep the sails full. But I guess that's better than getting beat to a pulp as we battle 40+ knots of breeze and massive waves.

One hour and 22 minutes to go. Then it's sleepy time.

I have been amazed at the fact that we can sleep when the boat rocking and rolling and the engine is running. It's not exactly quiet in here and the it's not exactly like sleeping in a bed that is resting on solid ground. We are both light sleepers, but when our shift on watch is up, about 18 seconds later, as fast as we can get out of our foulies, we are sleeping. It's instantaneous and it's deep. And then 3 hours later, we are up and back on watch. I think utter exhaustion is contributing to the ability to be out cold instantly. I think it also helps that we trust each other to take care of us and the boat. If I didn't think Brenda was capable of keeping us safe, I wouldn't be able to sleep period, and I'm sure it goes the other way for her. Trust is pretty important out here. So are Cheetos. I sure would have liked some of those Cheetos.

One hour and 6 minutes to go, but who's counting (me).

What now? Well, I'm really sleepy and I would really love a cup of coffee. I don't really have many vices. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't partake in any type of drugs, and I can't even swear. It's how I was raised and it stuck. Some of you are probably thinking I'm crazy for not enjoying some of the finer things in life and some of you may think it's admirable. Either way, it doesn't really matter because it's just who I am. But the one thing that I don't want to live without is a delicious cup of hot coffee. It's my vice. I love it. It's tasty, it smells heavenly, and it helps get me going in the morning. But I have to be careful, because if I have some past about 11 AM, I won't be sleeping that night. It's one and done in the morning for me. As much as I love a good cup of Joe, on passage it doesn't happen for 2 reasons. The first is that something as acidic as coffee in our bellies while the boat is tossing and turning is a recipe for one of us hanging over the side and blowing chunks. The other reason is that neither of us want to have anything in our systems that will keep us from falling asleep instantly when our shift on watch is up. We don't want our 3 hours of sleep to be wasted on anything but sleeping.

42 more minutes till I can wake up Brenda.

I'm going to play a game on the computer. I'll get back to you in a minute....Solitare victory! Woo Hoo! I'm a champion!

34 more minutes till I can wake up Brenda.

Stay awake, stay awake, stay awake............

33 minutes to go.

I just saw another boat show up on AIS (for you non-boaters, AIS is “automatic identification system”. Basically, on our computer screen, a triangle shows up that tells all the pertinent information about the other boat – the boat name, speed, course, destination, where it is in relation to us, etc... It's amazing). This traffic on the high seas is currently 22 miles away from us and heading to San Diego. It's 696 feet long and going 18 knots. That's fast, especially for such a big boat. Unfortunately we won't get close enough to see them on the horizon. It's just going to be us out here tonight.

18 more minutes before I can crawl into beddy-bye.

Screw it...I can't take anymore, I'm waking her up.

We made it to Santa Barbara!  That's us anchored in the middle.

Rounding Point Conception, aka "Cape Horn of the Pacific" at sunset.
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