The annual District 28 Summer Council has meaning beyond USPS
members from Southern California and Arizona to meet amid the
last throes of Gray May and the opening moments of June Gloom.
It's the time of year when the marine layer comes ashore with
a vengeance in the San Diego area. Arizonans who are accustomed
just another beautiful day in Paradise" syndrome
perversely enjoy the overcast weather as much as they renew friendships
from around the district.
The Council meeting traditionally marks the end of the beginning
of an annual sail cruise from San Diego to Avalon on Santa Catalina
Island, some 26 miles off the California Coast from San Pedro.
And so it was in 2011.
Frank Fitzgerald - Skipper
There was only one boat that took the cruise this year-Wind
Tree-owned and skippered by P/D/C Frank Fitzgerald. The 45-foot
Columbia has comfortable accommodations for the three member
crew, who had made the trip numerous times, P/R/C Bob Schloeman
and P/D/C Lee Whitehead. The trip is made in two legs, the first
was from Southwestern Yacht Club to Oceanside, a distance of
about 42.5 nautical miles, and the second from Oceanside to Avalon
Harbor, a little under 47 nautical miles.
The crew is responsible for two evening meals each, snacks of
choice and whatever else may fancy their taste buds. The crew
also divides watches, with two on a one-hour watch each. One
hour is spent as an observer, the other as helmsman. The idea
is to have a straight-as-an-arrow wake, not an easy accomplishment
on a sailboat with the California current and prevailing roughly
northerly winds. Eddies along the way also present a challenge.
Aging 1990-era GPS units are used by the aging crew members.
Navigation waypoints and routes are familiar, and the crew abides
by the navigator's philosophy from a Maine sailor, Eliot Daley:
"Wherever we are is exactly where we are supposed to be."
Carnival "Paradise" anchors off shore for the
Cruise ship passengers travel to and from shore
in a day long stream of small "shore boats"
Wind Tree at her mooring
in a very sparsely populated harbor
Mooring tender hoists a buoy
to paint on a new owner's boat name.
Avalon residential hillside
Say "cheese" Frank
Bob finds it comfortable in the sun
even with an extra jacket.
A cell phone call to home.
Avalon harbor was nearly deserted partly because California
schools were still in session, and perhaps because of the state's
financial troubles. The operator of the shore side shower grumbled
how bad business was for him. The prevailing onshore breeze was
welcomed by the off shore crew of Wind Tree. While anchored in
Avalon Harbor, Frank had the opportunity to prove one of Newton's
laws of motion: for every action that is an equal and opposite
reaction. If the dinghy is not secured to the boat, stepping
from it to the boarding ladder can momentarily leave one suspended
in space. It was right after a fresh-water shower, but Frank
was spared from a salt-water dunking.
Avalon is often described as in the same terms as Mediterranean
town perched on the sides of hills. And so it was. It was clear
that vegetation has covered most of the scars left from a fire
several years ago, and the June Gloom weather parked clouds on
the tops of the hills, especially at dawn and dusk. The island's
carillon reminded the crew of the time, which no one particularly
cared about. The only other sound was naval artillery from San
A common occurrence along the California coast.
There were some memorable moments in 2011. The crew was met
by a large, grumpy sea lion that was promptly named Fred. He
was somewhat irritated that Wind Tree was planning to
tie up at his perfect sunbathing spot. When the boat came close,
he slid silently in the water and bounded on the next pier. He
grumbled again and resumed his nap. He was there when the crew
hit the sack, but gone in the morning.
On the return trip, the crew was visited by a very tired Townsend's
warbler, a small green and yellow bird. The male seems to be
wearing a mask. He bounced around the rigging, came and visited
under the dodger, and then moved on, finding little of interest.
This year's trip went from Sunday to the following Saturday.
It was the best of these kinds of sailing ventures-uneventful.
(l-r) Frank, Lee, and Bob at the end of the cruise,
gear has been stowed in the car and we are set to depart for
* * *
For those not familiar with this exercise this was
an OFC, O stands for OLD and C stands for CRUISE. You have to
make up your own mind what the F stands for.