ESCAPE

2. ESCAPE from L.A.

So there we were with a new (old) boat about 500 miles from her new home in the San Francisco Bay. My buddy Doug and my Dad volunteered to help bring her up the coast. But one little piece of business had to be attended to before we departed. The previous owner had fixed a TV antenna to the top of the mast and I could hardly wait to remove that eyesore. Since my Dad was the lightest of the three of us we put him in the bosun’s chair and sent him up with a set of tools. There probably has never been a person born who was better with tools than my Dad. Here is a shot of the three of us and one of Dad up the mast:

(click on image for larger view)

Crew of Three: Dad, Doug and me

Crew of Three: Dad, Doug and me

Dad Up the Mast

Dad Up the Mast

Anyone who has ever sailed a boat up the California coast knows that it is a very hard upwind slog. This is especially true after rounding Point  Conception northwest of Santa Barbara. From that point on is almost directly into the teeth of the prevailing wind. If you have auxiliary power, the easiest way to make this trip is to head up the coast under power early in the morning before the wind comes up, and then duck into a harbor or anchorage in mid-afternoon when the Northwest wind starts to blow hard.  Since the ESCAPE was still largely unfamiliar to us this is the strategy that we adopted. It turned out to be a good decision.

I was fresh out of the Navy and was quite confident in my ability to navigate up the coast, but problems of a different sort soon began to plague us. We left Marina Del Ray early in the morning, the day after taking possession of the boat, but by the time we had rounded Point Conception the battery was dead and we couldn’t start the engine. We soon discovered that the generator didn’t work. Apparently, the previous owner simply charged the battery every time he wanted to go for a sail and that was sufficient for a day or two. But it was definitely not adequate for the kind of trip we were making. Eventually, we made it to the San Luis Obispo Pier under sail. We removed the generator and took it into town where we had it rebuilt. This put a bit of a crimp into our schedule, but we were soon underway again.

Another memory of that trip that is forever engrained in my mind involved my coming up from below after a short nap and seeing the bow of a ship bearing down on us from our wake. It was a bright but hazy day and Doug and Dad were looking forward, but coming up from below, I was looking aft. The name of the ship was clearly visible. GLORIA MARU was about to run us down. I quickly spun the wheel hard to starboard and I believe the ship altered course to port. We missed but it was a bit too close for comfort.

Our next little misadventure happened as we were entering Moro Bay Harbor. There, right in the middle of the channel, was a piledriver and attendant tug. They blocked our vision of the channel markers. We decided to give them a wide berth, but we made it a little too wide and ran aground. We were stuck pretty hard and couldn’t get off. Eventually, the tug took pity on us, tossed us a line and towed us back to the channel.

The next day we started up the coast again but the wind came up early and we took refuge at San Simeon. From San Simeon north it’s a long haul to the next harbor at Monterey. So we were up early, hoisted the anchor, and hit the starter button only to have the starter motor shaft shear in half. Groan! What next? We put the anchor back down and sat pondering what to do. There was no provision for cranking this engine by hand, so we knew we had to have a starter. Finally, we decided to leave the ESCAPE anchored fore and aft and go get another starter. This meant leaving the boat there for a week while we returned to our jobs until the next weekend.

Upon returning a week later with a new starter we found everything just as we had left it. We installed the new starter and took off early the next day for Monterey. This time it was just me and Doug and we arrived at Monterey Harbor without any further problems. The following day was one of the most pleasant of the trip. Our destination was Santa Cruz Harbor, and this allowed us to actually sail across Montery Bay in very pleasant weather. After that it was Half Moon Bay, and then up the coast to the Golden Gate. Here is a photo of us entering the San Francisco Bay, and also one of the new San Mateo Bridge under construction that we passed on our way to Palo Alto:

The New San Mateo Bridge Under Construction

The New San Mateo Bridge Under Construction

Entering the Bay at Last

Entering the Bay at Last

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Saturday, January 9th, 2010 ESCAPE 2 Comments

1. A Boat from an Old Movie

After I got out of the Navy my wife (the former Lynne Harley) and I were living and working in San Francisco. I worked for Matson Terminals Inc. as an industrial engineer, and she worked as a claims authorizer for the Social Security Administration. By this time my buddy, Doug Balcomb, had purchased the GAMBELLA and was busy getting it operational again. Lynne and I decided we wanted a boat too, and we began to haunt various harbors and boating centers looking for something that would fill the bill. I also carefully read all the yacht sales ads in various sailing magazines. One thing I noticed was there seemed to be a lot more boats for sale in Southern California than in Northern California. So one weekend we flew to the Los Angeles area and took a look around down there. One sales person took us under her wing and showed us a number of “blue water” boats. One boat in particular seemed to be a good fit for our wants and pocketbook. Her name was ESCAPE and she was a 31 foot sloop. The ESCAPE was not a new boat but she looked solid enough. She was a wooden boat, roomy and nicely finished down below. The sales lady arranged for a marine survey and also for the owners to take us for a sail on a subsequent weekend. Here is what she looked like:

ESCAPE on a reach

ESCAPE on a reach

ESCAPE in Her Berth

ESCAPE in Her Berth

The owners did take us for a short sail and “showed us the ropes.” One interesting point they made about the history of the ESCAPE  was that she had been used in an old movie called “Saps at Sea.” I filed that away in the back of my mind and almost forgot it entirely until just recently.

When I started work on the new “Sea Stories” category for Uncle Rob’s Blog I remembered the title of the movie and plugged it into Google. Sure enough there it was, a 1940 movie featuring Laurel and Hardy. I purchased a copy. It  was typical of that team, just silly slap stick, and they made the boat look really old and decrepit even though it was about 25 years younger at that time. Here is the cover of the DVD and a couple of frames showing it as it looked in the film:

DVD Cover

DVD Cover

Prickly Heat

Prickly Heat

At Sea

At Sea

(click on image for larger view)

To make a long story short, we purchased the ESCAPE, and in my next post on this subject I will tell you how the ESCAPE escaped L.A.

Saturday, December 26th, 2009 ESCAPE No Comments
 

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