Classic Yacht Race
Susanne and I continue our 25th wedding anniversary with a sailing
race/cruise/training vacation. Susanne had read about a sailing
adventure hosted by Horizons
West Adventures in the newspaper travel
section. The article reported that the cruise would be a six day
adventure on board a classic schooner from home port in Long Beach to
the Channel Islands and then to Channel Islands Harbor to participate
in the August 2006 McNish Classic Yacht Race. The trip
seemed like a perfect choice to find out if we enjoyed sailing and
continue our quest to retire on board a cruising yacht.
We were pleasantly surprised.
We arrived early on Tuesday to find the crew loading gear and readying
the boat for our cruise. From the outside it looked somewhat
small for six passengers and four crew. The boat is vintage 1939
first sailing in 1946. The boat has circled the world and lived
on both U.S. coasts over the years. The boats name is Dirigo II.
I quote from Dirigo II Operating Manual:
The Dirigo II is a 72-foot Alden designed double top masted
schooner. She was ordered in 1939 by Charles van Sicklan of
Michigan, and built by Goudy and Stevens yard in East Boothbay
Maine. John Alden was tasked to design a boat capable of
circumnavigation, capable of sailing in any ocean, any weather.
She was completed and launched in 1946.
Dirigo II has been around the world one and a half times. Her
second owner, Jim Crawford captained the circumnavigation. She
was in the pacific throughout most of the 1950's (she was in the 1953
Trans Pacific race), and returned through Panama about 1961.
Dirigo II is 72-feet long including the 8-foot long bowsprit. Her
length on-deck is 60-feet. Her beam is 15-feet 8-inches.
She weighs about 72,000-lbs. Her ballast is 27,000-lbs of lead
externally fitted to the keel.
I can report that she is in good condition with all equipment
operational. She has had good care with many structural repairs
over the years that maintain her strength. She is a solid yacht.
I took a few photos around the boat to show more detail...
The bowsprit and jib sails.
Stays and pins on the cap rail. Notice the hatches on the cabin
This shot is looking forward along the port deck. Notice that the
sails are topped with gaff poles. Those little rectangular things
deck are skylights to the cabins below.
This view is looking up the main mast. The spreaders are home to
the radar antenna.
The picture below shows how the sail is attached to the main
mast. The round wood pieces skate along the mast as the sail is
raised. The forked end is the tip of the gaff boom.
Halyards pull on the top of the gaff which in turn pulls the
The halyards are tied off to pins located on the side stays. The
lines are tied to this location when there is no load. The lines
are tied to pins down on the cap rail when carrying a load.
We finished loading, parked the car in long-term parking spots, and
pulled away from the dock. Soon after clearing the Long Beach
Harbor we raised the sails. This was our chance to begin meeting
crew and other passengers. Stephanie (passenger) and Eric (crew)
are out on the bowsprit untieing the flying jib.
Once the sails were set we had a chance to meet more of the passengers
and crew. Greg (passenger) on the left, Mike (crew) next, Chuck
(passenger) and my favorite, Susanne (passenger).
Our first days travels went from Long Beach to Paradise Cove near Point
Dume in Malibu. By car with no traffic you could make that run in
perhaps an hour and a half... by sailing yacht it took about seven
hours. We had to run the engine as we were going
"upstream". Upstream in this case means against the prevailing
northwesterly ocean swell and wind. The engine did the hard work.
About halfway across the Santa Monica Bay we were visited by a pod of
dolphins. They played in the bow wave for a few minutes.
A few were babies like the ones on the left.
The dolphins were a real treat.
Notice that Stephanie had climbed out on the bowsprit to get a top-down
view of the pod.
I had a chance to take a picture of the standing rigging with the sails
up. We were told that if we could understand and sail this boat,
we could sail any modern boat.
This shot is looking along the cabin back to the cockpit. Mike is
sitting on the side and Captain Holly is at the helm.
After bashing our way north for several hours we eased into our first
night anchorage in Paradise Cove. Paradise Cove is a
semi-sheltered area hidden in the lee of Point Dume. The
prevailing westerly swell rolls around the corner making this
anchorage rolly. And roll we did! We rolled ourselves to
sleep listening to the creaking of the rigging as the old girl lay at
anchor for the night! That's Betsy looking at the Malibu mansions
hanging on the cliffs around the cove.
And by the way... Are we having fun yet?
(out of focus... sorry about that)
And so ends Day One of our six day voyage off Southern California
Click Here to go to Day Two