The Long Awaited Departure

March 26, 1997 (Wednesday)


Well we finally made it. We are actually underway. We left Wednesday, March 26 at 2:00 PM. As we left the Marina del Rey harbor through the south entrance we were quite surprised at the weather. The winds were stronger than we expected and we got in some good sailing right away. We had planned to anchor in Cat Harbor on Catalina Island. Because we left later than anticipated, we changed our first stop to be Isthmus Harbor. We decided to spoil ourselves with a mooring. We have always tried not to pull into a harbor after dark, but because Catalina has become home away from home, we felt reasonably comfortable with our ability to enter the harbor safely after dark. After all, we have all of the latest gadgets to assist us. The GPS, the radar and the night scope. Well the GPS was running off batteries because we had blown a fuse. Unfortunately, we didn't’t know this until the GPS started beeping the ‘low batter’ signal. Not to worry, the night scope was handy. Surprise number 2. The night scope had only been tested in our back yard and proved to be worthless at sea. It offered no aid in deciphering landmass, rocks, boats, etc. Well the radar did its job and did it wonderfully. Once moored, we tidied up down below and went to bed. It was wonderful to once again be rocked to sleep by the waves.

We woke up early as usual, did our normal checking to see what new neighbors we acquired in the night. We had a sister ship on our port side, ‘Water Music’ and later a powerboat moored on our starboard side. We tend to be a bit snobbish and prefer sailboats for our neighbors. There is no accounting for some people’s taste. Fortunately, the people more than make up for their choice in boats. Our new neighbors, ‘Sun Happy’ were very friendly and very curious about our pending venture. As it turned out, ‘Sun Happy’ was also on a mission. They are very active in the yacht club at Emerald Bay and planned to help coordinate an Easter egg hunt for the children visiting the island that weekend.

We decided to not stay at Isthmus long. We wanted to see Avalon one more time. We hoisted anchor (oops! dropped the mooring lines) Saturday morning and headed for Avalon. We tootled our way to Avalon5 and got another mooring. We both knew we should have anchored instead of spending the money on the mooring but we cast practicality to the wind and went for the mooring.

Ever since we departed we discussed the one unfinished piece of business that we felt would prove to be a serious disadvantage for the rest of the cruise. We had not located a cost-effective way to stay in touch with Bill Gates and his mighty empire. We weren't sure we could survive for long without Internet access. As both of us are ‘techies’ by trade, we felt we needed to pursue getting remote access to the Internet and have the ability to send and receive E-mail. We pulled out all of the research material we had accumulated during the past few months and decided that GlobeTOR was the wisest choice for our needs and budget (really the only choice considering we are now unemployed yachty bums). We placed a call to our local distributor and placed an order for the system. He agreed to take the Catalina Express to Avalon5 and do the installation for us.

We spent the entire next day attempting to install the system. As it would work out, all of our efforts were in vain. The computer that we wanted to use for the system was not state of the art enough. Additionally, we heard rumors that our single side band radio also lacked sufficient switching speed to facilitate the use of the system. We installed the system on one of our personal laptops because they were much more capable of meeting the technical requirements of the system. As it turned out this still did not solve the problems. Maybe the software had some peculiarities that were not so obvious to us. Maybe the modem was defective. We were reaching the end of our collective ropes. The rep conceded that he had no other ideas and felt that he could not provide us with this system. He packed up his bag and left to catch his boat back to the mainland.

About 30 minutes later our cellular phone rings and who is it on the line but the GlobeTOR rep that we saw off just a few minutes earlier. He had sat at the local bar and sipped on a glass of wine waiting for his boat and had a brainstorm. Could he come by and make another attempt at installing the system. Sure, we really needed this system. Well, an hour later we were no closer to resolving our problems with the system. At this point every one was very frustrated. The only thing we could think is that we had a defective modem. The rep again packed up his bag and headed for the last boat leaving the island.

As if things weren't challenging enough already, we were working to get all of our personal paperwork in order and filed in a safe place on the boat and Phill discovers that his passport will expire in four month. This won’t do. We called information to see where the closest British Consulate office is. Much to our disappointment, there is only one. It is located in Los Angeles.

We discussed this situation at length and decided that we had two choices, we could resume our cruise without the e-mail system or we could return to Marina del Rey1 and sort out the technical problems. We could not, however, continue on without Phill’s passport. Needless to say the skipper was one unhappy camper about this dilemma. Reluctantly, we had to head back to Marina del Rey1. We pulled up anchor (oops again) Sunday morning and quietly sailed back to Marina del Rey1.


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Revised: 20 September, 2005 .