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Not too long ago, Joe and Karin took the plunge and bought a sailboat. And not just any old sailboat, mind you, but a fully capable blue-water cruiser/racer, aka SV Flyin’ Sideways!

She’s a 1974 Columbia 43 Mk 2, maybe Mk 3, I forget. But still, too big for my camera. I had to stitch two photos together to get 98% of her image!

I got a slight break in my day-to-day responsibilities, Pam arranged for a dogsitter or two, and we made the drive on a Tuesday morning. Stepping out of the air-conditioned car, I’m immediately whomped by a strange thickness and aroma that I’m unfamiliar with nowadays, humidity and salt air.

We were met at the yacht club’s main offices by Karin, with Joe not far behind, and commenced to unloading the vehicle. Pam had baked a beautiful apple-raspberry pie, which looked very good, and it was loaded onto the dock cart for transport. While negotiating the dockramp, I really failed in my handling of the incline, and the pie slid over the top of the cart onto the concrete walkway. The ceramic pie-plate shattered into about six pieces, with maybe about one and a half slices of pie surviving.
It was a good thing Joe and Karin were there, as the consequences would have been much more severe, don’tcha know?

After salvaging what we could of the pie, onward to the boat. Climbing aboard, we were immediately checked out by the ship’s dogs, Gypsy and Jack.

Jack’s the cattle dog/lab/possible greyhound mix. We were able to get the pie remnants past them both, and into the fridge.

My little Mac 25 is a far cry from the Columbia, and all the space it boasts caused me no end of envy. Cubbies, shelving and deep holds are all over the cabin, and huge lazarettes in the cockpit.

Still gotta work on focusing that camera.

After getting the briefing from the skipper, we settled down for libations in the shade of the cockpit’s awning.

It seems we’d shown up on one of San Diego’s hotter afternoons. Go figure.

Not much later, we started thinking about dinner, and offered to take our hosts out to a restaurant, but they’d already made dinner plans. Burgers were readied for the grill, so Joe and I continued obsessing over the qualities of their new home.
We got so engrossed in this, we didn’t notice that Jack had quickly and quietly consumed 1.5 pounds of hamburger patties that were set aside!

The fare at the marina’s restaurant was very good, and Jack suffered no ill effects from his gluttony, beyond a renewed vigilance on our part. One lucky dog!

Pam and I were quartered in the V berth, with plenty of room to roll around.

The next morning, after breakfast and coffee, we untied and set out into the channel towards the North. Patchy fog began messing with our views of the next channel marker, giving the skipper enough of a concern that he made the wise decision to just turn around and head back in.

It’s better to be at the dock, wishing you were at sea, than at sea, wishing you were at the dock.
We still filled most of the morning with exploration of the ship’s systems and the contents of the storage locker ashore. The boat had come with more gear than you could shake a stick at. Spare lines, standing/running rigging and maintenance items filled the locker, literally spilling out onto the floor. There’s a swap meet later in the week, and Joe could make a small killing, but hanging on to it makes more sense at the moment, as the boat is still a work in progress.

They needed a few items for cruising, like a working VHF (done), a steaming light (done), ground tackle inspection (done) and the like.
I couldn’t stop myself from instigating work on any and all of the items that filled their to-do list, prompting Joe to quote: “Start off slow, then taper off.”
I love it.

Later in the afternoon we put out of the marina again, and enjoyed a short sail in the South bay.

I even got to take the helm myself.

I had let our visit to San Diego become known to an old friend who lives in Los Angeles, and he was going to try mixing business with pleasure by making the drive down that evening, dining with us and staying aboard overnight to sail with us the next day. Unfortunately, business came before pleasure, and Mark wouldn’t be able to make dinner. Then, he couldn’t make the sleepover, scheduling his arrival by 10 AM the next morning. We were geeked to get out at a reasonable time, as the distance to the open ocean from the marina is considerable.

So about 10:30 the next morning, joined by Kenny, one of the dockmates, we set out without Mark. He was still enroute, about halfway to San Diego when he called to arrange the meeting place. Joe wanted to get a sticky main halyard sheave repaired at Driscoll’s boatyard, so we headed thataways, had lunch while the man from Driscoll’s was up the mast, then set out for Point Loma. Still no Mark!

I had the camera on the wrong setting, making the photo above kind of a washout, but that’s my wife Pam at the helm! The wheel makes much more sense to her than my tiller.

When we got out to the ocean, we immediately turned around. ‘Ol Mark had called, so we instructed him to have a drink at the Red Sails Inn, then meet us at the fuel dock in about an hour. Finally! At least with all the delays, Joe got to practice his docking quite a lot.

That there’s Mark in the foreground, and Kenny just aft.
Does Pam look a little stressed?

We got to see a lot of navy ships, including a glimpse of a stealth vessel’s conning tower at drydock. I’d show you a picture, but then I’d have to kill you. Besides, I can’t operate this camera well at all, can I?

Sailing against an outgoing tide, our SOG (speed over ground) wasn’t bad, about 4 knots. You should see the ancient Magellan GPS 5000D we’d recommissioned that morning! Practically a museum piece, and still operational.

Mark’s a huge racing fan of both boats and cars, and has competed in the Mackinac races held in the Great Lakes region. He is a wealth of information, which we all enjoyed.

After finishing all the beer on the boat, we thought it prudent to head back in.

Back at the marina later that afternoon, we busied ourselves with little niggling things left either undone, or done improperly by the boatyard. One remarkable item was the tack of the foresail, led around the furler 180 degrees to the luff. A glaring example of a lack of attention. Whoever had bent on that foresail…Of course, I’ve never been that negligent.
Yeah, right.

We sent the ladies off to pick up some necessities, including a couple of large pizzas. I can heartily recommend Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in San Diego.

A raucus evening was spent relating stories about sailing, skydiving and the letters to the editor of the sailing magazine Latitude 38.

The next morning, the pizza was still very good. But, unfortunately, we have to get back to Tucson. Thanks to Karin and Joe, who tolerated our lubberly ways, and for the notion of stopping in Dateland, AZ for a date shake.
It was all good!

You can follow their adventures at

Interestingly enough, Pam thinks we would need an even larger vessel than Flyin’ Sideways, if we were to take up the cruising life. My jaw is still on the floor.
Maybe she should see some different boats that are out there?


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