Mid December 2010, some updates from the road. Paul here, en route through the desert, dodging tumbleweeds in the van. My good friend Zak is behind the wheel, getting worked by a blustery cross wind. Jakob and Sarah are leading this caravan up ahead through red flat lands and broken sandstone peaks somewhere near the four corners.
Morale is high, the current mission to enjoy the best terrain this side of the continental divide. Well, and some from the East side it seems too. On top of the present moment joys of the wide-open road, it’s also a celebratory, forward-looking trip. These miles and memories mark the beginning of a transition: when Jakob and I return we will be fully committed to the 2011 expedition as it quickly becomes reality. Departure aboard our sea steed Patience is still planned for early February. Well, sea steed is probably a bit overzealous. The mountain ponies up at the horse ranch we are heading towards now would be closer to the equine version of Patience than any racing steed. Both reliably hitting their stride when nature turns up the juice: on open angry seas and precipitous backcountry trails respectively.
Speaking of, Patience is currently docked at Moss Landing. I like to imagine her getting restless in her slip. Like a tail-wagging-the-dog mutt who knows something is afoot as his owner preps to take him out for a hike, run, ski, swim, anything. Any activity that will bring his finely tuned physical design to life. His frame and musculature are not meant for the living room floor any more than Patience’s hull lines and sail geometry are meant for a calm slip deep in this harbor.
But before she’s granted the freedom to wander down the coast with us, we have some grooming and prepping to do. Our road trip from the California coast through the desert and on to the front range of CO is peppered with phone calls back to Ken the rigger. Ken is an older gentleman with a deep but friendly voice who is still built like a gymnast – perfect for climbing masts during rigging work I suppose. Ken charges reasonable rates and has a stellar reputation for his boat work around the harbor. Right now he is busy with several projects on Patience and we check in often to stay on top of things. Ken should finish up as we get back into town after the holidays. January will see us logging a good few days of work on projects of our own. Put it all together and the list looks like this:
- Check and tune all of the rigging to give us the best chances of avoiding a gnarly de-masting while at sea
- Run the halyards from the mast to the cockpit, meaning no scurrying up to the mast to raise and drop sails in rough seas and storms
- Install a watermaker we picked up recently. 6-7 gallons of glorious and sweet fresh water per hour. Electric or manual operation. This means avoiding runs to shore for sketchy water in Mexico, freshwater showers in the cockpit and not having to plan ahead based on our water holding capacity. This piece of equipment walks the line between necessity and luxury.
- Run jack lines the length of the boat on each side to tether into. Maybe it’s the climber in us, maybe just sanity, but anyone going up on deck will need to be tied in.
- Fix the shaft log. This is the crucial fitting between boat and propeller shaft, which keeps the abyss on the correct side of the hull. Currently it is patched, but for a voyage of this scale, a full replacement is the only reasonable solution.
- On to the fun stuff: install surfboard racks on the outside of the Patience’s stanchions. Gotta have the quiver accessible at a moment’s notice. After all, you never know which bend in the coast line is going to have a point break grinding away in solitude, waiting for us.
Anything else I’m forgetting? Sure hope not. Along with our list of safety gear, sailing accoutrement and personal equipment, it’s a staggering list. After all, our goal is a fully functioning, almost self-sufficient island of safety and relative comfort atop rough, unforgiving seas. Along with outer space, the ocean floor and exposed mountain tops, this has to be one of the most hostile environments possible for man. That the right equipment and preparations can facilitate a safe passage is nothing short of amazing.
Back to the present before signing off for the day: we are bearing east now, the old crosswind now nudging us encouragingly towards our wintery destination in Colorado. We have three days of sunny Joshua Tree climbing and bouldering in the rear view mirror and are adding layers as we approach the horse ranch. The trip officially started for me a few days earlier: after a soul satisfying ride down the CA 1 from the bay area I picked up Zak in LA and Spent an evening with good friends barbequing and making noise on guitars and ukuleles. We rendezvoused with Jakob and Sarah at J Tree ready to sacrifice our fingertips to the sharp desert granite. Highlights include a two pitch trip to the top of Intersection Rock, bouldering out in the gunsmoke area, good fire pit conversation in the evenings and a scary trip to the top of White Rastafarian – a beautiful line that follows a broken seam up an otherwise blank and overhung 20’ boulder.
This afternoon we hung up the climbing shoes and harnesses and checked the snow report for Telluride: a thin base but fresh powder on the way. Next check-in from the horse ranch, for now I have to put on a jacket and make sure the tire chains are ready to go.