Back in time again - this time and for the following 5 blogs I have reproduced the log of the Black Wind...
We left Los Angeles, California on the 8th December with a plan to sail south to the Panama Canal and back up to the Caribbean. 'We' back then was myself, my first mate Sam, Chris and Kris ('Analogue and Digital'), Blair, Mad Jack, and 2 guest crew: Barry and Dominic. 8 of us in all, and other than myself only 2 with any sailing knowledge and experience. It was never going to be easy, especially as we nearly never motor, often alter sail without heading into wind, and improvise as we go. But people adapted and overcame, and so we sailed.
We sailed straight out of LA breakwater and into the type of fog few will forget in a hurry. We sat in it for 3 days just outside a shipping lane and listened to ships pass by. We even sat and listened to 2 guys talking from 2 different fishing boats; so close, yet we still couldn't see them. The waiting was not so bad - it was the constant swell that rolled in from the Pacific that never gave up and after the second day it had nearly become a natural motion for everybody. It was an anti-climax beginning, and some must have wondered what they had signed up for, but it was good to leave the smog of LA behind at least (frighteningly visible above the city once the fog had cleared). Eventually however, we drifted south and passed San Diego, where we got inspected by a helicopter from a US aircraft carrier. I silently wondered whether to mention to the crew that the boat was cheap as it had once been impounded for running drugs up the west coast... However they nor the helicopter enquired any further and we left the USA behind, and after several days entered Ensenada, Mexico, by night.
Everybody stayed on the boat the first night as it was late anyway and we could not clear customs, so we had a drink or twelve to celebrate our first landfall. I awoke in a haze on the deck of the galley the next morning to the sound of voices outside. Upon investigation we found there were enough old time live-aboards from America to find out all we needed about sailing this coast.
I am sure some of the things we purchased and some of the places we visited were not strictly necessary, but we will label them under 'crew morale'. Thus Kris became the first of the crew to be led upstairs in the Paris De Nochas club (with a lady that Barry described as 'built for speed'), Dominic and I risked our lives venturing into the ass end of town after dark to find spares for the engine, and Jack drank all the liquor he could find onboard and passed out. While we were out Dominic and I found a club that seemed quiet and we stopped to relax and talk. Fair play to him - I've never seen anybody talk politics so seriously while the waitress did all that she did to him. We managed to buy a shower each in a hotel which we all thought was actually just somebody's house, and got ready for the next passage. We now felt settled into the voyage.
After 4 days we were off again, happily leaving the fog and the colder weather behind, and sailing on South South East the wind came through at last. We started to get going this time and for the next two weeks we sailed on towards Cabo San Lucas, stopping only for a few hours at Bahia De Tortugas - a shanty town which was striking in it's solitude.
Christmas day was at sea, and it was fair exciting. Christmas eve was the first time I have ever had to fire off a white flare (anti-collision when used at sea). It was at a cruise ship we could not lose and came dangerously close. Poor Kris awoke to the call 'don't fire at the sails' and thought we had engaged pirates. I calmed him and explained that there was only one pirate ship in these waters... and he was crewing on it. Thank you everybody by the way for the spent cartridge from the flare gun which was my secret Santa for the next day. Still, we at least ate well even if we only had one glass of wine to drink. By the afternoon we were back to normal and had the genoa on the foredeck for stitching and repairs.
Man marks the earth with ruin - his control stops with the shore"