Monday, February 8, 2010
A Blog From Dad
Thank you all very much for your encouraging words and support for Abby and the team. During the last week of prep in Marina del Rey there were many challenges that were overcome by the team and Abby. What compounded the issues was the weather. You've all heard the song that it never rains in Southern California - it's just not true. During that last week of prep we had torrential rain every day and the barometric reading had dropped to its lowest reading on record at LAX Airport which is just down the road.
Thanks to some very dedicated people, the depature was able to go ahead as scheduled. It was a fresh day in Southern CA but the sun was shinning which was a big plus. There were very light winds with a nice swell running. Our friends at the Del Rey Yacht Club were happy to host the event. A big THANK YOU to all of them.
After the press conference, it was time to say our goodbyes and see Abby off. There was a nice flotilla of boats to see Abby off along with the Sheriff, Bay Watch, Coast Guard and Fire Department whose presence added to the jubilant occasion. The light winds were a little frustrating for Abby, but did allow her to settle into her routine at sea gradually. It was a proud and emotionally charged moment for me looking at my confident, young daughter take control as captain of Wild Eyes and to embark on a quest and goal that she had set herself.
Having her be led out to sea by her older brother Zac, who completed his own solo circumnavigation seven months prior and becoming the youngest man and first under eighteen to solo circumnavigate the world was just awesome. Zac was very excited for Abby and was a wealth of information as they often would talk long into the night about the challenges she would be faced with.
Abby settled in well to her life on the ocean, establishing a sensible sleep pattern for the different areas she was to pass, operating the equipment on board, setting up parameters on the radar and AIS, checking twice daily for weather updates and news and to report any trouble with equipment. As Abby made her way south, she encountered technical issues with some of her charging systems and some of the wind instruments were giving inconsistent readings.
This was compounded by intermittent problems with other equipment. Abby, although frustrated with the issues so soon in her trip, took action, calling the various members of the technical team, performing various tests and remedied many of the problems. Numerous times before Abby left we discussed the possibility of equipment failure and issues.
Although Abby had sea trialed Wild Eyes after her refit, the team would have liked to have seen extensive sea trials which time did not permit for meeting her weather windows. We knew we had the option to bring Abby into Cabo san Lucus to critique equipment, increase battery capacity, add fuel for charging, and finalize any equipment alterations that might be needed. Although having received some criticism for this, the extensive, local sea trials would not have revealed the issues that the 1350 nautical mile trip did. The technical team are second to none and should not be doubted.
The trip to Cabo was incredible. As with Zac's trip, the help and generosity of locals was unbelievable. As if there had been a divine hand in it, doors would open and what would seem impossible would be taken care off. Our initial problem was getting two very large batteries along with other equipment into Cabo and through customs. Pilot, Bill Bennett offered his plane and services to fly them to Cabo but Bill did much more than that. Not only did he fly the equipment and myself in his Buccaneer, he also worked hard on Wild Eyes once we were there.
We often worked 18-20 hr days. It was not easy to maintain the pace but the team worked with relentless passion to get Abby back on the ocean. Bill also took some incredible pictures which you have enjoyed here on the blog. Then there was Chris, who was renamed St. Christopher. We met Chris at the Harbor Master's office before Abby arrived keen to help. He directed us to everything we needed and took us out to meet Abby just off Cabo Falso in the 64ft Bertram that he manages. He also took us to see Abby off on her departure. His words would echo in my head, "What next, I'm here to help". He would show up at times with coffee, lunch or dinner as we plunged ourselves into the project at hand regardless of mealtimes. He also went to the top of the mast, something I personally would rather not do. He plunged in and replaced some of the problematic water ballast hoses then placed tissues under the connections to assure that they did not leak.
Then there was Scott and Jeff from Team Abby Marina del Rey, solid as a rock on the technical end, who flew down and matched hour for hour. They complimented each other amazingly well as they troubleshot and carefully executed the integrated electrical repairs/upgrades.
Ted from Magnetic Entertainment carefully documented all the work and interactions along with Bert Rudman from Good Morning America. The local Marina, IGY, provided a little apartment above the Marina office for Abby and I to stay in so we could be close to the boat. Their hospitality was royal and much appreciated. The Hotel Mar de Cortez provided rooms for the crew. Ted provided a rather huge chocolate cake. How he managed to come by this cake still remains a mystery!It was great to see Abby in Cabo.
Although she would have much rather kept on going south, she realized the importance of her brief stay in Cabo. She was in good spirits, not fazed by what she had just accomplished or what lay ahead, but more focused than ever.
There was a nice flotilla in Cabo to see Abby off, along with the port captain and local boat captains. Abby was also pleased to receive a specially crafted line for fishing from Kevin. Abby found time to conduct local radio, newspaper and TV interviews both national and international.
As Abby made her way out of the harbor, a rather proud team Abby looked on from the Bertram hosted by St. Christopher. Winds were light, but for anyone that has had the pleasure of sailing in this area, Cabo Falso can whip up a stiff breeze rather quickly which is exactly what happened. Once out of the harbor, Wild Eyes went from no breeze to 15 knots and building and she took off. It took a little while for Wild Eyes to find her stride and settle into the groove.
Later that afternoon, Bill and I flew out along Abby's waypoint line and found her flying along sitting in the groove. With a reef in the main sail and stay sail out and the sun setting, Bill turned the Buccaneer back to the San Jose del Cabo airport. I looked back one more time, satisfied and so excited. This was one of those rare points in life when the English language does not have words for what I was feeling.
I gave thanks to my Maker and while Bill climbed to altitude to head back I was once again humbled by the generosity of so many people, the answered prayers and the commitment of the team.
Laurence aka Dad