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Not just another Downhill Run 2019 Part One

Diana with our H Dock neighbor Frank as the INNcredible Sea Lodge leaves for the last time

Diana with our H Dock neighbor Frank as the INNcredible Sea Lodge leaves for the last time

I didn’t realize that pushing off November 19, 2019 from H Dock in Cabrillo Way Marina (San Pedro CA) would fill me with so much emotion that I was speechless. Afterall I’ve done this every year in late November for the past six years and return each year in May, an annual migration much like the Grey Whales, birds and butterflies. This INNcredible migration will be different – with no planned return.

I knew then that every buoy I pass, every lighthouse I see, every familiar island I pass or approach and every anchorage I drop our hook will probably (or maybe) be the last time Captain FitzWine (that’s me) will be in their presence.

Against all Cruiser Code of Good Judgement, and not the first time, I mustered my crew of 2, veteran INNcredible mates Stephen and cousin Chris, and pushed off into the dark with full knowledge of heading out in a storm. Hell, I had a schedule, a commitment to arrive in San Diego at the Driscoll Boat Works the following morning before noon. And Hell may not be far away.

Once through the breakwater past the LA Harbor 1928 lighthouse, reality strikes and the Downhill Run was on. The starless skies well lit by the glow of LA offered nothing but trouble to continue heading South under sail. Time to hoist the iron sails. It hadn’t rained hardly two drops in LA for six months until this night and despite being suited in full foulies when you’re on your 4-hour watch at the helm you become ONE with the weather – WET and COLD.

After a wild night with Mother Ocean, the first glow of light, even if it forever hides the day’s sun, brings on sense of renewal and the promise of some additional thermal units, San Diego now in sight. If you’ve never experienced sailing from A to B where you can’t initially see B (in this case 70+ miles away), once your destination is in sight it takes forever and a day to get there.

Like a well run railroad, the INNcredible Sea Lodge arrived a little early at Driscoll’s in San Diego. Our Mission that day was being lifted out for a professional marine survey. Giant straps in place, a huge dark sky was overtaking us and within minutes rain poured in buckets and held the San Diego mission in limbo. All parties present and waiting, patience was the tactic, Mission Impossible the game.

Up for a survey at Driscoll's in San Diego on a stormy November 20, 2019

Up for a survey at Driscoll’s in San Diego on a stormy November 20, 2019

A thorough survey was completed and she (my INNcredible Sea Lodge) eventually impressed the surveyor and satisfied all present. Back in the water we tied to their dock for another stormy night and a good sleep. Up at 0400, pouring rain, gave in at 0500 leaving the dock before first light, utilizing the glow of the city lights we starting another leg of our journey in the rain – to Ensenada Mexico. More than just rain, lightning added a little excitement to the roaming squalls that had their way with us all morning. Our good intention ETA 1600 gave way to the weather bully. We made it not long after but in the twilight, always a bit confusing crowded with boats everywhere, I seized an empty endtie foregoing my assigned slip – done, made it.

 
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