1900 to 2200 hours. Odd times, but since there were 3 of us, the time and length on watch, was a "good" watch. Everyone had a bit of dark and a bit of daylight as we rotated through our duties. The last few days a warm Southeasterly had been blowing up from somewhere in California. It was giving us an unusual but welcome close reach down the coast. Unfortunately it was a light wind so we had been motoring for the past 30 hours. It looked like it was going to be a very long trip to San Diego. L'Espoir was going to be sold there.
Although why anyone would buy this beat up and used up old sailboat, none of us could guess. Oh, it was seaworthy enough but it looked and sailed awful.
It smelled. A bad smell. Like a Landfill . A sickly sweet decay smell.
The sky was an ugly flat gray , without texture that "dirtied" the ocean and made it look oily. The gray got into the hanging haze as well. So any coastal features were curtained off behind it. A rolling swell that was the same dulled color but at least not flat. It was like being inside of a gray balloon. Even the ship’s wake wasn’t it’s normal white. More like dirty laundry water.
The 3 of us, strangers a week ago, now sailing , well, motoring, along the Southern coast of Oregon.
Gordy was the boss. A professional Captain, he’d been a skipper for most of his adult life. His reputation for doing safe trips was legend around the Northwest. He had been hired by some guy in Seattle to deliver the boat to San Diego. Gordy had insisted on a survey of the boat before ever accepting the job. And it had been given a thorough going over, pronounced "Solid, and Safe".
Only then did he put out the word for a delivery crew. I answered the ad and had my interview.
He had some tough questions about ability and personality. I passed.
Our third was "Sid". Sidney Martin owned her own management consultant business in Tacoma. She’d raced and had been doing deliveries of Power and Sail for some time. Actually, I think she knew more about boats that Gordy or me but was kind enough not to let us know.
In a week’s time, we had found that we all liked and respected each other. At least that was going to make the trip on L'Espoir a pleasant one.
L'Espoir is an old wooden custom built 42 foot ketch. It’s birthplace, as well as its registry, was a mystery. No one seemed to know, or care, where it had come from or who had owned it or for that matter who was going to buy it. It was just going to San Diego that’s all we knew. It had been setting at a private dock in Mats Mats apparently for a very long time. When we all got there, we just slipped it’s mooring lines and headed out. A few stops along the way for provisions and fuel, now here we were, off the coast in a smelly old boat, going South.
It was strange, for days we’d been laughing and telling lies to each other, but today, it was quiet.
Well, not so quiet as somber. No one laughed and chatting had stopped. The only words that past between us was boat related. One or two word commands or advise. It must have been the dullness of our world.
Sid was the first to say something personal but her words damned near made me cry.
They still stay there, in my head. They are a pain that no medication can ease….
" I feel so lost. "... She whispered
Part One .. comes to it’s end….