Wednesday, November 25, 2015

DEFCON One on USS Midway

                                  Big USS Midway, little Chris (on the pier to the right)

As we're still waiting for the two (very late season!) hurricanes to blow through Mexico, we've been walking and exploring all over San Diego. This is a big military town, and a HUGE Navy town.

This sign reflects on the water across the bay from Espiritu

Of course, San Diego is the location for our generation's ultimate rah-rah military movie, Top Gun.

"I feel the need...the need...for SPEED!" 
(our words exactly when Espiritu tops 7 knots)

There are three aircraft carriers, two submarines, one battleship and several Coast Guard cruisers within a mile of Espiritu's anchorage here in San Diego. I'm not sure if that makes us feel safer...or more vulnerable, considering the mood of the planet these days.

Speaking of men in uniform, we found this little love note on Espiritu the other day after returning from our days errands ashore:

It seems we need an "anchor permit" from the San Diego Port Police to drop the hook here. Who knew? Who ever heard of such a thing? We followed orders, which were to drive Espiritu to the Harbor Police facility for a full inspection. Were were granted a permit to anchor for 30 days. Whew!

The next day, our old, OLD friend Mike Odegaard (he and Chris went to kindergarden together in Orange County) drove down and spent an afternoon with us here in San Diego. What a treat!

Later we went ashore to explore the aircraft carrier USS Midway.

Next to the carrier is a gigantic statue of the famous 1945 photo "The Kiss." Frankly, I've never cared for this photo. If you look at the nurse, she really doesn't look into it. Her arm is arched back in a defensive motion, almost as if she was being mauled.

But I quibble. 

After seeing the statue from afar, naturally I was curious about one thing...

...yes, you can see her underwear. (I had to look)

Chris aboard one aircraft carrier (Midway) with another aircraft carrier in the background. 
Yes, we are in a military town, maybe THE military town on the planet.

 Do you think those little tables and barstools were on 
the back of the boat for the sailors to use in 1945? (Ha)

    This thing is beyond huge. We spent 3 hours climbing every catwalk,
traversing every porthole and squeezing up and down its hundreds of staircases. 

I was exhausted!

"Take me to Espiritu or lose me forever!" I said to my energetic skipper. 

"Nope, we're only half done!" Chris said excitedly, charging off to explore the bridge.

Captain Chris plans his attack on the bridge

This sign saying "DEFCON ONE SET AT 0200" was written on the bridge. 

Everyone knows "DEFCON ONE" was what Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington reached in the other massively popular (and well done) Navy movie of our time, Crimson Tide.

DEFCON ONE is the worst of the DEFCONs. DEFCON FIVE, on the other hand,  means "society is at peace." 

Well. Whatever!  

You can see teeny-tiny Espiritu in the anchorage in the 
distance in this view from the Midway bridge

A rather eerie thing about this tour is they have mannequins in some of the rooms of the ship. Above, the ship's chaplain eats a chocolate chip cookie and reads his Bible in his cabin.

This mannequin in sick bay didn't look so good. Crank up the 02 -- he's a bit cyanotic.

Chris all alone in the mess hall...

...well, not ALL alone...WHY is there a BOMB in the corner of the mess hall? 

Yikes! We're below the waterline! 

Pipes and wires everywhere, with two Christmas trees down the hall

I'm driving the Midway! Yes, that's the helm. :-) 

World's biggest shackles! 

The carrier was filled with retired Navy veterans who volunteer as docents for the tourists.

I love my husband. He's such a good man.

He stopped to greet and chat with nearly every one of the dozens of these guys on board. With a handshake and a greeting, Chris would ask them for details of their service and listen to their stories.

Chris with his new friend

We spent several minutes listening to this gentleman's stories of his Naval adventures in the most sacred of all rooms aboard -- the room where the pilots are briefed on the details of their upcoming mission.

Just like in Top Gun! 

And like in Top Gun, the names/nicknames of the pilots were hanging on the wall. Instead of "Maverick" and Goose," it's "Frenchy," "Stubby," "Plato," "Douche," "Pony Boy" and "Itchy." 

Even though my first instinct is always to try diplomacy before military action (I don't like the word pacifist, but a better one doesn't spring to mind), I think it's only human to drop one's jaw in wonder at the sheer size and strength of our nation's military might.

I have the greatest respect for the men and women of our military. We have countless family and friends who have served with honor. My uncle was killed in Korea. My dad served in Germany. My brother Craig served in Afghanistan and is currently stationed in Italy. Chris' brother Michael even served aboard the Midway during an Army stint in Japan! 

And yet, I have concerns. Modern war has caused more death and suffering than anything in our planets history. So I think it's something we should enter into only as a last resort.

Japan and Germany were our "greatest, sworn enemies" during WWII. The Midway itself was built in 1943 in preparation for the grand invasion of Tokyo, which never happened after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

Now, only a few decades later, Japan and Germany (as well as Korea) are amongst our closest allies. 

A Japanese tourist clowns around with a mannequin on the deck of the Midway, 
which was built to destroy Japan.

History and time have a way of settling differences and easing longstanding resentments.

         The Midway was strung with lights showing support for Paris, 
     France after the terrorist attacks earlier this month.

It seems there are some in the military and government who are eager to go to war again. But I have to think of the human cost. 

A ghostly mannequin pilot looks down from the deck of the Midway, as a reminder of those countless young men and women from all countries and cultures who have given their lives during times of war.

I don't know the answer. I guess all I can do is share the principal that I believe in every fiber of my being:

Peace = Victory

Friday, November 20, 2015

Can You Guess Where We Are?

Espiritu rests in the shadow of mystery big city

Well, we shoved off from Cabrillo Marina in San Pedro 5 days ago for our planned overnighter to Ensenada, Mexico.

As it was our last day in the states for a long time, I bought a Sunday LA Times to read on our way. My tentative facial expression is because of the headline: "AN ACT OF WAR." The paper came out the day after the Paris terrorist attacks. Yikes. Sad and scary times. Anyway, on the bright side, I'll have the time to read the paper cover to cover!

The weather prediction was big wind in the morning, backing off to nothing overnight. Yeah. :-) 

We were finally on our way! Mexico, here we come!

15-25 knot winds with whitecaps greet us, while the LA harbor disappeared in the distance

But the winds did not decrease as the prediction "promised." (OK, OK, here's a good time to remind everyone that a weather "prediction" is just that -- a prediction.)

The wind increased to 30 knots, and big waves began heaping up behind us. 

To see how big this wave is behind Espiritu, note the Palos Verdes mountain trying to peek over the wave in the center distance. 

We were making 7 knots downwind with only a double reefed main (no jib). Yikes.

We listened to NOAA's updated weather report, and they now predicted gale force winds overnight to the Mexican border. 

This was a decision that made itself. We cracked off and headed into Dana Point harbor for the night while the gale force winds blew themselves out.

Lumpy, windy seas abounded as we headed towards Dana Point (Saddleback Mountain is in the background).

It was an unexpected homecoming for Espiritu, as her previous owner kept her and sailed her out of this very port. We have relatives here, so we gave them a call to see if they were free for dinner. Serendipitously, our beloved Uncle Ron and Aunt Mary from Oregon were visiting Aunt Lisa. We hadn't seen them in 10 years!

And just like that, instead of fighting gale force winds, we were enjoying a delicious meal at the super warm and comfortable Dana Point Harbour House with family! 

That's what's great about sailing -- about cruising. You never know where you'll be from one day to the next, or what happy accidents will arise.

Moon over Christmas lights in Dana Point Harbor

The next morning the weather report was DEFINITELY clear. The wind had blown through. We shoved off from Dana Point for the overnighter to Ensenada, Mexico.

We sailed all afternoon in warm 12 knot winds on a beam reach. Heaven. 

We were about 8 miles offshore blissfully enjoying the sail, when suddenly a juvenile yellow warbler appeared out of nowhere and landed on my leg. 

A juvenile yellow warbler can fit into your hand

I was so shocked I didn't move. He then hopped off of my leg and landed on Chris' foot! I think he must have been frightened and wanted a bit of companionship. He then flew into the cabin and flitted from the galley to the head to the v-berth, and finally, out the companionway and headed back to shore. 

Goodbye, little one! Safe travels! 

The wind soon died with the sun, so we cranked up the diesel and motored into the night.

Around 1AM, the engine lurched. Chris checked the diesel motor, popped his head up and said glumly, "We've gotta kill the motor, hoist the sails and turn around."

Seems we had blown the timing oil seal (I know, I know...what's THAT? Not sure, except I know it's important). Also, our rudder post had developed problems and was becoming unstable. 


We had already crossed into Mexican waters. We turned around and headed for...

...San Diego Harbor! And yes, we took this photo from Espiritu. :-) 

If that was your guess to the original question (Can You Guess Where We Are?), then you're the winner. After sailing to weather all night long, we finally entered the harbor at daybreak. Exhausted, we motored through the harbor until we finally found the adorable little anchorage tucked in next to the gorgeous skyline above.

After catching up on sleep at anchor, the next day we dinghied to shore to catch the lay of the land.

San Diego. We passed a group of upper-middle class housewives doing the daily "Jogging Mommies" work-out followed by a trip to Starbucks. 

Since we're in the land of the SD Chargers, did you know that all star quarterback Philip Rivers has 8 kids? So, as I see it, the odds are decent that one of those mommies in the photo I took above is actually Mrs. Rivers pushing little Philip Jr! 

Life is good in our little lagoon anchorage. While at night we're shivering in our flannel jammies under 3 blankets (yep!), during the day, weirdly, it's warm enough to swim in the afternoon. 

Yesterday when I went over the side for a nice swim and Navy shower, I decided to go down and check the prop.

Yikes! Kelp and fishing line fouling the prop are occupational hazards. 

Chris came down with the huka line and a big knife and did his manly duty,
 freeing Espiritu from her entanglements. 

              Our anchorage is literally next to the airport. 
           It's kinda cool watching the planes take off and land. 

The good news is we had a professional help us with the engine and rudder issues, which turned out to be minor and easily fixable. They're both now fixed thanks to the great work of Viking Marine Services on Shelter Island. 

I'm actually loving it here in the land of the Chargers. 

Me: "Hey, Chris! Can we go to the Chargers Game on Sunday? Tickets are on sale...chance of a lifetime!"

Well...maybe we will check out that Chargers game after all. Tropical Storm Rick, south of Cabo, is predicted to become a late hurricane. And there's yet ANOTHER one behind her that may veer towards Cabo late next week.

Looks like we're settling in for another week or so here in our happy little lagoon in San Diego before heading south. Looks like Espiritu and the little yellow warbler will be stuck in California a bit longer before crossing the border into Mexico.

Wanna come visit?