February - March 2014
The highlight was flying to the impressive New York Y.C.
in Manhattan, to receive the Cruising Club of America's
prestigious Blue Water Medal on 7th March:
I stopped off on the way in Austin, Texas, to visit with Brad, NA5BD,
and his wife Susan, who were lovely, kind hosts, and also Tom,
N5TW, who had been so extremely helpful to me on my way around.
To my delight &surprise, Tom proudly presented me with a signed
"Official Recognition' of my solo nonstop sail, signed by the
Governor of Texas!
On my way down the Baja coast from Ensenada, I had stopped in Turtle Bay to meet up with cruiser friends Randy and Joy, on board 'Spirit of Hanalei' ... and Joy went to a big effort to make sure I celebrated St Valentine's Day with them in style:
We spent an enjoyable two evenings together, along with several other cruisers in the Bay, before I left to sail (or rather motor, most of the way!) S to Cabo San Lucas - where, for a few hours, I had a great, although 'lively', sail around the Cape in the increased wind offshore. The Baja coastline on the way south was very arid but often quite spectacular, with lots of hills and mountains, whereas the approach to Cabo was low and sandy, with the dramatic rocky outcrops for which it's justly famous, being unmistakeable, even from well out to sea.
I had arranged to stop briefly in San Jose del Cabo, around from Cabo San Lucas, to meet up with another 'ham' friend I'd never seen, despite frequent radio contacts over several years.. Mike, KC0YHM, met up for a lovely evening meal after I discovered he was on my route while chatting on the radio earlier - but, WOW! - San Jose is SO expensive....They wanted to charge me $50 just for stopping on the fuel dock for a short time, let alone going for a meal ...
It took a lot of persuasion (and a look at my website) not to be charged... and they made quite sure I didn't stop overnight... So off I sailed in the lingering rosy dusk, towards La Paz - a good day's sail away, where cruiser friends were at anchor... It was good to meet up with my good friend Steve on 'Westerly' and also with Robert on 'Del Viento', whose two young daughters are thoroughly enjoying the cruising life. It got quite 'interesting' coming through the rather narrow, very long channel at night, bordered by very shoal water, towards the marina de La Paz where I stopped well after midnight - luckily spotting the fuel dock which was long and empty - all other slips seemed to be taken... I had a very good, undisturbed sleep until late morning, followed by a lovely hot shower - one advantage of motoring! Several people came by to greet me and I spent a very pleasant day at the marina and fuelled up before leaving again overnight - San Carlos was still a good distance away and there was no wind - flat calm, in fact (better that than the possible strong 'Northers' which could have been on our nose up the Sea of Cortez).
As I finally got close to Guaymas and San Carlos, I was met by several boats who came out to greet me - how nice is that?! Friend Bill on 'Contigo' had put out the word that I was coming in .... It was early still so, despite very little wind, I turned off the motor and sailed gently for a few hours - it was very pleasant not to be rushing for a change!
'Contigo' and 'Kharmaseas' keeping us company towards San Carlos:
I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely rock formations and rugged scenery... so that's why I've heard so often that the Sea of Cortez is beautiful?
I entered San Carlos Bay and was soon tied to a dock... It's a friendly, safe place and it's nice and warm! Pitt, from 'Kharmaseas' came over and insisted on being really helpful, stowing sails and cleaning the dusty deck.... I was due to haul out, ready for being absent for several weeks, so his help was much appreciated - as were all the friendly people around.
My flight to Austin from Hermosillo was made far easier at the start with a lift all the way to the airport - many thanks to Chuck of 'Laila' ... A flight change at Phoenix was enjoyable - I met up with Sid, K7SID, and his wife for a chat - we'd 'met' several times on a morning radio Net, on 7.155 MHz, when I often spoke to Gil, N2GG, and others - all very friendly!
Tom & Brad met me at Austin airport - it was great to meet Tom finally, after having been in touch for most of my RTW sail - he'd been so often very helpful, both with my emailing from deep in the S.Pacific and S. Atlantic, around the Horn, and also helping with 'voice' emailing over the radio when my computers had failed me in the final two months. Brad is a friend of Tom and also a sailor - he'd organised two evening Presentations for me: at Austin Y.C. and the Radio Club - both were very successful and friendly events.
On Saturday, I got to see around Tom's impressive array - FOUR towers, with all the ancillary wiring and equipment - I certainly benefitted from it and can't thank him enough for all his friendly time and effort - and expertise!
After the Austin Amateur Radio Club meeting: I used Brad's rig to take part in a local evening VHF Net one day:
Sunday - back to Austin Y.C. for a big social event - what should have been their opening race of the season on the lake - 40ft lower in level than it should be... They've had to move the docks several times for boats to be able to be in deep enough water!! I took the opportunity to mention how helpful Tom had been to me. (His rig is set up for instant emergency radio coverage in the region and has also just helped with the communications of a Medical Mission to Honduras - they go annually to help the people there) I also tried to draw attention to the SeaBC and its efforts in trying to encourage boaters of all kinds to collect information and statistics on sea bird distribution - something we cruisers are in a particularly good position to do...
To Hutt's on Monday, for a special meal ...... ........ and a buffalo attracts my attention!
I enjoyed a visit to the Museum of Texas, the 'Lone Star' state, getting a good idea of its history, .... lots of excellent exhibits:
and then it was time, sadly, to bid my farewells and fly on to New York ....
.....where I met with Scott Rapaport who interviewed me about my Blue Water Medal award for CBS News (here he is editing the interview - I'm standing in the CBS Newsroom where a lot of the news items are prepared.
Friend Rich, N2EYK, gave me a 'grand tour' of the CBS studios - the engineering side is all being constantly upgraded and they do a lot of their own development work - something I hadn't realised. And everything is totally backed up so that should one item fail, another immediately is already on line, ready to take over seamlessly. He showed me the four dedicated NFL studios - American football is pretty important to viewers!!
Friday 7th March was a great evening, preceded by another CCA dinner on Thursday - both very friendly events, culminating in my receiving the Blue Water Medal - see picture above, taken the next morning.
The facade of the New York Y.C. is imposing: and contrasts with this lovely spire, topping a modern building seen from W44th St:
I had the one day of sunshine and above-freezing temperatures on Saturday, to enjoy a lovely walk and lunch with friends in Central Park (i loved the 'Alice in Wonderland' bronze group the kids were all clambering over!) and a visit to the Metropolitan Museum. We caught some American Indian dancing, just by a lucky chance, before heading off for a nice Italian meal. Later, I ambled around Times Square and Broadway, very close to the New York Y.C. where I was staying, and popped into O'Donoghue's Irish Bar for some Guinness and lively Irish music before a late return to pack, ready for a flight to Heathrow early Sunday morning. (More photos in my next report)
I'm now in London, catching up on paperwork and writing - trying to beat sailing magazine deadlines - and hoping to see family and friends in between ....busy! On 3rd April, I'll be receiving the Royal Cruising Club's Seamanship Medal and on 12th April I'm to receive the Ocean Cruising Club's Barton Cup - both major awards.... but both will be very friendly events, I'm sure.
Photos from last year - leaving San Francisco in bright sunshine in November, to head under the Golden Gate Bridge towards Santa Cruz -
where the pelicans, sealions and assorted seabirds were going mad, feeding on a vast shoal of tiny fish in and around the harbour entrance - aerators had been brought in to the harbour waters to try to avoid the fish dying from lack of oxygen, they were so numerous.
.........then we headed on S, past the typically dry, hilly California coast...
eventually past Pt. Arguello and Pt. Conception, towards San Diego. There, several 'ham' friends came to visit 'Nereida' & a few of us went on to visit the carrier USS Midway - in particular, its radio room. The tour was arranged by Mark, AF6TC, with the help of Hal, KI2HAL, who kindly guided us around, ending with the enormous flight deck with its many planes and helicopters on display:
Hal gave us a tour of all the radio equipment, a lot of it of historical interest and I had a chance to make a brief transmission using the Midway radio - the ship's Special Event call sign was NI6IW when it operated from the USS Midway Museum Radio Room on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day December 7....
The switching was impressive - Susan, Mark and I couldn't get over how just many switches there were here!! Eric, WA7LNH, was pretty impressed as well!