You and me goin' sailing in the dark

Getting the boat from Long Beach to MDR wasn't as straightforward as it seemed...

10/11/20223 min read

The day had finally come to move the boat from the industrial port of Long Beach to our slip in Marina del Rey, a journey of just over 30 nautical miles. We rallied some friends and set off for a long day, anticipating very little helpful wind. After the slow meander out of the deep, deep abyss of Long Beach, we cleared the breakwater and got sailing.

The day quickly became a lesson in being careful what you wish for. Before we knew it, we were heeled over in 22kts gusts––sounds great, right? Unfortunately, we had to set our course to get around the behemoth peninsula of Palos Verdes, so making any use of the wind sent us hurtling perpendicular to where we needed to go. VMG was negatory.

These gusts provided was a great opportunity to figure out our reefing situation. One of the ~quirks~ of our old boat is that it came to us with one reef line, which we moved to the 2nd reefing point as a temporary solution before getting around to feeding a first reef through the boom. With the reef in, the late morning hours became an exercise in conservatively de-powering, all the while experimenting with our angle of attack to try and preserve a shred of efficiency while we beat straight upwind. J29s are known for sturdy upwind performance in 20+ knots, but since we were still getting to know our boat, we erred on the safe side (or the boring side, as my dad and his buddies would likely say).

As the sun began to travel down the west side of the sky, we were back in reasonable wind. However, we were less than halfway to MDR due to our slow, circuitous morning journey. Whether we liked it or not, we were certainly going to get a sunset sail!

Leaving Long Beach! (forever!)

The headlamps came out as we prepared to navigate the home stretch into MDR. Trying to tee up to 3-4ft swell was challenging when the waves didn't become visible until you could pretty much taste their spray, but everyone helped out by keeping their heads on a swivel. We also had the pleasure of two massive tankers lighting the way. We carefully made our way past the breakwater in the dark, looking closely between the unlit buoys and our depth charts. After a few minutes of chugging through the marina, we made it! Our crew was polite and didn't immediately kiss the ground and swear off sailing forever, but there was certainly some relief to put an end to the long day.

Our new slip couldn't take us until 2 days later, so we docked in an LA County transient slip. To our surprise, there were tons of open slips! We later realized that this may be due to some abrasive management'll have to ask us about that story.

After triumphing over County bureaucracy, we finally moved into our MDR slip! Now that we had a home base, it was time to get rolling on our long list of projects (and think of a new name... Sneaky Bender's time was up). Stay tuned for our adventures with electricity, power tools, and one particularly... creative solution.

Made it!