Paddling and Sailing Trimarans

HISTORY, some of the high and low points

Erin and Lindsey

    A week in the San Juans. Sailed from the mainland, all went well, right boat for the job. Wind increased throughout the week, leaving day was fully-reefed, wind on the nose, increasing adverse current. After trying hard enough for tears they dropped back and took their boat on the ferry.

Two weeks Sea of Cortez. Sailed Loreto to La Paz camping on tiny beaches found on Google Earth. Every kind of day from paddling 8 hours in mirror still eery quiet, to williwaws that tried to knock them flat, to bare poles downwind with sea anchor. Twenty miles offshore near Partida, swamped and bailed; they had so much stuff in the boat there was little room for seawater.

  Erin and young male crew
    December afternoon in Mendocino bay. Broke canoe tri #11 in half in both directions (hull and crossarm) surfing winter waves at Big River bar. A combination of strong ebb, not enough wind, and the riverbed having subtly shifted nearer the cliffs ended a couple of glorious months when they thought they owned the joint. Crew washed out to sea, rescued rather luckily by passing fishermen. Shards of the boat rescued too and put back together(!), it sails today.

  Erin and his dad
    A week near Emerald Bay, Tahoe, fall. Part of a group with others ashore to the south, they worried this group very much when a black storm seemed to engulf the area and brought out the Coast Guard. Meanwhile Erin and Rick managed to surf into the bay itself in awesome conditions and then hitchhike to their group. The next day was so crazy strong that, having to leave, they portaged the boat up to the highway(400 ft).

 Amigo Bob and many friends
     Twenty eight years of sailing Gold lake in the northern Sierra, small but perfect, tons of wind. And Fauxcherie, at 8,000 feet in its polished granite basin.

Don and his family In two quite different canoe tri’s and all the while his kids were growing up, Don kept coming up with new places to talk us into. The four of them could stuff enough stuff for four days into a tiny car and into the spaces in the sailboat on top, and lead us to great camping on Stone’s Lagoon in Humbolt or the crystal water and powerful desert wind of Ajumawi in the Mt. Shasta country.

The best was a month south of Loreto, in March, too early for warmth but jaw-dropping wildlife and big sea sailing, in “northers” that sweep the length of the Sea. During a lapse of prudence, four
(wet suited) adults found themselves in fading twilight in square waves off a cliff-bound coast and sailed the boat under (it was quite overloaded). And had forgotten a bailer. They bailed with bare hands(!), got the boat going and saved themselves. After days of sailing in wind that was blowing our tents down, it was good to pull the boats way up the beach and go camp in the bush till it calmed down.

Our abalone-diving friends
 A couple dozen years saw scores of different people portage these boats over the beach or down a steep path to dive. Sails left behind, 3 to 4 people paddled the trimarans in rather gnarly conditions to reach protected spots on the reefs. The boats served well for divers to stow their gear, paddle out and then finish dressing. They moved well in dense kelp and were always easy to reboard

Once as we paddled from shore we became suddenly aware of a grey whale literally within spitting distance, taking up the whole water horizon, covered with barnacles and twice as long as the boat. Once we headed out over a river bar, all paddling like crazy, timing the swell perfectly (we thought), and in the video taken from shore you can see that precisely at the moment of our first joyous strokes a thin line of darker blue forms that will become a towering wave (kaboom). Once in the elation of a successful dive we heedlessly paddled into a shallow area before a big swell. I’ll never forget looking up at that mountain of water about to fall on us, or walking on sea urchins amid our yard sale of gear before the next one hit. But mostly the boating and diving on this rockbound coast has been just a great satisfaction, we come ashore feeling tall.

Lief and John and Susanna and I
Around Tahoe in five days, late September, two boats.
Fall colors, crowds gone, beach camping, freezing temps at night but swimming in the day. Black rocks heated up in the bright sun, even tho they were under 6 feet of very chilly (very clear) water; you could swim down and hug them for warmth(!) Paddled two thirds of the way, wind always came up when we needed it most. Stopped to climb lovely granite and run great trails. Two hours of powerful SE wind, luckily off south shore for limited fetch. Tahoe can really be a bear.

My family, grandpa (86), Susanna and I (both 62), and the kid (17)
Three days camping at Lake Pillsbury, way up the Eel River. The interesting thing is that all of us and all the needful stuff (and more!) and a canoe tri fit in and on a Subaru. The boat is so slender we were able to carry one of those streamlined cartop boxes beside it (on a back road). June, cool and windy and glorious, spent the whole time reefed, caught pogies off Pogie Point.

Lake Mendocino practice for As If It Were An Island. In the last few years I’ve spent about 25 days single-handing at the lake, covering about 400 total miles following the AIIWAI rules: a stone’s throw from shore, running and swimming, and taking shorepeople sailing.

These days lasted well into the night and were never long enough. I found that in clear weather there is always a night wind that lasts from midnight thru early morning, coming down from the 7,000 foot mountains to the north and east. Now I step outside my house before dawn and most times feel a breath of wind here that means a good shore breeze there, under the stars. There’s a hundred thousand people within an hour’s drive of the lake and I think not one but me is losing sleep over how great the sailing would be at 4 AM. I love the feeling of knowing a place so well, every bush and rock and wave in three square miles, in every kind of weather and time of day.

I must add that most of this glorious history took place in versions of the canoe tri that are now antiquated. It is good that everyone survived.