Home Port

Clark May 28th, 2008

I’ve been stalling for a week. What the hell do I write when the trip is over?

My dad joined me in Cabo and we set sail early the next morning. By the next day it was cold and we were back to boots, hats, and gloves. People think Baja is all balmy desert, but that California current and its associated upwellings make it a cold place, even in summer. Once we were well into central Baja the landscape and climate were just like-dare I say it-Patagonia. My dad only had ten days, so our anchorages were short and sweet, just long enough to cook a hot meal or grab a few hours of sleep. We had some true westerlies and were able to sail about a fourth of the way. We made one nice long tack of about seventy miles from Cedros Island to the mainland. Usually this trip is all a motor-a-thon.

About halfway through the trip I got a 24-hour flu with a 102 degree fever, which is always fun on a cold, rocking boat. My dad surmised that since he’d had his free senior citizen’s flu shot, and I hadn’t, I got sick and he didn’t. Damned septuagenarians and their superior immune systems.

We pulled into Ensenada and my dad took a taxi to the border. I spent another night and filled up on fuel again. I’m no dummy: It’s half as much in Mexico-half as much!-as in the US these days. I filled every jug and bottle I had and topped the tanks.

I set sail at 4AM on May 14 and pulled into San Diego early that afternoon. The second I entered the harbor a coast guard boat turned on its sirens and-yeah!-boarded the power boat next to me. I was counting my good fortune when there was a second coast guard boat that boarded me moments later. Usually I hate the fascists, but the guys were so darned polite and friendly I couldn’t help but like them. Condesa passed all tests with flying colors and everything was ship shape by coast guard standards.

I tied up at the quarantine dock with the help of my new friends and there was nobody around. I called the number on the end of the dock, but it was out of service. I left some messages and sat tight. After a while my cell phone rang and the customs guy gushed apologies: “Sit tight, boss, we’re on our way!”

I was bracing for rude and threatening treatment from my countrymen at Homeland Security in the post 9/11 world, but they were sweet as pie too. The agent was training another guy, but they never went any further than the cockpit. After a few minutes the papers were filled out and he said I was all done.

“That’s it?”
“That’s it.”
“You’re not going to search the boat?”
“Nope. You’re all done. Welcome home.”
“I’ve been out of the country for nine years. I could have been subverted by terrorists and be carrying all kinds of dangerous contraband on this boat. No swabs? No dogs?”
“Nope. Welcome home.”

And then, at a bit of a loss as to where to keep the boat for the night, I found a public marina run by the City of San Diego right next to the customs dock that costs $10 per night! I’d heard rumors around the world that San Diego had become a less than friendly port for visiting sailors. Nothing could be further from the truth and I’d be proud for any of my foreign sailing friends to have the same experience I did.

I had a little party aboard with some of my San Diego friends, then Matt, the builder of this website, joined me the next morning for the final push to Newport. He made the maiden voyage with me back in 1997, just a few weeks after I bought Condesa (when her name was still Destiny).

We tied up at the Beek dock on Balboa Island that afternoon, nine years and four months after leaving. Thank God I’m off that hell ship.

Last Monday I started my commute up the 405 to my new job in Los Angeles in my white 2002 Nissan Sentra. Just kidding. I don’t have a job and I’m going to slow roll that one for a while. Better to settle in a bit and leech off my family before doing anything rash. It’s summer after all.

My plan is to sail up to San Francisco in about ten days and try life up there. So I’m still cruising! It’s not over! I’ll cruise to Santa Barbara, and the Channel Islands, and make a glorious landfall under the Golden Gate! The trip’s not over until I say it’s over, and it’s not over! I’ve been avoiding the real world for nine and a half years and I’m not about to give up now.

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Comment by Gene Schenk
2008-05-29 04:33:04

Welcome home, Clark !

When you first looked at Codesa, then named Destiny, I told you she could take you around the world……and you’ve Done It !! I am sure I wouldn’t have taken up the challenge—only the tropics for me. I’ll be keeping watch on your website.

Happy days, Gene
(now a hillbilly)

Comment by Clark
2008-05-29 12:49:26

Hi Gene,

Yep, she’s done it, and with our combined care over all these years she’ still going strong. The engine, now with another 3000-4000 hours on her, has only had routine maintenance, a paint job, and a few external parts replaced, thanks I’m sure to your regular oil changes and good practices.

I just mailed the painting of the boat that was on the bulkhead to Chuck. Now that I know the story of the three brothers, I think it belongs more with your family than mine…and now it’s a circumnavigating painting.

Thanks, Gene.


Comment by pete
2008-05-29 17:41:33

Clark I hope you write some sea stories into longer text maybe a book? I really enjoy your sense of humor and adventure. Keep it going please. pete

Comment by Clark
2008-06-03 16:53:08

Thanks, Pete! If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. It means a lot to know that people are actually reading this stuff.


Comment by Bob
2008-05-30 10:53:43

“There is no unhappiness like the misery of sighting land (and work) again after a cheerful, careless voyage.”
Mark Twain

Welcome Home

Comment by Clark
2008-06-03 16:52:08

Thank you, Sir. There is truth in Mr. Twain’s wise words, but so far I’m happy to be here. Of course this is probably largely because I’m not working yet.

Comment by Bob
2008-06-04 13:46:28

After 9 years I’m sure you are enjoying being home.
And.. your’s was not exactly the cheerful, careless voyage.
Enjoyed your article… terrifying!
You are also correct about AIS.
Great tool!

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Jim Riddle
2008-06-06 08:56:10

Congratulations Clark!

Welcome home. After 9 years away things must seem a lot different now. But, trust me, you didn’t miss a thing. Kris and I will have a toast in your honor tonight.

Comment by Clark
2008-06-17 12:50:00

Hey Jim and Kris,

Congratulations on number 2. Sorry I didn’t get in touch passing through SoCal, but it’s all been a whirlwind. Will call as soon as I get a mobile phone sorted out.


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