Marina Del Rey, which was my home port at that time, and meet us there. Mark bravely agreed to help me sail back to Marina Del Rey. Dreams is a sturdy boat, designed for blue water sailing, with a full keel, high shear on the bow, big drains in the cockpit—everything needed for heavy weather. I wasn’t worried about the boat not being equal to the task. Mark and I got under way soon after that, one reef in the mainsail. Leaving the island, we saw that conditions really weren’t so bad, so we put up the staysail along with the mainsail and put out a fishing line. All was well for the first hour or so. After that, once we were in the San Pedro Channel and away from the lee of Catalina, the seas and the wind started building. The fishing line came in first, then the staysail was furled. As we got closer to the mainland, the wind—originally out of the northwest—swung around to the north, and soon we had both wind and waves “on the nose” as the saying goes, meaning we were going directly into both wind and wave.
At this point, Mark was hunkered down in the cockpit, feet braced against the bulkhead, holding on to the cockpit rails. We both had on lifejackets and safety lines. We were also both wet and getting wetter. I had to impose on Mark to take the wheel so I could go forward and drop the mainsail—a task that he did not welcome, but he nonetheless acquitted himself well. For the next several hours we slogged our way north. After a while, I got the rhythm of the seas coming our way. I could maintain our northerly heading for six or seven waves and then we’d get a bigger one, and I would swing the boat to take it at a 30 degree angle to minimize the slamming. This worked most of the time, but not always; sometimes a second or third big wave followed the first. With the biggest waves—around 10 feet high—water would break over the bow pulpit 8 feet above the waterline and come back amidships before running off. Seawater would fly clear back over the dodger into the cockpit, drenching us as if a giant hand had thrown a trash can full of cold seawater in our faces.
For those who are not familiar with the Marina Del Rey harbor, the main channel runs northeast-southwest and has two entrances, one on the northwest side and one on the southeast side, the latter our direction of approach. There was a lot of shoaling at the south entrance at this time. In front of the harbor entrance there is a long break-