The Mandisa Chronicles
Welcome to the newest part of the web-site family, The Mandisa Chronicles. This page
will attempt to tell the continuing story, or those parts of the story I'm willing to talk about,
of the sailing vessel Mandisa, a noble vessel, of fine pedigree and deserving of more able
sailors than I.
Buying a Big, Scary Boat|
We define big and scary as anything
over 10 feet with a permanent keel, and Mandisa definitely meets this
is a Robert Perry-designed 30' Baba
which is to me a monstrously large vessel.
Of course, the first thing one must do to own a big, scary boat
is to buy a big, scary boat, which is in itself a big, scary process in which
many people stand around with their palms out, waiting for you to, as I understand it,
walk up to one and begin to drop one hundred dollar bills
into their outstretched palm until he (or she) smiles and moves
some mysterious paper from an in-box to an out-box.
You repeat this with the next person in the line, and eventually
the sheer weight of the bills will
tip some cosmic scale (the workings of which are inextricably linked to your
personal karma) signifying that a sufficient number of bills have
been distributed to enough people and the big, scary boat is now yours.
You are then given a certificate that signifies your eligibility
to distribute one hundred dollar bills to a whole
new class of people.
The Importance of a Name|
Naturally a boat needs a name, but what name should she have?
Her name at the time of purchase was Benjamin Riley, but
it was clear to all concerned (save the previous owner) that she
was not a Benjamin, or even a member of the Riley family. How
such a tragedy could have occurred I will leave to the previous owners
but it was obvious to us that only the name Mandisa would do.
So what does the name mean? I'm not sure. I've read that it is African
for sweet but what does that mean? I know there are bunches of African
languages, and I don't know to which one Mandisa belongs, but the rythm
was good, and we could all dance to it and most importantly, the boat
liked it, which I think you can see in this picture, can't you?
Taking her home|
Having bought the thing, it was time to take her home. I couldn't afford, nor
did I want to keep the boat at Marina Del Rey in Santa Monica. Living in Gilbert,
Arizona puts both
LA and San Diego at approximately the same distance, and since LA is a major pain
in the ass to drive through, I elected to keep the boat at Mission Bay in San Diego, so
I made arrangements for a slip at Driscoll in Quivira Basin.
Now was the time to assemble
my crack crew. My sister Kelly would act as first mate, while my son Sean would
perform the duties of sea-sick auxiliary.
Everybody knows that you need to get things ready before you take to
sea, even if you're only going a mile or two off-shore. Our plan was
to take three days to get to a place that takes only three hours to drive
to. On the first day we would stop in Newport Beach, a mecca for people
with more money than sense. The next day we would stop in Oceanside, a small
resort town off of I-5 that no one ever stops in unless they are travelling
by boat, and on the final day we would pull in to Mission Bay, assuming
that we were still afloat.
So we carefully perused the charts, and scanned our checklists. Cookies? Check.
Beer? Check. Chips? Check. Okay, let's go.
After all the work, all the sweat, all the money shelled out to sharks
and barracudas, it was time to get the show on the road. I let Kelly have
first honors at the helm as we passed out of the Marina Del Rey jetty
into the deep, slow swells of the Pacific Ocean. Sean, ever eager to
perform his duties, promptly turned green and went below.
We motored to gain a decent distance offshore, then killed the
engine and ran up the sails, whereupon we learned an important lesson
that will no doubt come in handy in the years and voyages ahead. Sailboats
require wind to move. The lesson fully absorbed, we fired up the
engine and proceeded apace.
The wind did us the courtesy of staying away for much of the day,
obliging us to motor to make the necessary distance before dark. We were
all terribly aware of the heinous fate that would befall us should we be
caught upon the open ocean at nightfall. (Don't ask. I shudder to think of it.)
As we putted along at an eye-popping
six knots, Kelly pointed excitedly to port and said, "Look!"
Speeding toward us on an intercept vector was a pod of at least twenty and
perhaps more dolphins, or porpoises or really large fish with holes drilled
in their skulls. Whatever they were, they met up with us and commenced to leaping
out of the water in twos and threes, providing us with fascinating entertainment.
We laughed and clapped and snapped photos and shouted with glee, little aware
that a covert mission was under way.
I chanced to glance down at the bow and noticed a couple of dolphins speeding along
close to the hull. I wondered what they were doing there while the rest of
the group put on the show. It then became clear to me what was going on.
Clearly, the noisy, boisterous
group was merely a diversion, while the ones below the ship were a team of operatives
set to carry out their true and no doubt evil purpose. I cleverly snapped a photograph
of the stealthy Ninja fish and they, realizing that the jig was up and that further, I
possessed a means of identifying them should something untoward happen, made haste
to get away. As they skulked off into the briny distance, I shouted that I would
be keeping these pictures in a safety deposit box with instructions to my lawyer to
release them to the New York Times should any "accident" befall me. So who's the
smart mammal now? Heh heh.
A Down-wind Run|
As we were heading in to Newport, the wind began to kick up out of the
Northwest to the point where we began to get a bit concerned. The waves
grew and it became a pretty interesting ride to keep the
boat from slewing to the side as we raced down the face of each wave.
We were beginning to get the hang of it when we saw this beautiful vessel
heading in to Los Angeles harbor. Looking at this picture, I'm struck
by the fact that the waves don't look nearly as big as they did from
the deck of Mandisa. I wonder if they were simply dinky little waves
like this picture shows, and I was just enlarging them in my imagination,
or if there isn't some interesting phenomenon in which photography
reduces the size of waves through some optical trick. I firmlly believe