Saturday, July 5, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 28. San Diego. Smoked.

Safe in the Harbour at Last. San Diego is a naval base.

It takes us nearly two more weeks to work our way from harbour to harbour down the coast but finally we are checking in at the police dock in San Diego and sorting out the complex of anchorages that are available to transient yachts. In the past there has been friction between the police and the people of limited means who live permanently on boats, so everyone must now move from anchorage to anchorage every few days. This weeds out those boats of the alternate fleet that are so wedded to a certain place that they can no longer move. Since Los Angeles, we have been aware of the increasingly urban population looking sideways at transients like ourselves but this only makes us more determined to find the cracks in the system. We are now part of the landless class of no fixed address like those engaging migrant characters in John Steinbeck`s novels.

On American Thanksgiving we walk the streets near Shelter Island and watch families arrive at homes to celebrate a proper holiday supper. The problem with being free-as-a-bird travellers is just that: free and far from our own families when we too might like an affirmation that we are missed and loved. No one invites us in however, so we go shopping at a grocery store that gives a turkey away with each order. ( free, as a turkey). Heather cooks it up as a large stew with vegetables and then bottles it in the pressure cooker for future meals at sea when a precooked turkey dinner or soup will be so simple to prepare. We bought the pressure cooker for just this kind of situation so we can provision where and when food is free or cheap.( Our big boat can also carry six months worth of other supplies stowed away in plastic buckets.) All the glass jars have compartments under the floorboards or on shelves in the galley ranged below square plastic containers full of flour, oats, raisins, rice and so on. The food side of our cruising adventure is critical both to our daily well being and to our small monthly budget. We invite Wylie Jim over for turkey soup and pumpkin muffins and feel close to those original Pilgrim Fathers of a few centuries ago who clung to the edge of a strange new continent, missing their homes and grateful for the kindness of the locals.

We spend nearly a month in San Diego buying those items we will need on our voyage across the Pacific. We get a replacement for the equipment lost off Mendocino: this time a drogue rather than a parachute sea anchor. We think that something to drag behind the boat to slow us down and keep us under control will be more useful when strong winds and big waves find us again. We know they will.

We bid a sorrowful goodbye to Gwyn, our good companion who helped her parents so well when they really needed it and, after a few days, greet Anne off the train. She has left the Navy to manage without her and has signed on for the long voyage across the Pacific. We have been in port for too long as we wait for the hurricane season to be over in Mexican waters and are losing our nerve. Our friend Jim sees this and now shows us another facet of his personality. He offers to smoke us! Our eyes cross most decidedly until we grasp that Jim practices Native American Spirituality and is proposing to perform a blessing ceremony to calm our fears and align our spirits with the coming journey. Anne decides that this is too much for her and goes to do a last load of washing while Jim wafts the smoke of sage throughout the ship. We feel it flowing over us as well and take in its calming spirit. Would we have accepted this gift before the events of this voyage? We have been in a space of high adventure and in this world, Jim`s feathers, his sacred smoke, strengthens our spirits for tomorrow`s beginning of the passage down the long desert coast of Baha California.

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