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Published: January 3rd 2007
A Disabling Blow
The Lynx had the advantage here as she cut across our stern and fired both six pound guns.
It was a lovely mid-November afternoon. The sun was high in a cerulean sky and its warm rays were reflecting off of the choppy green surface of the bay. A light breeze filled our sails and propelled us towards the inevitable, a confrontation with the privateer Lynx. I was sailing aboard the Californian, a replica of an 1847 Revenue Cutter, which holds the title of “Official tall ship of the State of California”. The privateer Lynx, a replica of an 1812 Baltimore Clipper schooner, had come to take control of San Diego Bay and the Californian rose to the task of defending its home port. I was one of many volunteers who had signed on to help the crew of the Californian defend the bay - Oddly enough, the Lynx was filled with an equal number of locals who had volunteered to help them take the bay! Before we set sail the captain explained the rules of the boat and prepared us for the impending battle and issued one stern warning - We were, under no circumstances, to refer to the ship’s ‘guns’ as ‘cannons’ and any offenders would be swiftly punished (it would be a round of drinks for the
On Iron Mountain
One of the great views around San Diego.
crew for each offence!) We all aided the crew with the raising of the sails and then we set off to find our opponent. After a few minutes of searching we found what we were looking for - The unmistakably ‘tall’ profile of sail-filled masts towered high above the surface of the sea well off our stern and indicated that the Lynx was approaching. The gunnery crew made ready with the guns and we waited for the Lynx to close the distance. The first shot fired was from our opponent and it splashed into the bay well off our stern. The Lynx’s second starboard gun fired, but our guns remained silent. Suddenly a thunderous roar and a cloud of smoke erupted from our port guns as they were fired in close succession directly in to the side of the Lynx, but, when the smoke cleared, we could see the other ship sailing away, apparently unharmed! It was our turn to pursue in this duel on the high seas and we made a good chase. A sleek racing sailboat approached from behind and passed us by close to our port beam. Not wanting to be slowed down by the multitude of
Way Up in the Crane Basket
This is the what I have been helping build for the last few months - It will eventually be 113 feet deep.
sight-seeing boats that had come out to watch the battle, our captain issued the command and the port gunnery crew unleashed a second broadside, this time aimed at the unsuspecting crew of the racing boat - Somehow our guns were no match for the sleek racing hull, because it sailed on by undamaged, the crew cheering and taunting us. Our attack on the unarmed boat cost us dearly, because when we returned our gaze to the Lynx we discovered that it had turned around and was coming in fast. The gunnery crew rushed to the starboard guns and managed to get two good shots off, but the Lynx had the advantage and turned sharply across our stern, unloading both guns at close range into the weakest part of our hull. Normally the damage from a stern shot would have, at best, left us rudderless and disabled, an easy target, but the Lynx’s guns seemed to be as ineffective as ours and we sailed on. Our battle for the bay raged on, apparently unnoticed, in the shadow of a fleet of modern warships that made our boats look more like dinghies - In fact, I don’t think we would have been
The View from My Office
I can think of less attractive places to go to work! This is Lake Hodges.
any concern to the fleet even if we were firing projectiles! We had several more confrontations with the Lynx and we fired upon two more unarmed vessels that decided to place themselves between us and our opponent before the battle ended. After nearly three hours at sea, we sailed past two visiting Canadian destroyers and a large cruise ship that were at the customs dock and we passed beneath the aircraft carrier museum-ship the Midway on our way back to the dock at the San Diego Maritime Museum, firing one last gun as a solute to the Star of India, the oldest active tall ship and the star of the maritime museum’s fleet. Our captain congratulated us for our victory (even though I think the Lynx probably would have won due to its impressive stern shots) and we said good bye to the Californian. While at the museum, I also toured the impressive Star of India, the HMS Surprise (formerly the Rose) of ‘Master and Commander’ fame, an old steam ferry named the Berkeley and an old Russian submarine - It was a great day!
The gun battle in San Diego Bay was one of many enjoyable things I
In the Wilds of Escondido?
The San Diego Wild Animal Park is a great place to walk around and pretend that you are traveling.
have been doing since I returned from Guatemala. I made it home in time to celebrate the 4th of July with my family in Georgia, which was great - I removed the last botfly from my leg at the party, which, of course, delightfully disgusted most of the people there. I ended up spending about a month at home and then I headed out to California to help my uncle and cousin get a project started there. The four and a half months that followed were as much fun as you could hope for and still be working.
The project I was helping out on was the excavation portion of a large pump storage project at Lake Hodges - Basically I was helping my cousin and uncle build a big hole in the ground. The excavation starts out as a giant rectangular hole at the surface, which changes shape and gets smaller as it goes down (a total of 113 feet deep) and most of it is in hard rock, which meant a lot of drilling and blasting. I had never directly worked with explosives as a means of excavation prior to this project and what knowledge I did
Along the Trail
This is on one of the beautiful trails around Lake Hodges.
have left a lot to the imagination, so every day was packed with new opportunities to learn - I never realized how precise you could be with explosives! In addition to the blasting, I also got to re-learn how to use CAD and I got to brush up on my surveying skills. It was a lot of fun to finally get to work closely with my California family and the great group of people they have working for them, something that we have been talking about for quite a while.
I spent my time away from work getting reacquainted with the San Diego area and my friends and family that call Southern California home. I took a few train journeys up the coast to Ventura to visit my dad and his fiancé, which was a lot of fun despite the unfathomable delays with the trains. I did lots of hiking at Iron Mountain and on the surprisingly beautiful trails around Lake Hodges (on one of those hikes I managed to stab my leg with a pencil sized tree branch and was forced to hike nearly two miles with a large piece of wood hanging out of my calf, which
The Blue Angels
We all headed out to Miramar (think Top Gun) to see the big air show and the Blue Angels were the star of the show.
was less than pleasant!) On the day after I learned of the death of one of my heroes, Steve Irwin, one of my coworkers and I went out and caught a snake that had gotten into one of our buildings at work and, as I was holding it out for my coworker to see, it bit him and then it bit me! Luckily, the snake was a baby of a non-poisonous variety, but I still threw in a, “CRIKEY!” as a tribute to The Crocodile Hunter - I hadn’t been bitten by a snake in years! On the Thursday night before Halloween I was whisked away to the tropics and points further south by another major influence in my life, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band. Many years ago Jimmy’s music opened my eyes to the world around me and saved me from a dismal life as an angry red-neck - I reluctantly went to my first Buffett concert midway through college as a close-minded, angry person and I left as a Parrothead and life has been grand ever since, Thanks Jimmy!
My time in California was an impromptu detour from my travel plans, or, as my step-dad
called it, a reinstatement into the dreaded rat-race, but I went into the job with the understanding that it was only for a few months. The time I spent in California gave me a chance to plan my next journey and now, after spending the holidays at home, it is time to hit the road again. Those of you who started following this blog because of my time in Antarctica will be happy to know that I am returning to the Ice, but this time I am going as a tourist. If all goes as planned, the next several months will take me through Argentina and Chile down to Ushuaia where I will board the bark Europa, a tall ship built in 1911, for a seven week voyage of discovery across the South Atlantic to Cape Town, South Africa, crossing the Drake and making stops in Antarctica, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha along the way. I have no idea where I will go from there, but I will likely spend some time in Africa and maybe make a few stops in Europe on the way home.
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