Trying to Rest Comfortably in the Middle of a Storm


“Bob is huddled on the floor in a sleeping bag trying to keep warm. I’m lying fully clothed in foul weather gear, boots, watch cap, on the bunk, chilled to the bone. We gave up at 9 p.m. trying to make progress in high winds and seas on our way from Cedros to Bahia San Carlos. We’re exhausted, scared, terribly uncomfortable. The wind howls; the boat rolls; waves crash and pound violently . . . It’s pitch dark. No moon. But you can see the white water rolling by as a wave crests. We seem to be safely hove-to.”

So wrote Shearlean Duke of her and her husband’s recent voyage back to home port, Newport Beach, in their 42-foot sailboat. The Dukes departed Newport Beach April 22 last year, bound for the Sea of Cortez, where they spent an idyllic sabbatical away from shore-bound cares.

“Right now I feel like I may never go to sea again. I want a bed that doesn’t move, a bathtub full of hot water. Of course, I’m reminding myself that it could be worse. We’re in no real danger. But God! What a way to spend a Sunday evening . . . in the middle of a raging ocean,” she said.


Mrs. Duke, a seasoned sailor now, imparts this valuable advice to those contemplating a long blue-water cruise:

“Now, I want to say plainly and clearly, truthfully, we were never in any real danger. Not really. We and the boat (especially the boat) are perfectly capable of surviving the weather we went through. The point I’m making is the danger of exhaustion. It can make you do foolish things. Make mistakes. Mistakes that could kill you. So rest is important. Extremely important. It could save your life.”

Last Sunday my wife and I experienced the mystery of the kelp pods. It’s odd, but in the nearly 14 years we’ve been making the passage of the San Pedro Channel in our Herald Bird we’ve never stopped to investigate the large clusters of kelp that float far out to sea. We’ve simply steered past them, regarding them as potential dangers to foul a propeller while being amused by sea birds that sometimes rest perkily on these small islands of seaweed.

A friend from Corona del Mar, Stan Greer, an ardent sports fisherman in his power cruiser, Feather, had introduced us to the wonders of the kelp pods.

He suggested that we slowly approach the pods on their leeward or “slick” side and then peer into the sea. Sometimes, but not always, you can see yellowtail, say, 18 feet down or less in the pod’s shelter. There are mackerel there, too, at times, and you can catch them with squid as bait or a shiny jig.

“It’s funny,” he said, “but watch closely and you can see the smaller fish swim out and take shelter beneath the larger shadow of your boat. That is, if they are there.”


Sunday was a perfect day for kelp pod investigation. It was nearly windless at mid-channel. The view into the depths was not obscured by wind riffles. To our surprise, great trailing strands of kelp extended far down into the water. These were the stalks of the plant torn loose by disturbances, setting the tangled leaves and stems on their wind-and-current motivated voyage across the deeps.

I spotted a large fish under one of the pods, but I’m not sure what it was. It swam away lazily. My next project is to do some fishing beside the pods one day soon.

Sailing Notes

The Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club of Newport Beach, will sponsor, in conjunction with the 5.5 Meter Class Assn., the 1985 World Championship Regatta from Sept. 1-through Sept. 19. The regatta is open to all 5.5 Meter yachts holding a valid racing certificate. Owners of all entered boats must be members of yacht clubs belonging to the International Yacht Racing Union. Aug. 10 is the deadline for registration. Following the 5.5 Worlds, BCYC will host, Sept. 19-through 22, the Scandinavian Gold Cup. All sailing will be in waters off Newport Beach.

- BCYC will hold the Angelman Series 5 and 6 on Aug. 5-6. The race is from Newport to Long Point, Catalina Island, and then to San Clemente Island. Start and finish is a quarter-mile west of the Balboa Pier.

- The Balboa Yacht Club is hosting the Etchells Pre-World Regatta Aug. 10-11. Participants from Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and the United States are expected.

- UC Irvine is offering its public summer sailing classes in Lido 14s and 30-foot Shields through August. For more information call the UC Irvine Sailing Office, 856-5846.

- Warning: The entrance to Oceanside Harbor is shoaling and causing severe surf conditions. Approach with caution.