Seamore Pacific is back in San Diego awaiting her next assignment, a haul-out at Shelter Island Boatyard. She needs new bottom paint, a new depth sounder, welding on the anchor chain plate, and a buff and wax. In three weeks she will take us south to Cabo San Lucas and be one of 162 sailboats entered in the Baja Ha Ha XX. Now at the three week countdown, it is all but consuming as we focus on what still needs to get done before leaving for Mexico. Stop. Not so fast. It is the journey, not just the destination, right? It is interesting and a bit mysterious that last week’s shakedown cruise to Catalina Island would become more than a pre Ha Ha event of checking out Seamore Pacific’s systems. Instead, it became a time of contemplating life, death, what happens in between, and Charley (RIP).
The last time I had lunch with Charley, he talked about his cruise to Ensenada and Catalina Island. Characteristic of his usual colorful story telling, he shared what he liked and didn’t like about Catalina and how he had won the dance contest on the cruise ship. By the end of lunch, my mascara was running and my side ached from laughing with Charley. We said goodbye, hugged, and promised to meet up in San Diego and have cocktails aboard Seamore Pacific. We had many more stories and good times to share; all left unfinished when he suddenly and unexpectedly died. Going to Catalina was bound to remind me of Charley. Arriving to find a Carnival Cruise Ship waiting in port…well that caused a ‘shout out and thumbs-up’ to my ole friend Charley.
And so it was, for the next few days as Captain Chameleon and I wondered about the island, I would be reminded of what Charley liked and didn’t like about Catalina; and filled in the rest with what I believed, knowing him, he would have liked or not. What could have been a state of sadness, was instead filled with joy, love, and gratitude. Charley traits.
Accompanied by Charley’s memory, the Catalina trip was apparently earmarked for contemplating death as one reminder after another took to the stage. With each stark reminder an instant pang, then fleeting sadness would give way to wondering what traits and legacies did the dead leave to comfort their family and friends. For one dead individual, the sun faded memorial perched high on a hill, overlooking the azure waters, was testimony of an untimely death of a “fun guy” who loved, and was loved in return. The second reminder of death came via a Coast Guard alert over the VHF, the morning we departed Catalina. It was an alert to all mariners for a missing male diver off Santa Barbara Island. Several hours later, the radio traffic indicated his body had been located, recovered, and displaying valor, was being accompanied back to shore by fellow divers. Midday an alert of a navigational hazard was broadcast when a dead whale was found floating just off shore. By sunset the Coast Guard called out the “all clear” for diver missing; another person had joined ranks with the dead and released their legacy.
As if my heartfelt journey to Catalina was a play, then 9 miles off Point Loma was it’s curtain call. A fitting finale to a week of pondering life, death, joy, love, and gratitude as dolphin hung close to the bow and whales spouted, a dozen or so miles off starboard.
Love Is The Groove by Cher