Friday, June 20, 2008

A visit from the Coast Guard

An update from JUNK: winds are just barely whispering, giving our sailors time to entertain visitors as they drift - including a very intrigued Coast Guard plane.

Some Northwest winds are expected to pick up in the next few to our ears.
June 21st
We left Los Angeles three weeks ago. We’re 300 miles away...2000 to go. At this moment our primary concern is clearing Guadalupe Island, 100 miles directly in front of us, due south, the direction of our drift. If we had wind we would sail west, but no wind and sunny skies makes for a slow paradise. Nothing to do...nowhere to go.

We dove under JUNK to inspect last week’s placement of mini-pontoons. All seems well – some expected shifting, and a host of new passengers. A school of palm-length fish hovered below me while I added two more pontoons, tied knots and cut loose ends. Topside, Joel repaired the stove. Later that day we had visitors.

Curious critters have paid their visits. First a fur seal swam by, indigenous to Guadalupe Island, they can venture 100 miles from land to hunt, or check out JUNK.

Two black-footed albatross gently swam for hours behind us. Every time we came close to the rail, they’d approach, stare and appear to be waiting for us to do something.

Nothing to do...nowhere to go.

Then the Coast Guard showed up.

The U. S. Coast Guard, flying low in a C-130, circled us several times, each time banking in tighter circles.

“Uhh, sailing vessel this is Coast Guard aircraft circling above you, over,” our radio cackled.

“This is JUNK,” I responded. Joel and I wore grins from ear to ear.

“We’ve never quite seen anything like your vessel. What’s it made of?” they asked. We gave them the laundry list of materials: Cessna 310 fuselage, 15,000 plastic bottles, 20 sailboat masts, and 5000 plastic bags woven into rope.

“Do you guys have a website or something?” another voice inquired. After a few moments of polite introductions, the Coast Guard began asking the standard questions for any vessel, about life jackets, radios, sail plans, emergency equipment.

“Before we go do you guys need anything?” they asked.

“How about a weather report?” I replied. Far south from where we are is the breeding ground for tropical storms. They rarely come our way to warmer waters, but sometimes a hurricane will bend toward Hawaii. They came back with no information worth worrying about. We should have asked for a pizza.

They bid us good luck, fair winds and following seas. Before circling one more time, they gave us a phone number to call in case of an emergency. Like 911 for the high seas. Soon our last visitor for the day was gone.

The moon rises, the sails hang like curtains, the sea is gentle. We hope for wind.


Anonymous said...

Are you guys bored out of your skulls yet?

Anna said...

I can't speak for them - will pass question along, HOWEVER: from speaking w/ them frequently, there is little complete "down time" on board. The boat - as all boats - takes constant checking and tweaking, the sails adjusting (when theres wind), communications/emails are a whole operation, Marcus is working on a series of short video PSAs on plastics, Joel works with the navigation equipment/solar+wind power system, and does the bulk of the cooking....and then of course, there is staring out to sea time.

Which isn't half bad.

Anonymous said...

Hay I was part of the Coast Guard crew that was talking with you guys yesterday. We were all amazed when we spotted your vessel. It's truly one of a kind!!! I hope you do not have to use the # we gave you and make it safely to Hawaii. Thanks for brining attention to a growing problem people need to be aware of. Be safe and enjoy your float across the Pacific.

iheartguts said...

a pizza delivered at sea -- sounds like a job for domino's. man, i never knew the nets were made from woven plastic bags. you guys are punk.

maryannb27 said...

Greetings Marcus and Joel. Man what a way to go! You are still the adventuring type you were as a kid. Yah, I knew you back then. Happy Birthday.

This part of the blog was very interesting, Watch out, the world is watching.

God Bless you and keep you safe.