February 9, 2012

Part 2: Steve Mohr sails his boat to Hawaii, but only after enduring some bumps in the road and an oncoming freight train




By STEVE MOHR

Class of 1960


The adventure continues . . .


When it finally came time to launch we contracted a professional boat mover and with much trepidation and a lot of really big jacks, we got it loaded on his truck. That turned out to be the easy part.


The day of the move, we headed our vessel across our backyard and up onto the railroad right of way. The boat mover couldn't quite make the turn from our yard, so he jumped the tracks and of course, got stuck half way across. Now, this is a main line and the freight trains don't run on schedules, so you never know when one is coming.


You probably guessed it, but it wasn't five minutes after we became stuck that I saw the light of the approaching freight train about a mile away. After police, railroad personnel, helicopters and a complete change in the color of my hair, we got the train stopped and finally got the boat off the tracks. It took nine hours to move it 40 miles from Northridge to San Pedro, California. Without any more horror stories, we launched the following day and were finally in our slip in San Pedro Marina. The date was Aug. 29, 1983.


At that point, we sold our home and moved aboard our dreamboat. We spent the next three years completing what could not be accomplished in our backyard; the masts, the rigging, the sails, the electronics, the anchoring systems and so much more all had to be completed in the water.


Never having even stood on a boat of this size, much less sail one, undaunted, we began the learning process, and soon became very comfortable handling her, in all kinds of weather. Linda and I often sailed her together with no other crew. We took numerous trips to Catalina and all the Channel Islands.


After much preparation on June 28, 1986 we departed San Pedro for a 2250-mile cruise to Hawaii. We had a small crew mostly of family members, our two daughters among them. As we passed Catalina Island, and headed out into open ocean, I realized for the first time, that I was the skipper and responsible for all the lives on board. I almost turned back with that sudden realization. Nevertheless, we had a beautiful crossing of 14 3/4 days, with few problems.


When we reached the Trade Winds the waves were big, some 25 feet, but "The Linda Marie" handled them with ease. We arrived at Kahului, Maui right on the button and that's in the days before GPS and satellite radios or satellite telephones. We navigated mainly by a sextant and the stars. In all that time, across all that ocean, we never saw a single boat, not even a contrail from an airplane.


Most of the crew then returned home and Linda and I spent most of the next year cruising the islands and doing all the things you would expect in paradise. We encountered some severe winter storms, where we had to take refuge behind other islands as there are no safe harbors in Hawaii, except for Honolulu. But, for the most part, the weather and the sailing were magnificent.


Nothing lasts forever though, and it became time to return home. No one was looking forward to the trip back as it's cold, wet and you are driving into the wind the whole way. It took more than 28 days because you have to sail way north up near the latitude of Seattle before you can tack over and sail south.


We arrived home in one piece and returned to our San Pedro Marina where we continued to live aboard for many happy years before selling her as that time of our life had passed. We spent more than 25 years involved with our beloved "The Linda Marie". The memories and the photos that you see here will continue to remind us of our excellent adventure.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

A terrific story well told. Thank you for sharing it. It was obviously a wonderful time in your family's lives. Pat McDonald

Anonymous said...

What a great story! Steve, you and your family should be congratulated for your tenacity and fortitude. "Steve and Linda's Excellent Adventure."

Anonymous said...

From Len Sandok, class of 1963 . . .
As a boat builder myself (albeit on a far smaller scale), I can only imagine the effort and time out into this yacht! Not only am I jealous of the boat but of the trip. What an accomplishment!

Toni Crescenzo Gelfer said...

A true modern day Odyssey..Congratulations...Amazing..

Frank Barning said...

Steve Mohr sent me a one-hour video of their crossing from California to Maui. He is an expert in many things including navigation, rigging sails and is a master mechanic. I almost became seasick watching their incredible journey unfold and was relived when land was finally seen after more than two weeks at sea.

Marilyn Monsrud Frese '63 said...

Fabulous story Steve!!! Enjoyed every line of it! Did you take any photos while in Hawaii back in 1986? Would love to see a picture of "The Linda Marie" a her detination and maybe some of your 'crew" if you have any available! My guess is that your Bucket List must be very short after all you've accomplished in your lifetime!!! Nice going!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is the way to respond to Steve's Story, but all I can say is awesome! The boat he built is beautiful and able to handle all that was thrown at it. For him to build it and learn to handle it well enough to cross ocean is one huge feather in his cap. Most people don't get to live their "dream" like that, steve and Linda did just that! Hats off to you Steve - - - Bill Stanley '60

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