Thursday, May 18, 2017


I can't believe I haven't written since February but I honestly haven't felt like it or really had the time. Today was my first day off that I didn't go surfing. Instead I went for a hike in the hills outside of LA. I really needed to clear my head and process the last few months and a hike was exactly what I needed. Three months ago I drove across the country to work on the schooner American Pride as a marine science educator/deckhand. After less than a few weeks and before even sailing with students, the ship was unexpectedly sold out from under us. Instead of an 8:00 am pre-sail muster one morning we were told that the boat had been sold and we had simultaneously lost our jobs and our homes. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) and been in the process of taking on the Pride and her programs and the director offered us all jobs and a place with them. We were given until 2:00 that afternoon to move all of our stuff off the boat in Long Beach and over to LAMI in San Pedro. Needless to say, we were all shocked and sad but since we had all driven across the country for the job and had nowhere else to go, we accepted LAMI's offer and moved on board. It was not the smoothest transition in the beginning and it definitely involved a change in mindset but we gradually adapted. A couple of the A. Pride crew decided LAMI wasn't for them and moved on to other things. A couple more of us almost left when we heard that the new owner of the A. Pride planned to take the ship around the world as an outdoor classroom for high school students. I was just starting to feel comfortable with the new ships and feel at home at LAMI but the Pride's potential adventures sounded so good that I was nearly ready to jump on board until everything fell through. Honestly, I was relieved. It made my decision for me and meant that I had more time to explore southern California and hang out with the people I've met here. 

A view of LA from Topanga Park

California coastline

So many wildflowers!!

I didn't instantly fall in love with California though. My first impression of LA was sullied by the foul Rainbow Harbor - complete with dead birds, old nitrile gloves, and all manner of trash you can imagine - where the A. Pride was docked in Long Beach and the horrendous traffic everywhere around LA - it took me about 2 hours to go thirty miles today.... The harbor where I am now in San Pedro isn't much better but I've had more time to get out and explore the area and I've found that there are some really beautiful places and things. Like the surfing spots and the surf culture, the incredible coastlines just minutes from the harbor, the wilderness areas just outside of the city, sailing on square-riggers, and the awesome people I work with. I still have yet to actually see downtown LA and there are lots of other places on my list to see while I'm here.

I don't have an end-date in mind but I'd like to stay around for the summer. Summer is the voyage season at LAMI. We usually go to Catalina Island which is about a 4-hour sail from San Pedro but a totally different environment. Much of it is untouched and the island is reminiscent of Jurassic Park. We've seen leopard sharks, sea lions, a juvenile bald eagle, rays, crabs, and a variety of fish. I still have yet to see one of the iconic bison though! We take middle, high school, and college students on multi-day voyages and it is an exhausting but fun and rewarding time. This week has all been day-sails but we have two five-day voyages coming up over the next two weeks! The ships at LAMI are named the Exy Johnson and the Irving Johnson and I'm on Exy (the better one of course ;) ). They are brigantines which means that they have square sails!! Instead of only triangular and parallelogram-shaped sails set fore and aft they have square or rectangular sails set perpendicular to the masts. That means we get to go aloft to prep and furl sails, which is awesome. So even if this wasn't want I intended to do in California, I'd say it's pretty great. (More pictures to come because I'm having technical difficulties)

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