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From the Foothills
I flew from
My reentry was greeted lovingly at the airport where Nomi, Yael, Adam, and baby Oren showered me with balloons, banners, warm wishes, a basket of fruit, and tea and a delicious tart. The transition became possible and painless.
I set out for home in the foothills of
Most importantly, I wish to thank Nomi and Bill for choosing me to crew on Red Dress. I had vicariously enjoyed Bill's previous voyage to
So the voyage is over, but the journey is never ending. Over the last few days since the docking of Red Dress, I have realized that I enjoyed the adventure not simply for myself.
I really wanted to share with anyone who was interested and excited. And you all were that for me. You were there with us. You made the voyage whole and complete. Many thanks, and may your winds always be pleasant.
Love to all, Pam
The voyage of Red Dress was blessed with two great crewmembers and an incredibly devoted shore support team. Firstly, the boat crew: outbound Pamela Johnson and inbound Tom Johnson were no relation to one another other than they formed the Yin and Yang of the great mandala of the East Pacific Gyre drawn across the trackless ocean by winds and currents.
I knew Pamela was a tough gal from sixteen years of kayaking and sailing with her around the rough waters of
What I did not know is just how tough she really is. That discovery came during the three days after I found myself holding her limp, bloodied unconscious head in my lap. It’s hard to imagine the terror of coming-to and not knowing where you are, why you are on a small boat 1100 miles from land and how you got there. Yet during that 45 minutes or so of abject confusion and serious pain, Pamela never panicked or cried out or lost her calmness and strength. During the following 24 hours as the Coast Guard doctor tried to convince us that evacuation and immediate medical attention was essential, Pamela showed no inclination to abandon the voyage. Finally, after CG Search and Rescue determined that they had no appropriate means of evacuation available and that we were on our own, Pamela was clearly relieved that she would be able to complete voyage. After three days she was up and about, her usual cheerful self, reefing, trimming, cooking, and writing in her journal (which I have not yet seen). When we finally tied up in
Yin and Yang overlapped in
And take over he did. Never hesitating to leap out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night to confront the flying spray and wildly heaving wet decks in pitch darkness, he was always quick to take in reef or furl the jib when the wind decided to pipe up. During quieter times Tom provided a wealth of conversational material ranging from turgid theological topics, for which he was eminently prepared, to detailed discussions of how to ease into and power out of Turn 6 at the Infineon Raceway on his Yamaha FZ400, turning 14,000 rpm, elbows and knees scraping the asphalt as per his years of motorcycle racing. And aside from his sailing skills, which were well developed, Tom’s most important contribution was his unfailing cheerfulness of mood which proved essential in counterbalancing my wild mood swings. Turns out my mood was directly wired to the anemometer according to the following windspeed scale: 16 kts and above: ebullient; 10-16 kts: content; 6-10 kts: subdued; below 6 kts: severe clinical depression. Considering the numerous days of little or no wind we suffered on the return leg, Tom had his hands full keeping me from going over the edge. He was a damn good cook, too, rivaling Pamela and her shepherd’s pie in some instances.
And then there was the devoted shore crew, Nomi and Adam, who spent countless hours in translating the sailing gibberish of gybes and sheets, halyards and clews, isobars and boom vangs into actual intelligible English in order to provide the daily ration of feed for the media beast. Quite frankly, the voyage would have never happened without Nomi’s enthusiastic encouragement and complete support. Which came at a price, though. She managed to extract from me a promise that I would not even contemplate any further ocean voyages for the next seven years (at which time she hopes I will be too old and decrepit to try).
And a profound thanks to Rod Johnstone, the “J” in J-35 who sometime back in the mid 1970’s put his pencil to paper, without the aid of computers design software and simulators, but with some fortunate combination genius, intuition, experience and luck, and sketched out a most sweet sailing hull that was later to become three hundred J-35 production boats, one of which was Red Dress. One that can make a hundred miles a day on wind you can’t even feel, sail 180 miles a day in the Trades without ever touching a sheet or adjusting the tiller and yet will sail dead down in 30 kts of wind with a big following sea with only two fingers and feather light touch on the tiller. Every mile of the 4400 we sailed had Rod’s genius stamped on it.
Lastly, thanks to all the concerned readers for their best wishes and prayers, keeping the faith and providing much needed encouragement during the difficult days.
Love to all,