Santa Barbara to Channel Islands

We fueled up and pumped out and were ready to (reluctantly) leave Santa Barbara. It was a really nice harbor – well kept and very easy to maneuver in. But we resisted the urge to spend a bunch more money and stay longer. The islands called to us!

Our desired course (surprise surprise) took us right into the wind. We motored all the way through the shipping channels. It was foggy and there was no visibility. It was also kind of rough going.   I got hungry and started to make black bean tacos for us as we started to cross the shipping channel. We were hitting some steep angles so I also tried to get Jonny to take some pictures (I have this crazy idea I want to get a “Mystery Spot” type photo because it looks so funny when you’re trying to stand upright inside the boat, but the rest of the boat is at a wild angle…). It was all a little too much for the Captain, who was sure we were going to get run over by huge boats when crossing the lanes (I was really cutting into his panic time). The AIS on our chart plotter showed that we were in no danger of being run over by container ships and it was too foggy to see otherwise. In fact we saw pretty much nothing all the way across. It was kind of dull, but it WASN’T cold, which I duly noted and appreciated. We finally got to sail on the approach to Santa Cruz Island. Found our first anchorage – Fourney’s Cove. It was sort of pretty in a Moon meets Ireland meets drought sort of way. And still pretty foggy.Fourneys The best place to anchor happened to be kind of on top of a gathering of buoys set out by a urchin fisherman to store his catch for the night.Urchin Guy He came over and said Hi to us and in the morning we got front row seats watching him load everything onto his boat. He chatted with us a while and we learned a lot more about the islands and where to go and what to expect. He’d been working these waters since 1974. He’s also written a book we will look for to be published eventually – called Diving the Devil’s Teeth. Unfortunately we didn’t get his name, but he was a really nice guy.

FourneySunset

In the morning we decided to head over to Santa Rosa Island. We’d read that Johnsons Lee anchorage was nice. The urchin man confirmed “It’ll be sunny there when it’s foggy everywhere else”. That clinched it for me!

We had a rousing sail across Santa Cruz channel – big wind, waves and speed and even caught a mackerel (first catch) on the way. JonnyFirstFishJohnson’s Lee was even better than expected. Warm and sunny and pretty. I finally had a chance to jump overboard for a swim and snorkel. I even decided to let Pierre come out of hiding for a dip.Jenn Pierre Jump

Another boat was anchored there – we met them the next day when they paddled their kayaks over to say Hi – Ken and Michelle from Santa Cruz (!) aboard KeMiRa, a gorgeous Hylas 49. They have been visiting Channel Islands every year for 30 years now. They had some good tips and info from all their experiences, too. Ken described the anchorage as ‘living in a 9.5 earthquake all the time.” Yeah, that is a good description of life on the hook…

johnsonslee

We were just going to spend one night, but it was so nice there and we could see clouds settled over Santa Cruz island…why go back? Best to stay put where sunshine is guaranteed! Jonny dove down on the anchor to check it out. Funny thing, it was just lying there, on the bottom of the ocean, not dug into the sand or anything. The chain was buried, but the anchor? Nah. Of course he wished he hadn’t seen that. He didn’t sleep for 2 nights. But the boat never went anywhere. I think the kelp the chain wrapped around held us.

On the 3rd day we headed back across to Santa Cruz Island. The channel crossing got really windy! Around 25 knot winds and some rough waves – but all in the right direction for a change! We had a fun ride. The nice thing down here is when a wave smacks you over the boat, you don’t freeze to death! You just laugh and eventually dry off.   Did I mention I liked the climate down here?

We went to an anchorage that was supposedly one of the best – Coches Prietos (black pigs?). I guess everyone knew it was the best – there were about 8 other boats when we arrived and several more showed up (including a power boat that anchored directly behind us). It was also pretty rough and rolly, which meant the captain lost another night of sleep. Go figure – for months prior to leaving on this trip, I didn’t sleep a wink out of anxiety and stress and Jonny slept fine…now that we’re here, I sleep like a baby, rocked to sleep every night. Poor Jonny is a wreck, worrying that we’re going to drag anchor every night (we’ve never come close – our Manson Supreme anchor, 60 ft of chain and however many hundred ft of rode we need seems to do just fine, even in above-gale-force winds (that’s right, keep reading…).

We met a guy named Casey when we were swimming at Coches – he came over in his dinghy because he thought I was in trouble. I was trying to make rope loops off the back of the Monitor to climb up the back of the boat (I have a hard time using the so-called ladder we have). He spends several months out on his boat and he claimed to be sort of a recluse (not interested in attending the upcoming Buccaneer Days at Catalina, etc.). But he was always buzzing around in his dinghy talking to everyone. He seemed to know all the dirt of the anchorage. The Neighborhood Watch, if you will.   We had a sort of unpleasant night, swinging around, narrowly missing all the other boats around us. Even I got worried at one point! We decided to hit the road the next morning. It just wasn’t all that, there! We couldn’t even go ashore since it was in the restricted part of the island. We decided to put our dinghy together and tow it behind us, so we’d be ready to put out a stern anchor – which is required at Scorpion Bay.

We zipped around close to shore and enjoyed the view of the island and Jonny tried a little fishing (caught a little mackerel but threw it back). We were headed to Little Scorpion around the other side of the island. We passed by Yellow Banks and Smuggler’s Cove – just gorgeous and sunny little coves right next to each other. We rounded the corner and the cliffs got steep and tall and the water rough with white caps from the increased wind. We bashed through it for about 10 minutes and then thought “what are we doing?!”. It was going to be super windy there, and we just passed 2 gorgeous, peaceful coves. We turned around and hightailed it back to Smuggler’s Cove. Just for fun (!) we decided to put out our Danforth as a stern anchor. After we’d anchored, Jonny rowed out in the dinghy with the Danforth and dropped it. The boat no longer could swing around, and we stayed pointed into the swell. It was pretty comfortable. We were enjoying a very warm pleasant evening in the cockpit and discussing our anchor situation, etc. Jonny was worried about something and I said “Well, it’s not like we’re going to have a gale!”. His eyes got wide and he knocked on the teak. And, I swear I am not making this up, not 30 seconds later the wind picked up. A LOT. It blew and it blew HARD for a good 3+ hours! We were laughing so hard (and I have been forbidden to speak like that again). Luckily the wind was on our nose so it was quite pleasant behind the dodger. We just listened to music and looked at the stars until the wind decided to calm down and we could sleep.

In the morning I attempted my 2nd go at making bread (with fresh yeast this time). Jonny decided he wanted to pull up the stern anchor and see what it would be like NOT having it out that night. We weren’t really sure how you pull up a stern anchor. Kind of wish we’d thought of that before we tossed it out there.   Jonny rowed the dinghy out there and could pull it out. He dove down on it and it was completely buried up to the chain and there was no way to dig it out. We should’ve watched more YouTube videos on “How to Retrieve a Stern Anchor”. Jonny tied the dinghy to the anchor line and swam back to the boat. We debated for a bit on what we should do and how. Finally decided to pull the bow anchor up and bring the boat over to the other anchor and pull it up with the windlass on the bow. We finally got it up and re-anchored with just the bow. That took up half of an entire day (and I managed to have my bread rise and get it baked in the midst of all this – it came out good! I really need a real bread pan tho.).

fresh breadbutter

I was itching to go ashore and walk around. There were some trails we could see and an olive orchard on a hillside. We thought maybe we could even hike to the top of the mountain and see over to Scorpion on the other side. There was really no place we could see to land a dinghy on shore. There was no beach, just lots and lots of softball sized rocks. And it was steep, like, straight up from the water. And a really strong shore break. But waaaay down at the other end seemed like there might be a spot. Jonny TOLD me it wasn’t a good idea, but I at least wanted to TRY, it looked like it got really shallow near shore (it didn’t) and it looked like there was a little flat sandy spot to land (there wasn’t)… so we rowed over there in the dinghy. The waves were not really breaking at the far end near the outer cliff of the cove. As we got closer and I saw how steep it really was, I was suddenly wanting to just go back to the boat… I didn’t want to do it. But I had whined about it so much that there was no way Jonny was turning us around…he said it would be fine. We did manage to land it OK and not get rolled (although it was waist deep when I jumped out near ‘shore’). The waves helped us get the dinghy straight up the rocks (they were all smooth and round, not jagged, but pretty big and hard to walk on). The dinghy was safe and I had managed (barely) not to pee myself in the landing. We had a long, hot walk just to get to the main spot with the sign and trail up the hill (and, as it turns out, a trail back into a campground). We walked up the hill and got some great views. It was blisteringly hot (so hot my phone even started whining about it’s temperature and stopped working – but I did manage to get some pix). Summer from SC IslandThe wind started to pick up a little. And so did the waves. The little spot we landed where the waves weren’t breaking? Yeah, it was gone. Waves were breaking everywhere now. The departure was even more terrifying than the landing. We had to hold the dinghy and run straight down the rocks to the water and wait for exactly the right moment to shove it in and jump on. Luckily, Jonny is expert at calling these moments. I would’ve just stood there sniveling and freaking out for hours. We made it in and were paddling past the point of danger. It was fine. Except. Jonny had lost his flip flop in the frey. I had to hold us in position while he swam back for it (do you know how much those flip flops cost?!?).   The wind tried to carry me off and I got a little flustered at the whole rowing thing, but I finally got it together and rowed back to pick up Jonny. The wind was getting stronger and stronger. We rowed along shore until we were a little past Summer and then headed out for her. The wind and waves were so strong we were very careful to not overshoot – as there was a chance we could blow past her and not be able to get back. We came barreling at her – aimed for the bow so we had a chance to grab on before we went too far. We got safely back on board and settled down a bit. The wind just got stronger and stronger and we had upwards of 35 knots blowing for almost the entire evening. Without a stern anchor we rolled around quite a bit more, but no dragging.

SC Island Smugglers View

The next day we decided to moved over to Yellow Banks and see if it was calmer there. We ended up staying 2 more nights over there. Two more nights of gale forces winds that started earlier each day. On the first night at Yellow Banks we were kind of getting used to the winds. The rigging was howling and the boat was rocking violently…and we were quietly down below – Jonny with his power drill installing a new LED light strip to give us better lighting in the v-berth area, and me cooking up beef and noodles to make a lasagna. I’m not sure how smart it was doing all that cooking when the “wind chill factor” was 90 degrees. But we gotta eat, right? After I put away the leftovers and filled the pan with soap and water, I realized a new benefit to the rocky boat situation. Our dishes wash themselves (I have video of the soapy water sloshing around in the pan. It was practically clean by morning!).

We took a dinghy ride around to get a closer look at some of the islands great volcanic rock structures (and have been practicing with the GoPro!).DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO

There were several boats in Yellow Banks, including Casey, Neighborhood Watch from Coches. A guy in a little sailing dinghy was sailing and rowing around, he came over to say Hi. Alex was a young guy from Sausalito, taking his Cal 29 down to Marina Del Rey. It was his first time single-handing and he was very excited and enthusiastic about it. He was also anchored extremely close to shore, but it seemed OK.? He mentioned something about wanting to go hiking ashore (maybe we were interested? I didn’t say anything at the time as it wasn’t really an invitation, but I remember thinking “go ashore again? Yeah I don’t think so”. Yellow Banks shore was far more treacherous looking than Smuggler’s.

The next day we were just chilling and preparing for a big sail down to Catalina the day after. We got the dinghy cleaned up and stowed and things looking pretty ‘ship shape’ by 2pm, which was good because the winds came up at 2:15 pm! (it was like someone turned on a switch).   Casey was visiting us in his dinghy, telling us about all the experiences he’s had. I kept being distracted by someone on the shore. I thought at first it might be a sweeper from the nearby powerboat (“sweepers” are what we call stand up paddle boarders – they look like they’re sweeping…). Then I realized it was someone with a dinghy. I interrupted Casey and said “It looks like someone is on the shore and they don’t look to be OK…”. We got the binos and sure enough, it was Alex and his sailing dinghy. The dinghy was upside down on the rocks and it looked like a yardsale trailing behind. Casey raced over in his dinghy, but couldn’t safely get close to shore. The wind was just getting stronger and stronger. He called the Coast Guard on his VHF that he had in his dinghy. Luckily there was a big USCG boat moored at Smuggler’s Cove. They sent out a big red dinghy with 4 guys. We tuned the radio to Channel 16 so we could hear what was going on. They couldn’t safely get to shore either, so they just hovered around and made sure Alex didn’t try to get into the water again. Alex was dragging his dinghy around, picking up the pieces and wandering around. We weren’t really sure what he was doing. The USCG ended up calling the National Park Service, since Alex was on NPS land. They couldn’t get to where he was, so they ended up sending a helicopter to retrieve him, which took a couple hours to arrive. We kept wondering if he was going to try to relaunch his dinghy? Or if the USCG guys could get close enough to call out to him, or if the helicopter was going to try to airlift him out or what?!? Casey kept chiming in on the radio, offering “helpful local knowledge”. Who needs TV?!?!?! The helicopter did arrive, and landed on the top of a hill. Two guys scrambled down to the shore and talked with Alex. Apparently he agreed to go on the helicopter to Scorpion Bay, where they had a pier. The USCG then would need to go there and get him and bring him back to his boat. They were hesitant due to the 40 knot winds and said he may need to stay there overnight.  We noticed later in the dark they did appear to return him to his boat. We never got the rest of the story, since we were planning to leave at 4:30 am the next morning (too bad we couldn’t TiVo it).

Check out these winds – and yes, we were at anchor, not underway!

GaleForce YellowBanks

 

Point Conception/Cojo to Santa Barbara

Time is beginning to turn into that blur that happens to people without a schedule or appointments or plans in the real world. What day is it? How long have we been here? Didn’t you just post a blog entry? No, that was 6 days ago…

Figured I’d do another one before we head out to Santa Cruz Island tomorrow. I think we are going to try to circumnavigate it and then visit Anacapa Island before finally making serious efforts to get to San Diego. There seems to be a lot of anchorages around Santa Cruz Island (although we can’t go ashore in most of it without a permit, which we don’t have), so we will check them out and see what all the fuss is about with these Channel Islands.

Cojo View

View from Cojo Anchorage

We spent 3 nights in Cojo, just past Point Conception. It felt pretty remote but there was a world class wave there (Perko’s) that is only visited by people who live in the ranch area there. It wasn’t very crowded and Jonny just had to jump over board and paddle out to it. The first couple days were overcast and I wasn’t all that excited to be there. The cliffs looked sparse and kind of boring. The lack of sea life and birds made it all feel even more remote and dull. I spent much-needed time figuring out the SSB radio, making contacts and finally being able to send email and get weather information through it. This will be critical when we are out of cell range (tomorrow??). I asked Don, one of the Net Controllers on the InterCon net I check into if there was anyone who could help me with the set up of WinLink2000 (the Ham program available to me since I got my General Amateur license). He sent out word and finally found someone in Florida- Ron -and connected us. Ron talked to me on the phone and walked me through everything. It was amazingly helpful and both Don and Ron were so generous with their time in assisting me.   Quite a big part of this life change –I’m asking other people for and receiving their help!!! So grateful it’s out there

Cojo SunriseCojo Sunrise

The sun finally came out at Cojo and I was getting antsy from being on the boat so long. Jonny stuffed me into my wetsuit and threw me overboard with a surfboard and made me paddle to shore with him. (OK, he may have let me hold onto his leash and towed me most of the way…). As we approached shore I could see how big the breaking waves were. I may have gotten a little scared… Very weird to approach a beach from the water, having no idea what you’re coming onto. As the waves got bigger and scarier, Jonny suggested I get off the board and swim for it. Fast. Because “It would be safer that way”. Implying there was danger, either way. I saw a huge wave about to break on me and at least I knew enough to just dive back through it. I made it to shore quite out of breath (hyperventilating with panic? No, certainly not). Also not used to a wetsuit and I’m sure it was trying to strangle me. After I caught my breath we had a nice walk on the beach. There were 2 wrecked sailboats. One of them, “Gingerbread”, was torn in half – it’s bow end being a good 25 ft from it’s stern. Farther down, an Ericson 30 was beached, missing part of it’s keel and stripped of most everything else. When we first saw that one from shore, we thought maybe there would be some parts or something to scavenge off it. Walking around it and touching the hull, I felt some weird creepiness and sadness, like I was seeing a dead body.   I didn’t feel quite so detached from a wrecked sailboat on a beach as I once might have.

beachedboat

We walked a ways down the windswept coast, my eyes glued to the sand and shells, Jonny’s eyes glued to the amazing waves. Looking out at Summer on anchor from shore, she looked very tiny, just bobbing around in the big sea. After a brief rest in the sun we hopped on the boards and paddled back to Summer. She was waiting patiently. Unfortunately we were not able to get a good swim ladder before we left, so we had this crappy rope/plastic thing. Not easy to get back home with that! And the wind had picked up quite a bit and it was rocking and rolling (not in a good way). We got all safe and washed off. I managed to wash my hair over the side of the boat and have a freshwater rinse down. And the wind was so strong by this time, I stood out on the stern and got a “blow dry” for my hair.

blowdryer

The next day we decided to head down to another anchorage called Sacate, about 8 miles away. It was supposedly ‘more protected’ there with the kind of wind and swell we were expecting (Note to self and others – never trust that Brian Fagan guy…why are we still using his book??).   It was a beautiful and sunny day and our spot actually looked pretty to me. I think living in Santa Cruz has kind of spoiled me. I think I can safely say that Santa Cruz and Capitola are far and away the most beautiful spots on the CA coastline. We sailed off in a warm(ish) breeze to find anchorages unknown.   We overshot our target a bit (2 miles?) but eventually found the “ideal” anchorage, according to this book. We got right into position and dropped the hook. Lovely little place with a huge, long beach and a wave that got Jonny interested. There were a few big houses up in the hills, supposedly belonging to famous people. Whatever.   We had a very relaxing afternoon. Until….(cue ominous music).

The wind came up. Big time. Wild and crazy wind storm, shaking Summer from the tip of her mast down through the sole. We got the full meaning of “shakedown cruise”. Wondered if our anchor would hold, wondered if anything would break apart. We didn’t sleep much and Jonny was up and out checking on the anchor many times. We survived very well, not even the slightest drag. And the sun came out and the beautiful spot said “oh that wasn’t so bad, you want to staaaaaaaay one more niiiight…right??” So we did. And it blew even harder that night. The next morning we said “ENOUGH” and decided to get ourselves down to Santa Barbara.

The wind was right on our nose almost the entire way of the 33 mile trip. Why does this keep happening? I attempted my first gluten free bread recipe while we were sailing. I think it would’ve been great, but my yeast was dead…it never rose. I insisted we will eat it all no matter what. It actually tastes pretty good, for the dense puck it is.

Also, silicon baking pans are NOT good for an unstable environment

Also, silicon baking pans are NOT good for an unstable environment

It was warm and sunny and relatively pleasant, but, motorsailing the whole way. We saw several Borg ships looming on the horizon. Luckily they didn’t try to assimilate us. I think our radio signals might have caused too much interference for their scans. Or, there’s an off chance they were actually oil platforms.

Borg on Horizon

Much of the time the sea smelled of oily tar. Again we noted the serious lack of sea creatures and birds. We saw some scary slicks on the water, too – like what we saw in that fracking movie, Gasland (1 and 2). Kind of eerie.

The plan was to get to Santa Barbara and just anchor for the night and then splurge on a slip the next night. It was warm and we were happy to arrive.   A little disappointed to notice that Santa Barbara isn’t as pretty from the water as it is from land.

Santa Barbara And again, the sea lions on the red-white buoy were small, sparse and not at all barking. Something strange about the sea life down here, and so little of it. We were really that spoiled in Monterey Bay (and Morro Bay)? We enjoyed a nice dinner (our last steaks from El Salchichero!) and watched the full moon rise.

Enjoying a gorgeous moon rise

Enjoying a gorgeous moon rise

We were exhausted and looking forward to a wind-less sleep. And, it was not that windy here. BUT, OMG…ROLLY AS ALL GET OUT. By far the rolliest, rocking-est night EVER. Awful! We slept not one wink. Where did this come from??? It was so bad that we were just laughing about it. And almost crying. I tried sleeping at different angles in our giant romper-room bed, but nothing was comfortable. But 5:30 am I wanted nothing more than to just LEAVE that spot. We got up and by 7am we were pulling up anchor and heading to the harbor dock to get a slip as soon as the office opened.

Heading for harbor at 7am

Heading for harbor at 7am

We docked and wandered around until 8:00am when the office opened and we secured a nice slip. It’s been 3 weeks since we were tied up to a dock! I opted for the slip closest to the main walkway and bathrooms. Turns out there’s a trash and recycle can right there, too. And we can get full water tanks (the water we got from Morro Bay was horribly stinky – will be glad to get rid of all that). What luxury! And it’s even hot and sunny here. As soon as we docked I hit the showers. Hot water pouring out all over you is the most amazing thing ever.

SB Harbor

We saw this $300 million boat today

We saw this $300 million boat today

After cooking some breakfast (the Corralitos smoked bacon Laura Laura brought us is being doled out in a miserly fashion) and messing about with our anchor line and chain we were ready for the day. Our mission was to get groceries. Sounds simple enough. I had located the Whole Foods and the shuttles and busses we would need to get there. All in all getting our groceries was nearly a 4 hour undertaking. But we got to have a driving tour of beautiful Santa Barbara (and it IS a beautiful city!) and the fridge is fully packed (and I got fresh yeast, I will make a successful bread!). We are ready for whatever the next couple weeks brings us.

Very excited to be sleeping at a dock tonight. Jonny can put earplugs in and not have to worry about the anchor (he tends to worry far more than me…I put ear plugs in and sleep well most of the time anyway ;-)). AND I’m going to take ANOTHER shower in the morning.

For now I’m going to make our black bean and leftover steak burritos. Hope to have some island adventure stories for you next time.

 

 

Morro Bay to Point Conception / Cojo Anchorage

While Morro Bay wasn’t even a thought on our initial trip South, it turned out to be a wonderful stopover… for TEN DAYS! Yeah, we kinda got stuck. Partly still unwinding from the craziness of preparing to go and the past few years of nonstop work. and partly waiting for swell and wind to turn a bit more in our favor, and partly due to the amazing comfort and easy life at anchor there. Protected and calm with unseasonably amazing weather. Jonny did some surfing on the other side of the rock, we explored the dunes, the bay and beaches as well and wandered about the town and I did a nice long bike ride. It was an easy dinghy ride to a number of public docks to tie up, and a fairly short walk to laundry and [REAL!] food shopping. And the skanky coin op showers were a welcome amenity, too.

3 stacks approach

Everyone we encountered was extremely friendly and helpful – especially the folks at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. We went there looking for a rigger or some one who could help us splice our anchor line (long story but something really weird happened to it – baffled everyone – started to come apart and fray near where it connected to the chain – brand new! Only used for 6 days…no one could figure out why). Anyway we got invited to burger night at the yacht club and they were sure someone would be able to help us get it to the rigging shop. Turns out a guy did it for us right there – and turns out that guy happened to be the captain on the Deep Water Horizon – the big disaster in 2000. We learned he wrote “Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster” – which I am looking forward to reading on my Kindle.

Did some good cooking and getting more used to the galley. We are eating pretty well.

brownies

The most exciting thing that happened in Morro Bay was that my dear friend Laura Laura took a spur of the moment road trip down to visit us! On what was supposed to be our last day there (more on that later) – as she astutely pointed out – “you aren’t getting any closer”. She drove 3 hours to help us do laundry, get groceries and she even took us to lunch! She left us with a bunch of great gifties and on surprise stow-away we didn’t find till after she left. Pierre is our newest crewmate. Apparently he is hoping to make it across the border undetected. He still refuses to talk. And I’m not sure who was more green on our last passage, me or him.

 

 

 

Jonny photobombing PierrePierre

LauraLaura visit

We planned to get water, propane, fuels, etc. before heading out for an overnight passage to our next destination. Unfortunately the propane tank at the docks was not working properly, and it being Labor Day, no other place was open. We were pretty low on propane (which we use for cooking) and the malfunctioning tank actually released even more of what was left. No choice but to wait till the next day and try to make our way to one of the other places (at least a mile away). We did all our other chores and even took Summer to the public dock to pump out and give her a bath (she was DIRTY!). Carrying a propane tank 2 miles did not sound like any fun…but strapping it on the back of my little folding bike with 10 inch wheels and peddling it a mile up hill?? Yeah!!! I took a bit of a ‘shortcut’ to the propane place, so Jonny managed to get there before me, walking… Got all filled up and safely made it back downhill on my 30 lb bike with my 20 lb propane tank (the brakes almost worked…luckily didn’t need to come to any full stops down the big hill).

Bike Propane

We had a final coin-op shower and settled up with the harbor office (only the first 5 days anchoring are free – we had 4 extra, but only $7/day, so not too bad…where else can you vacation in a charming town with 360 degree water view for 10 nights for less than $30??). Had a nice big dinner of spaghetti and sausage (freezing and vacuum sealing my homemade spaghetti sauce seemed like a great idea – getting thawed sauce out of a plastic bag, not so great… but still, much appreciated having it!). By 7pm we were making our way out of Morro Bay, saying goodbye to the 3 stacks and that giant rock. It had been overcast and gloomy all day. I was bundled up in my foulies and hat, prepared for the worst. We were to pass Points Buchon, Arguello and Conception. Point Conception is know as “The Cape Horn of California”. Even when everywhere else is fine, it can have some of the roughest, wildest weather. Our plan to go by at night when it is usually calmest seemed like a good one. It actually wasn’t a bad passage, all things considered. We did get to sail a bit, although still had to motor more than we wanted. It was exciting to see it getting darker as the stacks and giant rock disappeared from view, and millions of whale spouts faded away.

Morro Sunset

The *real* reason we stayed so long…Boga Sign

Just around Point Buchon it started getting really rough. I went below to try and get some rest. I didn’t sleep a wink, being tossed and thrown about. When I finally came up to relieve Jonny, I wasn’t sure I was feeling so great… I managed to pull off a couple hours watch, but I did lose my dinner. I think it will be awhile before we enjoy that last bag of sauce… We sailed on, pitching and rolling. When Jonny came back up, I lost it again. He took over and sent me below where I hid under a sleeping bag until morning. I managed to get out to see Point Conception in the gloom and fog, and a few of the oil rigs we passed. But had to go back down to hide until we were almost ready to anchor.

We got in to Cojo Anchorage around 9:30am and found a decent spot. Didn’t look like much to me. But at least it’s not freezing cold – even tho it’s gloomy. I made soup and we napped and recovered from our long night. Several other boats came in to anchor – one cruising boat from Cape Cod and some bigger more commercial ones. We were exhausted and in bed by 8pm. I read more in “Two Years Before the Mast” written by Richard Dana in 1835 – his account of sailing up and down the CA coast back then. I just so happened to be at the part where he was describing being caught in gale around Point Conception. Almost every sail they had got shredded and they were blown over 2 weeks off course (and ended up in San Francisco instead of Monterey!). We sure have it easy compared to those guys. It was a pretty rolly night and also a grey and gloomy day today. But it is not very cold, the one saving grace…

We are slowly getting more South! Jonny jumped overboard and paddled ashore with his surfboard a few hours ago. I saw through the binoculars that he is catching waves with a couple of other guys out there. I was a little worried, knowing how territorial So. Cal is for surfing – but after a couple hours I heard dinghy motor – the guys were giving him a ride back to the boat. They were clearly impressed with what a great surfer Jonny is. Being a friendly guy and a humble but impressive surfer goes a long way, I guess.

Our current dilemma has to do with some big swell that may be coming up from the South from tropical storm Norbert. We want to leave here tomorrow and maybe go down the coast a bit – Jonny wants to check out more surf spots. But we will likely head out to San Miguel Island and begin exploring the Channel Islands a bit from here. There’s a lot to see out there, but our supplies of water will only hold out so long (probably just over a week?) so we’ll see what happens.

I’ve really been having fun with the Ham nets and learning from and connecting with people. One guy is even helping me get technical support – I still haven’t got email or weather info working through the radio to that *&^%! PC we had to buy… but feel I am close!!

Until next time…I wish you 73!  (that’s hamspeak for ‘best regards’)

 

Moss Landing to Stillwater Cove, San Simeon and Morro Bay

On Monday, August 18 we bid Moss Landing one last cold and gloomy farewell.Cutting lines

Van and Susan showed up to send us off with warm wishing and a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate with later. In one final surprise give-away, Van showed an interest in our dock steps. We hope he is able to use them with Windwalker. [As an aside, Cap’n Van was our first informal teacher – he took us out and showed us the ropes on his beautiful Islander 28, Windwalker about 5 or 6 years ago and we’ve enjoyed our friendship with him and Susan ever since].

My parents (and Mom’s bridge club) were watching our departure on the OtterCam and Van and Susan waved as we passed out the harbor mouth. Unfortunately no one was there mooning us (JB was busy bottling his latest Pinot, otherwise I’m sure he’d have shown his face, and his ass).

Moss Ears finalLast Moss Rabbit Ears

It felt a little anticlimactic, sailing off into the gloom as we have many times before. The south wind was such that we had to motor the entire way to Stillwater cove. And that old familiar cold and seasick feeling wrecked me toward the end. We anchored just in time – in Stillwater Cove, being looked down upon by the Pebble Beach golf course. We’d been to Stillwater before, so it was nothing new or special (and to be honest, didn’t like it much the first time we were there…). Somehow we spent 3 nights there. It was a little bit rolly, but not too bad. We had a few patches of sun, but not too much. It was very nice to sleep and get comfortable with the new boat life habits.stillwater view

I have been checking in on a few Ham radio nets. Still a lot to learn but talking to a bunch of friendly folks. Still looking for some nets where conversation goes to more than just what antenna you are using and how good you sound… I heard a few people calling longpath to South Africa (longpath means the signal is going all the way around the world in the opposite from shortest direction). But again, all that was discussed was how it sounded.

 

We listen to the NOAA weather on our VHF every day – which is partly why we stayed in Stillwater for 3 days. We were waiting for the wind and swell to change. An unusual south wind has been blowing up the coast. It turned a little bit Southwest on Thursday and we decided to make a break for it.

Sailing from Stillwater to San Simeon was our plan. 85 miles, about 16 hours of travel time. While we really wanted to see the entire coast, there was just no way to split it up without having to leave Stillwater in the dark (I was game, but the Cap’n said no) or arriving in San Simeon in the dark (Laura Laura said no!). So, we left mid afternoon and planned to go all night. Our first all-nighter! It was exciting and I was a little nervous. We got to see some of Big Sur, the Bixby Bridge, etc. before the sun went down through the offshore fog.   I tried to get a little nap in, but I was too curious to see what happened when it got dark! I just couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like. Pitch dark where you can’t see anything? No, it wasn’t like that at all. Firstly, our steaming light at the top of the mast lit up the wind indicator, which always makes me feel a bit more secure (I know, I should be able to just KNOW which way the wind is coming from…someday). The chartplotter (in which we plotted our course and just had follow the line – too easy!) was all lit up in night mode – and still way too bright (we ended up throwing a towel over it for most of the time). But the most amazing thing of all was the bio-luminescence. Looking over the stern it was like we were a sparkling galactic glowing machine zooming through the water. The waves coming off our bow were all glowing and shining. I could’ve watched it all night. Wait, I almost did. I got a couple hours of sleep when I couldn’t keep my eyes open after 2:30am. During that time Jonny said he was standing at the bow and saw several glowing torpedoes shooting towards the boat. Dolphins! Clearly outlined in bio-glow, riding our bow! It sounded amazing – Life of Pi-like.

The south wind meant we had to motor most of the way again. We managed to get a couple hours of sailing in. The water was glassy and there was hardly any swell (save for the small south swell- also the wrong direction for this time of year and for the direction we are heading). Given what conditions usually can be like on that part of the coast, I think we were lucky to have it so calm and peaceful for our first overnight. We only saw about 4 -5 other ships off in the distances. The morning was really dense fog and we couldn’t see much as we rounded Piedras Blancas, just around the corner from San Simeon. We relied on that line on the chartplotter to get us into San Simeon bay.

A very tired little shore bird lighted on our spreaders and caught a ride back to land on our final approach and a dragonfly stopped by for a visit as we neared shore. dragonfly near sansimeon

Shortly after anchoring, the sun came out. San Simeon looks and feels remote and peaceful. Beautiful change and we were very happy to be there. I felt GREAT on the whole night and that next day – seasickness no more! Aside from blindingly tired (we will get the shift sleeping thing dialed in – we were just too wired to get much sleep – save for a few hours each). Luckily I’ve had lots of practice in sleep deprivation the past several months, so I was feeling wonderful on our first day anchored in San Simeon. Jonny…not so much. He spent the entire day trying to wake up and continually napping. Jonny after allnighter

A few other boats came and went during the 3 nights we stayed, but it was quiet and gorgeous the entire time

.sansimon anchor

On the 2nd day we decided to deploy the dinghy and venture ashore. There was a harsh shore break (south swell, and this bay is pretty open to the south—had the wind been more south we wouldn’t have been able to anchor there). We opted to paddle ashore, leaving the motor on the stern of Summer. We saw the potential for getting swamped with waves and possible rolled, so we didn’t want to risk ruining the motor on the first day out. It wasn’t the worst landing ever… but Jonny did get thrown from the dinghy and ended up underneath it and we broke a paddle. Somehow I managed to stay in the bow (looking around wondering where Jonny had gone…he was under for about 30 seconds too long!). But we landed, wet , alive and uninjured.

san simeon landfall2Except for the paddle…they are made to come apart and the paddle end which snaps onto the longer bar cracked and broke. No way to paddle back to Summer!!

So, our mission being ashore became “Find duct tape!” and Lesson Learned became “Make bag of supplies for dinghy – which includes duct tape!”. We walked to the populated end of the beach. The guy who ran Sea for Yourself kayak rentals tried to help with tape or glue – but unfortunately had neither (as he pointed out, using duct tape on his equipment might diminish the confidence of his customers!). Up at the Discovery Center a nice docent named Rick found some ‘blue tape’ (the paper kind you use to mask off when painting). It would have to do! As Rick said, “use as much as you need, afterall, your tax dollars paid for it! This is a State Park!”)

Your Tax Dollars At Worktax dollars at work

It seemed everyone was looking as us strangely as we walked the beach and out on the pier. After wandering a bit away from each other and looking back at Jonny, I realized how crazy he looked…wearing a big back pack, badly in need of a haircut (“maybe tomorrow?!”), barefoot – forgot his flip flops, and carrying ONE oar.

We got pretty wet launching back out through the surf but we made it back to Summer in one piece and the paddle held together. We were going to epoxy it, but it’s still holding with the duct tape we added. Maybe tomorrow. We decided to celebrate our first all-night sail and first shore landing with the champagne that Van and Susan had given us.   I finally had some room in the fridge to chill it…(our fridge, btw, is AWESOME…Cool Blue system is rocking on the solar power. All the vacuum sealed meat I froze was STILL frozen and the ice tea I made turned to ice…we finally turned the thing down from 3.5 to 2.5. VERY happy with it).

Things started getting pretty rolly in the little bay. South swell picking up a lot. We decided to leave on Sunday after a particularly rolly night. But then the sun came out and we said “maybe tomorrow”. We opted for shore leave again. This time Jonny told me to jump out of the boat (my weight in the front is probably what made it dive and throw him out). Unfortunately when I jumped out the water was up to my chest…but it was a smoother landing this time. We rested on the beach to dry off a bit. There’s a hiking trail that goes around the rim of the point – we decided to climb up and see the views from that side. Such a gorgeous blue green bay! We walked all the way to the end of the point. Got some great views of our little boat anchored down below. Oh and whales! Did I mention so many whales?! All around in that bay, got lots of close up whale time in there. We got to chatting with folks at the point – everyone was excited to see the whales. Roy and Debbie from Las Vegas were enjoying their coastal trip and we’ll be scoping out a little bungalow for them in Mexico so they can sell everything and move down there soon 😉 (hi guys!).San Simeon Summer thru trees

We enjoyed one last evening at our rolly anchorage (it was so rolly that night I felt like I was almost vertical in bed a few times…). I kept thinking of that Bugs Bunny cartoon where they were sharing a bowl of soup on a rolly boat and the soup just slid back and forth on the table and they each ate from it before it slid back to the other. Yeah, it’s like that.

We decided to try to stow the dinghy on the bow without deflating it and taking it apart (which is a big pain in the ass). We hoisted it up with a halyard and got it on deck and flipped over and lashed down. We could sort of see over it from the cockpit.

When we pulled up our anchor we discovered that the rode was coming apart where it connected to the chain. This is not a good thing…to have your anchor rope break and lose all your chain and anchor and possibly wind up on shore. This is bad. We decided to swap it out for the other rode we had (luckily we had another). That took a little more time, but we swapped it out so we would be ready to safely anchor in Morro Bay when we arrived. We will have to try to get that fixed – it’s a brand new line!

A dead fish found in our dinghy when getting ready to leaveSan simeon dead fish

 

We said goodbye to San Simeon without any other incident and headed off South. It was sunny and gorgeous and I was in a tank top. Happy happy. The wind was still too South to sail, so we motored for quite a while. Just over halfway there we were able to shut the motor off and sail for a bit. It was just gorgeous and although we were going awfully slowly (about 3.5 knots) it was nice to have the motor off.

As we approached Morro Bay there were dozens of whales everywhere! Just amazing. So much tail! It was incredible. Poor Jonny almost had a meltdown (we’re working on his whaleophobia). We worked our way into Morro Bay and found the anchorage spot (thanks to the info I got when I called the harbor earlier). Morro Bay has stacks so it’s like being in Moss Landing, but now with 33% more stack! It’s actually just beautiful here. The harbor guys showed up as we were preparing to launch our dinghy. They were super nice and just had us fill out a card with our info. We get to anchor for free for 5 days and then we will pay a nominal fee. And we might be here for that long or longer if that south swell doesn’t calm down. There’s a super hurricane down in Baja and it’s sending up swell and this is the last place to hide from it

Morro Rock White Pelicans

.Morro Stacks

Luckily there’s lots here to keep us occupied. Laundromat (very excited for that), Coin-op showers (disgusting, but the best $1.25 I’ve spend in ages. So nice to get clean last night!). Looking forward to finding Sunshine Natural Foods, too…we’re running out of veggies and stuff.

So, here we are. Safe and sound for a bit. Unseasonably hot and sunny and I’m loving it.Morro white Pelicans closeupWhite Pelicans this morning!

All Aboard!

In the past month we’ve had three grueling yard sales, countless Craig’s List ads, many friends carting off bins and one final big trip to the donation center.  That’s all it takes to erase the last 14 years of this land-based life.  Everything we need (and, surprisingly, more) is neatly stowed away in all of Summer’s magically ginormous lockers and cubbies.  I’d say the only space that seems less than super-adequate is the refrigerator (those who know me will not be surprised by this).  It’s packed to the tippy top.  We are finishing up some final projects and stowage today, and we will begin our journey South tomorrow.

“Stuff” purging aside, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of visits and “bon voyages”.  It has only recently started hitting me just how many beloved people will be missed as we sail off into the sunset.

Of course my parent’s unconditional support – moral and material (for every crazy thing I’ve ever done…) has been a huge help in getting to this point. My sister’s recent visit helped ground me and make some clearer decisions and Adin helped me laugh again (it had been a while!).

I am SO grateful for the amazing local friends supporting and helping us.  It began with a wonderful Italian dinner with Van and Susan, joined by Steve and Jeanne.  Fun BBQ with Matt and Kendall. Delicious home cooking at Bob and Amy’s (and a boat-delivered dinner!). An amazing BBQ party thrown by John and Melanie (and the painfully adorable Lucca) – with Karine, Marina, Laura Laura & John, Diane & Patrick, Jon & Jacqueline, Daniel, Colin (Dr. F), Lisa-Ann, Matt & Kendall, Peter& Julie.  Larry and Amber took us to our favorite Thai place. One last lunch with my sweet surrogate parents, Avi and Celia and another with my beloved Karine. Yard sale moral support on the hardest day (and stuff-taking!!) from Sarah and Marlene. On-going visits, veggies/eggs and support by Deanna (and kisses from Yuki and Tofu).  Constant support and check-ins by Leslie.  Advice, dinner, lunch, boat washing and marathon laundry project…Laura Laura and John. Advice and support from Jeff and Anne.  All the new and interesting people we met at our yard sales (Jill & Ken, Danni!).  Looking forward to a few more visits before we go – Sharleen and Jon, and whomever else might show up today or tomorrow.  Lindsey will (somehow) get our car today so she can deliver it down to Zac and Renee’s for us.  Of course all the people we’ve worked with over the years that really made this whole thing possible, too!!  Very thankful for everyone in our lives.

I hope we have some interesting stories and pictures soon.mystspot                      Shantytown

 

 

Bon Voyage Santa Cruz

We have successfully become unemployed (it’s much harder than you’d think!)  and are in the process of getting rid of every last thing that won’t fit on the boat and getting the boat ready for every last thing we wish … Continue reading