Leg 2- San Francisco CA, USA to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
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General Comments on the Leg

We did it. Over 2 thousand miles and four months of coastal cruising and were in the tropics. Cabo San Lucas is on the same Latitude as Hawaii (Latitude 22). The learning curve was steep and still continues but we did it. Was it all fun and frolics; absolutely not, but it was definitely an adventure. I can see why the cruising life is so appealing to some people. What's next? We don't know because the one major thing we did learn in this new life is no plan survives for any length of time; you simply have to go with the flow and see where it takes you. Much more fun to follow I hope.

30 Jan 07

Cabo San Lucas, Baja Mexico

Lands EndWe have finally made it to the bottom of the baja. Cabo San Lucas is everything everyone said it would be. It is horrible for us but perfect for the party crowd. Panga and jet-ski's strive to go as fast as possible, as close to the boat as possible all day long. The music from the Beach Parties blare all night and day and cruise ships crowd the harbor. However it is warm and sunny. We won't be staying long.

This last jump from Bahia Tortugas to Cabo was the complete opposite to the trip from Ensenada to Tortugas. The weather was perfect with winds helping or not blowing at all. Plenty of whales, dolphins, surfing for the kids and lots of sunshine with hot days and cool nights. We left Turtle Bay on the 25th after 4 nights there where mostly the Santa Ana winds kept us locked to the boat.When we did got off the village was not much to look at with dusty potholed roads and dilapidated buildings, however the people were friendly but we were introduced to the flexible pricing system for gringos where a price is established then when payment is due it suddenly changes up a bit. Nothing we can do about it as it is the way down here since they look at us as walking ATM machines. We did meet some more great cruisers on their way down the coast. The picture at left is downtown and at right is the beach from the restaurant balcony where we had fabulous fish tacos.

After a couple of days travel below Turtle Bay we stopped at Bahia Santa Maria, a lovely bay just outside Bahia Magdalena. Santa Maria had clear warm water with a sandy beach, perfect for surfing and that is what the kids did from the minute they got there until we left. It was so lovely we stayed two nights instead of the planned one, also meeting more great cruisers.

During the transit days we saw whales all the way down and dolphins by the hundreds. The picture to the left is a gray whale just off the point going into the bay and about the right distance from us for my liking. The dolphins at right were always welcome and we enjoyed their frequent visits.

Here I'm taking the kids to the beach. I get them to just outside the surf line then over the side they go. When they want to come back they swim out beyond the surf and I retrieve them for the ride back. Works great.

In the bay itself is small pangaro fishing huts where the locals stay while fishing in the area. They hand line for bottom fish and put out pots for lobster. We traded for more in the bay but these guys were very tough hombres. The cost for eight small lobster this time was 7 fishing hooks, a number of old fishing hoochies, 3 ginger ale, a shirt, 2 big chocolate bars and a visor hat. This took quite sometime to arrange but it was fun for us. I'm not quite sure what they thought about it and were leery of taking pictures in this situations due to offending the locals. The picture at left is the big picture look at their huts and on the right is a closer look. I tried a beach surf landing in the dingy but got very wet so this is as close as we got.

The Baja is all big vista stuff with rugged barren coastal mountains marching down to the sea and is virtually unpopulated. The sea itself at 70 degrees is teaming with life and continually surprises us with new birds, animals and fishes to look at.

So after several thousand miles and 4 months were here. What the next step is were not sure. Were thinking of hopping over to Mazatlan or maybe going up to La Pas but who knows. We can't stay in Cabo long as it way too expensive but we will let you know what ever we do. TTYL

22 Jan 07

Bahia de Tortugas, Baja Mexico

Well we made it to Turtle Bay (Bahia de Tortugas) but I could write a book on the last 300 miles. Remember when I said earlier that cruising can be scary and wonderful, sometime in the same day. Well this hop had it all in abundance. Of course the plan was for smooth sailing as it suppose to be good NW winds for at least 5 days. WRONG AGAIN Muchachos.

Black PearlIn Ensenada they have berthed the Black Pearl for a few months before taking her back to the Caribbean.

After leaving Ensenada in the afternoon we passed the point of the bay with a pod of dolphins playing around the boat in the dying light. Although we had seen many of them after passing Point Conception, none up close. This time they were all around the boat and trying to see us. They kept rolling over and looking at us with very intelligent eyes. It was very weird and exhilarating at the same time. That night and next day unfortunately brought squalls in secession with no wind between. The squalls moved over us every few hours. These brought lots of wind; all from the wrong direction; and lots of rain. During one Laurie and I heard a tremendous noise beside us and looked to see a gray whale just off the edge of the boat. Another one appeared suddenly very close and they decided to pretend to be dolphins. They were at least 35 ft long and I don't know how many tons. They played in our bow wake and all around the boat. Mean while the wind is howling, rains pouring down, kids are sleeping and I'm freaking. I thought for sure they were going to hit us on more than one occasion. Suddenly I had an inspiring thought and realized were were sailing with no mechanical device going. The Autopilot and motor were off so I turning on the motor and they vanished as suddenly as they appeared. Sorry no pictures due to the Moby Dick syndrome.

That night we watched very large thunderstorms develop north and west of us throughout the night. By the early hours it was stretched across the sky from horizon to horizon. With dread I realized that we were about to get beat up severely. At one point we could see many forked lightening strikes hit the surface in succession from S to N of us. A most frightening and awe inspiring view. Just after 7 am it come upon us with a fiery like nothing else we have seen to date. Shrieking wind and horizontal rain. It was blowing so hard the swell was flattened to nothing. Many lightning strikes were around us but none hit us. Just as suddenly it was over leaving only a confused seas and a dazed crew. On reflection it was not as bad as my nerves led me to believe it would be and the boat and crew handled it very well.

We diverted to a bay fairly close by, Bahia San Quintin, to stop and regroup. We had only made 90 miles in three days and we wondered if the weather was safe enough to cross Bahia Vizcaino which has a reputation of being a bad weather spot. Plus our fuel was touch and go to have to motor the entire distance from that point. Well the sky was clear and the wind was down so what the heck, off we went. The next morning the sea was still calm and just enough wind from the east to move us along at 3.5 kts. As if to confirm our luck change we caught our first tuna. You can see Laurie in the background figuring out how to cook the sucker which turned out mighty fine by the way.

By the following morning we were across the bay and within 20 mile of Turtle Bay plus a good NW wind came up to push us along with gusto. Pangueros or Pango Fisherman zoomed up to us to trade spiny lobster. They were a hoot and we traded 6 beer and one chocolate bar for 8 lobster. They thought they had died and gone to heaven and so did we.

However the fun was not over. Through the Punta Eugenia narrows we avoided all but one of the lobster floats which of course fowled the prop. It was too rough to go over the side. I didn't want to cut it away as then the fishermen would loose their traps so with much effort we cut the too ends and spliced them together leaving a ten foot section attached to us. This meant we made our first sailing entry into a harbor after a very long and tiring trip. With the strong NW we were able to do it and even sailed up to the correct anchorage spot to drop the anchor. They call this place coyote ugly but to us is was wonderful.

The picture to the left is of the village church and hilly background which makes up most of the baha.

To the right is Laurie and the kids coming back to the boat after taking a pangero ride to the beach. We couldn't take the dingy due to the Santa Ana winds coming across the bay right now. TTYL

 

15 Jan 07

Ensenada, Mexico

We made it to Mexico finally but of course it was not easy. The weather was suppose to be NW winds but as soon as we started out of San Diego it was blowing SE right into our face. It changed to an E wind which means Santa Ana, a scary wind to us but we could sail on a reach most of the way. However this wind causes a steep and short period chop to build which makes the ride very rough. The trick is to sail close to shore to get away from this but my charts of Mexico are not good enough to do that at night so we ran off to the W to find the NW wind. It hide from us no matter how hard we searched and the two options were to buck our way to the head of the bay where Ensenada is or sail to Hawaii. Funny everyone but me wanted to go to Ensenada. This took all day and night in what turned out to be the coldest weather in 30 years around here. In the morning the E wind faded out and we motored into the bay while listening to our first Cruisers Net. This is where all the cruisers listen in to VHF 22 at a set time. Someone moderates and all manner of problems, weather etc are sorted out. This goes on all the way throughout Mexico and it works great.

This is the enormous Mexican flag flown in the center of the harbour of Ensenada. The kids were wide eyed as we made our way around the city for the first time because this is truly foreign to them and us. We wished immediately that we had worked on our Spanish more.

Frankly we were glad to get out of San Diego. For all its marine concentric ways it was the most unfriendly harbour to the average cruiser we had every been in. In their zeal to eliminate the riff raff from the area, all the Harbor Police have done is made it so difficult to stay there that normal cruisers give up in disgust. As an example our new mizzen sail was not ready by the end of our total days allowed on the public dock and no excuse made a dent on their bureaucratic armour, even if the dock was half empty. The only option was to move to either of two anchorages, one just off the main harbour and susceptible to all manner of wake from ships and the S wind. The other at Gloreatta Bay which looked snug but over 5 miles from any suppliers. We chose the bay as we were worried about the approaching storm last weekend. What none of the Harbour Patrol staff mentioned is the there is little or no holding at Gloreatta Bay in any wind. All the locals including the police knew this. Of course we dragged repeatedly while there and eventually gave up and headed back to the main anchorage which could only be used on weekends. We tried to get permission to go there but were told that all permits were out so is was verboten. The whole time were staring at an empty anchorage. People often preorder the permit which is free then don't come because of the weather. I said to hell with it and anchored for the night any ways.

Before leaving we took some pictures of the very impressive military presense here. San Diego is a major Naval base for the US and it has a huge Navel Air Base as well. Just across from the main city center is the Aircraft Carrier dock which at the moment had only two there, one of which was the Nimitz.

After passing under the San Diego/Coronado bridge, as far as the eye could see were naval ships docked on the east side of the bay. Here is a picture of just a few of them. A very impressive display of military might and as Billy said don't piss off the Americans.

We officially cleared into Mexico today which took all day as a matter of fact. Laurie was pulling her hair out by half way through but I thought is was very familiar as the mindless bureaucracy was so like everything I had experienced in the military. My goal was to make the grumpy "migration" man behind the glass smile. We were there so long that by the end we almost had him smiling; he at least impressively waved us passed everyone else in line to deal with us quickly (we had to go back to him countless times to process paper after paper). The last thing we had to do was walk up to what looked like a street light and push a button. If it made the big red light go on they were to come out to the boat and search it. However it went to green which gave us a pass on 'inspection'. TTYL

9 Jan 07

San Diego, CA

It looks like another big front is due to arrive on Wednesday and Thursday this week so it is unlikely we will get out of here for Mexico prior to this as our new mizzen sail is not here yet. It will be ready by the end of the week hopefully. We have used up our time at the public dock (you can only stay 10 days out of 40 there) so were moving to Glorietta Bay anchorage tomorrow to wait out the weather etc. Hopefully on Friday we can make a run for Ensenada. It is only 70 km or so. This still means a night run as it is too far to get there in the day time. We will leave around 3 pm and be there sometime the next morning with the right winds.

4 Jan 07

San Diego, CA

It's Tommy's birthday today and Laurie made a cake (yes Britt your daughter made a cake, hard to believe I know) plus a yummy steak dinner. Now our second child is a teenager; what's the deal with that!! Were sorry for the sporadic updates but access to the internet is quite hard for us on the Public Dock here in San Diego. It is at the end of the spit on America's Cup Harbor and is about a mile to everything, plus were going flat out to get all the major projects done that we can prior to Mexico.

This is a picture of the standard yachts here in Southern California; the center of conspicuous wealth. This place is truly different than anywhere we have ever been. Money matters here but more importantly the display of wealth matters and the economy in the harbor is based on this premise. You will find common people on the public dock but everywhere else is so expensive that only the truly wealthy can partake; however I have also spotted many people who obviously live in their cars, RV's etc. People here talk of the unlucky who required hospitalization or surgery which wiped them out, or took a business risk and now are destitute. The deeper into Southern California we got, this reality became more apparent. What a beautiful place but I now realize why Hollywood is here.

Well the list of new things keeps piling up. A new mizzen sail is being made for us by Quantam Sails as I write this. A new low power usage freezer - 32 qt. Two hundred feet of new 5/16 High Test chain and all the associated couplings. A new primary fuel filter system, an on demand shower system and the list keeps going. All the experienced cruisers tell us to get these major items sorted out here or it will never get sorted out down south. Mind you the conflicting advice coming from all directions is starting to get to us. Luckily there is a family here on a big cat who have cruised extensively through out the Caribbean and Central America. Their help has been great. Thank you John and Claudia.

Laurie is busy sorting through all the paperwork required for Ensenada. List of gear which includes all their serial numbers, despasho list (crew list), copies of the boat registration etc. 12 copies of all primary documents must be made prior to Mexico and once in country and stamped then 20 copies of each must be made. Sounds like the Canadian Military took lessons from the Mexicans, or vice versa.

San Diego is definitely a border town and the riff raff floating around here is something to behold. We were told that the Harbor Police were extremely official and very strict. After observing how some of the locals operate I can see why they are. There is a big storm approaching the coast right now but this time were prepared; I doubled the lines and doubled the fenders. No more surprise 50kt winds.

If everything gets done and that is a big if, then we plan on leaving for Ensenada on Wednesday next week. Were going to stop along the way from Turtle Bay down (about 1/2 way between Ensenada and Cabo) to let the boys surf as much as they can. There are a number of bays about a day sail apart where the surfing is suppose to be great. Once we round Cabo and head up to La Paz the surfing is gone until we head over to the mainland, and as you can tell were not fast sailors. Talk to you before we shove off.

1 Jan 07

San Diego, CA

It was a wonderful whirlwind Christmas visit to San Diego generally and the Zoo and Game Farm specifically. The rental car was neat to have but we quickly figured out that the 8 lane freeways going in every direction were going to be just as challanging as navigating the boat. Unless your going 80mph and talking on your cell phone your not going to fit in. We have become use to a life that is much slower than this so for me it was good to get back to the boat and chill.

If we had to choose between the Zoo or the Wild Animal Park it would be the Park hands down. The Zoo is very well done with amazing displays and aviaries galore but all in all the animals are in cages and they know it. Other than the Meercats, which never stop moving, most of the other animals just sleep through it all. If you have never been to a zoo then this is the one to see but for us we just started feeling sorry for them. For the most part all the animals in both places are in there for breeding purposes. Most of them I had never heard of and were quite rare or threatened.

The Wild Animal Park was amazing. It was huge and covered an entire valley. A train took us around the big open paddocks in the morning and it is only then that you reallize just how big this place is; plus the animals move just like the wild. The picture to the right is of the vets working on an animal behind the vehicles. As was told to us the Giraffes are the most curious of animals and most know everything going on. The vets have to make a wagon circle with their trucks or they push right through to get the best look; as if they have too. The farm is too big to see all of properly in one day but we did our best. Below this write up is just a few of the better pictures of the farm and zoo.

As it turned out we were very glad we had gotten back to the boat when we did as the next day a Santa Ana wind blew up and the picture to the left was at it height when winds down the harbour were over 50 kts. This is a supposedly safe harbor folks.

Boats were breaking off their mooring balls constantly and the Harbor Police were very busy roaring back and forth sorting them out. They could do nothing about lose sails though and right beside us on a monohull, its' roller furling jib partially came loose and within minutes the sail was torn to pieces; a very expensive thing to happen. Our mooring line ran through a shackle rated at over 1000 lbs to reduce chafing. It suddenly twisted and snapped off around 3pm. Billy and I managed to get it sorted out but it was touch and go. It was blowing too hard to stand up completely straight and we had to crab our way around the deck. This place can be very weird at times. Generally it is lovely and warm here but in an instant it can become a very dangerous place for boats due to the Santa Ana's.

Here are the ten major things we have learned in the last three months:

  • Weather rules all.
  • The dollar value of the boat determines how friendly the owners are. The less the money it cost, the nicer the people are.
  • The cruising community is everything we had read it was.
  • We will never take a shower for granted again or the distance to a grocery store for that matter.
  • On the ocean if it can break, it will and usually more than one at a time so you have to keep it simple.
  • When your engine is giving you grief look behind you because that is usually when a freighter is bearing down on you at 30 kts.
  • Cruising on a boat is wonderful and frightening. Sometimes it can be both several times in one day.
  • The boat can take more bad weather than the crew can.
  • If you want to lose weight and get into shape forget the fitness stores and spas, buy a boat and live on it.
  • Did I mention that weather rules all!

We left Newport on the last day of 2006 and are now tied up at the Public Dock in San Diego. Our new Rogers cell phone of course does not work so it and the old one will soon see the bottom of the ocean. The boys are going to get a bunch of school work sorted out this week and as soon as that and all of the provisions are aboard were off to Mexico. We want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best, TTYL.


20 Dec 06

Newport Beach, CA

Well the Christmas plans have been made. Were off to San Diego to see both the zoo and the wild animal park. Four nights in a hotel. Lots of hot hot showers that don't end after 3 min plus tv which should be strange to watch again.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

17 Dec 06

Newport Beach, CA

Were in the OC's playground (current popular teenager's show. OC stands for Orange County). Newport is about 1/2 between Long Beach and San Diego. It is the former home of John Wayne (John Wayne International Airport is off to the east of us) and now apparently Nicholas Cage lives here (we have yet to spot any celebrities). They only have mooring buoys here so were on the hook, sort of, again. Lovely beaches and piers though.

We left Oxnard last thursday and spent two nights in Redondo Beach harbor. It was an uneventful windless long day of motoring to get there. All these places have the wonderful beaches as seen in the picture above. However Redondo Harbor was easy to get to but very polluted. The boardwalk was nice but very touristy and most stuff was closed due the time of year. Not a bikini in site for the boys to see much to their disappointment.

The sail down to Newport was the opposite of the trip to Redondo as a strong SW wind was blowing. It was their first winter storm and after beating our way around Pt Vincinte (just west of LA Harbor) we turned and ran down to this place. The wind made it a wonderful sail with speeds averaging 7 kts. Towards the end we were moving through the water at over 11 kts which was too much for me and down came the main sail. Back at 7 kts it felt like we were putting along.

Of course we arrived on their busiest night of the year (their parade of lights) and as we tried to get to the Harbor Master's guest dock we had to make our way through a fleet of little sailing boats racing for the finish line which was exactly at the spot we needed to get to. It would seem we love a complex and difficult docking scenario and so we did it again. As little dinghies zipped under our bow (more than one as they used us as a shield to slow their buddies down; very competitive here) we weaved our way through the million dollar yachts and docked at a very short guest dock. They assigned us a Mooring Buoy and just before last light finally got settled.

This harbour is huge and their Parade of Lights is twice as big as anybody else's plus it ran 7 days in a row with Saturday Night (the night we arrived) being their extra special long addition. Again our pictures do not do it justice but hopefully gives an idea of what it was like. However it was the third parade we have seen so we went back to our nightly rummy game rather than watch all of it.

We will be here a while as we sort out more problems. The charging system, new fridge and shower system will hopefully get done here is short order (ha) but that is the plan anyway's. Billy has a new surfboard and Tommy has a new boogie board (Thank you Grandma's) they are dying to try out plus it is very picturesque here. TTYL

10 Dec 06

Channel Island's Harbor (Oxnard), CA

Southern California; I see why half the world wants to live here. It is normally sunny with highs in the 70s and lows around the mid to low 40s. There was a storm last night with some rain and that was the first time in a week where it was even remotely uncomfortable. People have been kind and friendly; without even knowing our names people have offered us their cars to use, tools what ever they felt we needed.

Earlier this week a gentleman introduced himself to us. Helvan was originally from Canada but has lived many years in Southern California. He gave us the rundown on the local communities and we brought him up to date on the happenings in the lower mainland of BC. He then asked if we would like to shop at all the good stores which are beyond our reach. On Wednesday he took Laurie and Billy on a consumer world wind tour of stores the like they and I never knew existed. Electronic stores so large that there is 70 checkouts and in the center there is a large restaurant. Helvan stated that when the sales are on all 70 are in use. One amazing store after another. He was the picture of kindness, showing Laurie the good stuff and then popping off to get a coffee, allowing them to get everything we needed then packing everything into his car and charging off to another place. At the end of the day he delivered the happy shoppers back at the dock and wished us a good voyage then left to prepare dinner for his wife. It was wonderfully kind of him.

This harbour is typical of many of the man made harbours that dot the southern coast. Build a big breakwater in front, then dig a channel back into the land. This harbour has two channels with the lower half dotted with marina's and boat yards. Of course the Coast Guard and Harbor Master are at the entrance. Further back the residential housing starts where your backyard is the channel and your own private dock. Needless to say they are beautiful homes with to die for boats tied up to the dock. Expensive on a scale outside our world.

Everything we need is conveniently close such as laundromats, marine supply and hardware etc. Of course I'm working on the boat. The fuel pump died so I replaced it with an electric one. Wiring was a problem so I decided to redo the entire instrument panel, buy proper marine grade ones and rewire the engine etc. A big job but I've keep all the rest of the marine supply stores busy above here and felt it would be unfair to not give a large pile of money to the local businesses.

Although it was stormy last night the 41st annual Parade of Lights still went ahead. This is where it seemed everybody got into their boat after dark and went out into the harbour to watch a parade of specially lighted boats move past in a procession. That sentence is a complete understatement. They where not lit up; they were floats on the water. Some were as ornate as anything you would see in the best Santa Claus Parade's in the world. Music blaring, lights and complete theme systems where the boat is totally hidden. The smaller boats towed dingys in which the Honda generators were going which supplied the electricity. It was unbelievable and none of the pictures we took did it justice.

Christmas is almost here but we have been having trouble getting use to the idea. All around us the locals are definitely into it. Decorated homes and Christmas music is everywhere plus we see cars going by with fir trees on the top. Watching someone decorate their large palm tree with a Santa Sleigh and Reindeer theme just blew us away. Yesterday as part of the Parade of Lights the local county trucked in 25 tons of snow for the kids to play in. Billy took some pictures of it at left. Kids where decked out in snow boots and pants. Laurie overhead one mother stating that they would have to go home soon to get the kids into a hot bath. We were standing there in shorts and t-shirts.

We are here until Thursday as that is as long as we can stay at the public dock. Too bad as we really like it here and would love to have stayed longer. Oh well it is time to get to San Diego and prepare for Mexico. Billy is right into the spanish now and is helping the rest of us. Talk to you soon.

3 Dec 06

Channel Island's Harbor (Oxnard), CA

After a rolly night at the Ventura's Harbor Master's dock we left for this harbor. None of the Ventura marina's had room for us and any decent store was at least a mile away. This harbor has turned out to be a lovely surprise with excellent and reasonably priced moorage, clean close bathrooms and all the stores we need within a few blocks. The Santa Ana winds gave us a scare just before the entrance bouy (See below for more on this) but we made it even with the lift fuel pump on my engine packing it in. Shortly we will have more on this area with pictures of all the palm trees etc.

By the way even the locals say you can not predict the Santa Ana winds. We're here in the middle of their season for them and all one can do is look for the indicators like a very high pressure area in Nevada with an inverted low out here. If at sea the trick is to stay as close to the shore as possible as if is always an offshore wind. At least this way one only has to deal with the wind and not the waves.

2 Dec 06

Ventura, CA - To understand this part of our trip please start singing the theme song to Gilligan's Island

We took no pictures as this leg from San Francisco to here as it was only suppose to be a 3 hour tour. In Sausalito we had lived on the hook and depleted the food stores and piled up the laundry but of course we were only going to Monterey Bay; a 24 hour easy sail.

The weather was good with a light NW wind and a low swell. All reports were good to go as they say. Off we went! The bar outside San Francisco was a bit rough but we headed south and after a few miles and the bar behind us everything smoothed out and it was a beautiful sail. Night fell on a flat calm sea.

Around midnight an oily east swell slowly started to build. By my watch at 5 am it was lumping into us but there was no wind? By first light though a nasty SE headwind came up and built up to around 25 kts. We made it to about half way across Monterey Bay before reality set in and we gave up, changed coarse to the west and ran away to the big blue.

About 10 miles offshore the big seas and wind died down. Take stock time. There is really nothing between Monterey and Point Conception (The last big obstacle to get around and where the sea changes to Tropical). We could stop at Morro Bay above Point Conception but there is little there and it means crossing another bar, not one of Laurie's favorite things to do. We had enough water and fuel but the fresh supplies were thin and clean underwear was a thing of the past. Oh well there is always lots of chili in a can and pork and beans. After a lovely afternoon of light winds and calm seas we motored into the night. Two more easy days of this and we would be below Point Conception and in Ventura.

After midnight back came the weird swell from the east and at daybreak on came the wind but this time it was really blowing, 30 plus kts. Run my little pretty run and so we did off to the west. Only this time we were over 20 miles offshore and the wind did not go down, plus we were in the very busy shipping lanes full of freighters. There was nothing we could do. The seas were rough with confusing swells from the E and NW. Slowly by midday the wind backed to NW and the seas sorted themselves out into a steady NW swell; big but we had done this before so no problem, just surf along and go like the wind. Storm sail and reefed missen was all we needed to do lots of surfing to 9 kts and sometimes over 11 kts. It was amazing and a little disconcerting to see those hugh freighters roaring by us at 20 to 30 kts into the wind as if it was not even there. Unfortunately they were a little close for my liking, some less than 2 miles which on the sea is like being parallel parked.

We made Point Aquillo by last light and spotted our first Oil Platform. These dot the California coast all the rest of the way down but no worries about seeing them as they are lit up by about a million lights. The turn around to Point Conception was rough as now we were taking the waves on the port stern quarter. On a number of occasions it slew us around after a big foaming sea roared into that Alma. Laurie was hiding under the blankets in the stern cabin as the noise from the waves roaring up behind us was a little overwhelmingly. Billy was in his bunk also as he had been effected by Mal de Mar again so it was up to Tommy and me to watch the helm and curlers roll by.

Finally we were around the point and the sea and wind were going down. We were now in tropical water and running up Santa Barbara channel. It was noticably warmer even at this point of the night. I told the crew that it was finally over and only clear skies and calm seas were ahead. They made me eat my hat for that one.

Santa Ana strikes again

What we did not know and the weather service did not inform us was that we were experiencing Santa Ana winds all the way down. We were about to shortly experience them at their very worst. It is an experience that I never want to go through again.

The day dawned beautiful and hot!!! This was the life; flat calm and in your shorts by 8 am. This was what we had come this way to experience. Ventura did not have room for us but the next harbour along, Channel Islands did. A few more hours of motoring and voila, hot showers and fresh food. The water was warm enough to take a salt water bath on the deck which I did (this experience alone scarred Tommy for life). Again the weird east swell came up and by noon was really pitching the boat around. No wind though. Laurie went down below to pour an ice tea. By the time she came up we saw a wall of white caps coming directly at us. She never got a chance to drink the ice tea because in 2 short minutes it went from dead calm to blowing over 35 kts. We at first thought we could get a tack into it and beat off to the south and eventually tack back to the north and into the entrance (we were only 7 miles from the harbour). For the first time since we left I say green water coming over the bow of the boat. The waves built up to an astonishing height almost immediately. When green water started thumping into our forward windows that was enough for me. I spun the boat around and headed for Santa Barbara which was down wind and with this wind we should make in no time. Two miles back along our coarse the wind died (not the seas) then suddenly changed to a strong West wind. I was dumb founded. We could not go forward or back. To heck with no room in Ventura, it was the closest to us and what we needed now was a dock. The radio was now alive with May Day calls from all over the place including just in front of us at the harbour we were trying to get into. The weather channel was explaining that we were in a Santa Ana event and that winds in excess of 40 kts with gust to 60 kts were likely. Around Anacapa Island off to our south it was already blowing over 60 kts so going that way was out of the question.

The situation had gone from jovial to grim in minutes. The run into Ventura was very difficult as gust would bring the boat to a dead stop. Slowly as we approached the beach the wave height went down and finally around 4 pm we made it to the Harbour Master's Dock. They were understanding but to our chagrin we had arrived on the busiest night of the year and there was no room in the inn. The only option was to run around to behind the breakwater and anchor in the sand trap. We did just before last light and managed, after a couple of tries to get the anchor to hold. All night it blew and all night we sat on anchor watch. The next morning it really came up and after first light it was blowing 40 kts across the deck and this was behind a big stone jetty. It was only a matter of time but finally around 11 am the anchor dragged. At that wind speed we had calculated that we would have 30 seconds before the boat was on the rocks of the outer breakwater. Fortunately I had warmed the engine readying for this and the crew was prepared. Once the engine was going it took full power to bring her into the wind. Tommy kept her there and Billy and I helped the windless haul the anchor up. A very fast run through the breakwater channel plus a slow run up the main channel finally put us on the Harbour Master's dock again and this time we were allowed to stay. What they didn't know was only a gun would have gotten us to move..

So here we are in Southern California. Palm Trees are everywhere plus Christmas ornaments and Christmas music, very disconcerting. Were going to start taking pictures again. TTYL

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