2- San Francisco CA, USA to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
by Newest to Oldest
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,
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
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.
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,
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
1 Jan 07
San Diego, CA
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.
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.
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
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
- 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
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.
and Happy New Year to all.
17 Dec 06
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.
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
10 Dec 06
Island's Harbor (Oxnard), CA
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
CA - To understand this part
of our trip please start singing the theme song to Gilligan's
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
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.
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
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
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