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Steve & Joni's Sailing Adventures
07/14/2012, Santa Catalina Island

The 65-mile trip from Ventura to Santa Catalina Island started before dawn with heavy fog and visibility of about 1/10 mile. The fog eventually burned off but grey clouds remained and the wind never picked up more than 10 knots. We arrived at West End of the island towards dinner time and picked up a mooring in Catalina Harbor, which is on the "back side" and less often used side of the isthmus. The picture above was taken as we approach the West End of the island, just before entering the harbor.
We've spent the last couple of days hiking the island trails and kayaking before returning to our quite anchorage for dinner and a movie or reading. The sun finally came out this morning as we walked over to the USC Marine Research Center and listened to some grad students talk about their work.
Over the weekend Two Harbors on the mainland side of the isthmus opposite us began to fill up with hundreds of boats and all their assorted water toys. It was quite entertaining to watch the activity from a table at the Harbor Reef Bar. Although we couldn't handle being part of the crowd, it is definitely warmer over here and the water is nicer to swim in. So tomorrow, after everyone heads back home, we'll sail around the West End and moor in Two Harbors.

The Tug Boat Captain and the Ballerina
07/06/2012, Santa Cruz Island

As I wrote in the last post, Santa Cruz Island was everything that San Miguel was not - warm, peaceful and relaxing. Our original destination was Coches Prietos, charming little bay nearly enclosed on three sides and opening to a wide sandy beach. But upon arrival we found it full with a dozen weekend boaters. After considering how we might lay an anchor and squeeze ourselves in, we decided instead to motor around the next point and stay beneath Albert's Arch, a massive 600 ft. high bluff that dropped straight down to the water and completely shielded us from the N and W wind.
In the morning we took the dingy around the corner to land on the beach at Coches Prietos. From there a trailhead leads into the interior of the island and we hiked up to the ridge, which is about 1,300 ft at that point. On the way back to our boat we introduced ourselves to Russ and Katie Sullivan aboard the JK, a Monk 50 steel tug that Russ had built (pictured above) and received an invitation to come aboard for drinks later in the afternoon. That turned out to be the pattern for each of the next several days.
From the very beginning, Russ and Katie proved to be some of the most gracious and interesting people we met on our trip - and perhaps anywhere for that matter.
At the age of nearly 70, Russ still looks every inch the Southern California surfer. He is a retired tug captain who had spent 50 years at sea as a professional diver and later the owner of a successful salvage and safety at sea company. We spent several days listening to Russ tell his amazing stories, starting with wrestling a bear at the carnival as a teenager to farming hay in Utah to being dropped into the North Sea to salvage oil rigs. It was quite amazing.
Katie is a retired performing artist who taught at UCSD and performed ballet professionally for many years. She still does her daily "bar exercises" and has the flexibility of a 20-year old.
We happily spent several days enjoying their company, cooking big meals, drinking wine and laying about in the sunshine.

On the Islands At Last
07/03/2012, Santa Cruz Island

I'm writing this from Ventura Harbor after spending the last week out of range.
After rounding Pt. Conception and sailing across the Santa Barbara Channel from Coho in rough seas, we tucked into Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel Island close under a big bluff to shelter us from the strong Pacific NW winds. But even here, the wind gusts over the ridge were strong enough to lift the spay vertically off the waves next to our boat. Too rough to even launch the dingy and go ashore. Cold and foggy all day - sometimes could not see the shore 100 yards away.
We were pinned down on San Miguel Island by bad weather for 3 days. Joni & I spent our time reading detective novels and playing cribbage all day while the cabin heater kept us warm. Nights were VERY long and VERY dark as the boat tossed and turned. I got no sleep at all on the first night. In the morning I set out a second anchor. After that I could sleep for a few hours at a time between position checks.
By the end of the third day I was thinking about how much battery power and water we had. The whole experience gave me a sense for what some of the early explorers must have felt like.
On the 4th day it was calm when I woke up . No Idea what conditions out in the Santa Barbara Channel were like but it took me about 10 minutes to get the boat ready and make our escape.
About 8 hours later we dropped anchor on the south side of Santa Cruz Island in a spot called Albert's Arch. It is only 40 miles east but like a different world. (that where this phot was taken) Warm. Calm. Sunny. Lovin' it! We met some great people and had an awesome time... more in the next post.

07/10/2012 | Todd
Trip looks amazing - hope the great weather keeps holding up for ya!!
Waiting to round Pt. Conception
06/27/2012, Morro Bay, CA

We've been tied up at the Morro Bay Yacht Club guest dock since Tuesday night, waiting for a good weather window for rounding Pt. Conception. We need to make a minimum of 85 miles to the next refuge anchorage at Coho but may press on to our first island stop at San Miguel if conditions are right.
It's a long way in either direction to the next safe anchorage and this section of the coast is notorious for rough weather. So they get plenty of boats stopping here to wait for a good weather window and the MBYC is famous for their hospitality. This trip was no different. We've enjoyed peddling around town, stopping for craft beers at random and watching the kids in their summer sailing classes in the Back Bay. Tonight we've been invited to a BBQ but need to get to bed early. Looks like tomorrow is the day and we'll cast off as close to 0400 as we can manage.

Big Sur Coast
06/25/2012, Monterey to San Simeon

It was worth waiting for the right weather for the 80 mile run down to San Simeon. We left Monterey early Sunday morning and by 8:30 am conditions were perfect with following winds of 12-15 kts that were steady all day. Unlike our last trip, we stayed close enough to shore to enjoy the view of the spectacular Big Sur coastline.
Oh, yeah... and we counted 18 whales yesterday - most within 1/4 mile of the boat, including one very large Grey Whale. For our friends who worry about such things, none of them attacked our boat or sheered off the rudder. Although we did always keep an eye out and gave them a wide berth when possible.

07/12/2012 | jerry young
What a view!
Postcard Pretty
06/25/2012, Monterey

Monterey is very pretty but crowded. We were anxious to keep going but also wanted to avoid the big wind and waves on the next leg past Point Sur that we ran into last time. We ended up hanging around for a couple of days. The folding bikes have turned out to be one of the best things we bought for the trip. We cruised all around town and checked out the historical sites that were too far to walk on previous trips.

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Sailing to the Channel Islands
Who: Steve & Joni Stein
Port: San Francisco
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