An intense afternoon.
14 September 2012 | Point Conception
Michael / Sunny and windy
Photo above is the shore we anchored on for the night.
What began as a leisurely sail down the coast this morning ended up as an intensely stressful day.
We had waited out our days in Avila Beach for a good weather window to go around Point Conception and today seemed like a pretty good opportunity. Our plan was to tightly hug the coastline down and around point conception and anchor just off the beach on leeward side to recover before continuing on to Santa Barbra the following day.
Our plan was fouled when the Coast Guard hailed us regards hazardous military operations in the danger zone we were traveling through. They said we would have to remain at least 4 miles off the coast until 4:00PM.
OK, no problem! We set out to sea rounding several oil platforms. By the time we reached Point Conception at 6 miles off shore, the wind had picked up to gale force 30 knots with gusting to 38 knots. The seas were easily a very steep 15 feet at about 5 seconds. As we passed around four oil platforms that looked so out of place in the midst of nothing but sea, we were fighting to maintain control of the helm. This is when we heard an explosion like none that I've ever heard. The deafening boom was like a single close dynamite blast except it continued on and on for several minutes. I tried to pinpoint the direction of the sound but it seemed to be coming from the water itself. It sounded as though the whole ocean around us had become a giant subwoofer for something just under the surface. The seas remained violent but the fog began to dissipate and the sky was blue with sunshine. The gigantic breaking seas on our stern were deep emerald reflecting the sun through the upper third. How can something so perfect and beautiful be so treacherous and life threatening? Suddenly I didn't care about my word to remain out of the Zone until 4:00. I began fighting to close the distance to shore but this put the steep water cliffs right on our beam and threatened to topple us into each clear green crevasse. I kept watching behind us and tightening the tack toward shore in-between each of the largest water walls.
For a time I didn't think that we would be able to make it in but would have to go clear to Santa Barbra, another exhausting six hours. But the closer we got the better the seas until alas, we are presently anchored just off shore in 20 knots of wind and swell and surrounded by beauty and yet it still threatens our very existence at every moment. The faith I must have in the holding on the sea floor. The faith I must have in that small stainless steel swivel that attaches the anchor to the 200 feet of chain I've deployed to set our tiny ship against the howling winds and seas that wish to drive us against the shore.
Iris had tears only once today when we were in the thick of it. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and asked "are we going to be OK?" I lied to her. And later on, after the stressful day she nearly had tears after the oven burned the cookies. They were still delicious and we ate them all after a fantastic shrimp salad and a bottle of wine.
The wind is still howling above, the bottle of Pinot Noir is empty and our tiny ship is still being tossed about but it doesn't compare to what we dealt with today, so with night falling fast upon us I will be grateful for this meager protection and retire for a long rough night.