Channel Islands..& more
12 October 2000
Greetings from Albert anchorage on the South shore of Santa Cruz Island. Those who've been here before know how nice this is: a small cove, about 100 yds wide with a very small beach at the head - room for one or two boats only. I'm fore and aft anchored about 50 yds off the beach and the motion is almost as quiet as being at the dock. I've been here for several days and while a boat or two have come by to have a look, no one has attempted to anchor in close where I am, so it's been very quiet and private. I'll spend one more day here and head south to Redondo Beach/King Harbor where I can find a phone connection for this laptop.
All the Channel Islands are a National Park and landing on this portion of Santa Cruz Island is restricted. Not that I would care to go ashore - the terrain appears so rugged I doubt I could venture more than a few hundred yds from the beach. Water temp is up to 68 here, so later today I'll try to scrub the waterline and get some of the grass off the boot-stripe.
Yesterday morning, while enjoying the last cup of coffee in the cockpit I was treated to a family of wild pigs - a large spotted sow with five little jet-black piglets, each about 10 lb. - as they feasted on some carcass on the beach. For a half-hour they rooted around, pushing each other here and there while Mom made room for each little pig at a time to get into the main part of the meal. Apparently getting their fill, they eventually waddled off and up a creek bed leading into the steep hills beyond the beach.
I believe I last wrote about the passage from Hawaii to San Francisco, so I'll update you from there. It seemed to take a week to recuperate from that somewhat punishing three plus weeks at sea, but I eventually got my act together and commenced some maintenance projects while on the hook in Sausalito: Reattached the mainsail luff and foot slides; reinstalled the sheaves for the self-steering control lines and installed new lifelines and jacklines, among other smaller projects.
While in Sausalito I was visited by a number of friends from the N/W and had the opportunity to see "The Perfect Storm", along with some wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley, a nice tour around SF and Chinatown, and a day at the races with my old high school friend who continues to dominate with his bright red Sports 2000 race car.
Prior to heading on south, I took the boat up the San Joaquin River as far as Stockton, where I left it moored at their Sailing Club while I visited my older brother and his wife in the foothills of the Sierras, and also had a nice day with my oldest first cousin (85, is it Howard??) and his wife.
Surprisingly, I was able to sail (downwind ??) almost all of the 75 miles from San Pablo Bay to Stockton. Unfortunately, when it came time to return to the bay area, the wind was right on the nose and it was raining miserably. I motored for most of the way.
One of the benefits of traveling in the river for several days is most of the marine growth on the hull dies and falls off in the fresh water - it doesn't take long though, once back in the saltwater, for that stuff to begin again.
I departed San Francisco at "windy noon" and under the Golden gate with double-reefed main and staysail, enjoying a pleasant sail down the coast a short distance to Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point Harbor, a stop I didn't make last year. For those still to come this way, it's a great anchorage with good facilities ashore, but I'm afraid I'll have to give it a "0" for the numbers of kelp flies present. Fortunately, they didn't care for the below-decks, but when in the cockpit, I was covered. Also fortunately, they didn't bite, but certainly 'buzzed'.
After a few nights there, and reconnecting with N/W cruising friends aboard KACHINA, I headed on to Santa Cruz, where I was able to get a reasonably priced slip for a few days. There was a forecast for sizable swells from a storm south, so I was happy to be in a protected harbor for a while. I had the chance there to work on a couple other projects best carried out under calm, secure conditions, and after several days of hot weather and a short visit with another old high school friend, I had a great day-sail over to Monterey, where I anchored off the wharf as I had done last year. Some of you will recall the excitement of that anchorage a year ago, but this year all went well and I spent several more days there relaxing and visiting the sights, including the famed Aquarium.
While in Monterey, I met up with several fellow members of Bluewater Cruising Assoc. out of Vancouver, BC, and it turned out that a number of us decided to leave for ports south on the same day. Hauling anchor, there was barely wind to move out of the harbor, but we did and as we approached the point, encountered southerly winds of 25+ knots and building seas. After several hours of trying to progress, we all decided (mostly independently) to return to Monterey and await a change.
I set out again early the next morning to try and beat the rise in wind and was able to make it past Pt. Sur in mostly decent conditions. From there on into San Simeon for some needed sleep, it was not all that bad.
The following morning I started out, before the southerly began again, for the four hour motor trip to Morro Bay. A rather unique harbor, the sentinel of Morro Rock stands guard at the entrance to a channel that can become closed out by breaking swells on very short notice. That, combined with it's reputation as being one of the most foggy spots on the coast, makes for an interesting situation. Fortunately, with the un-seasonal southerlies, there was no fog and the swell had not built much over 3 feet, making the entrance quite benign. I really enjoyed the town of Morro Bay - touristy, but not too much and it still retains a fishing based ambiance.
Because of it's narrow, comma shape, the harbor has some of the most extreme tidal currents anywhere on the coast and I had the challenge of returning to my boat one night, rowing the dinghy, when the flow was running a good 4+ knots. The distance between a friends boat I had been visiting and mine was about 50 yds, but I spent an hour in the return, having to row diagonally across the channel to slower water, then moving upcurrent a substantial distance past my boat, so that on crossing the channel again in the strongest current I would hopefully intercept my boat and not be taken past it by the flow. It's an experience I don't care to repeat anytime soon.
Leaving Morro Bay the next day, after filling up with the cheapest diesel encountered on the coast, I was able to sail nicely in 20 - 25 kts of N/Westerly around Pt. Conception and into Cojo anchorage for a night's sleep and then on the next day to Santa Barbara. One rolly night there and I headed south to Channel Islands Harbor, near Oxnard, where I spent a week as the guest of two yacht clubs. Once again, several BCA members met up there and we enjoyed the facilities together. I was also able to reconnect with some cruisers I had met while there last year - two of whom will be coming to Mexico this season.
One of the better 'finds' in Oxnard that all cruisers should be aware of is the "99 Cent Store", where provisioning was very inexpensive, including some quite passable wines at, you guessed it, $0.99 per bottle!! (Yes, it even has a cork!)
I departed the harbor there about a week ago and have visited anchorages at Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, seeing some of the diversity of Channel Islands National Park.
Current plans would have me in San Diego by 20 OCT, to prepare for Mexico again. While waiting on that timetable, I'll be traveling inland to Oregon to visit my new grandson (or granddaughter) due around 10 NOV. Hopefully, I'll also have the opportunity to visit with several of you while there.
Fair winds and best regards to all.
Terry, aboard S/V SECRET O' LIFE