29 August 2016
It was cold! We were sailing with a steady 17 knot wind and five to six foot waves. We were screaming through the water. It was great fun. But it was cold! Granted, maybe for most, it wouldn't be necessary to be covered from head to toe. (Note Ed in shorts sitting next to me.) But I suffer from Trigeminal Neuralgia, a nerve condition, and it can be triggered by cold wind so I wasn't taking any chances. Thus, the scarf circling my face.
We were on our way back from Santa Cruz Island on board Barbara Ann, a Tayana 48. We met the owners, and now our friends, Ed and Barb, while cruising in Mexico. They were our dock neighbors and sometimes, our buddy boat. Last season, Ed and Barb decided to return home to Santa Barbara where they have a slip and, more importantly, family. When they heard we were coming out to California they invited us to visit and to sail out to the islands for a couple of days.
Having missed our cruising buddies last season, we were all too happy to join them in Santa Barbara for a trip out to Scorpion, one of the several anchorages on Santa Cruz Island. This is one of their favorite spots as it hosts great kayaking, a relatively easy beach landing, and several hikes. It has been three years since we left the area and we miss the quiet beauty that lies amongst the coves of the Channel Islands.
We left early morning with a bank of clouds hanging low on the horizon. The seas were flat and the wind was waiting for the fog to lift. Still, it was a peaceful crossing and a perfect sea to watch for wildlife. No whale sightings but we did get a visit from a pod of dolphins. About an hour out, the sun broke through the clouds and the wind arrived. We turned off the engine and were able to sail for the rest of our journey.
The weather report was nebulous in that they predicted 10-20 knot winds. That's a wide range, lots of room for error. Not very helpful at all. As it turned out, the wind produced a steady 20 knots into the evening and throughout the night. No beach landings for us that day. Still, we enjoyed a delicious dinner while visiting with our friends.
There were six of us on Barbara Ann, as Bobbi and Don had joined us for the cruise. They, too, are from the local area (Oxnard) and are currently cruising in Mexico. So we had much to talk about and much to catch up on. Soon the sun set and it wasn't long that we followed and bedded down for the night. A rocking and rolling night!
Mornings at any anchorage are lovely but sitting in the cockpit at Scorpion sipping coffee reminded me of so many other mornings on Cadenza where Jay and I would linger; talking, dreaming, planning our cruising days that we now enjoy. While reminiscing, Ed poked his head out of the companionway to check out the weather. The wind had settled and a joint decision was made to take advantage of the relatively calm shore break.
The beauty of going on shore is the variety of activities to choose from. Swimming, beach-combing, and sun-tanning are a few. Kayaking, of course, as there are a few sea caves tucked in the walls of the cliffs. There is also a small museum one can visit and learn about the history of the island. There are hikes of different levels, different lengths, to choose from. And there are campgrounds. The kind where you pack in and pack out, keeping the scenery pristine. There are many things to do, but one never gets the sense you are in a tourist bubble. As part of the Channel Islands National Park, Scorpion cove still preserves the stark countryside that was present hundreds of years past.
We each voiced a vote for what we wanted to do. Bobbi decided to beach-comb for awhile and brought a book to pass the time. Ed, Barb, Don, Jay and I took a hike into the canyon and then up onto the ridge where the trail leads to an overlook of Potato Harbor. I don't think we made it quite as far as Potato Harbor but the views were breathtaking. Especially while standing on the edge, looking down at the sheer rock that dropped hundreds of feet into the deep blues and grays of the water below. Frothy seas crashed against the shore as the wind gusts tried desperately to capture our hats. Beyond the cliffs and across the vast expanse of ocean we could see the mainland as it stretched for miles. It is times like this I imagine what it was to be a sea explorer, hundreds of years ago, when all this was new to their eye.
Once back down on shore, the waves were rising with the increasing winds. Ed and Barb had recently purchased a new dinghy and it was much lighter than their old one. I don't think Ed took that into account when he tried to pick us up (two at a time). The current was running strong and he took great strides with the oars to make it into shore. Eventually we all got back to the boat. A little wet, yes, but fortunately, with no great dinghy-dumping stories.
A good day of hiking leads to an early night in bed. The heavy winds continued through the night, keeping us alert and, in the end, a bit sleep deprived. Nevertheless, we did get some rest and awoke to another beautiful morning. It was time to return and already the winds and waves were showing us it could be "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" for the crossing. We weighed anchor and before we were even out of the cove we got hit by a big wave, crashing over the bow and into the companionway. Luckily, I was below, but I heard it was a big splash!
So, it was on this day, sailing home, that the air was cold. The wind was a steady 17 knots and the waves were five to six feet. We were screaming through the water. It was great fun. But it was cold!