Sunday, August 30, 2009

Marina Del Rey

Thursday we had planned to go to another anchorage on Santa Cruz Island, but with winds expected to pick up to 25 kts in the afternoon, we decided to just cruise by Anacapa (picture is east end of Anacapa) and go on into Marina Del Rey. Some dolphins helped escort us:

Since we came into MDR a day early, we stayed the first night at the California Yacht Club. Friday we stopped by the fuel dock on the way to our slip for the next month. We will be leaving the boat here in Marina Del Rey for the month of September, while we go home to Berkeley to welcome our first grandchild into the world. We’re spending a few days here just cleaning the boat well, putting things away, sorting through what to take home, laundry, hanging out by the pool, and walking over to Venice Beach. Saturday we could see the huge plume of smoke rising from the Crescenta Valley fire in the Angeles National Forest - the mushrooming cloud of smoke in the picture to the right looks like a dragon!

A huge seal just jumped up on the dock next to our boat – Cathy chased it away spraying the hose on it. Hope they don’t turn our boat into a condo while we’re gone! Here's our boat's home for the next month:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Santa Cruz Island

We left Santa Barbara for Santa Cruz Island late Tuesday morning. It was a beautiful day of sailing – blue skies, wind on the beam. We were sailing with main, jib, and staysail – starting out doing 4 kts in 7 kts of wind, and as the wind picked up to 10-12 kts we were sailing along at 6.5. As we approached the island the winds picked up to 15 and we put the staysail away. We decided to go into Smugglers Cove on the SE side of the island – it’s on the National Park end of the island, with a road coming down to a grove of olive trees near the shore. We hoped we could go ashore for a hike.

A Coast Guard boat kind of shadowed us as we turned into the anchorage. We were expecting to be boarded, but it just pulled into the anchorage and tied up to a mooring ball that was there, spent the night, and seemed to spend some time the next day doing exercises. Also Michael and Laurie aboard Laura pulled into the anchorage a few hours after us. The anchorage was beautiful – but with very little wind to keep us oriented, and a slight south swell coming in, it was rolly! Put flopper stopper on the list for our September refit!

Wednesday morning we took the dinghy out for a spin. Having it on the davits already put together made it much easier! However the swell made getting the motor on a bit of a challenge. We scoped the shore for a landing, but with the surf breaking onto a rocky beach, decided it wasn’t worth the attempt, so we just drove along the cliffs near the anchorage and went visiting other boats in the anchorage.

Santa Barbara

We ended up spending 4 nights here, on a long dock at the SE corner of the marina. It seemed like everyone sailing south that we had met so far had converged on Santa Barbara – Bruce and Dawn on Lady Jane, Michael and Laurie on Laura, Simon and Susan on Encore… We spent most of our time just relaxing, playing some music and liars' dice aboard Lady Jane, eating a nice curry dinner aboard Laura, and visiting. We did manage to do laundry, grocery shop, and the required visit(s) to West Marine (conveniently located right at the harbor).

So we were able to do a number of boat projects. We found that when we were anchored at Cuyler Harbor, the snubber had actually worn fairly deep grooves in corner of the teak toerail just below the rubstrake which was intended to prevent this. So we sanded out an area of the toerail, reapplied the finish, and put additional rubstrakes just below the existing ones. We also finished putting together a bridle system for the PortaBote so that we can hoist it up on our davits. The bridles were made of pieces of lifeline looped around carabiners on each end (and swaged to hold the loops), and then swaged to a metal ring in the middle where we would attach the lines to hoist it up. When we tried it, we realized the u-straps we had riveted into the side of the PortaBote (where the carabiners were attached) pulled inward too much and deformed the side of the boat a little more than we wished. So after some thought and comments from everyone on the dock who happened to walk by, we decided to put new u-straps just above the seats so that the seats could take the compression load – requiring borrowing Michael’s riveter, and making a new bridle strap as it needed to be longer now. Boat projects are never as simple as they seem… but hopefully this is now a workable system. For those of you who are not familiar with PortaBote, It’s a 10 foot dinghy that can fold down to the size of a surf board. In heavy weather we can fold it down and secure it to a side deck, or even stow it below if necessary.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Morro Bay to Santa Barbara (Avila Beach, Cuyler Harbor)

We left Morro Bay Wednesday for a short, uneventful trip to Avila Beach. We passed just offshore Diablo Valley nuclear power plant. We wish we had much more nuclear (and solar and wind and hydro) and much less dependence on foreign oil – but we did wonder about the yellowish slick in the water just offshore the plant (see foreground of picture). We anchored just off Avila Beach near the pier for the night. We wanted to get a little closer start for the trip around Point Conception.

Thursday the winds were calm and seas flat as we motored down the coast past Point Arguello. The winds picked up a little, enough for us to sail, and we decided to just sail straight on out to San Miguel Island (westernmost of the channel islands). As we passed Prince Island (picture) into Cuyler Harbor, the winds had picked up to 15 kts, and soon after we anchored at about 6pm, they increased to 20-25 knots. We had hoped for a quiet anchorage with hardly anyone else around, but there were 5 other boats anchored within a quarter mile and soon two fishing boats also came into the area. The wind was blowing so hard we were concerned about dragging our anchor, so Doug stayed up to watch a movie, and kept a watch on the radar screen, where he could easily see the location of shore and blips for the other 7 boats to make sure our position stayed relatively constant. Finally feeling somewhat reassured we would not drag, he went to bed as well , and Cathy got up to stand a watch– thinking the wind should subside soon after midnight. But it keep blowing 20-25 kts ALL night long. The rigging would pump and shake, and we heard some grinding as the anchor chain pulled the snubber from side to side. After a fairly sleepless night, we decided to just move on instead of going ashore and spending a second night as we had originally thought.

We sailed over to our next targeted stop – Becher Bay on the east end of Santa Rosa Island. As we approached the anchorage, the wind continued to blow close to 20 kts as we got closer to the shore. It looked like the pier was under construction, with a big crane moored at the approach to the anchorage. Doug suggested we might not want to spend another night of 20 kt winds at anchor and that we might just go into Santa Barbara, and Cathy whole heartedly agreed –we could still make the 5 hour trip. Cathy, at the helm, immediately did a 180 and off to Santa Barbara we sailed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Morro Bay

It was a quiet Sunday morning trip from San Simeon Bay down to Morro Bay. Without the main, we just motored with the staysail up. It never got above 5 kts of wind anyway.

We tied up to the guest dock at Morro Bay yacht club, after sitting on one of their moorings for a while until the daysailers that had participated in their regatta were cleared the dock. The port captain helped us arrange with a sailmaker to fix our main. We were a bit concerned when we learned the name of the business was "SLO-Sails" - until we realized the SLO was for San Luis Obispo where he is located. The port captain even delivered it for us Sunday evening and then returned it to us Tuesday morning. We reinstalled the main and now feel like a sailboat again.

We saw old friends and met new people here. Dave aboard Andante helped us with initial mooring and docking (we noticed his Island Packet on a mooring ball as soon as we approached the club!); he is heading north after having been down in Mexico. Simon and Susan aboard Encore and are headed down to the Channel Islands (from Brickyard Cove) had a rental car and were kind enough to take Doug to the grocery store with them. And we spent an evening chatting with two couples we met and introducing them to liars’ dice – Scott and Adela were aboard a Chris Craft which they are delivering up to SF, and Michael and Laurie aboard Laura are also doing the Baja HaHa and are spending their time making it down the California coast.

We took an afternoon walk around Morro Bay – lots of restaurants, galleries, and junk shops - and along the fishing docks with the seals laying in a heap up on the dock - then walked out to Morro Rock and the breakwater. Morro Rock is a volcanic plug that was formed 22M years ago when lava hardened in the vent of an active volcano, and then the volcano eroded away leaving the plug. It is really quite impressive standing guard over the entrance to the bay. The picture on the left shows Simon and Susan leaving for their next port (sailboat at the horizon on far left of the picture – tiny in comparison to the rock!).

Friday, August 14, 2009

San Simeon Bay

Here in San Simeon we find a sailboat that we had been next to in Stillwater Cove and had noticed across the slip from us in Monterey. Her name is Lady Jane. A couple is on it with their little terrier. He paddled over to say hello (they had noticed us in the last 2 stops as well). He had customized their kayak so the dog could just sit on the bow like a living hood ornament.

We just spent a quiet day on the hook in the bay with Hearst Castle high up on a hill overlooking us. We took a short trip to shore just to walk on the beach, out to the pier, and to a small state park educational station. The beach here is very nice and the water temperate is 61 degrees so families are here with children in the water, dads standing by their BBQ grills, young girls lying in the sun and older women sitting in the shade.

Dawn and Bruce our anchor neighbors from Lady Jane came over for dinner. We had hoped they would bring their little dog so we could get a "Jill" fix (our Jack Russell "Jill" is home being cared for by our kids). But no - they did bring some great garlic bread to go with our fettucine carbonara. We had a good time teaching them liar's dice.

Big Sur coast – Stillwater Cove to San Simeon Bay

We left Stillwater Cove shortly after 6am since we wanted to make the 75 NM to San Simeon and still come in during daylight. We motored for the first hour or two until the wind had built enough behind us to sail. Going dead downwind, we decided to just use the main and the staysail prevented out for wing-and-wing. As we passed Point Sur the winds were a comfortable 15 Kts, but soon started building to more. We had a few hours of 27-30 Kts with gusts to 36. At one point we pulled around into the wind enough to reef to main (glad we weren’t going north!). It was pretty intense. We ended up jibing a couple of times since the direction we wanted to go was dead downwind, but we wanted to leave an angle of 10-20 degrees to prevent accidental jibes. The seas were fairly sloppy and we were yawing up to a 40 degree swing, rolling up to a 40 degree swing, and probably pitching about as much too. Coming down one of the waves, we hit a highest speed (SOG) of 12.5 knots – pretty good with just a reefed main and staysail on a boat with a maximum theoretical hull speed of 7.6 Kts! From Cape San Martin to Point Piedras Blancas it calmed down to the lower 20’s. We thought as we rounded Piedras Blancas it should calm more. Wrong! It started blowing 30-33 Kts with gusts to 40, even as we rounded the green buoy marking the entrance to San Simeon Bay. We were happy to get the anchor down as the winds calmed to 10-20 inside the bay, and after dark finally became calm.

Flaking the mainsail, we found a rip around one of the grommets where it attaches to a slide between battcars on the mast. And of course the rip is just above the second reef, so we probably can’t even use the main reefed until we patch it or fix it. Bummer! We’ll try to deal with it in Morro Bay.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stillwater Cove

We left Wednesday morning to make the trip around Monterey peninsula to Stillwater Cove (14.1 NM). The trip was rather foggy, with about a half to one mile visibility until it cleared to a gorgeous blue sky as we entered Stillwater Cove in the shadow of Pebble Beach golf course. The cove is aptly named as the extensive kelp beds keep the water pretty flat and tricky for anchoring. Fortunately we were able to call the local harbormaster and were able to get onto a mooring ball. But there is a bit of a southerly swell that makes it into the cove, so we are swaying to and fro at our mooring ball. Besides the beautiful golf course and homes, a striking thing about the cove is the lack of otters or seals.

View from stern:

View from bow:

We woke up Thursday morning to a thin layer of ash on the boat – we understand due to a forest fire in the Bonnie Doon area near Santa Cruz.

We spent the afternoon ashore. The Pebble Beach Club is getting ready for their part of the car show – both vintage cars and new ones – with a focus on luxury car$. We felt sorry for a nice Ferrari we saw with a thin layer of ash on it… After walking through the Lodge at the 18th green and the Beach Club, we spent some time just playing cards on the beach.

There’s a large power yacht anchored just outside of us. Looks like about 90' – Far Niente. There are people being ferried out this evening for what looks like a big party aboard – our invitation must have gotten lost in the mail…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We made the short trip (14.8 NM) from Moss Landing to Monterey on Monday morning. We got a slip in Monterey harbor to make cleaning the boat, power, and access to Monterey easier. Monday afternoon we took a walk to downtown Monterey and a stop at Trader Joe’s. Jennifer was kind enough to drive down and bring our camera (plus our old one as a backup!).

Tuesday morning was filled with laundry and showers, and then we walked down to Monterey Aquarium. We had the camera, but Doug had forgotten that he set up the battery for charging – so no battery – so no pictures! We liked the jellyfish displays the best, with the seahorses placing a close second, and third the otter show. Tuesday evening is farmer’s market on Alvarado St. in Monterey. We got some fresh produce – all certified organic. We think Monterey is even more politically correct than Berkeley – could that be? The big deal for the coming week in Monterey is a car show and auction. We watched many vintage cars driving past us to the holding corral:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Moss Landing / Elkhorn Slough

It was a short Saturday morning sail (15 miles in 3 hours) from Santa Cruz over to Moss Landing, where we pulled into the guest dock of the Elkhorn Yacht Club. The club has a great facility (the original building was made from an old barge) and very hospitable people.

Here at dock we feel like we have a front-row seat for a National Geographic program. There’s a colony of about 8 otters that live just opposite our dock. One in particular floats back and forth with a baby on her chest – just a little ball of fur. Our dock neighbor told us how she (“Jill”) had lost a baby last season, and then started caring for a dead sea bird – he was pleased when she had a new baby this year, and thinks this baby will survive. He lets them sleep on the swim platform of his boat because they feel safer there. A hundred feet away on the shore is where all the harbor seals haul out, sunning themselves all day long on the beach – slowly moving up the beach as the tide comes in.

Kayakers leave from here to paddle up into Elkhorn Slough to view the wildlife including otters, seals, terns, grebes, pelicans, jellyfish. We took the dinghy to the commercial harbor (on the south end of the harbor here, while the yacht club is on the north end), and then east under the highway 1 bridge into Elkhorn Slough. Surrounded by kayakers and nature, we felt guilty with the outboard, so we rowed most of the time. There are a couple of kayak rental facilities here, with naturalist guides to go with groups if desired – would be a great outing to come down here from the Bay Area for the day.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Santa Cruz

We spent three nights / two days in Santa Cruz. We enjoyed dinner with Colin (from Mamabird) at Johnny’s, dinner with some old friends the Wipkes at Shadowbrook in Capitola, and our son Paul and his wife Lynda came down for a day at the beach. Their dog Thorin celebrated his first birthday being introduced to the sand and surf. Unfortunately, after they left we realized we had left our camera in the trunk of their car, so no more pictures for now.

Santa Cruz harbor was interesting. Our slip was right behind Johnny’s fish restaurant and right next to a loading dock for receiving fish. One morning some local bait sellers cast their net in the marina right across from us. We watched them haul the net in and then go over to the fish dock. We walked over to see what they had hauled in – they had two tubs full of beautiful 8” sardines. Now we know why there were so many seals cavorting in the fairway of the harbor. We also watched a group of guys offload 6000 pounds of kelp that they had harvested (in an hour and a half!). Although there was a bit of a language barrier (we really need to start listening to those Spanish tapes), we think they said they were taking the kelp to an abalone farm, and that they do this three times a week. It’s fascinating how some people make their livelihood.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz

We set out at 7 am towards our next destination. With overcast skies and little wind, we motored for the first few hours until we passed Pigeon Point lighthouse, where the skies cleared and a light wind came up. Since we were sailing dead downwind, we poled out our jib and sailed wing-and-wing towards Santa Cruz at about 4.8 kts in 7-8 kts of wind.

As we rounded Pt. Santa Cruz the winds piped up to 15kts and then quickly to 22 kts. We called the harbormaster to request a slip, and were asked to stand off for a half hour as they were clearing an overturned vessel from the entrance to the harbor. Do we really want to go in? We had heard of difficulties entering Santa Cruz due to shoaling, but thought that was in the winter and that they had fixed the problem with some pumping system. After the boat was cleared, we made our way into the harbor past the Santa Cruz lighthouse on the breakwater composed of computer-designed blocks of concrete.

Friends on a sistership (Mamabird) had suggested we request the slip next to them, since the fisherman who has that slip was up in Washington fishing. After we were safely tied up in the slip, Cathy ran off to a LONG, HOT shower to relieve her poison ivy itch.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Half Moon Bay

When you’re hanging on the hook, you’re subject to all kinds of life forms floating by – including jelly fish and these creatures: This made us realize what a mistake it was not to get a kayak before we left. Now we’ll be looking for a tandem ride-on-top at stops along the way.

Instead we put our folding dinghy together (a real chore! this has to get easier with practice!) and went to shore for showers - much needed to relieve Cathy’s poison ivy itching. Tom and Sharon flew down for the day to see us, and we enjoyed a late lunch with them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Out the Gate and Turn Left

Our target was to leave August 1. After ten years of dreaming and planning, two days late isn’t too bad. But what does “late” really mean – we aren’t on any schedule any more! We told ourselves without a schedule, we would sail as much as we could. But as we cast off from the Berkeley Yacht Club guest dock at 10am under overcast skies against a flooding tide with ZERO wind, we left under motor. The cityscape was an artistic study in grey.
When we had reached the Golden Gate bridge at 11:30, the wind temporarily built to 18 knots, but as we approached Point Diablo, it died down again to about 10 knots, so we set our sails and turned left to start slowly sailing toward the south. The wind died again as we approached Point Montara, so we motored on in to Half Moon Bay, having covered our first 34 miles in six and a half hours. Our new Manson anchor performed flawlessly in its first use – luckily Cathy was holding on when it set!