[ Adventure Logs ]

October 2006 Log: California

Sunday October 1, 2006 After taking advantage of the great showers at the Morro Bay Yacht Club we motored a quarter mile over the dunes and sand spit park that forms the breakwater from the open Pacific. The landscape was again very different.

We crossed the sand spit“sort of” on the designated trail and arrived at the beach to the open Pacific. We hadn’t been on a real open surf beach since Northern California.

The surf is much lower than the last time we did a long walk on the dunes in Oregon. We spent quite a bit of time looking at the sea birds which we had seen in the Monterey aquarium.

After walking south for a half hour and with only an hour of daylight remaining we made our way across the dunes again, eventually reaching the shore of the Morro Bay estuary, well south of where we had left our dinghy.

Carllie spotted a deer on top of the dune across from us.

We managed to make our way back along the shore to the dinghy, then to the boat just as the sun set in the west.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Feeding the anchor rode through the hawser into the anchor locker. (This pic is out of order…)

Today was a big shopping day. Shopping since we left Vancouver is now an all-day event. With no car, we have to get to the various stores and then load everything into our packs. Then, each carrying 3-4 bags, we make our way back to the dock and to the dinghy, load the dinghy, motor to Light Wave, unload the bags onto the boat and then put everything away. Then you need a nap just to recover. We try to take the camera on every expedition. When we don’t we always regret it.

We did find everything at the Albertson’s (Safeway clone including a Starbucks inside) and in the Dollar Store. Unlike our Looney Stores in Vancouver, in the Dollar Store everything, and I mean everything, is just $1.00. We were able to get jars of green olives, honey in those plastic bears, salsa sauce, salsa chips, and 1–lb bags of pretzels for only $1.00 each. Ah the budget is a stern task master…..

We have seen these lovely red-flowered trees everywhere, but no one knows what they are. Can any horticulturists out there inform us?

We left at 11 am and by 5 pm we were all done. Where has the day gone?

Our last night-time view of Morro Rock.

Tuesday October 3, 2006 We woke up early this morning in anticipation of favorable winds. While getting ready to go to shore for a run and some laundry we heard a “Yoohoo!” from shore. It was Simon and Sunny whom we had met a week ago in Half Moon Bay. They had just arrived on the overnight trip from Monterey.

Simon and Sunny pictured in front of their beloved wooden motor vessel (circa 1950-something) Seascape, powered by an ultra-reliable William Gardner built diesel engine. We met them on shore and caught up on all the adventures of the last week. Their highlights included being surrounded by 200 Risso dolphins off Monterey and dozens of sea otters while visiting Moss Landing. [Carllie: hearing that I was very sorry we hadn’t gone to Moss Landing, as sea otters are pretty well my favorite marine creature.] We also met Pat and Nancy who had just left Sausalito,also on their way to Mexico for the winter.

We finally managed to pull up anchor and headed out past our favorite rock for the last time at 1 pm.

It was a grand day with beautiful sunshine and we were finally able to see the coastline which has been shrouded in fog since San Francisco ten days ago. Our strategy for getting around Cape Conception was to break it up into two legs which could be done during daylight hours. Today’s leg was to do 25 miles to get to Port San Luis, and that would leave 55 miles for the next day to round Point Conception to Cojo Anchorage. We motored for first hour or so and then a light wind came up from the west and we were able to sail at a very pleasant 5 knots on a broad reach on virtually flat seas. The seas here are so different than what we experienced in Oregon. The swells are about 3 to 4 feet, but they are 15 seconds apart so that you almost don’t see or feel them. The air temperature was 65 degrees so I was able to wear shorts while sailing for the first time since we were in Canadian waters. Who says Canada is cold?

We sailed past the first two mooring at Port San Luis areas with all sails up, and arrived just at sunset in the anchorage area. It is protected from all winds except south and so we anchored off the small town in about 30 feet of water, about 200 yards from the surf tumbling softly on the beach. Since we were going to get a start at first light tomorrow, we didn’t put the dinghy together and stayed on the boat for dinner.

Port San Luis bathed in a sunset glow.

Wednesday October 4, 2006

We set the alarm to awake early, and motored out of Port San Luis at 7:30 a.m. for the 55-mile run around Pt. Conception to Cojo Anchorage. We hoped for a continuance of the northwest wind on which we had made that great beam-reach sailing entrance into Port San Luis last night, but in fact found instead a little wind from the south, the direction in which we were going. So we set the sails for a close reach and sailed quite nicely without pounding into the very small swells. We passed some California Sea Lions that had taken over a buoy in mid channel. (Notice the baby to the left of mama.)

Carllie: At about 10 a.m. a little sparrow landed on the port hull, and hopped and flew around to various spots on the aft of Light Wave, with Garett in the cockpit, for the next half hour or so. I tried to feed it by tossing little bits of bread up and out the cabin door, but he wasn’t interested.

He just needed a little rest, and at one point closed his eyes. I was watching him from the inside, so as not to scare him off, and he got quite used to Garett while he shared the cockpit with him and landed intermittently on the aft port hull where Garett was working the sails. We are quite willing to give any little songbirds a rest from their travels, but do not welcome seagulls. At about 3:30 p.m., while keeping an eye on three offshore big oil rigs ahead of us, I spied a whale spout. Keeping keen eyes out, we saw the whale surface a few times ahead of us, gradually getting closer and closer. By this time, we were motoring, and Garett slowed the motor right down. He took pics and videos with our digital camera, and pretty soon this big bruiser whale which may have been either a humpback or a grey, surfaced only about 50 feet from Light Wave, then rolled back in showing us his huge tail flukes.

This pic is not impressive. But we have a great video taken with our digital camera, showing it surfacing next to the boat, and waving its tail flukes as it submerged.

Wow! That was something. I’m trying to be calm about these encounters. Around the same time and throughout the rest of the afternoon, we saw many pods (anyone know the correct word a group of these creatures?) of sea lions. These, we found out later, were California Sea Lions (pictured earlier), different than what we’ve seen so far hanging around docks and barking their heads off. This specie is more slender, with narrower heads, and they travel in groups of 10 to 50, very fluidly leaping out of the water and then curving gracefully back into it in a big bunch, creating a localized churning up of the water. We figure this could be their way of feeding: herding the fish by circling around them. Anyway, we enjoyed several close-up encounters with these more graceful sea lions. Just after one pod went by, and not too long after we’d had the whale encounter, we saw several fins grouped about 1/4 mile behind us. We were unsure what they were and surmised they may have been dolphins, but hearing about sharks picking off baby sea lions later, I think they may have been sharks. (Duh-duh! Duh-duh!) Garett: We rounded Points Arguello and Conception at 6 pm and arrived at Cojo Anchorage right at sunset just in time to anchor before it was dark, outside the kelp beds and about 400 yards off the beach. We both thought it was more of a bight than an anchorage. We are spoiled in British Columbia as virtually all of our anchorages are protected 360 degrees from all winds. What the guide book calls “anchorages” here are more like open roadsteads with some amount of rolliness going on. I guess we will just have to get used to it as this will be the norm for the areas of the rest of the trip.

The most interesting thing about this stop was that the Amtrak train that goes up the coast runs right along the cliffside and looks just like a model train (especially the night we arrived when it tooted past with the coach lights on). We are not sure why this is. I guess a combination of the perspective from the water and terrain.

Amtrak and freight trains rumble along the cliffside of Cojo Anchorage, and the sun dips under the horizon.

Thursday October 5, 2006 Today was our long awaited crossing to the Channel Islands off the southern California coast. We were looking forward to getting back to remote, unpopulated island cruising. There are two groups of islands: the southern ones which include famous Catalina Island and the northern ones off Santa Barbara which are all various forms of parks or conservation areas. They are all about “26 miles across the sea” from the mainland. The first one we were going to go to is San Miguel which is farthest north and west and is seldom visited by boaters as it is an upwind slog from most of the marinas on the coast. We were up early for the 4-hour crossing. I had switched the rudders a couple of days ago to make them fit better and tried to get the starboard one out of its slot. It was still kind of difficult to pull out by hand so I used the main halyard and the winch to pull it up. I removed the seaweed that had gotten in the way and then reattached the halyard back to the main sail. I noticed that there was a little kink in the halyard (like when you wind a rope up) but figured it would disappear when the halyard was under tension and so I forgot about it for now. My plan was to stow the anchor, then raise the sails and sail out of the bay into Santa Barbara Channel on the wind that had come up, and I instructed Carllie who mans the motor while I haul up the anchor, to turn into the wind as soon as the anchor rode was stowed so we could raise the main. We had the mainsail 3/4 up and it seemed to be really difficult to pull up even with the winch in low gear. I couldn’t figure out why it was jammed and so I decided to lower it. Well it wouldn’t go down either. So the sail was partly up flapping back in forth with no way to get it up or it get it down—serious problem. We used the binoculars and looked at the pulley at the top of the mast where we could see that the “kink” in the halyard I had noticed earlier had jammed between the sheeve (pulley) and the frame of the mast opening and was now wedged in. There was no way to lower the sail with the lines or even cut a line from the deck to lower the sail. The only option was to go up the mast in this wide open anchorage with swells rolling in. To give us some time to figure out a strategy we put the anchor back down.

Garett suited up to cushion his body and head for mast climbing on a rolling boat. (Next purchase: bicycle helmet.)

Our strategy was going to be to climb the mast and detach the sail and let it fall to the deck, then attach another line to the shackle and try to pull the line out of where it was jammed into the mast. We set up the mast climber system and I prepared to go up the mast. [Carllie: Garett told me it was my turn, but that didn’t wash.] From seeing my friend Casey Lerand go up the mast in similar conditions last year I knew it would not be easy as what happens is that there is a growing pendulum effect as you go higher and you swing out from the mast and then come crashing into it. I put on two toques (a bicycle helmet would have been better) and extra layers of heavy Polartec jackets for padding. I climbed about 10 feet but already I was getting thrown violently against the mast both due to this pendulum effect and the swells rolling into the bay. That wasn’t going to work as the wind was coming from a different direction than the swells so the motion was extreme. Carllie came up with the idea of motoring back wards at an angle form the anchor to counteract the wind so that we would be facing into swells. It took us awhile to get us into a position where we could adjust the tillers and the engine to do this.

Garett 3/4 way up the mast in rolling seas.

We then moved the mast climber so that it was going up its control line right at the foot of the mast. I then went up the right next to the mast and used one hand to move the climbing attachments and one hand to hold onto the diamond shroud which is very close to the mast. This time it was 400% better and I slowly made my way up and up. [Carllie: Don’t worry, Mack & Phyllis: your boy is safe–I’ll make sure he doesn’t get injured! and maybe I’ll build up the courage to do it myself next time…] After about 10 minutes of slow climbing (felt like an hour) I was almost at the top of the sail. I undid the shackle to let it fall. The line was completely kinked up for some reason and so I unwound it. I then attached the line that we were going to use to either secure the halyard for later repair or to let us try to unjam it at the anchorage at San Miguel Island. Then I slowly lowered my self down to the deck. I was really hot and sweaty after the climb in all my layers of protecting padding. We took the line I had just attached to the halyard and went to the post at the aft corner of the boat. I jerked it a couple of times and voila it popped back into the pulley. We determined that the problem was a combination of pulling out the rudder earlier at an unnatural angle and the twisting of the line. We were fortunate to learn this lesson as well as the strategy of putting the climbing line right next to the mast now rather than in the middle of the ocean on a dark and stormy night. The whole repair took two hours. We weighed anchor again at 11 am and were now off in sunshine on the way to San Miguel Island. Even as we left Cojo Anchorage we could see the faint outline of the island in the distance. We made good time in the 15 knot winds and started approaching the island at 3 pm.

There is only one place to anchor at San Miguel, and that is at Cuyler Harbor.

Approaching San Miguel Island on a nice broad reach.

Carllie: Garett immediately assembled our PortaBote, affixed the engine and we motored ashore, landing through a small surf. The beaches here are incredible, soft, white sand and the sea a clear blue merging into turquoise. At last, we are beginning to feel like we have traveled south!

Making our way through numerous kelp beds into Cuyler Harbour at San Miguel Island. The track on GPS is great because we can follow it when we leave such kelp-strewn anchorages.

Lolling about on this section of the beach were great big seals, which I was sure were elephant seals, “No, no, no,” I was told firmly by Garett and a fella visiting the beach with another group from a local charter boat. Garett was sure elephant seals have huge, long snouts, and the other visitor was equally adamant that while one which had a particularly weird snout just may be an Elephant Seal, the rest were in fact California Sea Lions. Much to my gratification, I found out two days later on our long nature walk, from the National Parks Service docent, George Roberts, that these were in fact juvenile Elephant Seals. The adults, which we didn’t see, develop the big nose / proboscis that is their identifying feature as well as being about three times bigger than the other types of seals.

Juvenile Elephant Seals at Cuyler Harbour.

For the first time in our trip, we had to maneuver the dinghy back out to sea through a small incoming surf. By the time we left this bay, we had gotten it down to a fine art, but always it was very exciting. The strategy is this: We get the dinghy all ready with the oars in the oarlocks ready to go and tucked into the sides, we turn up the choke and the throttle on the engine which is still raised, then we watch the waves and as soon as the the biggest incoming wave has come in, we quickly launch the dinghy, Garett climbs in over the transom and then I haul myself in over the transom. He starts rowing immediately to get us clear of the beach, and I lower the engine and pull the start cord. (Thanks to Wallie Hawkens’ Bitron engine treatments, our main and dinghy engines now start immediately, but because something else has broken off our somewhat questionable Mercury 3.3 outboard (purchased from West Marine-ahem!), we have to start it already in the forward position.) Then I give it the gas, and we “roar” away from the beach, in this bay carefully avoiding all of the masses of seaweed. The water was so lovely and the warmest we had experienced since Jedediah Island in B.C. where we swam every day, that I was all keen to go for a swim off the boat. Keen that is, until Jacob, a young sailor anchored in a nearby monohull, when he returned home in the evening sitting atop his quasi kayak in his wetsuit, told us that he had been snorkeling around the corner from the anchorage but he didn’t do any spearfishing as there were so many sharks down there! I suspect said sharks were in deeper water and not in the cove, but one never knows and I just wasn’t keen to think of something (DUH-DUH! DUH-DUH!) like Jaws looking for nibblies under the surface. However, I am sure that soon we will be swimming off the boat when we are at anchor. Well, sort of sure… The wind was soon blasting down the cliffs into the protected anchorage: willywaws, we call them in Canada. They hit Light Wave at speeds of 30-40 knots all that night, and the next two days and nights—and running around in our dinghy and getting it safely out into the surf was just that much more exciting.

Time exposure of moon rise at 9 pm at Cuyler Harbour. Friday, October 6, 2006 The next day we were just getting ready to go ashore when Garett said, “Oh look, a fish boat is coming in!” We knew the wind had been blowing up a storm out in the channel, so we gazed with interest at this newcomer. As she drew closer, I recognized the pretty white and red lines of Seascape, the vessel of our friends, Simon and Sunny.

Simon & Sunny’s beloved wooden power vessel, Seascape, anchored in Cuyler Harbour.

We directed them to a safe spot nearer the cliffs that had earlier been vacated by a chartered Catalina (carrying among others the fella who was so sure the seals weren’t elephant seals) After a quick visit, we motored to shore together, and walked down the beach all the time wondering about the beauty of the beaches and the clear turquoise water.

Incredible, white soft sand beaches and turquoise blue water at Cuyler Cove. We even found three palm trees on the beach!

Meantime, a powercat had dropped off a group of about 20 campers, and while Sunny and I were admiring the scenery, Garett had sat down with the group who were being given an orientation by the docent, George Roberts, also just arrived for his bi-monthly 8-day stint as park ranger. George was an employee of the National Park Service and did this job at various parks as a paid employee until his retirement at 65. Now, he’s over 70 and continues to do the same job very well and lovingly at San Miguel Island, as a volunteer. We learned that George would be guiding a group across the island to Pt. Bennett on a 16-mile hike the next day, and we could join them if we wanted to. At the thought of a 16-mile hike, I wasn’t too keen, but Garett said, “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!” so we made our plans. We then hiked up a sand dune with the camping group to their camp site about a mile up the canyon, so we could get a little exercise that day, and carried on to the camping sites and Ranger Station.

Windswept sailors on beautiful beaches and dunes at Cuyler Harbour, San Miguel Island.

Garett starting up the trail for a look-see, offered to carry very heavy water jugs for two young ladies,Peili and Ayshe, from Santa Monica.

Our very kind, knowledgeable, and fast-hiking Park Ranger, George Roberts. These are views on the trail when we hiked to the Ranger Station.

Colorful succulents lined the path…

and fragrant Baccius.

When looking up the trail it the desert-like growth of the canyon, it looked like something out of a Louis L’Amour novel.

Sunny and Simon didn’t join us on the long hike.

After a quick visit, we promised to return the next morning at 9:30 for the hike across the island, and returned to the beach and thence to Light Wave. There was time for Garett to do his first California “swim” (that is up to his waist and back to shore).

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Canadians in America at sunrise, Cuyler Harbour.

Arising at 6:30 a.m., we did our morning routine, climbed in the dinghy and motored to shore through the continuing blasts of wind coming off the cliffs. Garett figured as we were landing at high tide, we would have plenty of time to get back to the dinghy and it would be safe until we returned at approximately 6 p.m. We walked the length of that beach, climbed over the big rocks to the next one, walked its length then up the sand dunes and onto the cliffside path we had taken the day before. Please note: when we set off on our hike (20 miles for us including from and back to the beach, we were full of energy, walking fast, and raring to go.

Hundreds of pelicans getting ready for morning feeding.

Brown Pelicans were endangered due to DDT seeping into the water from the farmers’ fields, being absorbed by the birds, and their eggs thence having such thin shells they broke before the babies could hatch. They are making a come-back now, and thankfully DDT has long been banned.

This path is lined with many semi-arid bushes and succulents, which are very pretty. The Baccius was also warmly fragrant.

The path to the Ranger Station was lined with these weird stalks of shoulder-height dried trees that looked a little like a forest fire had run through, but George explained that these are a type of sunflower plant that bloom prolifically each spring very beautifully and now lies dormant.

Catalina (Kate), the one little girl on the hike,

was sworn in as Junior Park Ranger. After a short orientation at the Ranger Station, a group of about 10 of us trudged off with our Park Ranger guide, George Roberts. Garett positioned himself right behind George, who has a very smooth rolling gait that he must have honed over the years as an employee of the National Park Service (he’s now a retired volunteer doing the same thing he was doing as a paid employee), as while it appears he is walking at a leisurely pace, he really eats up the miles.

Highest point on San Miguel Island, 831 feet. Garett was asking George questions and talking to him about the island, about U.S. politics, and all and sundry, and I got the benefit of George’s vast knowledge from my position as well. We stopped at the highest point on the island (831 feet), at the island’s weather station, at the Caliche Forest, and at the island’s second runway, where George further educated us.

Weather Station about 1/3 way to Pt. Bennett.

The Caliche Forest was formed thousands of years ago roughly in this manner: it had been originally a copse of evergreen trees, perhaps pine, about 10,000 years ago, just after the Ice Age. Eventually the trees died and rotted away. Their roots left holes in the ground which were filled by the blowing sand. The sand consists of a large portion of calcium from seashell fragments, and this calcium-rich sand was then very slowly watered by the 12 inches of annual rain the island receives. This was just enough to turn the calcium into a paste whereas too much rain would have simply washed it away. This paste dried into hard rock, which over the millennia was buried by new sand.

Caliche Forest, San Miguel Island.

Back to the more recent past: in about 1848 a man by the name of Nidever brought to the island about 200 sheep, some cows and horses and established a ranch. The livestock proliferated, and the sheep increased to 5,000. Several years later, the island experienced a drought for 2 years and all the water sources dried up. The sheep ate absolutely everything, including the roots of the plants. A photo of the island taken in the about 1968 shows it completely covered with sand, it was described by many as.”just a big sand dune”.

It was a barren desert. It was during this time when the sand was blowing across the island that the calcified “forest” was uncovered. It is now called the Caliche Forest. In the almost 40 years since that time, the island has miraculously reseeded itself, probably from the vegetation left in the few steep canyons which the relentless and hungry sheep couldn’t reach. After about 2-plus hours of walking George took us to the San Miguel airport and terminal building for a little lunch.

Brief respite at the “airport terminal” on San Miguel.

We trekked on and on to the Research Station located on the hill above Pt. Bennett, then we walked carefully down the trail and across the plants (so as not to form a trail George told us) to sit on a bluff above Pt. Bennett.

Every year more than 100,000 seals and sea lions breed and haul out at this point on San Miguel. Over 23,000 pups were born here this year. We saw from our discreet vantage point thousands of California Sea Lions (these are different from the Stellar Sea Lions we have seen and “heard” as we have gone down the coast), Elephant Seals, and Northern Fur Seals (which are actually sea lions not seals, having big forefront and aft[?] flippers whereas seals have only the “feather-like” feet/flippers). Among them we saw hundreds of baby sea lions, which are very cute and endearing. These sea lions do not make the obnoxious barking and honking noises that the Stellar Sea Lions do (whom we have talked about earlier), but they do carry on non-stop “conversations” in a slightly more pleasant fashion. And the babies sound much like baby lambs, “Ba-a-a-a-ah! Ba-a-a-a-ah!” Baby California Sea Lions are very endearing and cute as they hop around on their fore and back flippers looking for an available teat to suckle. If they aren’t batted away by an irate surrogate mom, they will slurp away as long as they can, and then, bleating the whole way, continue their search for illicit booty. We saw one going back and forth between groups of adults several times, bleating the whole way.

100,000 California Sea Lions, and Northern Fur Seals (sea lions), Elephant Seals haul out at Pt. Bennett on San Miguel Island each spring.

The Northern Fur Seals (sea lions) are the species that were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century, for their fur. They are dark brown and their faces are much blunter than the more streamlined California Sea Lion. When they “walk” around they do in fact look much like our coastal black or brown bears. We thought of our Vancouver friend Kasandra Maxwell, who loves seals, as she would have loved this experience as well. While many sea lions basked on the beach, about 20-30 youngsters were playing in the surf further down. George told us that every night they all retreat high on the beach, well away from shore. There are kelp beds just off the beach, and no doubt lots of bottom fish. We theorized that perhaps have been visited by Killer Whales or sharks who would feast on unwary sea lions, and they are genetically coded to withdraw for safety. In fact, sadly, we later learned from other sailors that sharks patrol just beyond the kelp beds that surround this beach, waiting for baby and weak or injured sea lions. I guess this is Nature’s way of controlling the population. We enjoyed our packed lunch and a 30-minute break while watching these amazing mammals; then Garett and I hauled our by now aching legs, knees and hips up to start on our 10-mile trek back to the dinghy (2 miles more than the rest of them who only had a 16-mile hike, where we did 20 miles total). Up and down and around, we strode, with the wind which had been blasting us the whole day on the way there, now blasting our sides and backs.

Not quite so perky on the return half of our 20-mile hike!

Our hips and knees were getting pretty achy, but we had no choice but to continue. I tried to emulate George’s smooth stride, but would soon lapse back into my own more hurried pace which is also more jerky. I’ll have to write to George and ask him how he learned to walk like that! Garett: On the final stretch back to the ranger station we met Debbie. She is a forest ranger who is monitoring the location of the red fox which has been reintroduced back to the island after being seriously predated by the Red Tailed Hawk. She looked like an alien with all her computerized triangulation equipment.

Carllie: By the time we got back to our dinghy (which was as Garett predicted, safely high and dry), we were hot, sweaty and aching all over.

Do I really have to “hop” over the transom into the dinghy?

Our friends Simon and Sunny who had declined to come, were as I suspected, watching us drag our beat-up bodies along the shoreline. I really didn’t know how on earth I would manage climbing from thigh-deep surf over the 1 ½ foot high transom into the dinghy, so I’d made up my mind to pretend I wasn’t aching. It worked, I got in after Garett and pulled the start cord, and we “roared” away from the beach in the williwaws blasting the cove. We headed straight for Seascape, as our very caring friends had given us a 2-way radio to call them if we had any problems launching the dinghy, and we had to return it. When we pulled alongside, a very debonair, British, Simon (dressed for dinner in his well-pressed shirt and pants) invited us on board for hot showers! I couldn’t believe it, and while Garett started declining the invitation, I speedily accepted it and told him how sweet he was. Simon gave me a hand up, and I dried off my bare feet while Garett motored home to get towels and clean clothes to change into. When he returned, we enjoyed one of the best treats we have ever had: a hot, pressured shower aboard Seascape, with hot black tea (although we are “caffeine abstinent”, there’s nothing like hot black tea for a pick-me-up when you feel like collapsing). While each one showered, we enjoyed Simon and Sunny’s slide show of their tour of Hearst Castle. They are so well traveled and educated. We we really enjoy conversing with them, and found their slide show and commentaries enough to give us a good low-down on this famous site at San Simeon which we had given a miss on the way to Monterey. They had also had us aboard Seascape for dinner their first night in the anchorage, when we talked into the wee hours about questionable American foreign policy and their equally questionable revisionist views of history presented in their museums and war memorials, and other interesting things. The hot showers were about the best gift anyone could have given us at that point in time, and we look forward to having Simon and Sunny for dinner when our larder is stocked up, and hopefully we’ve caught ourselves another fish. After those hot showers, we felt “human” again, and were happy to note that our muscles were no longer aching the next morning when we planned to leave San Miguel. Sunday October 8, 2006 Garett: We woke up to no wind for the first time in three days. It was a good time to go.We said goodbye to our friends Simon and Sunny, motored out through the kelp and headed to Santa Rosa Island on our way to Santa Cruz Island.

San Miguel in far distance, photographed through binoculars. (Garett’s idea!)

Our planned destination was going to be Fourney’s Cove at the west end of Santa Cruz. Making our way into the cove, we quickly decided that it didn’t provide sufficient protection in a a west wind and turned around to head along the north shore to look for something better.

Carllie: We passed Painted Cave which is one of the biggest sea caves in the world. The first four chambers are a total of 600 feet long and then takes a right turn for another 150. You can go in by dingy and the ceiling varies from 100 feet to 20 feet. Unfortunately you cannot anchor outside and you have to leave someone on the boat circling around while some of the crew takes the dinghy in. [Garett: Since we are only two of us and Carllie didn’t want to go in alone (C: Duh! that’s a non-starter!) we had to pass. Maybe we will mount an expedition with Simon and Sunny next week.

We kept going east along the coast and one after another we passed these anchorages on the north side of Santa Cruz Island. I would peek inside put they all looked treacherous, with big cliffs and all open to some degree to the north northwest. Some had boats spider webbed inside them but I wouldn’t want to try to leave any of them in the middle of the night if the wind came up.

Cliffs near Painted Cave, looking for a suitable, safe anchorage.

We were finally down to our only and last option at Prisoners Harbor which has lots of room, no cliffs. We were anchored a 100 or so yards offshore at 7 pm just after sunset and within a few minutes it was pitch black outside. As you get closer to the equator, the transition from day to night is much faster. There is no such thing as lingering twilight down here. It is either light or dark. The moon did come up at about 8 pm so it was quite bright after that. Monday October 9, 2006

Carllie woke up very early and took this great photo of the sunrise at Prisoners Harbour.

We awoke to a kind of hazy overcast. The forecast now called for light south winds for the next few days, so we would be protected in our new spot. We spent the day doing some creative cooking. I made bagels (sundried tomato and cinnamon raisin). The cinnamon raisin turned out ok but the sundried ones needed more cooking. Bagel cooking is a fine art. Carllie tried her hand at a lentil soup (Dahl) which turned out fantastic. (Carllie: Thanks to our new Rikon Pressure Cooker, thanks to our great friends in Vancouver!) Tuesday October 10, 2006 After being on the boat for almost 72 hours, recovering from our 20-mile hike on Saturday, we went ashore for a “little” hike (7 miles). We walked for about 1 1/2 hrs. to the Del Norte campground. Most of the way we were surrounded by all these fennel plants which gives the island a fragrance that we smelled when we’d anchored the night before, and reminded me of Galloway’s bulk food store in Vancouver.

One of the few views from the trail through canyons on Santa Cruz Island.

When we got back to the boat, half of the sky was overcast while the other was clear blue and it was amazingly reflected in the water, so I took this undigitally enhanced or touched up photo:

This anchorage is really quite scenic especially to the east.

The second boat in the picture (barely visible) belongs to a couple, Francois and Frederique, who are from France via Tahiti / Hawaii / Alaska / Victoria. I visited with them today to chat. They are heading south, as well, in search of warmer water. They saw us swim yesterday in 62 F water. They are only used to swimming in the 80 F water of the tropics. We hope to meet up with them later.

Wednesday October 11, 2006

Well we are now officially out of fresh food. Oops, I stand corrected: we do still have about 9 pounds of onions still left….. We decided that we will head north tomorrow and hopefully sail the 23 miles across Santa Barbara Channel to Santa Barbara, where we hope to meet our friends Judy and Helvan Tracey and do some catching up with them. It has been a great 12 days. We have now managed to go a whole ten days without spending any money but this will all change when we hit the big city tomorrow. Carllie: Last night was the first time since we’ve been in the USA that it was clear and dark enough to see thousands of stars and the Milky Way, as well as a three-quarter moon. We could hear the crickets on shore, and it was very beautiful. Tonight it is just the same. We much prefer these natural anchorages to the populated ones we’ve visited as we’ve made our way down the U.S. coast. We are so lucky in Canada and particularly British Columbia, with our less populated country, and mostly unpopulated cruising destinations. The anchorages and coves all along the B.C. Coast provide solitude and peace where visiting sailors can actually relax and rebuild, establishing mental peace so that they can gain a clearer perspective of the unnatural pace we keep in city living. With that perspective we can make clearer decisions and change habits formed from tensions of city living. We feel very fortunate to be from Canada (eh?), and especially Vancouver, British Columbia. We also feel very fortunate to have so many good friends who are keeping in touch with us via our website, and our Skype telephone calls. You have no idea how much we love you all. Thursday October 12, 2006 We woke up early this morning to sunshine and prepared to depart Prisoners Harbor. On our way out we said goodbye to our new friends Francois and Frederique from France who had just returned from a trip to Alaska during the summer. They have been sailing for a long time. Over the last 10 years they have made their way from France to the Caribbean to Panama to Tahiti to Hawaii to Alaska, with a few breaks to work. We agreed to meet further south in the months to come.

Leaving Prisoners Harbor, Francois & Frederique’s sailboat at anchor.

It is about 25 miles over to Santa Barbara. We motored for the first hour or so and then a little wind came up and we were able to sail on flat seas at about 5 knots. After about an hour of sailing we thought we could see some dolphins ahead. As we came closer we realized it was the biggest school we had ever seen. There must have been about 500 of them spread out over about a quarter mile! They were all around the boat and a whole pack of 40 just followed right in front of the boat just about a foot from our outstretched arms. It was an amazing experience.

Carllie: I could hear them squeaking to each other as they swam around us. It was very thrilling to be among these beautiful creatures again. Garett: We reached the busy and very clean harbor at about 5 pm and tied up at the temporary visitors dock and checked in with the harbor office. This is a big marina with over 1100 boats. It turned out that because of the Seafood Festival this weekend there were no empty slips for a catamaran to fit into. They suggested we try to Santa Barbara Yacht Club. We checked in there and luckily they did have a spot for a couple of nights. After settling in to our all slip we went for a walk into town for dinner. Downtown is only about a 30 to 40 minute walk down the beach and up State Street. This is a very beautiful city with palm trees everywhere with distinctive Spanish architecture set against a backdrop of mountains much like Vancouver’s.

We always find it hard to pick a restaurant when we are hungry in a new place. There were so many to choose from, but we did settle on the California Pizza Kitchen which turned out to be a good choice–gourmet pizza (but still not as good as Zaccary’s Pizza on Oak & 16th in Vancouver) and a salad. Friday October 13, 2006 At dawn we heard some heavy rain hitting the deck. (Carllie: Garett’s interpretation of “heavy rain” has changed as it really wasn’t that much!). This was our first serious rain since leaving Vancouver. It lasted only 15 minutes and left a beautiful rainbow. According to the locals this was the first rain since April.

Our friends Helvan and Judy Tracey from Oxnard came by to pick us up to show us the town and to help us do some shopping. Helvan was unusually excited about taking us to a special restaurant for the best blueberry pancakes. We drove up State Street for about a mile, and lo and behold we arrive at:

That’s right Garrett’s Restaurant! I tried to get a free meal from them because of my name they asked for ID and then said my name had only one “R” in it and so they refused. I thought it was a bit of technicality though. It turned out that the blueberry pancakes were the best we have ever had. Helvan said he’d been waiting years for us to come down so he could bring us there. We then went shopping and hit all the big spots like Costco and Trader Joes. After that they took us for a drive all around the area and showed us the sights. It was a fun day with lots of good conversation. We closed the day off with dinner at Ruby’s Diner, a ’50’s style diner with good food and milkshakes that we didn’t try. Back at the marina, we got a big cart and somehow managed to take all our groceries back to the boat in just one trip. Carllie: Helvan & Judy drove us through Montecito and other areas, and told us many multi-millionnaires live here, including movie stars (like Michael Douglas and Oprah), big business tycoons, and baseball players (NBA?).

Saturday October 14, 2006 Garett: We had to leave our spot at the yacht club at noon so we made an early trip to the farmers’ market downtown. After getting some faulty directions we did eventually find it and it was great. There must have been over one hundred stalls, all with various types of veggies, fruits, nuts, and sprouts all locally grown and beautifully displayed. It was the best open market we have ever seen. We loaded up all our packs and slowly made our way back to the boat. Just when it looked like we would have to move out to the rolly anchorage, a slip came up in the main area. We toured the Seafood festival in the afternoon but we had bought so much food in the last 24 hours that we felt guilty going out for dinner. Sunday October 15, 2006 Helvan and Judy came by today, and since there was a light wind blowing we took them out for a nice sail for an hour into Santa Barbara Channel.

We had a great time and we think that Helvan could be the next Captain Vancouver in this pose from the bridgedeck.

Captain Tracey!

We did some more sightseeing in and around Santa Barbara, and visited this, the biggest fig tree in existence. It is only 80 feet high but over 200 feet wide. You can see Carllie at its base, which shows how big it is.

Carllie: Our tour guides also took us to see the Brown Pelican Restaurant, encouraged by our friend Ivon back at home. It used to be quite a reasonably priced spot, but now it’s very “upscale”, but it is situated right on the beach with a beautiful view and people enjoy great seaside walks here. Garett: At this bach we also came across a crazy Jack Russell Terrier with his ball. You would throw the ball for him and then he would use his nose and body to guide the ball back to you or just keep pushing it for his own entertainment, very fast, just like a soccer player. We had a great time watching him and throwing the ball for him.

Monday October 16, 2006 I finally started work on making some awnings to give more shade in the cockpit. I made a little bit of progress (actually I only managed to get the sewing machine out of storage….). Today was squash day. It has now been 90 days since I went cold turkey on playing any squash. It has been my longest time without playing ever. It was only a 30 minute walk to the Santa Barbara Athletic Club. The facilities included 5 courts, weights room (with lots of high quality equipment like stationary bikes and treadmills), jacuzzi, pool and numerous other rooms. Carllie and I played for about an hour and a half, lots of drills, then lots of games (Carllie: lots of fun and a great workout for me, but not a challenge for Garett who when playing with me can almost place the ball wherever he wants–almost but not quite–I did get a few points!), and then I was able to get a few pickup games with a few local players and played for another two hours. It was great to get back at it. Squash is such a great game. I was surprised that I felt quite good considering the layoff. We attributed our reasonable level of fitness mostly to the extensive walking, but as well our weekly runs, climbing up and around the boat, and anchor lifting. Carllie seemed to be hitting the ball and moving around the court better than ever. I am sure the relaxation had a lot to do with it as well.

We met a few people and arranged some other games in two days on Wednesday. I was pretty tired when we did get back to the boat. Oh boy I am going to be sore tomorrow!

Carllie: I had a really good work-out at the club, as well, and felt happy with the way I was playing. After the long walk home, we were both pretty pooped. Playing squash you use every muscle in your body; I especially felt my shoulders and upper arms the next day. It is a great game as it requires so much mental focus and is so much fun that you don’t even know how much exercise you are getting, but you get a real overall workout.

Tuesday October 17, 2006 Garett: We both could hardly move in the morning. All day long we groaned and ached every time we had to move. Before getting into my sewing project we took the electric bus that goes downtown for only twenty five cents so we could get some more of those great pancakes at Garrett’s Restaurant. It was early in the morning and the blue sky gave a great background for some pictures of downtown sights.

After eating we walked about 3 miles back down to the harbor. In the downtown area there are many exclusive shops including this one for serious dog lovers:

We were finally back to the boat at 1 pm and I spent the rest of the day doing some serious sewing. Since they moved us to another slip on Sunday we have not been able to connect to the Internet. An interesting thing is that our wireless connections have been more reliable in the more remote areas and worse in the cities (ie San Francisco and Santa Barbara). Carllie had to send an email off to a magazine so she tried, unsuccessfully, for the rest of the day to find a place where she could connect. Carllie: By then it was about 4 p.m.,and after Garett said my only option was to go to Starbucks who always had Internet connections, I had to walk all the way to the bus from the most distant point on the marina, toting the heavy backpack with laptop and accessories tucked inside, and take the last shuttle bus. When I reached Starbucks and plugged in my laptop, I got no connection and was then told that in order to use the Internet I had to be a Verizen subscriber! What a disappointment. Ho hum. Well, by then I had my delicious cup of Chai Tea latte (a real indulgence as we are sworn off caffeine and Chai Tea is a black tea), the laptop plugged in, and the desirable solitude one can only get in a cheery coffee shop, so I started my next article. I had been feeling rather lost and fretful, knowing that it would soon be dark and I would have to walk all the way home, but settling into writing renewed my spirits and confidence as I became inspired with my next project. Then I had to walk all the way home, along State Street which had again been set up for the Farmers’ Market, through the dark underpass, all the way along a desserted beach, all the way down the boardwalk fronting the marina, to the last dock, and about 1/4 mile down that down to our finger. When I finally sighted the lights of Light Wave at the end of the finger, I knew I was home and felt enormous relief. Garett and I decided afterwards that I should not have left so late in the day so that I would be walking home in the dark alone, and we won’t let that happen again. Nevertheless, I had accomplished something and got some good exercise.

Garett sewing in Light Wave.

Wednesday October 18, 2006 Garett: I sewed through the day and then we headed to the squash courts for another session as they had a round robin evening for the ladies and I had set up a match with a good player, Christian Geitner from the Santa Barbara Athletic Club, whom I think is ranked in the top 10 male players in California. We were both still a little sore but the half-hour walk partially loosened us up. We both had good matches and then took our time in the pool and the hot tub.

I enjoyed the drills with the novice Santa Barbara players, although everything was much more basic than what I’d been accustomed to at Vancouver Racquets Club. The drills were relatively elementary, but I still enjoyed them and appreciated the tips from their pro, Debbie. The ladies were lots of fun and I had a great time later playing 3-way with 2 ladies, improving our skills and encouraging each other

Thursday October 19, 2006

Garett: It was unfortunately time to move on after a fantastic week in Santa Barbara with its warm weather, beautiful scenery, and friendly people. We rushed to checkout by noon and after filling up with fuel we were on our way on the 25 miles to Channel Islands Harbor and Oxnard.

We sailed most of the way in light winds.

Carllie and I did our lessons with our Spanish tapes. (Carllie: The Pimsleur requies constant oral repetition of the words and phrases, and very intense concentration. It’s a great method and we are enjoying the challenge and the language.)

While lounging we noticed that the fishing line seemed a little tighter than usual. I pulled it in and there was a small fish on it that I couldn’t identify. We unhooked him and sent him on his way. Five minutes later we got another bigger one and still thought it was too small. Five minutes after that we got a slightly bigger one of about a pound and decided to keep it since whatever type of fish they were they were determined to be our next meal.

We later identified it as a Pacific Mackerel. A very high percentage of the fish was edible and when we barbequed it the next night it tasted like tuna and was quite good. We made it in to the harbor just at sunset.

This harbor is very different from Santa Barbara which is just a basin protected by a breakwater. At Channel Islands harbor it consists of canals that go inland for a couple of miles with houses and docks on the shore. Carllie: After seven days at Santa Barbara Marina, we had gotten so accustomed to being tied up to a dock in this beautiful city, we almost reverted to becoming land-bound! We could walk to the restrooms (thus saving our holding tank which you have to pump out once it fills, and that’s a 30-minute motoring trip to the pump-out dock and back), the showers, and Harbor Master’s office. Exercise was easy as we could just step off the boat and walk or run, or walk to the Santa Barbara Athletic Club that we told you about earlier, to use their fabulous facilities, stretch, cycle on stationary bikes, swim, or most importantly play squash. It was with some regret that we left this beautiful small city that lies in a coastal pocket that basks in a Mediterranean climate. Strict building regulations keep Santa Barbara beautiful. Having seen what can be accomplished with low-building restrictions, I wish our home town of Vancouver had had similar restrictions when City Council sold the Expo ’86 lands bordering False Creek so that we would not now be cursed with a plethora of ugly high-rise buildings that restrict the view of Vancouver’s beautiful surrounding mountains and ugly houses built to maximum size on small lots. I guess Vancouver City Council’s only concern is building its property tax base: more housing units per square foot of land = more property taxes. It’s just too bad, as Vancouver could have been just as beautiful as Santa Barbara, had different values and a higher philosophy prevailed. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s building code also encourages the construction of leaky condos, which proliferlate in the city and continue to be built despite the thousands of home-owners who have lost most if not all of the equity in their homes due to this crazy building code. As soon as we tied up at the yacht club on the first day, we went for a little walk to scope out the area. We walked across the little bridge directly in front of the club, into Oxnard, to investigate the Casa Serena Hotel, as this was where we had attended a convention 11 years ago. We were sorry to see that it has really gone downhill and is now quite run-down. Helvan and Judy say there have been many proposals to renovate and update it, but it is only now with new owners that this is finally happening. We hope so, as it is potentially a lovely resort hotel. Friday October 20, 2006 It was another sunny morning and Carllie took a few pictures of the canal around us.

We walked to this deserted beach even though there was a long line of homes along the shore for our morning exercises.

Helvan and Judy came by later in the morning and they showed us around the towns they live in (Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Ventura which are all connected) and we squeezed in some more shopping. We finished off by visiting Ventura Harbor,

and having s fish and chips dinner at a packed Avienta Fish House. (Carllie: we did share all of this food!)

The harbor is ringed by beautiful bougainvillia

And we stopped by to watch the late night surfers at the famous break at Ventura point.

Carllie: We walked this morning about a mile to the open beach that looks out on Santa Barbara Channel, and took some pictures of the beach-front homes after we did our morning exercises while several ambitious exercisers ran on the sand. It’s a very pretty spot as are all the beaches in this area, and were surprised to learn that hardly anyone goes to these beaches, even on weekends. If it were Vancouver in this warm/hot weather, these beaches would be packed after work and on weekends! Helvan and Judy came and picked us up again, and took us for a tour of their home grounds: Oxnard, Port Hueneme (the military city that actually lies within Oxnard), and Ventura. We again visited our favorite store, Trader Joe’s, which offers very high-quality food including a lot of organics, somewhat like what you would find in Choices in Vancouver, but at half the cost. We also stopped at Costco, as it seems now we have a compulsion to get as much at Costco as possible because the prices in grocery stores are so high. We also always look for a store in a Mexican neighborhood, as the produce prices are much more reasonable. We have learned, as cruisers do, to buy quantities of fruits or vegetables that are the best prices. Thus, we may get 8 or 10 avocadoes and 12 bananas, but not buy green peppers at one store, but stock up on them somewhere else. Our menus reflect the contents of our cooler. And if the bananas get overripe, I make this fabulous banana nut loaf that also calls for chocolate chips. I use carob chips, and it’s is so delicious, especially if it’s still warm, that I am including the recipe in a sidebar [*ADD LINK TO BANANA LOAF RECIPE* – Coming Soon!] I’m asking Garett to create today for my cruising recipes! We had planned to stay only two nights at the lovely Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club, but Helvan and Judy asked us over for brunch the next day, and as we’d been hoping to see their townhome, we gladly accepted and took advantage of PCYC’s reciprocal offer of three nights’ free moorage. Saturday October 21, 2006 Carllie: Helvan and Judy, though still a young couple, live in a “50+” community in Port Huneme that is very pretty and very quiet. We enjoyed their hospitality consuming a lovely brunch and watching a video of the life of Earle Stanley Gardner, who wrote the famous Perry Mason books which eventually were made into the TV series. This man bought a large piece of ranch land which he made into a retreat where he entertained some famous and some ordinary folk, and worked very hard on his writing. I found it interesting to note the simple buildings he built and lived in, compared to the ostentatious and self-indulgent lifestyles adopted by wealthy people nowadays. We in North America are prone to live in such a consumer culture these days, and judge people on how much they own and have to show, not on who they are, their integrity, their kindness, or their contributions to human enlightenment. I even got in a load of washing at Helvan & Judy’s place, and as their laundry room is in an outside building my washer-woman activities didn’t disturb the camaraderie of a very enjoyable final afternoon with our good friends. Garett: They took us for a final shop at Trader Joe’s and then a tour by the beach.

Sunday October 22, 2006 After luxurious showers in the fabulous PCYC facilities, we had a final chat with Tigger, Marni & Peter’s big Manx cat, and scratched his tummy, took a last photo of our friends on the dock, and opened our Anniversary presents, and cast off.


Here is a creative way for a big sailboat to pass underthe low bridges at the end of the Channel Island Harbor.

We planned to dine at our next stop 25 miles down the coast, Paradise Cove on Malibu Beach, where Helvan said Paradise Cove Restaurant would be a great place to celebrate. We enjoyed another fifteen mile sail to Paradise Cove, but we found this to be another open roadstead-type anchorage—rolly and not very comfortable. We could see the omnipresent Malibu surfers catching the big ones on each side of the “cove”, while the beach where we would be landing had “only” a 4 to 6-foot surf to get through and to get back out. Ahem!

This would make for a very wet landing and a very questionable departure in the pitch black when we’d be returning, so we declined the invitation! In fact, as of today, October 27th, we still haven’t had that special dinner. Perhaps at Avalon on Santa Catalina Island… I had taken off my anti-sick patches when we arrived at Paradise Cove, and regretted it later as with the swells rolling in; it is very rolly and not at all peaceful. We did do some gawking through our binoculars at the posh houses on and just above Malibu Beach, but had missed our big opportunity to bump into Tom Selleck or Bette Midler at Paradise Cove Restaurant. Monday October 23, 2006

Carllie: Next morning, I could hardly wait to get going as my tummy wasn’t doing well after a night of rolling around. Soon, we were under way, and enjoyed a short 12-mile downwind motor then sail to Marina Del Rey which is next to Santa Monica. I actually caught my first fish on the hand line today. It was a small mackerel.

This is actually a city name, and consists largely of the huge marina facilities. The city runs into Venice, also on the seaside, which sure enough has canals running between the rows of houses.

Venice is very “arty” and has become a desirable place to live, according to our friend Peili Chen (whom we met at San Miguel Island when Garett carried her and her friend’s water up to the campground). Venice is now home to movie stars like Julia Roberts, and is very pretty indeed. We tied up at the Harbor Master’s visitors’ docks which are quite reasonably priced and offer good shower facilities. Peili and her boyfriend Sonny Pais took us out for dinner the night we arrived at The Charthouse. We got to know both of them a bit better and particularly enjoyed Sonny’s sense of humor and explanation of thoroughbred racehorse ownership and racing, which is one of his interests. Peili very generously offered to drive us around the next day, showing us Santa Monica and Los Angeles, and we were delighted to take her up on it.

Tuesday October 24, 2006 Peili happily drove us all over Venice, Santa Monica and well into L.A., on Sunset Boulevard, which stretches all the way from Santa Monica to Los Angeles proper. We drove through Beverly Hills and past Hollywood, and were astounded how huge metropolitan Los Angeles is (12,000,000 pop.)

Peili dropped us at Grauman’s Theatre, where the stars have impressed their foot and handprints, and felt very mass-minded tourists for about 5 minutes (too much). It’s a bit too much “people adulation” for our comfort level, but it was interesting.

Peili also pointed out the building that houses the annual Academy Awards, and I recalled the throngs of “rabble” gawking at Gucci-draped movie stars as they waved and strolled into the building on the red carpet. Hoo boy! The L.A. life is definitely not for us. We really appreciated Peili and Sonny’s generosity, and look forward to showing them around Vancouver when they are en route to Hot Springs Cove on Vancouver Island, sometime in the future.

Wednesday October 25, 2006 Carllie: After a total of 12 days in metropolises, we yearned for a quiet anchorage, so we were very happy to leave Marina del Rey to sail “26 miles across the sea” to Santa Catalina Island. As the infamous Santa Ana winds were predicted (hot North East winds that come from the high dessert and funnel down through the canyons and out onto the water sometimes at very high speeds, and are responsible for the fires that have rampaged across Southern California during recent years), instead of heading directly to Avalon which is on the east side of the island and would be wide open to those winds, we tootled around the NW corner of the island and into Cat Harbor. Garett: There were many freighters passing along this busy ship channel across from LA.

We sailed almost the entire way over. The coast of Santa Catalina Island was much rockier and steeper than I had envisioned.

We rounded the west point and continued to sail 7 more miles down very steep south coast.

We arrived at dusk at Cat Harbor which is has a very dramatic entrance and a truly protected anchorage when you work your way in to the head of the bay.

The surrounding hills made it seemed like we were anchored in the hills around Predator Ridge golf course in Vernon, British Columbia. Carllie: Adding the “round the corner” mileage to the 26 miles, by the time we arrived it was again dusk, so we had to tie to a mooring buoy for the night. At the rate of $25/night we were not keen to continue, and were happy to find save anchorage in the shallow bay very close to shore, thanks to our shallow draft catamaran. We stayed another six nights at anchor, and were delighted to explore the quaint town of Isthmus. Again, we got great, cheap showers. Thursday October 26, 2006 Carllie: We explored the “town” of Isthmus in about 10 minutes. It is really a hamlet rather than a town and then went for a long, hot walk along the steep southeast shore road of the island. The whole island is very mountainous except somewhere in the interior, where there is a long-established ranch.

Friday October 27, 2006 Carllie: I had time off alone on Light Wave when I just relaxed under Garett’s new awnings in the sun and practiced my Spanish lessons while Garett undertook a very ambitious hike up the mountainside visible from our anchorage. He took one of our Cobra walkie-talkies and every few minutes he called me to give me his position, I grabbed the binoculars and found him, he waved, and then continued. This was far more restful to me as I didn’t worry about Garett, keeping in touch with him the whole time, and enjoyed my “solitude” and rest much more. Garett: As Carllie mentioned I did a little solo exploring on my walkie-talkie leash as I climbed the 1500 foot hills surrounding the Cat Harbor and took some good pictures.

I even came across my first rattle snake (already dead) on the trail.

From the top you could clearly see the “isthmus” that separates Cat Harbor from Two Harbors. Each of these harbors has hundreds of mooring buoys which are all fully used in summer but were less than 10% full now in their fall season.

Ferry bringing dads and sons for weekend camping

Saturday October 28, 2006 Carllie: We were delighted to see our friends Peter and Marni Siddons who motored over to say hello, and invite us over to 2 Pieces of Eight to socialize later. We took them up on the offer, so I baked my non-chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies (recipe to follow) and took a dozen with me, leaving a mere 27 for us. (These lasted the whole of 3 days thanks to one certain person whose tummy just has to eat things when it knows good things are to be had!) At Peter & Marni’s later, we were happy to reacquaint ourselves with Tigger and their chocolate-point Siamese, Latte, plus meet some cruisers we hadn’t met before: Bones and Beth who have sailed 65,000 miles since leaving England in 1994, and Joan and Jan who are sailing aboard their Waterline (built by and originally for Waterline designer/builder Ed Rutherford in Sidney B.C.) from Seattle. We enjoyed the company, and as usual gleaned a lot of information from our fellow cruisers, particularly Peter & Marni and Bones and Beth.

Garett: By the time the food was finished, we were the last ones there and we headed back in the dark through the mooring field to Light Wave which was in its own private spot in just 3 feet of water at the head of the bay. Sunday October 29, 2006

Carllie: I did the same hike with Garett that he had done solo, as it sounded so interesting and he told me what a great view he had from the trail. The trail was very very steep and really got our heart rates up there, and the return trudge was definitely a work-out for the knees and Achilles tendons, stopping the downward momentum on the steep downward trail. The trail did offer great views, although a tad of Vertigo set in at the very top as the trailside falls off very steeply right down a cliff into the crashing surf.

Itsy bitsy Light Wave way down below On the way to the trail Garett was delighted to spy these two big ol’ buffalo munching in the field. We had heard there were buffalo on the island, but were surprised to see them unfenced so close to the anchorage.

Later we found that these two had gotten through a gate that had been left open. Garett just had to get as close as possible, as he was convinced they were just nice little guys. Later in the day, we learned that in fact buffalo are very unpredictable critters and they can charge you unexpectedly, and with their immense heads and very obvious horns can do some serious damage. It was all I could do, even after we’d heard this warning, to keep Garett from going right up to them to say hello. (Garett: I really wanted to get up-close and personal and maybe go for a ride but Carllie wouldn’t let me…. They really look very friendly…)

Monday October 30, 2006 Carllie: This was Domesticity Day: I made banana bread, did a big load of laundry (where I did my Spanish lesson and met another fellow cruiser, Brenda, whom I chatted with), then made lentil soup (Dal). Had to row ashore to do the laundry, then hike ¼ mile to the laundry facilities.

Off with the laundry…. Exhausting. Boy will I be glad to get back to our tiny apartment in the middle of the city where I can buy bread, where the laundry machines are only three flights of stairs down from our suite, and the shower and bath (YES!) is right inside our home. See? There are so many advantages to long-term cruising, one of which is the growing appreciation for absent friends and humble homes, the latter of which one may have previously been somewhat discontented with. While I did the laundry, Garett got his solitude time to do some writing on a magazine article on the building of our hardtop and arch. Our final full day at Cat Harbor, we rowed ashore and walked the short shoreline trail to the outer bay and back.

Along the way, we passed an outstation for a yacht club, where we saw at least 20 feral cats—lolling about on the warm roof, in the flower beds, and in surrounding grounds.

We’ve seen these feral cats at many places down the California coast, starting with Crescent City. But Isthmus and surrounding area takes the take. They roam the city and crouch next to offerings of water and food next to the dinghy dock, they bound through the fields looking so much like small African lions it’s incredible, they gaze at you through golden untrusting eyes and never ever let you get too close no much you croon, “Kitty, kitty, kitty! Here puss, puss!” or meow melodiously at them as Garett is prone to do. This would not be a good place to a mouse unless you were “Mighty Mouse” Tuesday, October 31, 2006 By the time we got under way, and pulled up our two tangled anchors (two anchors are required at Cat Harbor if not tied to a mooring buoy), the wind was blowing quite gustily. We exited the long bay, waving at Ann aboard Cat’s Paw, on the way out, and raised our sails immediately. I was trying a “drugless” trip as I don’t like the yucky effects of that Transderm Scop in my mouth (feels like it’s lined with cotton), and besides want to wean myself off of drugs and become tougher. So, I didn’t help much, so it was lucky that this was a pretty short trip down the west length of Santa Catalina and around the SE corner then back up a bit and into Avalon. Avalon is very pretty, and again hilly. It looks like a city in the Greek Islands, and its most prominent building is the Casino (Latin for “gathering place”, not a gambling joint), built in 1926, by Mr. Wrigley, the original owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, the gum company, and the original owner of this whole island. The team was brought here for their camps, to practice, and to popularize the island.

Famous Big Bands played at the Casino and in those days, until the 1950’s probably, hundreds of people danced to their tunes. Another time, a better standard. Photos we found outside the Casino and in a Country Club House show well dressed young couples dancing cheek-to-cheek. The Casino is now used as a movie theatre (originally it played silent and regular movies), and even fitness facilities and showers. It is still a huge and very grand building which is very well maintained, apparently, as it is a beautiful landmark of Avalon.

Again, I particularly found it hard to adjust the “big city” pace, and was a little blue until we found ourselves in the middle of the annual Halloween Parade. Of Avalon’s population of 4,000, an amazing 500 are elementary school children, including pre-school I think. And they must have all been in this parade. They were an excited, chattering group, in very entertaining costumes. The majority of the children were Mexican, and very very cute. Garett took as many pictures as possible, and here they are!


About Author

Garett Hennigan

Garett Hennigan is a mechanical engineer who in partnership with his wife, Carllie, built a 28 foot catamaran, Light Wave, in 1999. He has sailed extensively with his wife through Mexico, Hawaii and now back in the Pacific northwest with over 20,000 sailing miles and over 5000 hours of boatbuilding experience.

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