Monday, October 1, 2012

Ahhh! Southern Cal

Wednesday, September 26th brought the hoped for wind. We had a building wind all morning and a rockus ride from noon to sunset with up to 24 kts. The seas rolly and wind waves big, but much more “organized” than our big winds down the WA coast.

Spinnaker day!
We had one reef in the main, a smaller jib, and put the warp out for a few hours just to help with steering. We were happy for the speed, and the sound of water whooshing past instead of the hum-drumming motor. Keith was more than happy – after all he was along to sail and he gladly took the wheel for hours on end. Before the biggest winds of the day, we put out the spinnaker, and flew it (successfully, which has been the exception for us) up  to about 18 kts of wind, about the upper end for such a large light sail.

As the daylight was going to end well before getting to the Channel Islands, we set our sights on an anchorage that we read about in  Charlie’s Charts, the guide book that we have used reliably for this leg of the trip. The Cojo Anchorage, just a couple miles south of Pt. Conception, turned out to be just as described and a perfect “roadside” stop for the night. Though barely more than a bight in the shoreline, the anchor took firmly, the wind calmed (a bit) and the sunset was spectacular. Point Conception was a dramatic sight in the evening light.

Pt. Conception -- where the course changes to decidedly SouthEAST and the temperature rises!

The 12 or so oil derricks that we passed added interest to our course.

Thursday morning, we were motoring from our anchorage by 8. We had a bit of a sail, but the majority of the day was motoring. The oil derricks that we passed at one to three miles off throughout the day made for variety in the seascape. The water was flat, so Sully did most of the steering. We read, Lanham did never-ending maintenance, Melinda worked on her espanol (I have a new workbook on the Kindle), enjoyed our three meals (we are finally putting a dent in the fresh provisions – still canned goods to last the year!)

Eating, again.

Reading on the Kindle
Looking for the "creaking" and greasing winches.

Around 4 in the afternoon, we arrived at the shoreline of Santa Cruz Island. We had picked the northwest shore of this Channel Island (one of the 4 in the northern island group) as our destination for the night. The distance was right and there were an abundance of possible anchorages marked on the chart. The island is about 18 miles long and 4 miles wide. Much of it is owned by the Nature Conservancy – and what a treat this stop was. We wish had had another week to investigate these islands!

We motored along the shoreline, marveling at the rock formations, the light, coloring, and the grandness of the coast. We passed a spot called Painted Cave that is said to be the largest marine cave in the world. We would love to have come back by kayak to go inside. Following the coastline and checking out each little cove that showed as an anchorage on the chart, each one seemed more pristine and dramatic than the last. Most also had at least one boat already anchored. While there was surely room for two or more boats, be motored on, with time before sunset to find our own private piece of paradise.
And we did.

These are some of the anchorages we bypassed.

We scooted into an unnamed cove (now named Deal Cove, on our chart). The rock walls rose 200 feet up on either side, with hanging gardens of wild flower and prickly pear. A cave at the mouth of the cove promised an adventure, if we had had more time to paddle in further. There were 3 or 4 pinnepeds (seals) greeting us as we anchored, (we’ve learned that is the name for fin-footed mammals, who are protected in all of these islands) and beautiful brilliant blue water with elegant kelp floating about.
Until we found the one with our name on it!
We put down 175 feet of anchor chain (relatively deep) and then jumped in the kayak (thank you Keith) to take a stern anchor toward shore in order to keep the stern parallel to the walls rising on either side. We have not used this technique since our time in the San Juans so it was good to get the rig out again as we expect we will use both anchors often in Mexico.
Putting out a stern anchor to limit our swing.

Our cave

The hanging gardens

and the lush kelp in crystal clear water.

We were all taken with the beauty of the place. Melinda and Keith decided to swim after measuring the water temp at 68 degrees. It felt wonderful and the visibility was amazing. Lanham BBQ’d and we all felt like it was worth the day of motoring to find this spot and enjoy it so much.

The night brought a few of its own thrills. First, Lanham heard “water running”! Then we all heard it – the oddest water running sound – that had us combing the boat. No water in the bildge, no hoses or vents open. It began to sound like water boiling or dripping. Maybe the batteries are cooking – no, not that… Eventually, we all three concluded that it was outside the boat, somewhere within the rock walls or the caves there was water dripping and splashing, like it sounds coming from a gutter in a heavy Seattle rain! Just another magical discovery about this anchorage. If anyone has experienced this before or knows its source we’d love to hear about it.

Our plan was to motor out early in the morning. The weather pattern has been consistent this week with flat mornings. If there is wind, it builds during the mid-day, and sails may be able to replace the motor if we get around 10 knots or more of wind in the afternoon. We could flop around or just go in for the day (and we will, we will) but we are watching the charts and calculating that to make it to San Diego by Saturday night or Sunday, we need to keep moving at least 5 kts. an hour.
Quick morning get away includes a swim for Lanham to retrieve the stern anchor. 
Where'd he go?

The incredibly clear water shows L checking out the bottom
of Solar Wind.

Our 6 am departure turned into 7:30 when the simple task of retrieving the stern anchor turned into an early morning swim for Lanham (guess he was elected because he declined the evening before). Up and away – Friday has been another day of motor sailing, with gorgeous scenery, and time to do some hand laundry and bake some biscuits.

A long day brings us into an anchorage on the North end of Catalina Island tonight We will have to miss the towns, and a chance to hike around the island this trip. We plan to make a very early get away to do the 70 or so miles into San Diego tomorrow. Pressing on… and enjoying the ride.



  1. Wow! Almost like being there with you! What clear water... so beautiful! And great pictures!! Thank you so much.

  2. How beautiful the scenery is, and the water is so clear! Just gorgeous! Love, Weeze