Log - 9/08/01 to 10/31/2001
Eureka to Oceanside, CA

We had a fine 2-day motoring with some sailing from Eureka to Pillar Point Marina near Half Moon Bay California. From Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz we had a great down wind sail. We broke out the spinnaker and zipped along at speeds up to seven knots. Dosing the big sail was a challenge when the wind reach 20 knots; but after much yelling we finally brought in the spinnaker. We anchored for a couple nights in Santa Cruz bay (where we actually experienced SUNSHINE before proceeding across the big bay to Monterey).

In Monterey we said goodbye to Wally, our ever-faithful 3rd crew member. After he had spent 3 weeks with us, and with only a few overnighters left, it was time for to us to learn to go forth without additional help. I cannot thank Wally enough for his assistance. Allowing us to sleep 4 hours or more per day, not tending to every last dock line and fender, scraping varnish, boat washing, chatting - all were valuable benefits of having an extra crew member. On the flip side, the close psychological and physical quarters on the boat were awkward at times, but the trade off was worth it.

Our first overnight passage without an extra crew member was from Monterey to San Luis Obispo; progress halted when I noticed a strange sound emanating from the engine gauge panel and informed Alan, he identified the problem (the bilge pump) and shut it off. Shortly thereafter our oil pressure gauge started quivering and reading above the normal range; we decided to shut down the engine to check the oil level. The oil level was fine; but the engine wouldn't start. We were in no danger as we were 8 miles off shore, but there was almost no wind. We pulled out the diesel manuals and started learning about our starter and solenoid (in rolly swells). In the process of identifying wires with the voltmeter, we inadvertently got the engine started. We took this as a blessing and changed our destination to nearby Morro Bay, 24 miles north of our original destination, to make repairs.

Charlie's Charts makes Morro Bay out to be potentially very dangerous entrance, related to fog, but we had no troubles. The hospitality at the Morro Bay Yacht Club was unbeatable. The 2nd day we got to serious work (the previous day we had both been up for 36 hours), cleaning and replacing terminals, tracing wires. The problem that kept the engine from starting, turned out to be corrosion on the contacts of a relay between the starter button and the solenoid. By now everything was clean, spiffy, and identified for future reference. We made some new cruising friends, enjoyed the hospitality, and headed off to Santa Barbara.

I'm excited about the myth of rounding Point Conception - where the weather and wind magically change to warmer and nicer. At this point, all I ask is that I have one less layer to wear (I usually wear thermal underwear, wool sweater, Windbloc fleece pants and jacket and Gortex outer layer).

As we proceed down the coast we now have an unfortunate new variable to consider in our navigation - increased security in national waters. Some harbors are closed, while other stretches of coastline have minimum distances related to potential targets (military bases, power plants). So far this hasn't affected us as we travel well offshore, but some harbors further south may become problematic.

As we've proceeded down the coast we've learned a lot through trial and error, here are some of my observations:
I tend to get seasick when we're motoring (which has been about ½ the time), the rolly side to side motion is the worst. Bonine the night before and occasionally an additional one on multiday passages helps. Since I usually will still have some "lower grade" nausea (which can result in barfing) I find the electronic pressure relief band helps out a lot (most of the time). Also, very light grazing and frequent small sips of something fizzy (thanks dad) keeps me hydrated well enough.

Crew seems to appreciate real food when the conditions are good. So I don't fret anymore about not cooking meals ahead. A thermos of hot water for night watch and I'm set.

Here I go skipping out on the Log again. Maybe I'll try to put in a few words during the a.m. coffee.

We FINALLY made it around Point Conception with fresh winds and mixed up but tolerable seas. We had to slow down to avoid reaching Santa Barbara before daylight. To keep down to 4 knots, we used a postage-stamp sized jib, which resulted in rolling. Ideally we should have used the staysail in these conditions, but we compromised our ideals as we knew the wind would die down after rounding Conception. It was uncomfortable, but the boat did fine. The crew was tired.

Santa Barbara is the best Southern California town. So we lingered a while. We could finally wear shorts, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. There was an art show on the promenade on Sunday. Santa Barbara has lots of beautiful parks and an electric shuttle to downtown and part of the long promenade for 25 cents. The marina also provides FREE absorbent bilge blankets! These are about 90 cents a sheet at West Marine; but here the Port Authorities wisely realize that making it easy for people to properly dispose of the oil, spilled fuel, and waste is the best way to avoid harbor and beach. So we used and stock up on a few extra bilge blankets.
I considered adding our name to the waiting list for liveaboard status at the Santa Barbara Marina -- just in case. Alan did some re-plumbing in the bilge, under the engine, a truly nasty job. I'm sure if we pull the engine for some reason we'll take the time to do some re-routing of lines, if possible.

After waiting out some big weather and lingering in a beautiful place, our pocketbook and the opening of lobster season called us out to Santa Cruz Island in the northern Channel Islands. The wind appeared mild on the way out, but the last 2 hours of motor sail, we were grateful for a deep 2nd reef as we crossed "windy alley". Our friends on Loncia had arrived the day early and assisted us with bow and stern anchoring in Fry's Inlet. A lovely place, but it was very windy for a few days with our stern anchor taking all the abuse.

The first evening in the inlet a tired crew on a Catalina had a terrible time attempting to anchor, despite 3 crewmembers aboard. It was scary and painful to watch. The helmsman knew only full reverse and full forward when paying out rode or attempting to set the hook. In the end w,e were shouting instructions and wanting desperately to jump aboard and deploy the anchors for them to ensure safety for all. Unfortunately, they made a poor choice of location and scope and their anchor dragged. The Catalina was too close to Loncia, so Jill and Brent on Loncia kept an anchor watch throughout the night. At dawn the Catalina was almost underneath a rocky overhang; they quickly decided to leave. Still being concerned about their incompetence, we talked the helmsman through how to pull up their anchors to avoid fouling their prop or becoming entangled with us. Luckily, they did not try to reanchor and, thankfully, the Catalina departed.

Shortly after that anchoring debacle, a motorboat whizzed in and we rolled our eyes, then we watched in stunned amazement. In about 5 minutes of quick precise maneuvers they set both their anchors (and avoided interfering with ours). They shut down their engine and started to get comfy, then and 10 minutes later realized their anchor was dragging. In another 7 minutes they had reset their anchors again and were secure. The rag-tag boat and crew of 5 were diving freaks and were making their annual pilgrimage for the opening day of lobster season. They completed 11 dives in 3 days, bringing in 50 lobster, and pounds of scallops and many pounds of rockfish. They traded generously with us for bread, homemade caramel, brownies, and bargain Trader Joe's wine.

We spent 3 days enjoying our first relaxing days at anchor in 2 months. Warm air, a dry boat, fresh seafood, friends, and snorkeling are a spectacular restorative. We couldn't help boast a little about our excellent circumstances during our evening radio chats with our cruising friends that we in the Ventura Marina. We hope it will encourage them to just "get out there".

Monday, time to move on. We choose, reluctantly, to do an overnight passage to Catalina. We want to avoid dock/mooring fees and a night landfall at an unfamiliar anchorage. We enjoy an all to brief 6 knot sail with jib alone, but then the wind died and we try motor-sailing once more. The mainsail flogs way too much in light air. Alan swears he's going to have the main recut, again, due to its excessive draft and slightly excessive roach. We take it down and motor, the rolling is awful. Occasionally there a brief puffs to pull out the jib and stabilize the boat, but not much. In hindsight, I think deploying the spinnaker and moving in a stable fashion, then just changing sail and heaving to would be no less tiring than the rolling; it certainly would not have been as hard on the boat. Our friends on Loncia lost their entire electrical system for a time due to a wire that came loose in the rolling. Two miles from Catalina we wait for an hour for sunrise. A dozen dolphins circle around our boat trying to lead the way. Wanting a shower and a nap, I start cleaning out our shower (which is a fender, canvas, salty gear locker) and the boat so that all my chores are done.

Our initial destination, Emerald Bay, is full of mooring balls so we head south a couple of inlets and find an anchorage; in less than 30 minutes we have our stern and bow anchor set. This is a new technique for us. We first set our CQR anchor (with a mostly nylon rode) in the stern anchor location. We pay out a lot of line, as we set the big Delta anchor (with and all chain rode) as our bow anchor. Finally we pull in the extra line on the CQR and tie it off on a stern cleat. We do this without deploying our dinghy (which would add at least another half hour). When we decide to pull up, we slowly bring in the bow anchor chain first. Then we release the CQR rode from the stern and turn around so the CQR becomes a new bow anchor and we pull that in. So far no we have not had problems with this technique, although we have been blessed with pretty calm conditions for disembarking.

The water at Catalina Island is clearer than I would expect for California; anchored in 20 feet of water, we could see a stingray lounging on the bottom near our. It is also nice and warm here and a little less rolly than on Santa Cruz. I haven't set foot on land for 5 days, so we're going to hop in the dinghy and go for a ride.

The town of Two Harbors is a very tidy, little town with almost a Caribbean feel to it. Stepping into the over-sized convenience store was overwhelming to the senses after a week at anchor. As soon as I was in I wanted to get out, but had to check everything out to make sure there was nothing I could live without or some treasure that was accidentally low in price.

The shuttle to the town of Avalon (about 12 miles away) is a whopping $40.00 round trip per person. That is even more outrageous than the $20 per night for a mooring ball!

After a good time while working on the boat, diving, and of hanging out at Catalina with Jill and Brent of s/v Loncia we finally headed for the civilization of Oceanside harbor. Alan stayed and the boat doing much needed maintenance, repair, and rebuilding of various facet of the boat. Katherine headed back to the Portland/Vancouver (home?) area to earn some money for a couple weeks.

Katherine (comments made in an email to Alan during her return to Portland for a 9-day working stint).
I (Katherine) have the following observations:

  • Traffic is one of the dumbest things to waste your time on -- even if your car is equipped with a good stereo and books-on-tape.
  • I still enjoy working -- the coworkers & interesting cases are fun & challenging ( although I have no tolerance for the day to day politics & interpersonal conflicts at work.) I want to do as much as I can in surgery from the technical perspective, be the best patient advocate I can be, & contribute to the financial mission of the operating room.
  • The generosity of our friends will never cease to amaze me. Wally's displayed Olympic stamina driving non-stop & back to Southern CA to chauffer me. My brother coordinated and drove me back to Southern CA. Amy's was full of flexibility, smarts, & daring to help me get supplies & meet mysterious radio announcers. My boss, Bobbi Faust, allowed me to come back even for just nine days of work. Chip Gardes let me hit him up for "free" advice, time, stories, & discounts. Mike Willits let me share in an awesome hug and great friendship. My Dad gave me a roof over my head while in Portland, free meals, LAUNDRY, fatherly advice, and so much more.

These people allow me to experience some of my favorite things (so far) on the boat: Being with Alan, Searching for the green flash, dolphins swimming on the bow, the moonlight reflecting on the water as wide as an LA freeway & as narrow as an old growth trail, coffee in the cockpit, fish tacos, good books, and time to just be.