West Coast 2010

Alameda to Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island
34° 1.1' N
119° 32.3' W
November 3, 2010

Sequoia is finally out of the Bay Area and into warmer southern California waters. We waited in Alameda a bit longer than we had wished. Being October, the sunny Bay Area was not so sunny; by the time of our planned departure it was grey and threatening. The forecast of south winds at 25 knots and 15 foot seas were not something you'd want to head into, in any case. We waited through the weekend, spending time with family and taking care of laundry and groceries, departed on Monday, in a two-day window of NW winds of 15-25 knots, but still with those 14-15 foot seas. We took our seasick medications Sunday, and got started the next morning.

Our crew for the California and initial Mexican portion of the trip is Gerald ("Skip") Schippers. (How does one become a Sequoia crew? In Skip's case, back in September, he was sailing his Catalina 36 past our moored boat in Alameda, and he called out, "Heading to Mexico? Need crew?" We exchanged credentials and references and decided it was worth a shot.) (How else does one become a Sequoia crew? Ask!) Skip just retired from American Airlines with generous travel benefits, so he can come and go as we need crew. Being retired also helps, because there he has no work schedules or vacation schedules to contend with.

Monday morning, October 25, we headed out toward the Golden Gate, which was mostly shrouded in fog. We wondered how far out to sea the fog would extend, but as we approached the Gate, the fog began to dissipate. The seas were only 8-10 feet, nobody got seasick, and we had 10-15 knots of NW wind on a lovely sunny day. Tuesday evening, as we approached Point Sur (just south of Monterey), the wind increased to 25 knots, then 35 knots by Wednesday morning. We shortened sail down to the minimum, then took the staysail down and proceeded under a triple-reefed main only.

We did not relish another night of sailing like that (and that was the forecast) so we diverted into Morro Bay. The swells became huge, and closely spaced, as we approached the entrance, just south of the iconic haystack rock, and we slid thankfully into the lee of the rock and into the beautiful, calm harbor.

Shore walks, an Italian dinner, showers, a good night's sleep and we were set to go the next morning. It was about 24 hours then to Channel Islands Marina in Oxnard. We rounded Point Conception (of fame, fable and horror) during the night on a beautiful broad reach in light airs. Continuing into the Santa Barbara Channel, the wind filled into a moderate Santa Ana in our teeth and found us motoring, crashing into a short steep swell. Once we arrived, we discovered quite a lot of water on the forward berth. A new leak! For joy! Much of the next few days we spent on removing and re-bedding the forward starboard port, not to mention laundry and otherwise drying things out. Hopefully, the problem is now solved.

Skip departed for home, and we spent four days in Oxnard/Ventura/Los Angeles. In addition to boat tasks, we socialized with family, explored the area, planned for the coming week, and just relaxed.

Yesterday we decided to get away from the Southern California moorage rates ($44/night in Oxnard) and we sailed out to Santa Cruz Island. We're anchored in Smuggler's Cove, which is sheltered from the light northwest wind, but not from the swells, which seem to come right around the corner. We've spent the last 15 hours rocking and rolling - something that's not conducive to relaxation or sleep. We're out of range of cell phones (our source of any internet connection). We know from the radio that the Republicans have taken control of the House of Representatives, but the California stations have told us nothing about what happened in Oregon. Not a happy political season for us; maybe it's better to be cruising!

The wildlife here is spectacular. Below us in the water is a constant turmoil of small fish, flashing in the morning light. Pelicans fly overhead, occasionally dive bombing with a huge splash, presumably to pick up one or more of the little fish. Ashore the sea lions bark, and we see them swimming nearby, presumably gorging on the same little fish. There is an olive grove on the hillside, and below it, Eucalyptus trees seem to hide some sort of building. The beach must be made of boulders, from all the noise the waves making crashing ashore.

This evening we'll up anchor and sail overnight to Newport Beach. We were considering a shorter sail to Marina Del Rey, until we read in our guide book that transient moorage there cost $9/ft./night, an astonishing $396 a day! At Newport we hope to stay on a $5/night mooring ball and dinghy ashore for some boat parts. Beyond that, we hope to be in San Diego by next Monday, and heading for Mexico within a few days after that.