Dispatch 4 sent 4/12/09 (Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara):
Lucas, who’s 23 and will be going to graduate school in Sociology in the fall, joined us in Sausalito.
Boat repairs were finally completed on 4/6, and we took off later that day, heading for Santa Cruz to pick up one crew member and meet with a second one. With this crew business, things don’t always work out as planned: the crew member who had emailed us several times, “Just let me know when and where, and I’ll be there…” decided that he wanted to wait until his friend would be available in mid-June, so they would meet us in Mexico. Since hurricane season in Mexico begins on 6/1, we’ll be gone by then, so that’s pretty unlikely. They were very nice and drove us to a wonderful grocery store and then back to the marina.
Surprisingly, very few services are available within an easy walk, so it’s quite a distance to get to services. The trip to the grocery was especially appreciated!
One comment about watches: with 2 people, this trip would be extremely difficult. With 3, it really hasn’t been bad, though 4 would be ideal. Paul worked out a 5-5-5 shift during the day and 3-3-3 shift during the night, so the way it works out, all of us have at least 10 hours in a row off, which is absolutely wonderful when you’re just finishing a tough watch. (Only a few have been so; most have been either interesting or at least uneventful.)
Because we haven’t travelled very far off the coast on this leg, we’ve really seen wildlife. Paul spotted one whale—couldn’t tell what kind—and we’ve all seen all sorts of birds: herons (even as far south as this), snowy egrets, pelicans, several kinds of gulls, coots, etc. Lots of sea lions …
One of those things that puzzled me no end during one of the nighttime passages was oil platforms. They are as brightly lit up as cruise ships are at night, but look a little different from a distance. And they certainly show up on radar, but as one approaches them, they don’t move, and it looks like we are on a collision course. Several times I got fooled and took evasive action! Keep in mind that as we got further south toward Santa Barbara, there was vessel traffic in addition to the oil platforms:
Navy vessels on maneuvers (at least they used their radios to let the rest of us know what was going on), container ships which never responded to our hails, a few cruise ships, and some private boats. To conserve our batteries, we only ran the radar and course plotters (both notorious power hogs) about every 15 – 20 minutes.
From Santa Cruz we’d planned to go to Catalina Island, but stopped in Santa Barbara because fairly high winds were predicted for Fri and Sat. Paul was sure that the stop was unnecessary until about 4 pm on Fri, when the wind absolutely howled. We were all very glad that marina staff were willing to find a place for us in that very full marina!
Thus far all the so-called conventional wisdom about weather has been wrong. Maybe because we’re doing this trip in the spring rather than summer, but the worst winds were off the northern CA coast, not the WA or OR coast. And winds are supposed to be much diminished once you’ve passed Pt Conception (a few miles west of Santa Barbara), so we already passed it. And you’ve already heard how that’s worked out the past few days.
Santa Barbara has a man-made harbor that is constantly being dredged. As you go in, it’s breathtaking, with the Santa Inez mountains (green at this time of year) a backdrop for the red tile roofs. There are marine parts stores, several grocery stores, and restaurants all within a short walk Sound like the perfect place? You can pick up a nice starter home for half a mil’…..
Next stop Ensenada, about 200 nm from here and about a 2-day trip if the weather gods are kind to us. May you all have fair winds!