Thursday, September 25, 2014

Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Catalina Island

The few days we were in Monterey were spent socializing and relaxing on the boat. The anchorage, just outside the breakwater, can roll the boat in the swell, which was particularly bad on the first night.

Monterey Bay beach

There is a massive sea lion population in Monterey and they can be heard from the anchorage and you can also smell them if the wind is in the wrong direction. They occupy the rafters under the piers and wharfs and are quite an attraction for the thriving tourists. Sea otters are also in abundance and although they seem slightly smaller than the Alaskan variety are bigger than the river variety and just as amusing to watch.

We were set to depart Monterey at 7am but during my morning engine check I found a stray bolt sitting in the bilge of the engine room. I eventually traced it back to the 24v alternator bracket. So we delayed our departure and James kindly took me ashore in his dinghy and we both walked the 3 miles to the hardware store. Once I was back on the boat the bolt was replaced and off we went 2 ½ hours after our planned departure.

Santa Barbara is about 200 nautical miles from Monterey which would mean an overnight passage. Light winds, again, meant that we would be motoring but on the plus side the seas were calm and the swell insignificant so it was quite a calm passage. During the day a huge pod of dolphins crossed our bow. We estimated that there were over 200. Most carried on but some stayed with us for a while and played in our bow wave.

The sun set and the moon was not out so only the stars were visible until we neared Cape Conception where the oil rigs could be spotted lit up like Christmas trees. The rigs showed up clearly on the radar from over 12 miles away. As the sun rose we weaved our way through the rigs, Irene, Harmony etc.

More dolphins appeared on our bow. We lay down on the deck to get closer to them. They would turn on their sides and look at us. Some were performing acrobatics swimming upside down, leaping out of the air and streaking from one side of the boat to the other. The show seemed to go on forever and we were all elated to have seen them.

Santa Barbara is a Mediterranean style town and we all felt as if we had finally arrived in California. The sun shone, the water was clear and blue and the locals were scantily clad. We toured around the town looking at the mixture of rich and poor people on the well kept downtown street where mosaic adorned fountains flowed and beggars slept.

We met up with Richard and Gerri and had a few drinks in a nice bar overlooking the marina. Steve and Richard played pool with a couple of locals and won!

After two nights in Santa Barbara we left for the Island of Santa Cruz which is about 20 miles from Santa Barbara. The winds for once were with us and we had a lovely beam reach all the way to our destination with relatively flat seas we were making 6.5 to 7 knots is 7-10 knots of wind. Nice! Once we dropped the hook in Smugglers cove Steve and I went for a swim in the lovely waters and showered on the back deck. The night was a bit rolly again as the swell built and I spent the evening trying to work out a design for a flopper stopper to make once we get to San Diego.

Dawn departure
We awoke early and left just before dawn for Catalina harbor on the west side of Santa Catalina island 64 miles away. Dolphins played on our bow again and we saw a couple of flying fish. Arriving at Catalina Harbor on the west side of Santa Catalina harbor we dropped the hook near Abby Normal (Island Packet pilot house) and Rapture (Beneteau 40) both bound for Mexico. Jude went for a climb up the mountain and a 156 foot sail school tall ship came and anchored near us in the harbor.   

The following day we went into the town, or settlement of Twin Harbors which is across the narrow isthmus joining Catalina harbor and Twin Harbors. The island is very arid and looks so similar to outback Australia it is uncanny. It even has gum trees but the lone buffalo would be out of place in Australia. 

Santa Catalina Island - Check out the buffalo!

View of Catalina harbor - Santa Catalina Island

Isthmus Yacht club

Twin Harbors - Catalina Harbor

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