Mary's Log Continued
Dennis (Sparky/Cooky) really had to struggle making sandwiches today because we were heeling so far over. But he wedged himself in a corner and produced a fine repaste. BTW, at this point, Jamie had yet to reveal that he is a gourmet chef.
After poking about the Santa Cruz north shore for a suitable anchorage, Dan finally chose the Grotto. It is a teeny little wedge in the cliffs, and we needed two anchors so we wouldn't swing into those cliffs.
As Dennis set up to prepare dinner, he discovered that the teriyaki sauce had disappeared.
Jamie to the rescue. He made a brilliant sauce using the limited assortment of condiments he found in the cupboard. Dennis and Dan watched with what looked like amazement as Jamie performed his galley magic.
We had a lovely dinner and got to know each other better over several bottles of wine. Dan and Dennis are both interesting and knowledgeable about many subjects.
Sleeping was a bit difficult in The Grotto with the surge rocking us side to side.
In the morning, we set out for Painted Cave. We put the kayaks in the water and with some trepidation we explored a couple of small caves for practice.
We then headed for Painted Cave, the largest sea cave in North America.
It was scary in there. Water crashes around sounding like an explosion and it is DARK.
I felt like I was in subway tunnel and the train was coming toward me. It was exhilarating, especially when I was safely back on Sancerre.
We hoisted the kayaks aboard, and got underway. Unfortunately, the wind was light, so motored around the point to a sweet beach at Fraser's Point. The water color was beautifully clear and it reminded me of Point Lobos in Carmel.
Dennis fixed us his special "French lunch."
We headed across the Channel to Santa Rosa Island for our next anchorage. The winds were light and very fluky. As soon as we got into Bechers Bay the wind picked up to 20 with gusts up to 30. Our dinner was a bit mobile that night, but did not land up in our laps ... luckily.
The Adventure Continues
Sparky/Cooky here. I figured it was time we got this record set to paper. So I'm taking up the electronic pen here to describe the rest of the adventure. And adventure it was, even for us seasoned sailors.
San Miguel and what came after were the most spectacular parts of the trip.
We woke near dawn on Monday and clambered out on deck to a warm (for here) breeze. The thermometer said 63F, but it always says something between 62 and 64. But the fact was that the weather was nice enough (and we were feeling groady enough) that the crew showered on the stern.
We had a mellow breakfast, enjoying a completely deserted anchorage at Bechers Bay, and then headed north toward Carrington point under power. Once out of the Bechers Bay, we were able to fall off to a close reach and sail up the north coast. We'd started under an overcast and the breeze made it feel quite cool, but as the sun broke through we were able to start shedding our layers of clothing. By the time we tacked into San Miguel Passage, we were in shorts and t-shirts and thinking about swimming.
Making our way past Cardwell Point at the SE end of San Miguel, we noticed what appeared to be a large number of tan boulders all along the sandy beach. Pulling out the binoculars, we discovered that the boulders were instead literally thousands of Elephant Seals, which the island is known for. In fact San Miguel is reported to be the largest habitat in North America for these Pinnipeds.
Since we had plenty of time to achieve our goal of circumnavigating the island and reaching our destination of Cuyler Harbor before dusk, we decided to anchor in relatively calm conditions about midway between Cardwell Point and Crook Point in order to put the kayaks in the water and get an up close and personal look at the Elephant Seals. There was a fair amount of surf, so we kept a reasonable distance off shore, but still got plenty close enough to not only get a close look at the seals, but hear the unbelievable sounds they generated as well.
Weighing anchor, we made for Tyler Bight, and Judith Rock, and ultimately around Point Bennett at the west tip of the island. Rounding this spot is quite spectacular, but should be given a wide berth due to extreme currents, and numerous outcroppings of rocks. We continued around the point, paying special heed to the cautionary warnings of Fagan in his Cruising Guide. While our rounding of Point Bennett was fairly uneventful, one can easily see that in anything but ideal conditions, this would be nothing short of treacherous. We sailed fairly far off the island keeping to the outside of Castle Rock, and Westcott Shoal, past Simonton Cove, around Harris Point and into Cuyler Harbor, dropping the hook well before dusk.
After settling in for the night, we prepared - with Jamie's culinary expertise - another gourmet meal of Shrimp Kabobs, rice, vegetables, and a couple bottles (at least) of a fine Chardonnay. After dinner, while we were star gazing on deck, our evening's entertainment arrived in the form of a dive boat out for a night dive. The fairly large boat navigated the entrance to Cuyler with an ease that comes only with numerous trips at night. In minutes, they were anchored, had several boats over the side and divers in the night water. Almost as suddenly as they arrived, the divers were back onboard, and the boat was off leaving us to our solitude.
Tuesday, Day 4
We woke fairly early, and after weighing anchor, leaving Cuyler on an easterly course inside Prince Island giving us a close view of the shore along the harbor as we departed for the Santa Rosa Channel. Our goal was to sail past Santa Rosa, and onto the back side of Santa Cruz Island to Morse Point.
As we sailed into the channel, Mary commented that so it had been a nearly perfect trip, citing great anchorages, kayaking in Painted Cave, kayaking along the coast of San Miguel to see the Elephant Seals, but ...she said, "we have yet to see a single whale."
About that time I saw some spouts about a mile or so off. However, I was the only one, and my eyesight was immediately called into question.
About 20 minutes later my reputation was redeemed, when we all (except Capt. Dan) saw spouts In just a a few minutes the pod of humpback whales came to meet us.
There were - depending on who was counting - 5, 6, maybe 7 animals, including a mother and calf. They stayed near us for the better part of an hour. They were uncommonly friendly, inquisitive even, with two of them coming right alongside the boat, so close that that we were eyeball to eyeball with them and looking right down their spouts as they surfaced!
Not really wanting to leave, but realizing that we really had a fair amount of ocean to cover if we were going to anchor before dark, we trimmed the sails, and made for Santa Cruz Island.
We sailed through the Santa Cruz Channel past the cliffs at Kinton Point that were literally glowing gold, and on to Morse Point, arriving late afternoon.
Jamie expressed some interest in night sailing, so we decided to stop for a while, have dinner, get a little
rest and see how we all felt. After dinner, we were witness to some of the most spectacular star gazing imaginable. The Milky Way was really a band of light, and there were so many stars that it was actually difficult to make out the familiar constellations. Luckily, Jamie (the gourmet cook, engineer and naturalist) is also an amateur astronomer and had his star charts along for us to compare with the night sky. That night we were also treated to and entertained by intense bio luminescence, which kept us occupied for quite some time.
By then, we were all a little too tired for a night sail, and I suggested that we set sail at first light.
Wednesday, Day 5:
About 0400 there was a gentle rapping at my cabin door. Dan handed me a hot cup of coffee and said with a gleam in his eye, that he "...was giving serious consideration to getting underway."
Now, I've sailed enough with Dan to know that "...giving serious consideration to getting underway," means hurry and get the anchor up and lets get going! So, we readied the ship, and weighed anchor. About that time Mary, wiping the sleep from her eyes, came top side to ask what was going on. I casually said we were leaving, to which Mary responded that it wasn't first light just yet. That is of course when I told her "of course it is," and explained to her that when sailing with Dan, "first light," is himself with a flashlight in hand!
Nonetheless, we had a most interesting time, negotiating the passage between Gull Island and the reef at Morse Point by starlight.
Of course there is supposed to be a light on Gull Island, but just to make things interesting, that was burnt out.
We kept a meticulous DR plot, set up a danger bearing on the radar and took sightings every 3 or 4 minutes.
It wasn't all that tricky, but it was all that dark and we were relieved to be south of the island and in open water.
We'd been tracking east for an hour in absolute darkness and sailed right into the sunrise, watching the our favorite star climb come up over Anacapa and start to warm the day up.
We made our way to Cathedral Cove off Anacapa Island for one last gourmet breakfast prepared by Jamie, after which we headed home.
As we approached the shipping lane, Mary reiterated that this had been just about a perfect sail "with great
anchorages, kayaking in Painted Cave, kayaking along the coast of San Miguel to see the Elephant Seals, Cuyler Harbor, the humpback whales, the amazing stars, bio luminescence bright enough to read the New York Times at Morse Point, and sunrise over Anacapa ...but" she stated "we have yet to see any dolphins."
As if on cue, we saw a boil of something about a mile off, maybe a little less, and in a matter of minutes we were in the midst of a huge pod of Pacific White Stripe Dolphins. As a result we had an escort almost all the way back to CI Harbor of several hundred dolphins diving under the boat and swimming at the bow, and otherwise engulfing the boat.
These critters are always playful, but this group must have left their Ritalin home and were unusually athletic with tremendous leaps. Perhaps a morning feeding had them in an especially good mood, but they made the sea boil as far as we could see. There was a large number of mothers and calves among them, who seemed even happier for the romp.
Gently sliding into our slip, it seemed all too soon like a distant memory as we all agreed that it was indeed a perfect sail.
It was a trip that we'll all remember. Dennis and I will probably do many, many more, but I doubt we'll exceed the excitement, adventure and fun.
Dennis and I had great good fortune in having this boat, in planning the trip in Fall. But the magic ingredient over which we have no control is who signs up to cruise with us. And Jamie and Mary were the absolute best.
They taught us a great deal about flora, fauna, astronomy, physics. Their great good humor and their desire to be part of the crew, not to mention Jamie's great cooking ... well, we're just not likely to see this combination until they sail with us again.
BTW, most of the better pictures on this page are Mary's, a talent we hadn't addressed.
– Capt. Dan