We left San Francisco with mixed feelings, sorry to say goodbye to such a beautiful city but really won't miss the smelly and noisy sea lions, as entertaining as they were at times. Our trip out the bay was uneventful with the usual fog at the bridge but luckily we caught the tide right and flew out the opening.
We were not going far, only to Half Moon Bay, really a short hop down the coast. As luck would have it there was no wind and we relied on Mr. Volvo the entire way.
We popped into the marina at Half Moon and went ashore for a reconnoiter. There wasn't much there and even though it was the height of summer, very few people either. After paying for the slip we managed to find a cozy little pub and settled down for a couple of pints and dinner. As we were all recuperating from the bright lights of SF it was an early night, besides we wanted to make Monterrey the next day, in daylight.
The next day was more of the iron spinnaker, in fact we motored most of the way to San Diego, and what wind there was came from the north so we easily out ran the sails. The entrance to Monterrey was not difficult but the harbour is a bit congested with mooring buoys and boats. We found our slip and went up and paid for 2 nights, after which it was a tour of Cannery Row. We had the obligatory lunch on the wharf before setting off on a tour of the downtown. I had hoped it would provide some impetus to read Steinbeck's Cannery Row but as yet the book is still mouldering on the shelf. What happened to sitting in the cockpit having a cold pop and reading all those books you promised yourself that you would read? I just don't know where the time goes.
After our brief stay in Monterrey we again left early to make our landfall at San Simeon, hopefully in daylight. Not quite, close but no cigar, it was black as could be as there was no moon. However with the GPS it was an easy entrance and we dropped the hook in the bay alongside a couple of other boats. We had a quick meal before cruisers midnight (8 p.m.) overcame us and we crashed.
Our next stop was San Luis Obispo, which seemed a rather large and exposed bay to us. We picked up a mooring buoy and radioed the harbormaster asking about the water taxi and paying for the buoy. The water taxi had shut down and the harbormaster said someone would come out to collect the fees. No one ever did and we left at 04:30 the next morning, I guess if we ever go back we will just have to pay then.
We tried our hand at fishing, aside from wetting the line we caught this poor pelican, who unfortunately drown before we could reel him in and release. That was the end of the fishing, we felt so badly that it wasn't until going down the Baja that we put the hook in the water again.
Now we had what promised to be the roughest passage of the trip, our next stop being Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Channel. Getting around Pt. Conception was meant to be akin to rounding Cape Horn, in fact it is called the Cape Horn of the Pacific coast. It was with no small amount of trepidation that our convivial little group approached the cape, but what little wind we had died and we motored around in pretty much calm seas.
|Pt. Conception lighthouse|
Point Conception is the dividing point between Northern California and Southern California, it would also give us much warmer weather and perhaps put the incessant fog behind us. And while no one broke out the bikinis we did manage to peel off a layer or two. The sun peeped through as we neared Santa Barbara and we had a nice sunset, but this found us short of our destination with nightfall fast approaching.
We did manage to get the head sail out for awhile to pretend we were sailing but soon rolled it up. It was interesting to see the drilling platforms to the west of us and we noticed a distinct petroleum smell as we passed through the area. Later we were to find out that there is a natural seepage through the seabed and what we smelled was this and not the oil wells.
In spite of our very early start we did not make Santa Barbara until 21:30 and crept into the harbor in pitch blackness, trying to make out the navigation lights. Again the GPS was invaluable, showing clearly where we were and where we had to go. It was not until we were abeam of the red entrance light that Jackie, the driver, actually saw the light, there were that many confusing lights ashore.
We spent 2 very nice days here enjoying the first bit of warmth of our trip. The palm tree lined beach looked like the California that we had expected-not the windy, fog shrouded rough coast we had endured to San Francisco. When we arrived the dockmaster made us put a dye pill in the heads, just to keep us honest, so to speak. So it was put on the slippers and shuffle down to the loo in the night, but I must admit to standing at the end of the boat during the night looking at the stars!
Next on the agenda was Oxnard, which we made earlier in the day, it is so much nicer coming in in the day light! We went ashore for a quick look around and managed to book our return tickets back from San Diego to Edmonton. Jack and Leif were successful in finding a pub up the road and Jackie and Janice returned to the boat. Oxnard has been hard hit by the recession with many business shut down and the whole place had a rather listless air about it.
Newport Beach came next, a most agreeable and undoubtedly well heeled community. What a contrast to Oxnard. We only stayed the one night and had dinner aboard so did not explore the area. We did go up the channel to see some of the homes and ogle the boats. Some pretty expensive places, everyone agreed that we could easily live here, but we would have to win the lotto.
The following morning we set off on the final leg of this trip and hoped to make San Diego in daylight, and we might have had it not been for the American Navy that got in our way. We we motoring along quite nicely, everyone reading or lazing in the sun when out of the mist appears a rather large military ship. We had been monitoring the VHF and were aware of the exercises taking place but we appeared to be clear. We were expected to maintain a 5 mile clear zone so we altered course towards the coast. Everything seemed to be going great until the ship did the same, oops, so we turn again. All seemed fine until out of the mist comes three whirling clouds of sea spray. All this amidst the threat of a live fire drill, were they going to use us as target practice? That was Jackie's opinion and she was very nervous with all the military activity. Our little plastic boat wouldn't be much of a match up against the U.S. military. Plus somewhere off in the haze was an aircraft carrier broadcasting that it was making continued starboard turns, oh wonderful, how do we avoid him when we cannot even see?
It turned out that three hovercraft were barreling down on us and us going just 6 knots just how could we get out of the way? The first roared up and stopped directly in front of us about 2 miles away, the second went roaring past him to disappear in the mist and the third stopped some way from us towards the land. We had no idea what to do but as no one was shouting at us we maintained our course. It was a bit interesting to see what appeared to be white puffs coming from one of the craft, was this the live fire? We don't know for sure but the big ship dropped its transom and the three hovercraft roared inside and the ship steamed away, leaving us a bit confused and not a little shaken.
We made San Diego harbor entrance in daylight and went up the channel just as dusk was falling. We had telephoned the Kona Kai marina during the day and were told to grab any slip and sort it out in the morning, And this we did, our poor little vessel could fit sideways with room to spare in the slip, we won't even guess how long the slip was but three of us could fit easily. We were now in the land of the super yachts, most of them had tenders the size of our intrepid little craft.
Our stay, though brief, was filled as we took Jack and Janice sight seeing. We visited all the usual tourist sights and even managed a trip to the Midway, a huge decommissioned aircraft carrier moored on the front. It wasn't long before we had to bid adios (trying out my Spanish already!) to our friends and the next day we also left the boat to return to Edmonton for 6 weeks. We still had loads of loose ends to look after before we leave for Mexico and the next stage of our adventure.