We weighed anchor in Smugglers’ Cove at 0600 on Thursday 15th June. The sun was rising over the east end of Santa Cruz Island. As we passed San Pedro Point an arch opened up in the cliffs.
|Santa Cruz Island arch|
The first hazard we encountered was a Maersk container ship coming south in the TSS (shipping lane) just as we were about to start our crossing. The morning fog cleared and the ship passed by safely. Once across the TSS motoring in calm seas, dolphins arrived to play in our bow wave. We noted many oil rigs quite close to the shore south of Santa Barbara.
|Jeremy on Stearns Wharf|
Jeremy called Harbour Patrol to ask if we could take on diesel and have a berth for two nights. We had to tie up to the fuel berth first, then move to the nearby Harbour Patrol dock, tie up and go to the marina office. The cost was $1 per foot per night and we had to have dye put in our holding tank so we could not flush in the marina – another first. By midday we were tied up in our berth. In the afternoon we made good use of the marina laundry.
Friday was a sight-seeing and shopping day, after we had washed our No.2 jib in fresh water. There was a shuttle bus which ran along the waterfront and up the main street called State Street. Rides for seniors cost only 25c each. We got off at the historic Stearns Wharf and enjoyed reading a plaque which told us how Sir Francis Drake sailed to Drake’s Bay north of San Francisco, nailed a flag ashore and claimed all the land for Albion.
|Kathy and view from the top of the Old Courthouse|
We had been told we should see the Old Courthouse and go up to the viewing area at the top of a tower. The advice was good and the 360 degree views spectacular. We were soon down to earth for lunch and for shopping at Ralph’s supermarket. The shuttle bus took us back to the marina.
Simon and Erin arrived about 10.30pm after a five hour drive from Sunnyvale. It was wonderful to see them again after two years and to give them big hugs. We celebrated with drinks in the cockpit, chatting until midnight.
|Simon and Erin dolphin watching|
On Saturday, we left Santa Barbara at 0710. We took turns steering, making 6 knots on the 25 mile passage to Santa Cruz Island. We saw whales blowing and diving, tails up in the air and had to alter course to avoid being too close. Soon afterwards lots of dolphins arrived to swim with SD. Simon and Erin watched these amazing sights from the bows. Jeremy was first to spot a baby dolphin with its mother – a first for all of us.
|Scorpion Bay with Little Scorpion in the background|
We anchored at Scorpion Bay. Our first choice, Little Scorpion Bay next door, was fully occupied. Our bay was quite busy with trip boats bringing out campers and kayakers. We had lunch in the cockpit, celebrating our reunion properly with a bottle of champagne. We decided to weigh anchor afterwards and head for Prisoners’ Bay, where Simon and Erin had been before (but not gone ashore) in a charter yacht with the Worrell family. Here, we anchored and went ashore for a walk along one of the trails. Almost immediately we saw a Santa Cruz fox. Simon warned us about some wasp-like insects called yellow backs that were flying around the stony beach area. It was very hot ashore. Back on SD, we enjoyed sundowners in the cockpit and pasta Bolognese for supper in the saloon.
|Erin, Simon and Jeremy at Prisoners' Bay|
Everyone had a more leisurely start on the Sunday. We left Prisoners’ Bay soon after 0800 and had a good sail back to Santa Barbara. We saw more whales and dolphins on the way. Jeremy made bacon and egg rolls for everyone for lunch, which we ate on passage. We tied up to the Harbour Patrol dock in Santa Barbara just before 1400 and said a sad good bye to Simon and Erin. They had a long drive back home and we had an overnight motorsail to San Luis Obispo.
|Hiking on Santa Cruz Island|
On the way, the smell of fumes from oil on the sea was overwhelming at times. It was very calm and distant oil rigs could just be seen in the worsening visibility. Soon after supper, just in time for my three hour watch, the fog closed in and I had less than half a mile visibility until 10 minutes before Jeremy took over. He saw us safely round Point Conception, the Cape Horn of the Western Pacific, and I took us safely round Point Arguello. It was hard to distinguish all the lights from an oil rig to port, various fishing vessels and shore lights. I called Jeremy up to help and together we found a safe passage through.
|Misty oil rig|
Thick fog descended again on our dawn approach to Port San Luis Obispo. We made good use of our radar, chart plotter and GPS until we could see the entrance buoys and those that marked off lying rocks. We asked permission to anchor between the Avila and Cal Poly piers from Harbour Patrol. No problem except the Avila pier was condemned so we could not land the dinghy. To go ashore, we had to dinghy two kilometres to Harford Pier then walk three kilometres back to Avila – aarghh!
|Kathy with Avila Beach behind|