Follow by Email

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

9/28 Santa Anna Winds.

We are back at Catalina Island after a detour back to Marina Del Rey and our trip to the boat yard. M.D.R. is just North of LAX and though the noise of the city blots out the sound of the jets I had a big job cleaning up the fine layer of black dust that had settled all over the deck and then been tracked inside as we did our speed job. We spent some time relaxing and enjoying the warm weather with Josh and Diana who came down for a day. I even got my Hollywood “fix” by squeezing in two movies.

We love Catalina. It is a very nice sail from the mainland and is like escaping to a foreign country after LA. We spent one day at the Isthmus again and are now in Avalon.
We arrived on the hottest day of the year and after the sail over we just did a quick walk through town for some cold drinks and a loaf of bread. We found a small slice of shade near the beach and sat down to watch a handful of families playing in the sand and the surf. I could walk into the small waves to cool down at will and it was a good place to watch the world go by. The weather across the bay (18nm) in LA hit an all time record of 113 yesterday. It was cooler here but still hot enough to break a sweat sitting still.

After an evening AA meeting for me we headed to bed pretty early with every hatch and port wide open to catch any hint of breeze. Bill had mentioned that there was a possibility for Santa Anna winds but as we turned off the last light there was barely a whisper. Then, in the wee hours of the morning we woke to the sounds of wind. Strong winds. A Santa Anna was whistling across our bay.

Santa Anna winds are sometimes called Devil Winds. They usually come in spring but mostly late fall. They can be cold winds but they are most often accompanied by the highest temperatures of the year. Their winds often reach hurricane force and the biggest threat of all is to the legendary fires of southern California. Several years ago virtually the entire town of Avalon was evacuated (by boat) when the winds came and the fires marched through the hills. The fires stopped just short of town and burned only a handful of homes. By comparison the current Santa Anna is a mere baby.

It was instantly enough to have Bill and I up and alert at 415am. I stumbled on deck in the dark and stared for a moment at the sky. Yesterdays clear blue sky was now a muddy rolling grey. I hurried to fasten down the bimini enclosure what we had opened up to cool down and did a quick pass to make sure everything was battened down. We were in good shape. Bill went forward to check our line to the mooring ball and gave us a quick release knot. Then we fuddled about getting the dinghy motor hoisted and on its bracket on the stern rail before raising the dingy onto the davits. We both sat up for a bit listening and planning. If things got bad we were all ready for a quick escape.

Over the years boaters have learned that when the Santa Anna blows it sometimes becomes necessary to leave Catalina Island. NOW. There are plenty of stories told of entire anchorages thrown into chaos in the night. Catalina has no all weather anchorages. There is one pretty good spot at Catalina Harbor on the opposite side, about half way up island. But the mainland is closer and there simply is not enough room in Catalina Harbor for even a ¼ of the boats that fill the many tiny anchorages that dot the island. So, we were ready if not excited for a possible exit.

For now the winds have died somewhat and the skies are a bit more blue. We are watchful and ready and the whole anchorage feels a little bit “tight.” It is relatively cool but it promises to turn hot as the day grows. LA has too much concrete for this kind of weather and our first taste of a Santa Anna was mild so we will stay. For now.


P.S.We made our escape from Washington early and I have been waiting patiently for "the pack" to appear. It's now official this years cruisers have finally caught up. When we came back from town we saw a boat we know, another Peterson, Bravo with Adam and Cindy from E-dock at Shilshole. We made plans for dinner and it will be great to catch up with them, hear about their trip down and talk about the comming south bound exodus. Yea!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

9/24 Out of the yard in 48 hours

We got to the yard at Marina Del Rey on Wednesday at three and will splash this afternoon, Friday, at three. Pretty quick for the job we faced. We had planned on being in the yard for about a week. The job was to be done in stages with lots of time for curing and drying between coats of various products and a whole list of auxillary jobs to do between stages. One glitch though - inspite of numerous calls to ascertain the cost to haul the boat and keep it on the hard we seem to have made a critcal error in communication.

When Bill called he asked what it would cost per day. The answer was "$223 for three days. Then when you pay for three you get day four and five free." at home we pay $60/day. Calls to Ventura said it would be $80/ $223 devided by three is $75/day. Marina Del Ray offered bathrooms and showers and we could live on the boat while there and do our own work. Great! Except they meant $223/day for three days. Not $223 for three days. We figured out the problem on the first day but we had already had the boat hauled at a round trip cost of $600. So it became a matter of time, crucial, expensive time.

The problem we had was a salt water leak, slow seepage around our rudder post where it enters the boat under the bed in the aft cabin. In order to pull the rudder off we needed to first pull the boat out of the water then remove the folding prop, pull the prop shaft then remove the rudder. Once the rudder was gone we could remove and replace the coupling that was basically a metal plate and a compression nut that should have been bedded in sealant where it sat on the shelf below our bed.

The sealent was almost non exhistant and what was left was all crumbly. Numerous people from the Peterson Owners Group had explained their process and it sounded difficult and involved. Then we got a great email from a friend and fellow Peterson owner, Bob on Escape Velocity who kindly took the time to describe what he had encountered. It was all much easier than we had anticipated so we were still on the fast track.

We rebedded everything and gave it some time to dry then started the epoxy phase. Two rounds of epoxy starting Thrusday morning got us on schedule for the lasst of the sanding at 10pm followed by the first coat of bottom paint. Bill went out at 2am armed with a flash light for another coat and then another at 8 this morning. This morning we tested the caulk for dryness and decided to wait till 3pm for the relaunch so in the mean time we put on two more coats of paint.

All this means we postponed a few jobs we had hoped to do but saved ourselves a bundle of money. Once we splash we are going about 150feet across the canal to the city guest dock. Hopefully we will get to take an evening and go have a meal and see a movie, for now we are just killing time in the 85 degree heat waiting for paint and caulk to dry.

Monday, September 20, 2010


We are back in Twin Harbors today poised to begin working back towards Marina Del Ray after saying goodbye to our new friends Liz and Chris. We met them in Avalon and then followed them up island to Emerald Bay. Emerald Bay was simply beautiful and the waters nearly glowed with the deep jewel green color of its name. The big fairly shallow bay had good diving, snorkeling and kayaking all amidst the gorgeous emerald waters that surround the rocks and reefs.

Our new foursome spent a breakfast and three dinners together and I swear we would have kept talking till the sun came up if we weren't all old enough to know better. They are new -as of May- to the live aboard life and also have thoughts about possibly heading out cruising so we had lots to talk about. We even managed to have some lively discussions regarding politics and religion yet still left each others company smiling. You just cant say that about everyone you meet! Meeting them was a wonderful gift. We exchanged emails and numbers and I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of them somewhere, someday. I only have two regrets, one that they will not be headed to Mexico this season and two that I lost so horribly at Hearts! Next time we will have to teach them to play cribbage to give me a chance to redeem myself.

. We spent three nights at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island. It is a perfect little island town. It is light years away from LA yet close enough to be able to make their living being a tourist attraction. These days they are visited by giant cruise ships a couple of times a week, daily express boats from all over southern California and of course the thousands of recreational boats that fill their hundreds of mooring buoys and anchorages. Weekends are full of festivals of every type and kind, fishing derby weekends, wine tastings, micro-beer festivals and gala events. The express boats are filled with the throngs escaping LA for romantic weekends along with the adventurer’s armed with camping gear, kayaks, dive gear and the like. In high season it is often simply impossible to find an empty mooring buoy. Thankfully we arrived after Labor Day so easily claimed a buoy and once the cruise ship departed the first afternoon found the little town to be laid back yet bustling.

Avalon has a very nice "feel" to it. It looks very Mediterranean as you approach from the water with narrow roads winding up into the hills. The town proper is filled with cute little shops and winding lanes, wide sidewalks with lots of brickwork and narrow alleys leading to more places to discover. There are a limited number of cars allowed on Santa Catalina so Avalon is a great walking town. For those who don't have cars the winding streets of Avalon are filled with golf carts. There are lots of the "normal" variety but we saw lots of custom jobs. One cart had been customized to look like a classic old car and another cart had been decked out like a tiny little tow truck.

The social side of boating is well served in Avalon. In addition to Liz and Chris we also ran into a couple we had met at the Ventura Yacht Club as well as a couple we had been berthed beside in SB. I can see why the yacht clubs love to come over by the droves.

We did get a chance to dive in Avalon’s marine park. It was a much better dive than the last one though it took us three tries to get there with working equipment. I seem at last to be finding a bit more finesse in my technique. At least I am finding myself less like a hyperventilating beach ball being forced below the surface and a bit more like Kat Cousteau.

We were even lucky enough in our dive to come upon two of the infamous California black sea bass. These are creatures that are roughly the size of Mini Coopers. They came coolly swimming into our personal space and gave us the once over before slowly swimming out of sight. We both did a double take wondering first what they were and then considering weather or not they might be hungry. One had a raggedy white crescent mark on one side that looked suspiciously like a shark bite. We learned later though from the guy at the dive place that the locals thought the same but after getting some video footage they suspect he had a run in with a boat propeller and not a great white.

Soon now we will head back to Marina Del Ray where we have found a yard to do the unexpected work we need to do on our rudder post. Maybe unexpected is not the right word when living and traveling on a 34 year old boat. There is always something. This just wasn’t on any of our to do lists nor do we have parts and pieces of the project already strapped to the cabin house and squirreled away under our bunk. We head back north because it was important to find a place that could get us in, would allow us to do our own work and that will allow us to live aboard while we do it. Marina Del Ray fit the bill.

The crux of the problem is that we have salt water seeping into the locker directly under our bed. The water seems to be seeping in through and or along the tube that runs through our rudder and attaches the rudder to the boat. Right now it looks like a one week job which in boat days likely means two. It involves cutting the old one out (somehow) and then finding a replacement and then doing fiberglass work and epoxy work to fit the new tube around the post and into the old rudder. Ugggg I hate fiberglass work! So a few more days of R&R and then off to work we go.

Love, kat

Monday, September 13, 2010

9/12 Marina Del Ray to Catalina Island

Today we arrived at Two Harbors, Catalina Island. On our way here we saw our first Blue whales as we passed over Redondo canyon where the depths dropped right out from under us and completely off of our sounder. They make our resident San Juan Orcas look like harbor porpoises. Huge, beamy and the exact color of the sea. In the same area we also noticed some strange schools of fish there. Not sure what they were but they were in small schools right on the surface, their dorsals fining the surface as they seemed to stay in place. They looked like a school of fining fish heads.

Catalina is beautiful but it is very different from anywhere we have ever cruised before. This island like Santa Cruz is covered with desert plants, cactus like prickly pear and huge palm trees. Unlike Santa Cruz island though Catalina has lots of people. Twin Harbors is the smaller of the two towns on Catalina. Twin Harbors has two restaurants and a general store, a main dock that gets regular boats from the mainland, a dive shop, kayak and mountain bike rentals, cabins for rent, and lots and lots of people. There are miles of roads and trails to walk and evidently –buffalo.

When we got here we called the Harbor Patrol as suggested in the book and they came out and walked us through the mooring technique. The buoy you are assigned to has a pendant attached which looks like a crab pot flag without the flag. So with Bill driving I grabbed the pendant and quickly grabbed for the attached line. This line is attached by a heavy line to the buoy which is attached to a block of concrete on the cove floor. That line is then cleated down as you throw the pendant back into the water. From the cleated line another line runs aft- the sand line. You grab hold of the sand line and then walk aft until you reach another loop which again you attach to an aft cleat. We are now securely positioned between two hunks of concrete and one floating buoy in a neat little row in the middle of a mooring field that holds over 270 other mooring buoys all their own neat little rows. It’s a bit like being in a trailer park. We made immediate contact with our closest neighbors then later met a couple from the UK and then on our evening walk we ran into Pat and Rick who we met at Ventura Yacht Club.

We spent the last day and a half as the only guest on the guest dock at Marina Del Rey. It was warm and sunny as we sailed in but the sun soon set and the next day we woke to find that we’d brought the gray cloudy skies right along with us from Ventura and Santa Cruz.

As soon as we’d shut everything off and began to settled in for the evening I began to hear an odd noise through the hull. At first I thought it was a ticking and clicking coming from the cooling engine but it soon became apparent that it was a noise coming thru the hull. We have heard stories from other cruisers about shrimp making noises that you can hear but we had never experienced it. I tried looking in the water, even laid down on the dock to peer as deep as I could but could not see anything at all in the water. The noise was a very distinct snap, crackle and pop sound that continued the whole time we were there. Going to sleep at night it sounded like we were curled up in a bowl of Rice Crispies cereal.

On our first morning we grabbed out bikes and headed out early for Venice Beach, the Fremont of Southern California. We arrived pretty early and the beach front was still mostly asleep. People were slowly beginning to set up booths and display their goodies along the walkway but mostly it was filled with the throngs of So Cal out for their daily fix of the good life. Lots of walkers, joggers, beach bikes, surfers and roller bladders’ filled the paths and all the Venice rec courts were full of handball players and hoopsters. We were so early and it was so gray and cool that most of the families and even the beach bums were still asleep. It was a great ride though and I bet we put on a good ten miles.

Southern California is a haven to bums. It must be the mostly benign weather. They seem to fill every park in every beach town and most are pretty up front about their agenda. We have seen lots of signs asking for money to get drunk or buy dope and even heard a fellow at Venice singing a lively tune of “Jingle bells, jingle bells help me get drunk!” Way off key but honest and forward.

Bill had memories of Venice beach from the 70’s as a rather wild and crazy place that was infamous for their “freaks” on parade along the beach front. Sort of an anything goes and let’s show it off kind of place. They still play to their legend with a beach walk “freak show” for the price of a ticket but it felt petty much like every other large beach front town. I suspect if it had been a hot summer day things would have been a bit livelier. There were a larger number of people obviously living on the edge of society (mostly still sleeping or sitting in small quiet groups) but mostly it was just shops selling t-shirts and bikinis with a few food stands sprinkled along. Even the wafting smell of pot wasn’t any more prevalent at Venice Beach than any other stop we have made in Ca.

Some how we have managed to make it all the way from Neah Bay to Catalina without buying a single t-shirt. Maybe I am not doing my part in holding up our countries economy.

Ventura 9/10

This morning we headed out for points south. Our next destination is Catalina Island but we will make at least one stop on our way as Catalina is nearly 70nm sw. Our stay in Ventura was very pleasant thanks in no small part to the warm welcome we received at the Ventura Yacht Club. They welcome yacht club members from outside yacht clubs through a reciprocal program which means as members of the Washington Yacht Club our moorage there was free! The only other available marina here in Ventura is $66/night. We stayed 5 nights so it was a big savings for us.

They were friendly and helpful from the moment we tied up to their guest dock. We were invited to a live aboard potluck one night where amazingly we ran onto a cruiser we had met this past summer in Elfin Cove AK. Then I met Bonni Duncan who generously offered to drive me across town to have our propane tanks filled AND chauffer me anywhere else I needed to go. We made the circuit including the grocery store, Target and the U-haul store for propane and chatted happily along the way. She was a great help and definitely went way above and beyond the call of duty.

Wednesday we were invited to come join the fun at their Wet Wednesday race night. We happened upon the last of the summer series so in addition to the great meal of cheese enchiladas, pork Colorado and rice and beans we got to share in the festivities of trophy night and the final series’ good natured rivalry and team one-upmanship. I have to say too that I was especially impressed with the apparent friendships we witnessed there that included at least four generations all laughing and talking and having a great time.

Getting a ride to the propane store turned out to be more than a convenience. First because it was 6 or 7 miles away and second because when we got there the attendant was unable to fill our brand new horizontal 20# tanks. He said he had had a problem filling horizontal tanks the only other time he had them. He ended up sending me down the road after a dozen tries. The next place had the same problem but eventually managed to get 6 ½ gallons into the tanks. Add a call to the manufacturer onto our list of things to figure out before we get too much farther south.

While in Ventura we also finally fixed our ongoing battery problem. Part of the reluctance to make the big fix was the dollar amount required to completely replace the battery bank. We pulled out a bank of batteries in April that had come with the boat. We made the decision to replace them thinking we were being proactive by taking care of a potential problem before we left. We gave away the old batteries and installed $800 dollars worth of new Northstar AGM’s. The new bank should have given us about 600 amp hours of banked juice. By the time we were in Glacier Bay we were lucky to get 100ahs. So after less than 6months of use we rode our bikes 7 miles into Ventura and began shopping for batteries.

We also took the step to hire an electrician to come aboard so we could be sure there wasn’t any inherent problem with our system that would cause the same problem farther along. The electrician checked out all of Bills work and gave us the green light. The new batteries were shot. Boat electrical systems are rather intricate and ours in no exception. We have one system aboard that is 110 just like your home but it only does duty if we plug in at a dock which we rarely do thanks to our solar panels. The rest of the power aboard is 12volt. We generate that through four solar panels and an extra large alternator on our engine that generates power while we are underway. In addition we have an inverter that converts our 12volts into 110 to use for running a drill or the Dremmel or for charging things that plug in like the lap top or the cell phone. We also have a small Kubota diesel engine that can be run to generate 12volt energy -it uses a pitance of fuel compared to running our main engine- and also runs our water maker so we can use it to top off the battery bank. Oh and we also have a separate battery just for starting the engine. It doesn’t run anything else just starts the engine. So, all of those different components are tied together so we can get the power we need to run the fridge, the stereo, the lights, the engine, the watermaker, and all of our navigational equipment like our radar and our chart plotter.

After months of worrying we decided to go for the gusto and replaced them (again) with $1400 dollars worth of top of the line Life Line AGMS. So far it looks like the problem is gone. But on their way out the old batteries left a legacy. The batteries themselves weigh about #80 and we had four to remove and three new ones to install. In the process Bill managed to drop one on the index finger of his left hand. The weight actually caused the finger to burst at the seams. He will definitely loose the nail but it looks like the finger isn’t broken.

Now we are sailing under a bright blue sky headed towards Marina Del Ray. The plan for the immediate future is to work our way through a list of things we need to do before we hit Mexico. We need to obtain our Mexican radio license and work on as much of the entrance paperwork as we can prior to our arrival. Hopefully that will simplify check in when the time comes.

For now though the marine park near Avalon is calling to us to do some more diving. So, will write soon and maybe will even have some underwater photos to share. Till then enjoy the fall. Love Kat

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

9/6 Nothing prepared me for the goodbyes

Today we sailed away from lovely Santa Barbara and the very last ties we had to our old life. Honestly, the goodbyes have been the hardest part of this huge life shift and much more difficult for me than I would have ever guessed. We filled our time there with our son and daughter-in-law who live in SB. We also made up for the promised Alaska visit with my mom, the visit that never happened because we simply weren’t settled enough to have any company the first few months we were off the dock. These were the last of a long list of good byes. .

Bill and I spent five years getting ready for this trip. I read every book I could find and talked to everyone who I could get to talk to me and still I was unprepared for the saying goodbye part. There are lots of books and classes and clubs to help you learn the skills you need for a long cruise. We learned how to sail and virtually rebuilt the boat. I learned how to provision and to cook a decent meal in a small galley. I practiced how to flesh out a meal with homemade cheese, yogurt, breads and tortillas. We learned and practiced our navigation, tore out the old engine and equipped the boat with all the needed emergency gear. But there is little available to prepare you for leaving the people you love by choice and with purpose. It was and is a strange and some how disturbing thing to be at once so excited about a journey and so torn with the good byes. Prepare all you want, leaving is hard

My mom and I had an interesting conversation as we walked back to the Santa Barbara Harbor with groceries before we headed to the islands. As we walked along with our paper towels and fruit and cereal we talked about good goodbyes, about being OK with goodbyes. She said that she felt that “now” we could be OK with maybe not seeing each other again, if life were to bring us that. She felt secure and satisfied with our goodbyes. I am not sure I believe that.

I am 49 years old and my Mom is 75. My big sister lives in Montana (a recent huge shift for her as well) and both my nieces live in Seattle. My father passed away when I was 9 and my big brother died of cancer when I was in my 20’s so my immediate family is small. In my mind I always think of us as being small but fierce. We made and make the conscious choice to remain close, intent on giving ourselves the gift of family and friendship. I am so lucky to have had a life that has been filled with grandparents, aunts and uncles, events and get-togethers, holiday meals, trips and phone calls. But how can you stock up on love?

I can’t pack it away in a locker no matter how well I use the space. Another goodbye just gives me an excuse for another kiss and a hug. Now, I don’t seem to be able to stop the uncalled thoughts, moments of wanting to share something with mom or my sister, Barbara or my AA sponsor. It might be a problem or a worry or just a moments longing to tell someone the great joke I just heard. How do you release the weight of some amazing sight that you just can’t wait to share?

Can you be “done” with a goodbye? When I said goodbye to Boo and handed him off to his new home with my niece it was 5am on the way to the airport and somehow the good bye didn’t feel “done.” It turned out it wasn’t. Circumstances unfolded and I got Boo back for a week and a half. In that time we both seemed to somehow manage to finish what hadn’t been done. When I had to let him go again I was more than OK with it and it felt right. Later when I was able to see him for a brief visit when we returned to Seattle on our way south he just simply wasn’t my dog any more. He was happy and settled in his new life. It was hard on my heart but absolutely right for him. But I don’t seem to be able to do that with people.

We have had so many goodbyes; family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, other cruisers, even the staff at our favorite coffee shop. With my family especially there have been a lot of good byes. The most goodbyes of all were definitely with my mom including the official going away party which she hosted and arranged.

Then there were several family dinners in the weeks leading up to our Alaska departure and a goodbye meeting with my big sister. She came to visit from Montana so we met at my moms, a talk that was mostly between my sis and me. We needed to go over the business side of my leaving. She came prepared with her list and got to ask all the questions she had about my preparedness and all the what if’s.

What if something happened to Bill? Was I able to handle things in a foreign country? Can I get our boat to the next port? Did I have my own credit cards and cash? We went over all the emergency information: contacts, EPIRB numbers, Ham call signs, emails, documentation numbers and boat specs -all the particulars in case of an emergency. All the information we hope will never have to be used (but which already came in handy when Mom got worried and called the USCG while we were in Alaska.)

That goodbye also had to include a discussion about lots of family stuff. My big sis wanted to be sure that we were all on the same page on the hardest matters in life. As a family we have already had to face and work though too many end of life questions. We have had numerous family discussions about choices and chances and the end of a life. Sis needed to know what I felt about the possible choices for my mom. Did I want and need to have them keep her if they could - if it meant I could fly back from God knows where to say good bye? Or should they follow the already discussed plan A of no heroic measures in the face of a certain future? Then with tears for us both she got the chance to remind me that she loves me no matter where I end up in the world and that she is always there for me. That goodbye had a lot of the tears that come with the goodbyes of just not knowing when you will actually see each other again. It’s not a forever goodbye but it’s an uncertain goodbye made heavy with all the unknown questions and their impossible answers.

The morning we left for Alaska there was a goodbye breakfast. Me, Bill, Mom and my great friend Barbara around a little table with lots of hugs, pictures and quick hurried conversations -I was so filled with energy and excitement. It made the moments flash by in a rush. Time to go! After breakfast there was the actual goodbye at the dock –unplanned and crowded with neighbors and friends. So many showed that morning that the tears stunned me into grabbing for “things” to do and pushed me into a flurry of untying lines and moment filling busywork.

In August we stopped back in Seattle after our trip north for still more goodbyes. A brief stay that was filled with visits with Barbara (who managed to break her back while I was gone) quickly arranged family meals, a pet and a hug with Boo, a dock party and lots more tears and hugs all wrapped up in a long list of must do boat projects.

After the short pause in Seattle Mom and Sis drove all the way out to Neah Bay for what amounted to a very short visit. They drove with our crew Josh and Ryan for 6 plus hours loaded into moms van and little trailer all filled with dogs and groceries, sea bags and last minute purchases. They didn’t arrive in Neah Bay until after 7pm so all I got with them was a hurried unloading and dinner. We did squeeze in an hour of girl talk back at the trailer while Bill got our crew settled for the night. In the morning early, they met me at the dock as we let go the lines. Again, pictures, hugs and tears and a quiet prayer with mom.

Now, as Santa Barbara becomes a memory there is nothing ahead except the promise of visits to come. Is it possible to be done? Mom, Terri, Katie and Jess, Boo, Barbara, Uncle’s and Aunts, AA friends, the coworkers left still going at the 9 to 5 and special neighbors all fill my mind. There wasn’t a single bad good bye. But I guess until we begin to fill our lives with new friends and new places there will be a hole. There is little doubt we will make wonderful new friend with the cruisers we will meet along the way. Someday I will mourn the end of my time with them too. They will fill my life but they will not take the place of the ones I am missing today.

That talk, coming home from the grocery with mom she said that she felt like “this” goodbye was enough, that if something happened and we never get a chance to see each other again we will have had this. Just in case…..if we never see each other again this last good bye. For me, I have decided that no mater how many times I say good bye it will never be enough. Someday, someone will look back and see “the one” that was the last time we said I love you. But with no magic crystal ball it is impossible to be finished. They could all visit in every country and we would hug and kiss and talk till we are hoarse but there will never be enough time. And right now every goodbye for me brings the longing for more time….all the time in the world.

Cruising is wonderful! I am certain and sure about our decision to be here but it doesn’t’ make the goodbyes any easier or feel any more complete. But I do know I am loved…….forever and wherever and I remind myself to trust in that love and to trust in the healing of time that comes with every new transition in my life.

Love, kat

9/3 Visit with mom

Time sure flies. When mom got here Monday it seemed like six days was a wealth of time. This morning we are already on our way back to Santa Barbara in order for her to catch her flight back to Seattle tomorrow.

The weather when she arrived was typical SB afternoon; fog blown out to the channel, soft blue sky and just enough warmth to get you reaching for your tank top and shorts. The trip across to Santa Cruz the next day was lovely too, just warm enough and lovely 10knot winds. We sailed through blue sky and occasional dolphins all the way to Pelican Bay.

We spent two nights in Pelican. It is a good anchorage, relatively easy to tuck in behind the point so as to minimize the western swell. We put out a stern anchor and it helped keep the swell clean on our nose. The weather when we arrived was warm enough to break out the hammock but the fog crept in and most of the rest of our trip was foggy and cool.

Mom and I kept busy visiting. We talked and talked and talked some more then took a break to read but soon found something else that needed talking about. When we ran out of things to talk about (yea right!) we went exploring in the kayaks. We managed to make it into the yaks right from the boat though I know we had Bill worried that mom was going to end up sputtering in the cold bay. She is surprisingly nimble for a senior citizen!

Santa Cruz Island is wonderful to explore and beautiful in its unfamiliar southern California-ness (and such a striking difference from our summer in Alaska and BC.) The steep cliffs make perfect homes for so many of the sea birds and the rocks and sea held many more species. We saw numerous types of gulls and herons, oyster catchers, raptors, bald eagles, grebes, cormorants and of course the California brown pelican. The surrounding sandy beaches and draws are filled with and luscious succulents and a host of trees, creepers and climbers that we couldn’t identify. We saw prickly pear and cactus, trees that looked like magnolias and others that looked like willows.

Just west of Pelican Bay lay an arched tunnel amid the rocky cliffs. It was open enough to easily kayak through and I had been hopping to get a chance to investigate since I had seen it and mom was willing to go along for the tour. So, we headed out of the bay and around the point the kayaks easily skimming over the thick kelp beds. We saw acres of sea anemones, urchins, and piles of star fish that cling to the rocks just along the rushing tide line.

We were soon joined by harbor seals that seemed curious enough to follow along as we passed through their homes. One baby harbor seal got ruffled when I closed in to take a photo. He wriggled himself back into the sea then let out a raspberry of breath as he slipped below the surface. Or at least I thought it was a raspberry blown in disgust at having his sunning session interrupted. Then as I paddled on though I first saw and then smelled his response to being interrupted, seal pooh is truly nasty stuff!

Once back at the boat we had to reverse our boarding acrobatics to get out of the kayaks and back aboard IB. It takes an interesting ability to first roll to ones knees then hang on to the fender step as you pull yourself to a standing position. While doing that you have to be sure to keep the kayak steady underneath you or your legs go one way and the yak goes another leaving you either in the water or dangling on the side of the boat while your kayak escapes. We both managed to get back on board with no dunking and no hoisting required. (There is much to be said for moms’ active life and her many years of regular dog walks.)

The next morning we took another kayak trip while the bay was still and shrouded in fog. After two days of smooth seas the water in the cove was extremely clear. We could see lots of colorful fishes and could see the seal pups as they swam by. The second trip we talked less and listened more and it was fascinating to hear the water as it roared into and out of the cracks in the cliffs. A whooshing roaring rolling noise that sounds almost alive.

After our kayak trip we loaded up and headed west to the anchorage at Cueva Valdez in order to stage for an early trip to Painted Cave the next morning. The hope was to leave IB at a temporary anchorage in the calm of the next morning while we explored the cave by dingy. Instead we spent the night rolling in a fog filled bay while the weather deteriorated until we had to cross the cave expedition out of the picture.

A word or two about open road stead anchorages: We who are from the Pacific Northwest are terribly spoiled. There are so many anchorages available to us that it is nearly always possible to find a place to tuck in out of any weather. Other than the storms we have been through the only time we have ever spent in a rocking anchorage in Washington was when we anchored near a ferry route. With the ferries you rock and roll for a minute or two on a regular schedule then return to the calm until the next scheduled run. As are all the anchorages on Santa Cruz, Cueva Valdez was wide open to the west, little more than a small bight to hide behind. As the wind increased the west swell did too. By full on evening we were rocking pretty hard. By dark we were galloping along. Sleep came in bits and spurts until the next big wave hit. Over time we swung more and more to our side until we were in fairly constant motion side too and constantly tugging and pulling on our anchor chain.

We were all in bed sleeping fitfully when I heard mom call Bills name. She had awoken to the noise of the anchor chain banging in some pretty violent swells. Looking out the window she could see nothing but cliff and bright lights! As we slept fishing boats had pulled in right next to us. They had all their deck lights on and the false brightness lit up the fog and the gloom and seemed to make the sound of the heavy surf magnify against the rocks and the caves in Cueva Valdez. It looked and sounded as though we were about to be swept into the rocks.

My mom loves the boat and is quite a sailor. But she is not familiar with the sounds and the feel of a reeling ship in rising weather. She had been sound asleep and was momentarily disoriented and the response was true fear. Frightened and still half asleep she called out in worry.

In a matter of moments Bill and I were up on deck. Looking back we probably should have put out the stern anchor when we arrived, but right now sure seemed like a good time to see if we could decrease the pounding. By now it was pitch dark and there was a 3 to 4 foot swell rolling into the anchorage. I rushed to get our trusty storm anchor ready while Bill tried to climb into the bucking dink. I was glad it was him and not me because it really took some timing and finesse to climb in under those circumstances. Once in the dink he moved hand over hand around to the opposite side of the boat where I handed him the anchor already shackled to 300feet of heavy rode.

Being careful to keep the rode out of the now running dingy engine he angled his way off the stern towards the beach to drop our priceless Fortress over the side into about 15 feet of water. Then as he worked through the rolling surf back towards the boat I pulled in the excess line careful to try and keep the line out of the little outboards propeller. Getting back aboard IB was just as hard, wind blowing, swell rolling, the pitch darkness encircling the bright glow thrown by our spreader lights.

With a bit of good timing Bill was soon aboard and pulling the excess rode tight to point our bow straight into the swell. The stern anchor gave us a much better ride but still we bucked and rolled for several more hours. Mom and I tried to sleep but Bill was wide awake and kept watch until finally in the wee hours the seas stilled and we all got some much needed deeper sleep.

By morning the swell had again increased and at 730 with a sleepy crew we decided Painted Cave was not in the cards for today. It would be too difficult to get three people into and out of the dingy for the trip and the kayaks were a certain no go. So we sleepily took advantage of the relative mild swell to reverse the process and bring in the now deployed stern anchor, raise the Rocna and head back to Santa Barbara in the fog.

I was busy writing this and day dreaming about getting some laundry done while close to the laundry mat, the luxury of a possible dinner out and how much I was going to enjoy my sleep tonight when mom suggested dinner on her at Brophey Brothers Seafood! Thanks mom, it will be a great end to a lovely visit!

xoxo Kat