Mandisa's Summer Cruise - 2007

Babas abroad. Tell us about your adventures.
Cindy
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:00 am
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island

Postby Cindy » Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:44 pm

Santa Barbara was wonderful. We were having a lot of fun and we could have stayed a lot longer. The other reason to stay is the weather in the Santa Barbara channel. Because of the proximity to Point Conception, the weather is a mess of winds from all directions (in the western part), no wind at all (on the eastern part), unpredictable fog, and nasty short-period swells. The Harbor Master knows that people are likely to overstay their welcome so they double the price for a slip after a week. We'd been waiting for a weather window that would allow us to go to Santa Rosa Island (and maybe even to San Miguel Island), but after a week it was clear that this wasn't going to happen while we were here. So we had one last dinner ashore and one last walk along the breakwater and got the boat ready to leave for Santa Cruz Island the next morning.

Think of all the conditions that you hate on a boat. Cold, damp, and windless - fog banks shifting about - a five foot swell at about eight seconds on the beam - one of the busiest shipping lanes on the West Coast to cross - and flies, lots of kelp flies. We made it across most of the channel and the west bound side of the shipping lanes without incident, but about halfway through the separation zone a big spot appeared on the radar. Of course this was also the time that the fog decided to keep us company after leaving us alone for a couple of hours. "Is it a problem?" "I can't tell." "Is it coming towards us?" "Yes, but I can't tell how fast." "Can you tell how big it is?" "It's huge, and it appears to be on a collision course." "Damn. 90 degrees to starboard." Mandisa slowly turns into the swell. Waves crash on the bow. Suddenly, through the fog comes a sound. A low, almost subsonic moan: the fog horn of the ship - 90 degrees to port. A seeming eternity passes while we continue to bash into the short period swell. Then the moan again - now off the port quarter. Grudgingly the radar acknowledges that the ship is moving away. Rick slowly turns the boat to port. Mandisa is safe and we cross the messy wake left by the ship, never having laid eyes on it. One last moan in the distance and the ship is gone.

Well, maybe it wasn't quite as dramatic as that, but it was pretty serious. We were very thankful for the radar. An AIS receiver would have probably been helpful, but the radar was the key tool. There's a lot of shipping in the Santa Barbara channel. We'd sat on shore watching them move east and west - sometimes three or four at a time. We knew we would probably encounter ships and we kept a close watch and had a plan in place in case of fog.

About 20 minutes after the ship had passed the fog lifted enough to catch our first glimpse of Santa Cruz Island about four miles ahead. Soon, we saw the white shape of a big trawler right where our GPS was pointing. This was our destination, Fry's Harbor. Fry's is interesting in that the usual way of anchoring here is bow and stern with the bow pointing in. This is because of a canyon at the back of the cove which funnels strong breezes in the afternoons. There were about five boats there when we arrived and we chose a spot just east of the center of the cove. A gentleman from a boat called "Far Away Eyes" helped us with the placement of our stern anchor and gave us several pointers since this was our first time in the cove. (All through our visit to Santa Cruz we received wonderful local knowledge from the boaters we encountered.)

Back in the late twenties, Fry's Harbor was used as a quarry for the stone used to build the breakwater for Santa Barbara Harbor. Having walked along that breakwater several times, we had a great appreciation for the amount of stone that had been removed. There are a lot of artifacts of this project still remaining at the cove: rusting railroad tracks, the remains of an old boiler, a collapsed derrick, and, of course, the cliff face all give a picture of what it must have been like eighty-some years ago.

Behind the beach is a stand of large bushes at the mouth of the canyon. We decided to explore these bushes. What we found amazed us. Behind the bushes was an oak woodland. We walked a little further and we could hear running water. Sure enough, a little farther in we found a fresh water creek complete with ferns, flowers, water striders and dragonflies! All this on a "desert island" in the midst of one of the driest years on record in Southern California! It was really beautiful. (Rick was sure that hobbits were watching us.) We walked a short way farther up the canyon until we found a patch of poison oak which we took as a sign we should turn back.

The first night in the cove was kind of bouncy because of an east chop that came up about midnight. All of the other boats left the next morning and we had the cove to ourselves for several hours until a single-hander joined us on the other side. We spent a lot of time just sitting on the boat watching the beauty and life around us. At one point Rick pointed out some seagulls mobbing a large bird. I looked up and saw that the large bird was a bald eagle!! They've been reintroduced onto Santa Cruz and are still very rare, but this was one of them! I guess it had been trying to get to the gull's nests. What an amazing sight.

We made another in a series of wonderful dinners on the boat and went to bed with plans to visit Prisoners Harbor the next day. That night the east chop failed to show up and the boat was so still that Rick woke up concerned that we'd gone on the beach.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Prisoners Harbor and the journey back to Newport.
Attachments
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Cindy at the creek
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Fry's Harbor
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A last look at Santa Barbara
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Last edited by Cindy on Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Cindy
s/v Mandisa
Baba 30 #218

RBEmerson
Posts: 236
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:46 pm
Location: Skippack, PA, USA

Postby RBEmerson » Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:55 am

Agreed AIS might have helped with your foggy ship encounter. However, fishing boats large enough (300 tons or more) to be required to use AIS are noted for shutting AIS down once they head out to their fishing grounds.

OWTW has an AIS receiver on board and it's earned its keep even in the brief (wahhhhhhhhh!) time we've been able to use it. Still, it's the boats without it and the boats who turn it off that can really liven things up. :shock:

All that said, neat pix! :D
We are all just a battery failure away from the age of sail.

Cindy
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:00 am
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Prisoners Harbor to Catalina to Newport Beach

Postby Cindy » Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:52 pm

Fry's Harbor was such a special place that we would have liked to stay several more days. Unfortunately, family and business issues back home meant we had to start moving towards home. Our plan was that we would spend one more night on Santa Cruz and Prisoners Harbor and then make the crossing back to Catalina. We planned to stay at Catalina for a few nights (to readjust) and then return home to Newport Beach.

The morning dawned bright and beautiful with a light west wind. Prisoners Harbor is not far from Fry's and the conditions were so nice that we looked forward to doing some sailing. We weighed anchors (first the bow and then the stern) and moved to the mouth of the cove where we raised the mainsail. Soon we were angling off the island on a port tack. We turned down wind and tried poling out the headsail, but we couldn't get it to stay filled - even with the whisker pole. Part of the problem may have been the swell, but we can't escape the fact that our genoa is a great reaching sail, but a terrible downwind sail. We are going to have to address that problem if we want to do more long trips.

We sailed for about an hour and then gybed onto a starboard tack heading for Prisoners Harbor. The harbor is a large cove which is easily visible from offshore because of its pier and a large barn. There was one other boat in the cove when we arrived and they appeared to be weighing anchor. We dropped sail and motored around the west side of the cove. We were quite surprised at how shallow it was. We were 100 yards from the beach and only in 18 feet of water! We dropped our bow anchor in about 20 feet and tried to set it, but it didn't set. We raised it again and pulled a huge clump of eel grass from the flukes. The other boat was having some difficulty with their windlass and hadn't moved out of the cove so we motored over to ask advice. They suggested anchoring deeper and told us that it might take several tries before we could get a set. We tried again in about 28 feet and this time the anchor set well. We shut down and proceeded to get the boat back into living mode.

About this time the gentleman from "Far Away Eyes" who had helped us anchor in Fry's came by in his dinghy. He was staying in Pelican Harbor a few miles up the coast. He said that a "huge" shark had washed ashore on the beach near Pelican and that we should go see it. "Don't miss it" he said. "It's amazing!" I was skeptical, but there's still enough of the little boy in Rick that he can't resist something like this. So we put the dinghy in the water, mounted the outboard and off we went. It turned out that the beach in question was quite a bit farther than we had thought and the question was raised about how much fuel we had. We were also going into the chop and it was a very wet ride. I have to admit that I suggested turning back. We saw the masts in Pelican Harbor and then (finally) we saw a beach with a grey lump on one side. It was a dead shark. It looked big, but not "amazing" by any stretch. Rick found a way to the beach through the kelp and we beached the dinghy.

As soon as we got out of the dinghy it was very clear that this was no ordinary shark. It was huge. It was frightening even though it was clearly dead. The closer we got to it, the bigger it was. We were speechless. This was a massive great white shark which had become entangled in a gill net and suffocated. It must have washed up on the beach with that morning's high tide. There was very little smell and the gulls hadn't found it yet. Even the eyes were still bright. I've seen sharks like this on TV and I know that the seal and sea lion rookeries on the Channel Islands would be prime hunting grounds for big sharks, but to actually see one right in front of us left me weak in the knees. Had this shark been nearby when Rick was swimming yesterday? Rick and I both paced off the length. He got about 24 feet while I got about 27 feet. It was big by any measurement. We joked around a little, but it was kind of strained. It was a little like being in church. We motored back to the boat without saying much. We both felt somewhat overwhelmed by the experience. What an amazing thing to have seen. Truly, this is a wild place.

(I was going to include a small rant about gill nets here, but the context seemed to address it much better than I could.)

After lunch we decided to go ashore and explore the pier and barns. Santa Cruz Island was a privately owned ranch for many years. Prisoners Harbor was where the cattle and sheep were brought to the island and then taken off for market. I had read "On Santa Cruz Island" by Clifford Mc Elrath who was ranch supervisor in the early 1920s and I was anxious to see if the area still had the feel that was conveyed in the book. We landed the dinghy at the pier and went ashore. The first thing you see is the large barns. This is actually one building with two parts, made of beautiful brick with a stone foundation and the year "1887" marked over one of the doors. In front of the barns are a complex set of corrals. I don't know if these are in the same configuration that they were in the old cattle days, but they were very impressive. The biggest thing we noticed was the lack of people or any other activity ashore. Rick said it felt like a ghost town - once active and busy, now just a museum.

After returning to the boat, we set about getting ready to leave the next day. The cruising guide said that Prisoners could be a little rolly, but was well protected from the west wind. It was right on both counts. It was so well protected from the wind that even small breezes were blocked and the temperature in the cabin went way up. It was so rolly that our dinner nearly launched itself out of the bowls several times. We did manage to get some sleep in spite of the boat's motion.

The next morning we weighed anchor without any problems and began motoring east down the island. The scenery was so dramatic that I can't really describe it. Huge sheer cliffs, groves of trees, caves along the surf line, beautiful colors. Rick said that he felt that Santa Cruz must me much younger than Catalina because it didn't have the worn down look that Catalina has.

Coming around the east end of the island we passed Big Scorpion anchorage which only had one boat in it. Little Scorpion lies just to the south sheltered by several huge rocks. It had seven or eight boats in it. We turned into the swell (there was no wind) and raised our mainsail here. The whole Anacapa passage was very lumpy with light fluky winds. Too many currents and breezes converge here. It took us a couple of hours to get out of the influence of Anacapa Island. We entered an area where we were alone on the ocean. Occasionally we would see a container ship hull-down on the horizon, but there were no other boats where we were. We motor-sailed until early afternoon when the wind shifted and picked up. We had a great sail the rest of the way to Catalina. The ocean from the west end of Catalina about seven miles out is a confluence of currents and is very lumpy. Our little autopilot couldn't deal with the slop so we took turns steering. It was very physical work with the swells turning us about, but we were cracking off speeds of 6.5kts so it felt great! It was tiring, but we were exhilarated. Visions of "cheeseburgers in paradise" began to fill our heads.

We dropped sails in the lee of Arrow Point and motored past a surprisingly full Emerald Bay. Rick joked "what if the Isthmus is full?" "Ha ha!" Well, the joke was on us! It WAS full - all moorings completely sold out with about 75 to 100 boats in the anchorage! We could head for home or anchor out. We were too tired to go another six hours to Newport so we anchored in 80 feet between two other boats that weren't too happy to see us. Well, we wanted new experiences and this certainly was one! We took turns keeping an anchor watch that night. We were very stable, as was the boat to our starboard. But the boat on our port side (a CT ketch) had an all rope rode and was wandering all over the anchorage whenever the wind shifted at all.

Morning came with out incident and we went ashore briefly to retrieve Rick's bicycle and get some breakfast to bring back to the boat. While we were gone, the tide changed and Mandisa decided to go visiting. We came back to find her completely sideways with the wandering ketch sitting right over our chain. We asked the ketch to motor away from our rode, which they were happy to do, and then we got very busy getting the heck out of there. Raising all this chain and a 33lb anchor up through 80 feet of water gives new meaning to the term "weighing anchor"! When we got to the point where the anchor should have been coming up, things got really difficult. The Spade anchor has a tendency to dig itself very deep and sometimes dig itself under things. This is what happened. Somehow the anchor had dug itself under the holdfast of a large kelp plant. Everything came loose all at once and I cranked on the windlass while Rick motored us into safer water. Up came the anchor - mud, kelp, holdfast and all - and I spent several minutes whacking at it with a kitchen knife to get the anchor clear enough to go onto the roller. We breathed a sigh of relief and pointed the bow towards Newport.

I'd like to say we had all manner of interesting adventures on the way home, but we didn't. We saw some dolphins (including some white ones we didn't recognize) and a whale off in the distance, but other than that it was the usual windless commute back to Newport. I had been gone exactly four weeks, Rick had been gone almost five. We hadn't been able to do some of the things we'd wanted to do, but we'd also done things we never expected. We met wonderful people and learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We learned that this little boat could take care of us in scary situations and we could take care of her. Perhaps this cruising thing might work out after all.
Attachments
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Newport Beach
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Prisoners Harbor from shore. Mandisa is the boat on the left.
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The shark. (For scale, Rick is about 5'10" tall.)
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Cindy

s/v Mandisa

Baba 30 #218

RBEmerson
Posts: 236
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 8:46 pm
Location: Skippack, PA, USA

Postby RBEmerson » Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:41 am

We hadn't been able to do some of the things we'd wanted to do, but we'd also done things we never expected. We met wonderful people and learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We learned that this little boat could take care of us in scary situations and we could take care of her. Perhaps this cruising thing might work out after all.


Rumor has it that's what it's all about (it's either that or the Hokey Pokey, if you listen to Jimmy Buffett). :D TNX for the pix and the reports!
We are all just a battery failure away from the age of sail.

Cindy
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:00 am
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Thanks!

Postby Cindy » Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:49 pm

Thanks Rick, I'm glad you enjoyed it. My hope is that it will encourage others to write about their adventures. I know that there are Babas all around the world doing wonderful things. If we can have adventures like this in Southern California, imagine what other folks are doing!

The hit counts have been very gratifying. We placed a link to this thread on our personal web site for family and friends to follow. It looks like they have been reading along! http://www.ballreich.net
Cindy

s/v Mandisa

Baba 30 #218

RickB
Site Admin
Posts: 310
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:43 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Postby RickB » Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:09 am

Finally got around to reading this. With the cold coming on, it's a treat to hear what's going on with others.

So what's next for Mandisa and crew?

Hopefully we'll have a good story to tell in the coming years. It would be great to hear more from others.
Rick Beddoe
Soñadora, 1978 Baba 30

Cindy
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:00 am
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Mandisa's winter plans

Postby Cindy » Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:57 pm

Hi Rick!

Glad you liked the log!

School is back in session so I'm back at work. The captain and crew of Mandisa are furiously studying our Ham radio books and will be going down to San Diego in a few weeks to (hopefully) get our general class ham licenses! Mandisa will get a nice new bottom paint job (and maybe a watermaker through-hull), and we have several shorter trips in the planning stages for the school holidays. After that, the countdown is on for next summer!

Here's an update to the log. A person who knows more about fish that I do has suggested that our giant shark may actually be a basking shark instead of a great white shark. While basking sharks don't have the octane rating that great whites do, they are rather rare and still quite cool. I'll leave it to the reader to decide for himself which it is.

.
Cindy

s/v Mandisa

Baba 30 #218

RickB
Site Admin
Posts: 310
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:43 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Postby RickB » Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:09 pm

I'm guessing it's NOT a white shark, but if I was telling the story, it certainly would be :wink:

I just wanted to mention that this post has had over 1800 views! Pretty cool. Thanks so much for sharing and feel free to keep using this venue for future travels.

Cheers,

Rick
Rick Beddoe
Soñadora, 1978 Baba 30

Cindy
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:00 am
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Thanks Rick

Postby Cindy » Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:18 pm

One of the cool things about the forum log is that once it's been started you've got a URL that you can give to friends and family. I would recommend it to anyone who wanted to share with non-Baba folks as well as the Ta-Shing faithful.
Cindy

s/v Mandisa

Baba 30 #218

RickB
Site Admin
Posts: 310
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:43 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Postby RickB » Fri Apr 02, 2010 11:26 am

Hi Cindy.

Just wanted to pass along that I managed to rebuild this BBS. Just in case you thought it was dead ;)

look at those bare arms. ha.
Rick Beddoe
Soñadora, 1978 Baba 30


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