Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 3, 2014 - Channel Islands - Santa Cruz and Catalina

We left Santa Barbara a little before the noon check-out time in the marina and had a very smooth crossing to Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands.  We anchored in Smuggler's Cove with the intention of going to shore. But the beach near us had some large breaking waves that looked like they would surely swamp the dinghy if we attempted a landing.  We we decided to wait until later in the day, or even the next day.  Unfortunately the winds grew stronger and the waves bigger.  We never did make it to shore on either day.  Nor did the people on the other couple of boats anchored nearby.

Removing kelp from the stabilizer fins, Smuggler Cove, Santa Cruz Island

Sunrise from Smuggler Cove Santa Cruz Island looking at Anacapa Island
 We pulled anchor at first light on the third day and enjoyed a very calm trip south to Santa Catalina Island.  It was an 8 or 9 hour trip and we arrived at Isthmus Cove (twin harbors) a few hours before sunset.  We looked around the anchorage and mooring ball field, talked to the harbormaster via VHF, and decided to anchor out in some pretty deep water, about 85 feet.  That's pretty deep water and require a lot of chain to be deployed to ensure the anchor is well set.  We got a good grip on the bottom.  There was a large swell rolling into the bay however, and we spent most of the evening rocking and rolling.  It was uncomfortable but we really had no options as it was now dark and trying to grab a mooring ball would be difficult and wouldn't help the rocking and rolling at all.  We were a a bit concerned with our proximity to a very large "tall-ship" like sailboat that was near us.  It was probably at least 150' long.  At times it looked very close to us, mostly because it was so large.  We have a laser range finder and with that we were able to accurately monitor our distance which relieved us enough to get some sleep.
Isthmus Cove sunset, Catalina Island
We got out of our rough anchorage early the next morning and motored over to Avalon Harbor, the largest port in the channel islands.  It is a beautiful place that looks like something you might find in the French Riviera.  Their mooring system is very interesting.  You call the harbor patrol when you arrive and they come out to your boat to arrange your moorage.  You pay out there and receive a slip assignment.  Then you have to find your pair of mooring balls in a huge field of moorings.  Once there, you pull a floating pole out of the water which is attached to a leader line that you pull onboard until you get to the mooring line.  That is attached to a cleat on your bow and then you pull another leader line up out of the water which leads you to the stern mooring line which you attach to the stern of your boat.  Then you drop the leader line back into the water.  Once attached at boat ends you are pretty secure, although you need to adjust the tension of the mooring lines with the rising and falling tides,  Leaving the mooring is pretty easy, you just untie and drop the lines in the water.  We had one empty mooring on each side of us.  I can't imagine summer when this is full, it would be tight.  The harbor patrol people were very nice and helpful in any way they can.  They did board our boat and drop a dye tablet in the head toilets and made the statement that if they see any green there will be a fine and we would have to leave right away.  They do cruise the harbor nonstop during daylight hours.  When the tide was low we were swinging quite a bit, I would imagine summer and being full, you need the additional note to make sure you are around to adjust your lines when needed.

Dolphins passing by flying out of the water!
View from walking up hill out at Avalon Cove, Catalina.  Can you see our boat?

Our boat is to the left of Cindy, above her shoulder and near her ear

Golf cart tour, looking at Avalon

Most vehicles on the island were golf carts so we had to take a drive.  It was fun!

View of Avalon Harbor from our golf cart tour.
 On Sunday, Steve's high school buddy John came out for a visit on the Catalina Express passenger ferry.  We walked around town for a while, had a drink in a sports bar, had a bit to eat, then spent the evening on our boat.  John spent the night and rode back with us to the mainland on Monday.  He's our first overnight guest on the trip so far.

Steve's old buddy John came out on the ferry and stayed overnight with us.

Halloween in Avalon.  Just like home;  the elementary kids did a parade through town and the merchants then gave out candy at the entrance to their shops.

Zappa playing with one of the nighttime fish we caught

We were in Avalon for 3 days, and could have spent another day or two there.  But, Kevin's birthday is Tuesday and he wants to do something fun (more fun than he could find on Avalon, that is) and he didn't want to spend his birthday motoring all day back to the mainland.  So, on Monday morning we dropped the mooring lines and headed for Oceanside.  John's girlfriend lives in Oceanside and his car is there.  They have a great beach there, and it is close to many attractions.  So many attractions that Kevin may have a tough choice deciding exactly what he wants to do on Tuesday.  We called the Oceanside Marina first thing Monday morning and confirmed they had a space for us for a few days.

Next stop - Oceanside CA.

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