Saturday, September 8, 2018

A whale of a day

Recap of last night..... both tired, ready for the rolicking to stop, me still getting used to overnight passages again and Greg just plain tired from being the superman sailor I'm glad he is at times like this.  A sliver of a moon not due to start rising until the 5am hour, we creep into our chosen anchorage on Santa Rosa Island using radar overlay on our charts and me on the bow with a strong flashlight.

3am, finally we are able to relax.  But our bodies are still amped up from the adrenaline of the past couple of days.  It's been quite the ride and just what we were looking for to get us to Southern California.

Backing up to Half Moon Bay, we had been waiting for wind to start blowing, topped up fuel and water, when finally Thursday morning our departure window opened up.

While motorsailing out some distance from shore, Greg commented, "bring on the whales" in anticipation of seeing these beautiful beasts.  By noon we were with full sail sailing wing and wing down the coast, stretching our distance from shore.  Off in the distance, a spout - followed by another, to be followed over the next few hours with breaching, tail flukes, back shots surrounding our little home from every side.  Our best was a half breech of an adult humpback whale a mere 4 boat lengths away.

As the day grew on, the wind picked up (nothing over 25kts) and seas got a little messy - in the new formation of waves kinda way.  We settled in for our first significant night passage since cruising 11 years ago.

It was rough, but I know will get easier.  During the afternoon the speedo stayed around 7 to 9 knots. The second time we hit 11+ knots peaks, we knew it was time to make those sails smaller. We spent most of the night zooming along at 7 kts with a single reefed main. As the next day started, we would pole out the genoa when the wind eased to keep us in the 6-8 kts boat speed range.

The next day brought more mature seas with the same reliable wind speed, and my mind relaxed as we headed south with favorable wind forecasts.  Though my mind was relaxing, we were super tired from the lack of good sleep, but pressed on to avoid higher winds forecasted over the coming days.  Pt Sur was behind us, and Pt Conception was to come.

Toward the end of the day, we had our first visitor, a booby bird - I didn't even know they lived this far north.

He tried out a couple of perch spots, finally "landing" with the paddleboard.  He preened and recovered all night even staying with us as we raised the main, lowered the main at the anchorage (Very loud banging) and got ourselves anchored and settled with full spreader lights and walking just past him back and forth.

He was almost like having a little pet for a few hours - we loved the company, even came with some poop cleaning duties today.

So the night crept on with us feeling like our now 6-7 kts was very very slow....  but eventually, we did finally cross the shipping channel at Santa Barbara, the night crept on.  It's amazing how slowly a boat can seem to move at times.

Greg had researched Bechers Bay on Santa Rosa, which was wide open, we have 4G radar which we can overlay our chart, so we felt confident in entering this first time to us Bay.  As I mentioned earlier, it was pitch dark, no outline of land, no lights besides our running lights and stars in the sky, and we sleepily continued on pumped up on adrenaline.

As we entered the Bay, I spotted on the bow with a bright flashlight looking for Kelp.  We measured depth to determine how far in to go, finally, we reached our target depth and dropped the anchor.  No drama, everything went smooth and our little booby friend just sat there with us, watching.  Probably ready and happy to be settling down.  These birds are so trusting.

Then that was it, we collapsed with thoughts of imagining the beautiful scene we would wake to.

Today, we'll do some hiking, and start exploring the channel islands for a couple weeks.  We got super lucky with some surprising internet, but no guarantees for that at other anchorages.  We're looking forward to getting our fishing game started - wish us luck....

Melissa and Greg


  1. Exciting and great news!
    Love reading your account. Is it to soon to come visit?

  2. Glad you got the first leg of your journey behind you
    Have fun on Catalina Island and hopping down the Baja to Mexico

  3. Looks like an exciting beginning. So happy you two are able to do this!

  4. You are off to a good start and how wonderful to have a little traveling companion. Looking forward to the next installment of the adventure.

  5. Don and Mary Lou OliverSeptember 9, 2018 at 12:27 PM

    Glad you had a safe trip and uneventful anchoring at night. The last time we went into Beechers at night we had an awful time with kelp. Enjoy your tour of the islands. One of our favorites is Fry's Harbor on Santa Cruz for hiking.