When you start saying things like, “Do not hit that whale. Turn. Miss the whale. Oh man, I hope it dives.” You begin to wonder why. (Why am I doing this?!) And it feels surreal to watch the whale dead ahead of you get closer as your boat screams towards it, running with the fierce and unexpected wind.
Wait, let’s start at the beginning.
We left Morro Bay on a lovely, sunny day, though the water was a little choppy. We sailed south and no one was ill. Yea! We all kept a lookout for whales and dolphins, but this leg of the trip was uneventful. As night fell, we approached Point Conception and the winds picked up a touch. The moon was not out, so the stars were in full glory. The kids said the stars are so amazing that they looked fake! Marcus chose to sleep in the cockpit, under the stars. He often likes to sleep outside. John handily took us around the point on his shift, adjusting for the different wind directions and speeds while keeping us way away from the oil platforms and shipping channel. The oil platforms are super well lite and huge! What an unusual sight by night.
The next morning we had little wind, Yonas threw up the spinnaker. It is a pretty red, yellow, and orange. As we skipped along with this one, we were visited by dolphins! Lots and lots of dolphins! The kids all tried to entertain them by dragging our toes in the water or whistling to them. It was great fun.
We coasted into Prisoner’s harbour in Santa Cruz Island, where we could watch the red crabs swim in the clear water. We set anchor (it took three tries!) and left John on the boat while we took the kids ashore for a stretch.
Santa Cruz Island is a large, protected island in the Channel Islands. The kids went ashore in the park where they located a guide book full of questions for kids if different ages, so they choose to do it together. The older kids played island Bingo, spotting a wide variety of wildlife and identifying it. We also spotted an island fox and an island scrub jay, both native to the islands, found nowhere else. The fox was about the size of a house cat and looked so soft. We hiked up a hill, to a lookout point then I continued with Julian and Marcus to the next top. We saw another fox and watched it hunt down a snack. We also saw lizards and more birds.
We went back to the beach as we noted the wind was rising. Shortly after arriving on the beach, we decided to go back to the boat as it would soon be hard to row the tender out there(…and in all this chaos, the camera got soaked and no longer works. Sigh.)
The trimaran was starting to drag anchor, heading for the pier. We quickly tied on the dinghy, hauled up the anchor and hightailed it out of the unprotected harbour. Once out a ways, we could then hoist up the dinghy, holding our position with our motor. As Murphy was visiting, the ropes for hoisting had come off the aft side and needed to be re threaded. Challenging in the winds with white caps growing all around you. The winds were still rising, like my adrenaline, so we opened up the jib and we aimed for the point, hoping to round the point and shelter on the lee side.
Now we were running with the wind, as it rose, and without warning, a whale pops up in front of the boat, about 50-100 feet away.In an ocean, with white foaming wind waves and the feeling of speeding, that is not far away…not far away at all. We did not hit the whale, but it was a lot closer than I like to see. A beautiful fin back whale too.
As we cleared the point, it was clear we were not going to be able to turn into the wind to get back to the sheltered harbour, so we quickly decided to set course to Catalina Island, 60 miles away. And so our second night sail in a row began. Certainly, we were tired.
The winds hit 35 knots with gust to 40, technically gale conditions. Yonas joked that we were getting out training for Volvo racing. I did not find it funny, so I went to bed, knowing I’d have a late shift and an early shift after that. We adults each took two hour shifts to get a four hour sleep in between. (The wave were way less that the first night sail we did and it was far less slam, slip and slide.) The first shift was good for me as the Hydrovane held the course and all I had to do was watch for other ships and whales, but as the moon was not out, it was just a watch for other ships.
Eventually, the wind died off and we were left with sloppy seas and motoring. Every change in speed is heard by us below decks, so we know when the watch person is adjusting sails, motor speed or direction. By morning, a breeze arrived and we were sailing again. After breakfast, the kids were found by a pod of dolphins and great fun was had. I slept, lulled to dreamland by the rush of water bubbling past the hulls.
Approaching Catalina Island we had a few choices, so in our addled and sleep deprived brains, we chose to go to Catalina harbour. It was the closest at the time because we forgot about another one….It was a great choice overall. The approach to this harbour was really unsettling for me. My eyes were really tired, and not seeing well, so spotting the break in the island’s shoreline was next to impossible. Until we were nearly at the harbour mouth. From our approach, it was a perfect pirate hole!
By dinnertime, we had found and entered Catalina Harbour and grabbed a mooring ball. Sleeping that night was weird as the boat felt perfectly still.
Exploring Catalina…when we return!(And hopefully, lots of photos too! Currently, the photos are not uploading, likely due to water issues….)