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Friday, October 29, 2010

10/29/2010 - Santa Barbara to Avalon

We had a great trip down from Santa Barbara yesterday. We left SB at about 11:00 AM. The seas were a little rolly until we got over the bar and into deeper waters. The wind was pretty light and coming from exactly the direction we wanted to go but we decided to sail for awhile anyway. We hoisted the main and then unrolled the jib. Couldn't unroll the staysail as something was hanging it up and it wasn't worth investigating at the time. Sails up and engine off at Noon.

We tacked back and forth across our rhumb line for about 2 hours. We had a lot of fun and got to practice our tacks but, after all that time we had only gone about 2.6 miles towards our destination. At that rate it would take us 4 days to reach Avalon. At least. So we rolled up the jib, sheeted the main in hard amidships and fired up the engine. Within an hour or so, what little bit of wind there had been was completely gone.

The weather was excellent: sunny, warm enough to be comfortable in a long-sleeve t-shirt, and the seas were almost flat.

We motorsailed on through the afternoon and night and well into this morning. I stood most of the watches simply because I like to. I'm always afraid I'm going to miss something if I go below. Eventually, of course, I have to get at least a little bit of sleep and then Lulu comes up to relieve me. The seas were flat enough that Lulu was able to sit down below and read even after the first Bonine wore off. She felt good enough that she didn't even bother taking another.

As evening approached there was a sort of low fog layer hanging down across the horizon. It wasn't dense enough that you couldn't see through it but it was a strange yellow-green color. I was a little concerned. Chlorine gas is sort of that color but that's not what I was concerned about. All chlorine can do is kill you. No, I was concerned about something far scarier.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I was raised on bad science fiction movies. Of course I didn't think they were bad at the time. Most Saturdays during my 11th or 12th years, Mom gave us each thirty five cents and sent us off walking to the Garden Theater in Willow Glen. Twenty five cents was the price of admission and the dime was for snacks. You could, of course, blow the whole dime on a box of Junior Mints or Milk Duds but, if you were smart, you'd get the nickel candy instead. Ten cents could get you a box of Good and Plentys and a box of Jujy Fruit. Every Saturday, The Garden had a kidee matinee. There would be 2 or 3 cartoons, a chapter of a serial like Zorro or Commando Cody, and then a double feature, usually a western and a sci-fi flick. I loved sci-fi. Heck I was a buff. Even had a subscription to "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine. You can't imagine how happy I was when I found out that there even was such a thing.

Anyway, back to the green fog. From my experience watching movies, I knew that going through a green fog bank was not a good thing. Of course, most of the movies were black and white but somehow I just knew the fog in the movie was not normal fog-colored. As we're approaching this fog bank I flashed back to "The Incredible Shrinking Man". He, too, was on a boat going through a fog bank. In his case it was probably radioactive (that's what caused almost all the monsters back then, radioactivity). After he passed through, he started slowly shrinking. Eventually he was about the size of a house fly.

Now, I'm small enough as it is. I don't need to get any smaller. So, I was just a bit worried. Of course, as we got closer, the fog, or more accurately, "mist", dissipated. At least I hope so. If I seem to be decreasing in size, please do me a favor: KILL ALL THE SPIDERS!

Now, having read that little diatribe right in the middle of a journey, you have some idea of how life is for me during a journey. There's not a whole lot to occupy you and, if it's too dark to read, about all there is to do is go off on little fantasies in your head.

Safely past the mist, we continued on through the night. When I'd check the charts to see where we were, I'd see all these familiar names like Malibu and Redondo Beach, Point Hueneme and Point Mugu, San Pedro and Los Angeles. I found myself singing Beach Boys songs in my head.

Later, I decided to use my time constructively. So I pulled out my harmonica. What better time to learn to play the harp? I was working mostly on "Home On The Range". I can get the first part pretty well (Oh give me a home) but "Where the buffalo roam" kind of throws me. I can get most of it but there's one note that I just can't seem to find. I kept working at it, making the same mistakes over and over, until I got frustrated and tried something else. I show some promise on "When The Saints Go Marching In" and can almost do a halting version of the theme from "Bridge On The River Kwai". Finally, I pocketed the harmonica and went back to wool-gathering.

Sunup found us passing along the NE edge of Santa Catalina Island. Avalon is way down at the bottom and it takes a long time to get there at 4.5 knots. But, eventually we did get there and that's when the fun began.

There isn't any dockage at Avalon. Everyone is tied to mooring balls. When you reach the entrance to the harbor, you call in on the VHF radio and one of the Harbor Patrol guys meets you out there on a boat. Somehow you're supposed to remain on station while he gets your particulars and, get this, collects you money! It was windy at this point and I was having a tough time staying put. much less maneuvering so we could hand him some money. This can't wait until we're tied up? Apparently not. Lulu handed him the money and he told us how to get tour our mooring ball, number 115. The mooring field is packed with mooring balls and the harbor isn't really all that big.

Now, picture yourself in a boat. To get to your mooring, you drive between the sterns of the moored boats and the row of mooring balls behind them. Look at the picture closely (you can click on it to get a larger image) and notice that the mooring balls aren't always in a neat little line. Sometimes the space between the stern of a boat and the ball behind it makes it look like you're going to have to bump one of them. But, happily we didn't hit anything and we did manage to get successfully tied up, partly due to the help of one of the Harbor Patrol guys who used his well-fendered boat as a mini tug. But it was very stressful although looking back I'm not sure why. I might get to find out, though, because if the person who owns the mooring decides they want to use it, we'll have to move to a different one. This could happen on a daily basis if you're unlucky. The Harbor Patrol comes around the boats between 7:30 and 9:00 every morning to let you know whether or not you have to move.

After we'd been tied up for an hour or so, we assembled and launched the dinghy and went ashore. But I'll cover what's ashore in another blog after we've been here a little longer.

Oh, and not long after we moored, s/v Ponderosa from Issaquah, Washington arrived. We first ran into them in Brookings and then again in Eureka. It'll be interesting to get together with them to find out what they've been doing since then and to compare notes.

BTW, most of the trip "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills and Nash was running through my head. Especially the line. "From a noisy bar in Avalon, I called you".


Anonymous said...

That bay is gorgeous! That seems odd that they make you pay before tying up, I can't imagine attempting to hand over the cash in a storm. As always I enjoy reading about your adventures, keep em coming!


Anonymous said...

Good morning, Steve & Lulu: In the picture, which boat is yours. It is a beautiful picture. Glad your trip was good. Take care and my love to both of you - Nancy

Jay Bietz said...

Steve: Your blog just answered many questions on the mooring at Avalon - I've been there by ferry - maybe someday with Pygmalion. Don't miss Two Harbors at the other end of the island. Supposed to be nice also.


Steve and Lulu said...

Also good to know: they take cash, personal checks or traveler's checks only - no plastic. You pay in advance so it helps to know the rates and how long you plan to stay, at least initially. And you need your documentation number handy. I made a couple of stickers with the number on them and posted one in the cockpit and one next to the VHF.

Steve and Lulu said...

That picture is a stock shot from the internet but I can tell you about where we are. In the lower right hand corner of the picture, above the stair rail, is a building with a little tower attached. Using that as your landmark, follow a line of floats out from the beach. We're on the 3rd float out. We're on one of the empties between the little dinghy and the cabin cruiser that's on the dinghy's port side.

Anonymous said...

Looks just like it when Mr. Bergmann took us there back in the 60s. We did not have a dingy so a boat came out and picked us up and took us ashore. That is the same bay the Natalie Woods was at when she fell overboard and drowned. She could not swin. Be careful. Love, Mom