Gettin’ So Cal done
Completing a full circle, almost four years since we were in Santa Barbara for sailing lessons, we arrived once more in our own boat. This to avoid a gale hitting the Channel Islands where we had been happily anchored for the pat few days. And we ended up staying a few days – over Thanksgiving – to visit with California friends as well as boat-buddies that we have met along the way down south. We even got an impromptu holiday meal in with a few other couples that Kerri had been in communications with via social media.
Following a visit to the grocery store, laundry, and fuel dock, we got back underway to visit Santa Cruz Island – of the Channel Islands. Not the greatest of anchoring once again, as all were exposed to the sea swells in one way or another. Nevertheless, we stopped in at Scorpion Anchorage for a couple days before moving to the other side of the island to Smuggler’s Bay to avoid a northerly wind. Once again, we were unable to set foot on the island as there was no safe place to get the dinghy to shore without getting in the water ourselves.
We were still hopeful that Anacapa Island would allow us to come ashore, but after a few hours motoring around the island we didn’t even find a place we felt safe dropping anchor. The shoreline of Anacapa was truly rugged – and beautiful – and only those willing to beach their boat on the rocks would dare anchor here. So, with Oxnard only 10 more miles away, we moved from our time “exploring” the Channel Islands and to get back to our greater overall travels.
As we pulled into our slip at the marina I recognized the sailboat which we were pulling directly beside. It was, for the third time now, the same couple we have spent time with in marinas since Monterey. All us cruising south have a finite number of places to stop along the way, so we continue to find each other over and over. The marina in Oxnard came with full use of a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, gym, and club house, which tricked us into staying a few extra nights – not complaining. That and the decision to get some packages shipped in while we were here. More groceries, and a ton of restaurant visits ensued. It didn’t help that directly outside out window was a bright neon light that said, “eat more pizza”, which we did. Once again, more family and friends came to visit during our time in Oxnard. We even ran into boating friends that left Washington and sailed down the coast the same time we did. They, of course, had already sailed long past – to Mexico delivering a different boat – and had returned.
After blowing another week on land, we did eventually get moving once again. A super-early-morning departure from Oxnard would allow us to make the long sail to Catalina Island. Neither Kerri or myself thought we would care much for Catalina – it being the normal destination for anyone with a boat in SoCal – but we didn’t care to pass it by without a visit, so visit we did. Ironically, we both found Catalina Island to be a step up in beauty over the Channel Islands. It was something about the greater saturation of plant life on the island, compared to Channel’s very desert-ish land.
We first spent a few nights at anchor on the ‘less visited’ side of the island, then moving to the popular Avalon anchorage where the main tourist attractions were. The anchorage at Avalon is still exposed to the sea swell, and cram packed with mooring balls, which we were forced to take as the space available to actually anchor was exceedingly deep, even for our ground tackle. It did, at least, provide for easy goings-to-shore to enjoy the sights and sounds of the little tourist town surrounding the anchorage. We enjoyed it so much, that we returned for two more nights after our time in Long Beach. This time Kerri talked me into another hike – uphill of course. Sometimes I think she is trying to kill me.
Speaking of Long Beach; if we hadn’t already made plans with an old friend to receive and deliver a large package to us, we likely would have skipped Long Beach. Again, we stayed for a few days, meeting up with more friends of times long past, and visiting even more restaurants – so is the way. With all the family and friends visits completed, restocked and ready to go (again), we set out for one last US based overnight sail; to San Diego… next time.