There is probably a lot of advice out there written to help people learn how to get safely ashore in a dinghy. Particularly on a beach with breaking waves… but neither of us had read any of it, to our detriment. Thankfully, we are all still intact physically if not quite mentally.
After being happily onboard Banyan, and not setting a foot ashore since we left Morro Bay 5 days previously (6 for the girls and Cameron), we got serious about setting our feet on hard ground in the beautiful Channel Islands. Our first stop, San Miguel was not an option as landing’s are not allowed due to “unexploded ordinances”… hum… think I’ll take a pass. Not only that, but sneaking ashore was not an option either due to masses and masses of seals basking in the sun.
These same seals thwarted any would-be attempt on the island of Santa Rosa as well. Our anchorage there was not ideal with windy conditions and a fairly open aspect to prevailing winds so…off we went heading east to the southern side of the island of Santa Cruz, hiding from the north westerly winds and swell that had carried us all the way from San Francisco. It was a glorious passage, the seas and wind were very mellow. Cameron and I were able to put our foul weather gear aside and bask in the sun a bit while sailing easily along to our new destination.
We found a good little anchorage on Santa Cruz called Coches Prietos where we tucked in for the night. Incidentally this was on Monday night of Memorial day weekend. The only boat in the anchorage (the first time we’ve shared an anchorage with anyone here) said that there had been 10 boats in this tight little spot the night before! That evening we played card games, watched “All Creatures Great and Small” and had a hearty dinner in celebration of finally reaching warmish weather.
We did hear on the forecast, and noticed off our bow, an odd southern swell (sets of 4 or 5 “rollers” every couple minutes) rolling into the bay which was completely exposed to the south. These swells kept the boat moving, not uncomfortably, but it’s an unusual direction and they broke right onto the “inviting” beach next to us.
Having not made too many beach landings at all, we warned the girls the next day that there was a distinct possibility that we would all be soaked. We only took items we were willing to get wet but the desire to play on the beach outweighed the chances of getting dumped so they mustered up their courage..and so did we.
As we approached, the very beautiful turquoise water seemed to just fall off toward the beach after which you could just see the top of a crashing wave. From our vantage point at the top of the swell of water it looked like a 5ft drop broiling with white water below. “Are you sure this is safe?” I asked Cameron who was, at the same time turning the boat hard to starboard and heading 180 degrees away from the beach. We approached again, not wanting to be beat and hearing in our heads the description of this beach landing in our cruising guide (Charlie’s Chart’s) as being very benign and quite easy. Well, we gave it another go and came round again and went for it.
None of us fully recall what happened in entirety. I recall Cameron telling the girls to hop out. The girls immediately obeyed their Captain and hopped out with me right behind them. Adelaide was up to her hips in the surge and I fell to my knees next to her, then grabbed her by the life jacket and unceremoniously dragged her to dryer land and went back for Isa who had also fallen and was chest deep next to the boat. I grabbed her by the top of her jacket and tossed her ashore while Cameron struggled with the dinghy, somehow keeping it from going upside down and over the top of any of us. We all stood a good while in complete shock and wondered how on earth we were going to get off the beach and back to Banyan! I had a very strong urge to get right back into the boat and get the unpleasantness over with. The girls, not plagued by this thought proceeded to recover quickly. Adelaide was off in search of natural treasures while Isa only recovered once we pulled her wet jeans off and she had a bit of time to process the trauma. Once clad in her undies and Daddy’s fleece, she became enthralled with all the shells, bones and treasures to be found on the beach.
After a good lunch, much treasure hunting, a hike up the road and a great deal of watching the surf to learn it’s rhythms, we decided it was time to attempt the return trip. We took our time, prepared the boat and the kids close to the shore to await our window. Miraculously we got the girls in the boat, Cameron and I steadied it in knee deep water. I jumped in to start the engine as Cameron moved us further out. The engine fired on first pull, while Cameron, waist deep in water, kept the boat steady. Once started, he then hopped in and took us as fast as safely possibly back to our sanctuary, Banyan. It sounds smooth as I write it here, but at the time it felt rather frantic, as the engine wouldn’t stay in reverse and after popping out several times I finally held it in gear with one hand and gave it a bit too much gas with the other while listening to Cameron’s calm but firm directions the whole time and trying not to dump anyone out of the boat by putting it into forward while the throttle was sky high.
Cameron and I had a good stiff drink and a shower when we got home and the girls got to veg out in front of a movie. We decided that there is probably a lot written about beach landings, or maybe not. But, either way, safe and dry landings probably just come with time and experience. In the horse world we talk about “feel” a lot, it’s something that can’t really be taught, it comes with time on a horse. This “time” gives you the ability to make split second decisions based on rapidly changing feedback. This seems to be the deal when making beach landings. It’s a skill learned over time. I just hope we will not have to get soaked too many more times in the process. Thankfully our Captain is cautious and kind and I have decided that from now on my new criteria for landings has mainly to do with water and air temperature.
As I write this we are safely and snuggly anchored in the Santa Barbara Anchorage where we have come to celebrate Adelaide’s birthday and do a bit of provisioning. We will head quickly down the coast to Long Beach were I have to fly out for business. I have a research trip to France with one of my clients who is building a new winery, then back to Napa for a few days to walk vineyards before returning to Banyan. The girls and Cameron will stay in a marina and have the company of Aunty Kim and Cameron’s Parents who are coming in to spend time together and help out while I’m away.
Much Love to you all and thanks for all your comments!
Thanks for the great blog and writing. My heartbeat made a pretty big jump just reading the journal. I remember the great whale, seal and porpoise watching when we were in the Sea of Cortez. They are so playful and fun. God Bless.
LOVE all your details and pics! Happy birthday to Miss A too:-) xox
The details of your adventure gives us the thrill of being on the ride with you!! Stay safe and dry…might be a bumpy ride!
I meant to sent a comment on the bonnet that Adelaide was wearing in the last blog. It made me smile…and I do believe there is a photo of Oso in the same bonnet. 🙂
I just love reading these! You must write a book someday! Love the pictures, it is so good to see you all. I’m glad we read these after they take effect! ha ha, I would be holding my breath if I were watching as it happens.. God is with you always keeping you safe. Love to all.
Happy Birthday Adalaide!
Love Aunt Debi
Everyone in class wishes you a happy birthday. Litzy was the first one to notice that your birthday was on birthday poster. I’m keeping the class up to date on your travels. They love seeing pictures of you. Take care.
Thank Mrs. Schaffer! I will let A know that her class is keeping up wither. Post coming soon that will touch on their schooling. Thanks for all your help and support!
Great stories and adventure! Enjoy France, my wife is over there now with her lady friends. We bottled the Teaderman Reserve Tuesday. It came out tasting lovely, with a bright future. Hope to see you when you come to Napa Valley.
So happy to hear! Thanks for taking care of Teaderman for me Tom! I’ll have to beg a bottle from Stan:)
I’m sitting with Oma at her dinning table and we just finished reading your adventurous blog. We are now deeply exhaling! Oma says “Glad you are safe and having fun”. Love you all and Happy Birthday Adelaide!
Hi Anne & Cameron!
We just read your latest post on your blog to my Mom, who has been intensely interested in your adventure. I feel certain that she is praying for you! So are we! I miss you! Will fill you in more soon.
SOOOO great to hear from you Valerie. I’m excited to hear any news about Matt Brown. I’ve been following a big of the developments on their Facebook page. It sounds like LOTS going on. We think of you often and hope that all is well with you Bob, the barn the horses the dogs and all our mutual friends. Much MUCH love to you guys.
“Love you and send more pics of yourself (Anne)” 🙂 from Malia
“Sounds awesome – wish I could be there!” from Caleb
“Love following your adventures!” from Fiona
Will do Malia
Maybe you can come take a passage with us Caleb!
Thanks Fiona – so good to hear form you!
What an exciting life you are living now. You are experiencing GOD’s amazing created beauty (along w/the learning bumps) that most of us only dream of seeing and doing. “SAIL ON!” and A VERY HAPPY HAPPY belated BIRTHDAY TO ADELAIDE -Enjoying your adventure….GR A Janis & Unc Fred
So nice to hear from you Janice and Fred. You guys are so sweet to keep up with us.
Much love to you!
Hi Anne & Cameron…. So great to hear about your adventures!! Makes my life seem very boring…. I am thinking that I need another adventure soon!
Yes, growing up on boats, I have been “dumped” in a dinghy many, many, times, got very wet, lost ice creams too!!… my mum often got the groceries wet (waterproof bag recommended for valuables & food if possible… & leave your cell phone behind )… and have seen dinghies swamped many times.
As kids we used to “surf” in our small “wooden” dinghy for fun!!! (my dad made a small one for my older sisters 6th birthday, it was very easy to manoeuvre)…. But can hurt when you get flipped out!!! But I am sure on the “West coast”, you are talking about bigger waves too! All you can do is try to time it between the waves, get in & out of the boat as quickly as possible…with the bow into the waves… and row out as fast as possible to get out past the danger zone. Not so easy to turn your bow into the waves when coming in with an outboard, so maybe good old fashioned rowing is best in this situation, rather than risk getting your outboard full of salt water!
No matter what you do… some waves are going to get you
Thanks Michele!! All noted:) I’m sure we will join you in the category of people who have lost icecreamcones overboard soon.
Ahoy Annie and Cameron,
Loved reading about your channel island experiences which recalled many similar memories for me there. I lived in Ventura in the late 60’s and crewed on a friends boat in many races around the islands. Had my own hairy landing experience on San Miguel as well. The art of landing is indeed just that and I’m sure the capitano and you are justifiably cautious of this common area of mishaps! I look forward to hearing from you directly now instead of looking over Diane’s shoulder.
All the best to you all, john L
Thanks for the updates! As I started reading the first few paragraphs of the post, I thought to myself, “Hmmm… I bet it’s easier getting from the boat to the beach than vice versa.” Looks like that thought was correct! : ) Glad things are going well. Hope your travels to France go well and that Adelaide had a happy birthday.
In Long Beach you are just a half hour from us. We’d love to give your family a hot home cooked meal. How long are you in the area?
That sounds awesome. We’d love to! Send me a direct email through the email icon on this page and we can set up a time. I’m not sure I have your email.
Oh, that’s my family’s old haunts! There are some great anchorages around Santa Cruz and a couple great hikes too. There is a cave you can bring a full Banyan sized boat into. And some amazing dinghy caves with sharks hanging out. Check out the Grotto anchorage on the north (?) side. That was always our favorite. But you are probably moving along, no? And your post brings back terrified shore landing memories when I was your kids age. My dad needs to read this, too!
Molly! I thought about you so much while we were there. I figured you had some good skin crawling memories of getting ashore;) We reminisced about being there for your wedding and all the fun we had on the dance floor! Much love my sweet friend. I miss you!!
Anne, Thank you for the update…have to admit that my heart skipped a few beats while reading this time. All of you are on my daily prayer journal! I can’t wait to hear about France. We will be there for 3 weeks in August! I sent Cameron an Amazon gift card for Adelaide’s birthday…I think the DOVE is on the list!!!!!! We are going to be in San Diego from July 9-13 and wondering if there is any possibility of connecting? Carver is co-officiating at our grandson’s wedding. Safe travels…love and Blessings, Marianne
So you dumped the dinghy? Can you anchor it and swim in?
We didn’t technically “dump” it… but it was a close thing. And yes, we could…but we were not smart enough at the time. In our defense, we really do need to learn this vital cruising skill. It’s a sink or swim kinda thing (haha)