Before we headed out to the Island of Santa Catalina from Long Beach we imagined ourselves harbor hopping, seeing it all in a slow circumnavigation of the island perhaps. But as Auntie Kim, Cameron’s sister, recently pointed out to us, our trip to Catalina is mirroring our “trip around the world”… we are slowpokes!
We had a lovely sail across to Two Harbors at the Isthmus on Catalina. Catalina is the playground of all So Cal boaters. We dropped the hook and we didn’t go anywhere for over a week! We’ve come to know how happy we are just to be somewhere and get to know it a bit.
This was a very busy anchorage, and the comings and goings of other boats has been extremely entertaining. We can just sit in the cockpit and watch all the activity, if necessary, Cameron will pop into the dingy and help out. The activity is multi faceted, boats coming in, going out, dropping the hook over the top of someone else’s anchor line, one boat getting blown onto the rocks and bumping into other boats, anchors dragging. It’s been rather exciting. Thankfully the mayhem hasn’t involved us, unless you count the little sailboat crammed with two very young couples who hooked onto our stern anchor with their bow anchor. Cameron helped them set a stern anchor to stabilize them and by morning they had unhooked themselves.
Thankfully, everyone in the boating community is generally very nice and very helpful. Sometimes, things happen that are unexpected and so we all have to help out. If you see someone in need of help, you help, that is the rule of the sea (as long as you don’t make the problem bigger or put your crew or vessel in harms way).
This concentration of other boats, and forced interaction has had a lovely side benefit. We are getting a bit more social. Boaters are incessantly curious about all other boats and this curiosity often fuels the social get together. We have been on a few other boats since we have been here and we have even entertained some new friends. Banyan is a classic boat, but not a well known design and we always get questions and compliments (*smile*). It’s a nice way to strike up a conversation that may end in an invitation. So, we have been using that impulse to invite people aboard and happily accepting invites to see other boats and make new friends. We even met another Mason 43 owner and were able to see inside his boat.
When heading to another boat, the custom is to never go empty handed. One must always bring a little something since we all have so little, we share. Sundowners (or drinks at sunset) is the customary gathering time. Alcohol or chips is a go-to host gift, but one recent couple brought pirate hats for the girls! That’s a lot more fun than chips and dip for them!
These days we are always running near low on alcohol (by our standards). The reason for this shortage is our lack of a good cellar. Many boats put wine into the bilge (the lowest part of the boat and usually the coolest as it’s below the water line). For us, our diesel engine lives down there which makes the bilge much warmer than we would generally like for wine. So, we keep just a bit on hand and stuff it under the floor boards as far forward as we can. I usually grab a few bottles from our cellar on my way home from a business trip, but we are also experimenting with local wines and less expensive options. We haven’t kept beer on the boat, mainly because it’s so heavy to schlep back to the boat and many a time we are on foot. In consequence, we are working our way through our liquor cabinet.
Speaking of boozing and sailing, Cameron and I have a strict no drinking rule when underway or immediately after anchoring, we have to be keen and have all our wits about us to watch out for those pesky reefs lying in wait 3 ft below the water line or those other boats that sneak up on you… not to mention navigation markers (we have actually inadvertently bumped one of those sober, so we need all the help we can get).
Heading back and forth to other boats, the beach and the dock is now much much more pleasant in our NEW DINGHY!
Our old dinghy came with Banyan. It was rolled up and shoved into the shower stall when Banyan showed up. The advantage of it was that is was light (50 lbs), easy for Cameron and I to pop on and off the boat, and it took up very little space. But the drawbacks were many. Mainly they had to do with getting very wet. I may have written a bit here and there about our traumatic dinghy rides, it was a common occurrence. If the water was anything but glassy, we were getting wet. The dingy didn’t have a hard bottom, it was soft PVC with little slats every six inches so as we went over a little wave, the bow would dive up or down independent of the stern and we seemed to just flop around collecting water. It was the most disgruntling in the SF bay area in April where the water was 55 degrees and the air temp wasn’t much warmer. There was many a hot buttered rum consumed after miraculously arriving home without capsizing. In larger waves (I’m thinking specifically of a windy day in Sausalito), it was on the verge of dangerous. The boat felt very close to the water, did not “cut” the water (meaning it pointed where you wanted to go, but slid away from where you wanted to go for a bit) and always felt close to being swamped in anything larger than a 1 foot wave. So, time for a new dinghy!
In reading other cruisers’ blogs, one of the “must have’s” that always is stated is a planing dinghy. This means that the dinghy can get up on a plane and glide through (partially above) the water. When you are living on a boat, having a reliable, comfortable way to get ashore is like having a reliable family car. With an 6.5ft draft on our boat we can’t get that close to shore at times, so having a good dinghy to go back and forth is very important! For safety and comfort reasons we may prefer to anchor in a cove a few miles from the nearest town or dinghy dock with choppy waves and swells in between. Having a sturdy runabout boat that can get us from A to B is key.
This has been on the “want” list for a while, but we just wanted to get through a bit of time and make sure we really did need a bigger dinghy…and we did. So Cameron started doing what he does best – research! It was months of reading and calling and emailing and more reading that finally landed us at the Dinghy Doctor down in San Diego. We had been staying with Cameron’s sister in LA so we absconded with her car one day and came home with a new dinghy on top of it!
One funny thing with dinghies, is that they are very easy to steal. Fancy dinghy’s are like candy sitting there at the dock with nothing but a flimsy bike lock to keep it from walking away. We wanted a good dinghy, but not one that made everyone’s mouth water. We were looking for used options but, since dinghy’s don’t have a huge lifespan, were wisely guided away from that possibility. We ended up purchasing a “Taurus” which is a brand made by this sweet man who owns “The Dinghy Doctor” He has been fixing and selling Avons, Achilli’s and AB’s for years and has now created his own line. We bought a hypalon 10.5 ft aluminum RIB (rigid inflatable boat) from him. It weighs in at 108 lbs so we doubled our weight but it’s still manageable to get onto the deck with the help of a halyard. It was new, but manufactured in 2013 so we got a deal on it and now we have a fabulous dinghy that is not well known and therefore, hopefully not a target for the dingy lifters. These days, every time we go through choppy water or another boats wake we can’t stop saying “remember our old dinghy? We’d be soaked if we were in that dinghy!” So far we have been very dry and our new dinghy feels up to anything we throw at it, be it wakes, waves or beach landings.
For now we are settled into Emerald Bay on Catalina. The next stop on our slow journey is actually back north! In about a week we are headed to the main land where I will jump ship for a quick trip up to Canada. When I return it will be back to the north side of Santa Cruz island to see the “Painted Caves” and then back to Santa Barbara to see some friends. We will be heading down to San Diego in mid September to prepare for our passage to Mexico at the end of October so we have a bit of time to enjoy our favorite parts of So Cal before we leave.
So Far, from the slow boat to China:
First (and only) thing lost overboard: Anne’s iPhone 5 (knock on wood)
Scariest moment: At High Mass in the Santa Barbara Mission Catholic Church on a Sunday morning.. seriously, not kidding. A crazy guy came to the front, right across from where we were with the girls and during communion he started yelling, swearing and waving around a huge sign. It was freaky, I was praying he didn’t have a bomb or gun. Men from the congregation slowly surrounded him making a human shield and the police came and took him away.
Most Awesome Cruising Moment: Being in the middle of the huge pod of dolphins and tons of whales off of Point Conception. It was magical and everyones favorite moment so far.
Place where we felt like we finally had started our journey, and Adelaide’s favorite place: Morro Bay. We finally relaxed and officially ditched our schedule mentality.
Our Favorite Outing: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Our Favorite “ice cream stop”: Pink Berry in Monterey
You are an amazing family, we were so Blessed to visit you recently. Thank You for all the beautiful photos and updates, friends and family say “Hi” and are praying for You!
Great post Anne – I read it twice to absorb every detail! So glad you are doing this trip at a snail’s pace – that’s the way to enjoy life! And Catalina looks beautiful!
Hi – I found you through the WWS FB page. I’ve added you to our sailing blogs page on our blog and am looking forward to following your adventures. The pictures of the kids in the pirate hats is adorable! Was really surprised to find out there are bison on Catalina – how bizarre 🙂
Cheers – Ellen
Thanks!! I know…who knew about those Bison. You can see from our faces that we were pretty shocked too. I hadn’t known till that big boy came rocking up.
Love your adventures so far! Would be right with you on that Beach Anne:)!
Hi Travelers, It’s so wonderful to be able to share your travels and to see how much you are enjoying your adventures. I hope Annie got her phone replaced, need all the connections you can get :)..Til next time…LUV Janis & Fred
When you head down this way again we’d love to have you for lunch or dinner. We are in Huntington Beach so the HB Harbor or even Newport Beach are easy access for us. Plus we have swimming pools which might be fun for the girls. My cell is 503-702-0405.
Yea!! We would love to hook up. I tried your email before but I think it didn’t get through? If this email isn’t good for you, send me a direct email through the site (click on the little letter) and we can make arrangements). Let’s hook up!!!
Just let us know when you are back in the area. We are here and our schedules may be more fluid than yours. We are in Santa Barbara Aug. 1-4, but other than that should be here in HB……Celia
Perfect. I see your number (I missed it before). I’ll give you a ring in the next few days and we will set it up!
Great blog. Love the photos. What sites will Cameron have in Oxnard for the girls while you are winemaking?
Hey! He is actually going to have some fun. He is going to rent a car and meet up with his friend Gabby from his days in Greece. She and her family are in the US doing some classes. She has two girls (7 and 9) so the girls will get to play together. Pretty cool that they get to hook up…and on his birthday!!
Hi Anne, Cameron and crew,
Really enjoyed reading about the latest segment of your round the world adventure. The upgraded Dingy seemed like a good investment. Keep up the great job on the blog Anne and God Bless to you all. …..see you in the Bay of Islands. Laurence & Veronica.
Thanks for the the newsy letter and providing me this vicarious adventure! I know all your readers appreciate the time and energy you’ve put into keeping us all up to date!
Happy Birthday Cap’n Cam!
Delightful blog. Love the pictures and your adventures! Miss you so!
I thoroughly enjoy your blog and excellent photographs. Thank you for sharing your adventure. God bless you.