Avalon to Santa Barbara - 104 NM, 21.5 hrs, 8 hrs sailing

After getting plastered Friday night at Luau Larry's, we slipped our mooring lines in Avalon Harbor at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday and began our sail to Santa Barbara, about 100 nm north-west of Catalina. We had planned on beating against Northwest winds and were a pleasantly surprised when the wind rose out of the south-east as we made our way North along Catalina Island.

After several hours, we cleared the NW point of Catalina Island and entered what were for us, new waters that we had never sailed before, the San Pedro Channel. With the wind directly astern our desired course, we wore our way northward, which means to bear a little off the wind in each direction alternately so as to keep the head sail filled. Otherwise, with the wind directly astern, the headsail will be blocked by the main sail.

After a while I started sailing wing-and-wing, with the main out on one side and the jib out on the other. This point of sail requires a lot of attention because you have to keep both sails filled on opposite sides of the boat.

The wind kept steady from the south throughout the day and into the afternoon, so, about 4:30 p.m. I decided to try setting the spinnaker pole out with a preventer on the main so as to maximize the power of the sails, keeping us on our desired course while minimizing the risk of an accidental jibe. It took about 20 minutes to setup the pole and preventer, and wouldn't you know it, about 20 minutes later, the wind died down and I had to take it all back down again! We started the motor as we crossed the San Pedro Passage between Catalina and Santa Cruz Islands.

Leaving Catalina

I'd picked Catalina and this route as an alternative to keep us out of the congested waters near Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbor, and as the sun set, it got a little cloudy, and no matter what direction you looked in, you could only see water. There was no land visible as the sun set on Saturday night. We only saw one other small boat the entire way to the Channel Islands.

When I took the watch at midnight it was cloudy and moonless, and so very dark and mysterious around the boat. I heard a seal barking a few hundred yards from the boat, which really weirded me out as usually one associates seal barking with Land or Buoys, neither of which should have been anywhere around that point. After double and triple checking the GPS and Radar, I decided it must have just been barking as it swam thru the water and that we were ok on our present course. About an hour later, at 1:00 am, we transited Anacapa Passage, which is about 3 miles wide at it's narrowest point. I turned the watch over at 3:00 am and my crewmate navigated across the shipping lane and around the Oil Platforms off the shore from Santa Barbara.

Arriving Santa Barbara

My crewmate woke me at 6:00 am and went below for a little rest before we arrived at Santa Barbara. Since the wind had come up, I turned off the motor and we sailed the rest of the way to Santa Barbara, where I hove-to about a mile outside the harbor and called the Harbor Master for a guest slip. They said there were no guest slips at that time, but that there probably would be later in the day (on Sunday, Father's Day), as a lot of people would be leaving. So,we put the sails away, and we went to the anchorage SE of the harbor, dropped anchor, and got a little shut-eye.

We woke about 1:00 in the afternoon, called the Harbor Master, and they said a slip was available, so we pulled up the hook, motored into the Harbor, parked at the police dock, got a slip assignment, and moved the boat into the Marina.

Images of Santa Barbara

We spent three days and nights in Santa Barbara, sight-seeing, eating at good restuarants, and walking the beachfront and famous old Stearns Wharf. I took the opportunity on Monday to repair the gelcoat damage done in San Diego Bay, purchasing a repair kit and some sand paper from the West Marine store conveniently located near the marina. I did an o.k. job, though you can see where the ding was.

Today is Tuesday as I'm writing this webpage, and we're getting ready for the next leg of our trip, around Point Conception and up to Morro Bay. We are monitoring the weather (there is currently a small craft advisory in effect, with 25 knot winds and 8-12ft swells. With luck the weather will straighten up pronto and tommorow, Wednesday, we'll be on our way again!