to Forney Cove, 19.2 NM, 6.5 hours, 4 hours sailing!
From Coches Prietos Cove we made our way to the very
western end of Santa Cruz Island and Forney Cove.
As soon as we left Coches, we put up the sails and had
a leisurely sail up the south side of the island.
The scenery was beautiful as we passed
many cliffs, coves, and small islands along the way.
At first, near the island, the winds were light, say 5-7 knots
from the south, and so we were just ghosting along at 2-3 knots
of boat speed as the sun came out in full force. We had a relaxed
lunch and kept sailing until well in the afternoon.
At about 2:00 p.m., we had run out of sea room and had to tack
out just before Gull Island, and as we did so, we noticed
another sail boat about a mile away, to the east,
on the same tack as us. In a half joking way, we pretended
to be racing them (as I'm sure they were aware of us), and
soon we were making pretty good time as the breeze picked up
in the afternoon. The anenometer showed 10, then 12, then
14 knots and Mandala was bouncing happily along at 5+ knots!
We were, of course, under full sail, and didn't think too
much about it at the time.
We soon realized, however, that conditions near the west end
of the island were very different once we got out of the
lee of the island and into the slot between Santa Rosa
and Santa Cruz. The winds kept picking up, 16, then 18 knots,
and soon we were heeled over 25 degrees, doing 7+ knots in 20 knots of wind,
at which point we decided that discretion
was the better part of valour, and left the other boat to
continue on the outward tack by themselves, as we decided
to run into shore and try to get out of the growing wind.
So we got a chance to practice reefing under realistic
conditions, as even when we got close to shore, the
wind kept building, and we were seeing 25 knots on the
anemometer. We hove-to, and put a reef in the
sail, before deciding to just motor the last few
remaining miles to Forney Cove. By the time we
got there, we were pretty whipped and happy to
find some calm waters!
Forney Cove was pretty unusual. There was a lot of kelp
around, and there was a break in the rocks where you could
see the waves crashing on the outside. It appears
as if the main protection thru this gap was provided by the
kelp, and perhaps by a shoal, just below the surface.
We were the only boat there, which wasn't really
surprising being as this was the very west end of the island.
(most of the fishermen and day-sailers stick to the east end).
We were a little concerned about the security of the anchorage,
as the GPS showed us as drifting a bit and it was dark and
cloudy and hard to take bearings at night. So I did anchor watch,
waking up at odd times thru the night to check our position.
At one point I had an interesting experience with luminescence.
On an anchor watch, about midnight, I looked over the side
of the boat and saw all of these pinpoint flashes of light.
Like fireflies in the water. Then, for fun, I grabbed
the high-powered spotlight and shone it into the water. And
as I did, hundreds of small fish, anchovies or sardines, I'm
not sure which, jumped up in the water. Apparently, they were
feeding on the little light-bugs, and the flashlight sent them
into a feeding frenzy. By shining the light straight down
into the water for about 2 minutes, I soon had 50 or so
schooling and swarming around the light. If I'd had a net
(and a mind to), I could have caught them by merely
scooping them up with the net!
The next morning, we weighed anchor and motored around the
west end of the island. The charts and guidebooks all said
to stay a good mile offshore when rounding the point, and
we soon found out why. The currents cross at the point of the
island, and there is a place they call the Potato Patch that
we soon found ourselves in. Very steep 3-6 foot waves at what
seemed like 5 second or less intervals made for a rough half
hour or so until we were clear to the north, when it calmed
down to 4 foot swells at 9 seconds ... much nicer.