Sunday, October 29, 2006

We are on the west side of Catalina Island, nothing between us and Japan except water. We sailed around the bottom of the island yesterday. The winds were pretty light but we did manage to sail for about 3 hours. When we left our anchorage on the east side of the island our destination was only 5 nm from where we were but we had to go around so we ended up traveling about 20 nm to get here.
It is gorgeous here, there are hardly any people and the anchorage we are in has no mooring buoys. There is a campground on the beach just about 400 meters from the boat, they either have planted a bunch of palm trees or it is a natural oasis, because the surrounding hills are all dry and brown, dotted with cactus, but the oasis has some green patches and there are some wonderful trees there. Someone, I think possibly the Wrigley family, of chewing gum fame, has brought bison to the island, and as we walked around the oasis there they were, browsing on the hillside.
We set off on a hour and a half hike over the hills, past a surfing spot, up a graded road to look over another anchorage, the views were astounding. When we got back we paddled back to the boat, had lunch and then went snorkeling for about an hour, man, what a tough life!! We saw some lobsters in a fisherman's trap, do they ever look funny, I would have loved to see one moving around. We hope to catch the fisherman when he is checking his traps to see if he will sell us one.
On the sail over yesterday I decided that we needed some fresh bread so put together some dough. Barry said he would prefer buns, so made a dozen and then got tired of shaping them so made the rest into a loaf. The dough rose beautifully but the oven seemed to be taking a long time to heat up, I got impatient so popped the buns in at too low a temperature hoping the oven would heat up, no luck, I cooked the buns twice as long as I should have and they came out a little doughy and very very pale. Barry played around with the burner and it seemed to fix it so the bread cooked properly, but by the time I got it in it had fallen from rising too long, but it tasted fine in our roast beef sandwiches.
We are going to stay here for awhile, we are waiting for our friends aboard Mungo. I think they are about a week behind us.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We visited the Queen Mary yesterday. It was huge and very opulent in places. I was a tad disappointed that you are unable to see any of the state rooms. It is used as a hotel now, so all the rooms are in use, I guess. Barry took some gorgeous pictures of the promenade deck and we sat down on some teak deck chairs on the Sundays and just imagined the people who had sat in them before us. They had pictures of all the royalty and the movie stars that used to travel back and forth across the Atlantic in bygone years.
The Queen Mary was also used as a troop carrier in WW2, it was painted battleship grey and was called the Grey Ghost because it was so fast that the subs could never catch up to her and sink her. Barry and I decided that if we had ever traveled aboard her we would have been in the 3rd class cabins.
Back to the pictures, they are still on the camera card. The camera decided it wasn't going to work anymore today. stupid thing. We decided we couldn't be without one, so went out and bought a new one. It is supposed to take a clearer image so you will have to tell me if there is a difference.
We called up our buddies on Mungo, Steve and Sandi and asked if they were interested in buddy boating down the Baja with us. They figured that wouldn't be too bad of an idea. They are about a week behind us so we are going to go back out to Catalina Island and wait for them to catch up to us. It will be nice to have another couple to share ideas, fun and danger with as we head to Mexico. The weather is absolutely glorious here so we are in no hurry to charge off to Mexico. Hopefully we will have some pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

We spent one night in Avalon, a town on Catalina Island and then headed back to the mainland. Avalon was a real touristy place and we enjoyed looking in the shops as we walked by and at night we walked way up the hills to where the fancy houses were. They offered everykind of tour you could think of, the hummer tour of the inland island, the glass bottom boat tour, the evening sunset sail, the sea lion rock tour, you could rent any kind of water vehicle you possibly could think of, we contemplated the diving excursion but decided to pass. The Casino building in Avalon was famous during the big band era, they used to broadcast live from the "Avalon ballroom" The name Casino means a meeting place so they do not gamble in the building anymore but do offer tours. Avalon is also famous for it's tiles, and it was everywhere and yes Lucy they still use golf carts as a mode of transportation on the island. There were houses that were obviously 2 golf cart families, and the dirveways are very small and short!!
We are now at a yacht club mooring in Long Beach harbour, this is just south of Los Angeles. We stopped here to visit with friends we made in Coos Bay, Oregon where we spent three days waiting out a gale. People really are amazing, we arrived and after calling the harbourmaster discovered there were no slips available so we went and dropped anchor. It was going to be about a 2 mile dinghy ride to get to where Peter's boat was. Then the phone rang and Peter had arranged with his yacht club to provide us a slip and we were in like flynn. He came and met us at the boat and drove us to the home of the other gentleman we had met in Coos Bay, Siegmund. 'He and his lovely wife Claire wined and dined us at their home into the wee hours of the night. We dropped by Peter's house and met his much better half Jan. Then Siegmund and Clairs offered us the use of their spare room, what a treat, a lovely big bed our own bathroom with shower and bathtub attached, luxury to enjoy. Unfortunately, I somehow indulged in too much wine, so some of the pleasures of the visit were lost on me the next day as I struggled through that horrid 24 oz. flu. STUPID!!
They were perfect hosts today, taking us to see the wetlands that Claire has worked very hard to establish in thier neighborhood. At a cost of 140 million dollars, they have secured land and reestablished a tidal wetland area for the many migratory birds who nest here. Claire is a self confessed bird nerd and it was wonderful listening to her describe the birds and point out to us how to tell them apart. We saw snowy egrets, all sorts of grebes, protected brown pelicans, sandpipers, terns, and one endangered songbird that likes to live in the a certain type of plant they have re-introduced to the area. The area is huge, and we saw volunteers, building a fence on a path to keep Siegmund and Claire
the public away from the nesting areas. The environmentalist have been fighting for 30 years to keep development from the area and to save it for the birds, it is quite the story.
After this experience, Siegmund and Claire took us shopping and went and found some much needed propane. We returned their hospitality, by taking them out for a sail and then had them aboard Cat's-Paw IV for dinner. I carefully monitored my wine intake and did not embarras myself tonight. We are planning on seeing Peter and Jan tomorrow aboard their boat C'est La Vie, so will be great to visit with them.
The Queen Mary is moored just across the harbour and Barry thinks he may like to take a tour of her. We will stay here at least until Monday and maybe longer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

We are now anchored at Santa Catalina Island. This is the boaters playground for the LA area. There are a ton of little coves and anchorages all around the island. Lots of the anchorages are leased by yacht clubs or other private clubs, so you have to be read about the cove you are in before figuring out if you are allowed to go ashore. The thing is we are here during the week and it is the middle of Oct. so there are very few boats here as compared to a weekend or the middle of summer, NICE. Yesterday after a slow motor over, no wind worth sailing in, we went for a snorkel. It was great. We saw all sorts of fish and different coloured kelp and some rays and then I saw a sea turtle. I was very excited and tried to get Barry's attention. He was too far away and did not see the turtle, too bad and when I took my eyes off of him to try and get Barry's attention I lost sight of him. There were some girls in kayaks that were going by and they worked in a camp that is one bay over. They said it is quite rare to see turtle here so I was even more thrilled. I actually felt like I was almost in the Nemo movie. There were small orange fish skulking around the kelp and then schools of these tiny silver fish swarming around us, what fun. We hope to stay here about a week, weather dependent, so will be moving around to different anchorages and exploring the sea and the shore for the next while. Hasta luego.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We did the totaly tourist thing today and went to Universal Studios. WHAT A BLAST!!! We have never been to a park like this before so were very impressed with the whole experience. We went on a tour off all the studios, which was a lot of looking at big buildings from the outside, but then it got better, we got to see some of the back sets, the set for Desparate Housewifes, where all the westerns were shot, Leave to Beaver's house and all sorts of places. Then we went in special theme buildings, we saw a Terminator 2 vignette which was very impressive, you watched the whole thing with 3D glasses. The other highlight was a very good Waterworld story that they re-enacted. Anyway we had a lot of fun and although it was expensive we would do it again. The best part was that we paid extra for a VIP card that let you go to the front of the line and we never had to wait to get in to anywhere. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Friday, October 13, 2006

We are in Marina Del Rey at the moment. It is actually south of Los Angeles, so we are close to all sorts of places. The first day here we took a bus to LAX and then into downtown LA. It was quite overwhelming, all the traffic and the hustle and bustle. I was worried that we would become separated and then never see each other again!!! LAX was huge, I bet there is more people working there than live in Yellowknife. We managed to find our way around to catch a bus to Union Station without getting lost which I figure is a major accomplishment.
When we were in LA we toured Chinatown and a Mexican part of town that had an old villa in it as well as an explanation of how LA get it's water. The Chinatown is quite different than San Francisco's not all squashed together but just little shops for about a 6 block radius. We needed a new blanket on board because it is now getting too warm for our down comforter, so I managed to dicker with a shop owner and get $2.00 off the price, well I was so pleased but then further down someone else was selling the blanket for $5.00 less, GEEESSEE!!!
Yesterday we rented bicycles and went for a 30 mile ride down the beach. We went past Venice Beach, past the Santa Monica Pier and out past Wiltshire Blvd. They acutally grade the beaches, they had big tractors that pull along and grader behind and it flattens all the sand and it is smooth and soft for 300 miles. What a treat riding along the bike path, flat, smooth with lots of room. There were all sorts of bicycles on the path, every kind you can imagine as well as in line skaters and skateboards. We still have the bikes so are going to head the other direction down the beach this morning to go under all the planes taking off from LAX.
There are 5 Canadian boats in the same marina as us, so have been enjoying their company as well. I think we are going to stay 2 more night and then head over to Catalina Island.
This picture, off course is off a movie shoot, I don't know if it is TV or a movie but it was just in the parking lot by where we rented the bikes

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We are at an anchorage called Smuggler's Cove. It is out of site of the mainland so boats used to come in here and drop anchor and be hidden from the mainland and they could do their nefarious deeds. In one of our cruising books someone describes viewing a drug deal go down when they were anchored here.
Anyways we went ashore yesterday. One of the other couples described how he tripped as he got off the dinghy and got soaked, so when we headed in I decided that I wouldn't wear my life vest that inflates if we gets wet, good thing. We paddled in instead of putting the motor on the dinghy and as we were timing the waves to go ashore Barry said Oh, oh and I looked around to see a big wave headed towards us. The next thing I knew I was on my butt in the water, completely all over wet. Barry says I just tumbled off ass over tea kettle, at least it was warm and it didn't take long to dry off. Barry enjoyed walking along the rocky part of the beach and he found some very nice agate.
We walked up the hills and looked at another anchorage around the corner and when we came back down to where we had left the dinghy we explored around an old house. There were all sorts of fruit trees growing in the yard, lemon, orange, figs, and walnut. There were also eucalyptus trees as well as an olive orchard growing up the side of a hill. We picked a couple of lemons and some very green oranges and smuggled them back to the boat to ripen, it is a National Park after all and you aren't supposed to take anything. The walnuts grow with a green soft outer shell with the nut inside. I brought one back onboard and baked it this morning, it was just yummy when we cracked it open and ate it.
Tonight we are having another Canadian couple over for Thanksgiving dinner. I have some turkey breast on board, but we are running out of fresh fruit and vegetables so will have to see what I can come up with to go with the turkey, also I am not sure how I am going to make gravy out of turkey breast that has no fat???? Wish me luck.
I think we will head to the mainland tomorrow, maybe Marina del Ray or perhaps Ventura, we will have to see where the wind takes us.
P.S. We did go around that island yesterday, we anchored in a rather dicey spot so Barry wouldn't leave the boat, so I went snorkeling by myself. I saw some California butterfly rays, They were just sitting on the bottom blending in with everything, I was extremely excited about seeing them. I am getting over my fear of the ocean a little but yesterday when I was in I ran into a piece of kelp and I just about jumped out of the water. My Oh MY the heart rate did get going!!!

There were four of these that came in and anchored in Smugglers Cove, Barry thinks they may be swordfishing boats, any ideas????

Monday, October 09, 2006

We enjoyed our day yesterday on Santa Cruz Island. We took the dinghy for a ride and went and visited a bunch of sea caves, they line the coast here. They are spooky places, when you go inside you can here the waves whooshing through the back of the cave making these wonderful echoes as the surf surges back and forth. In some spots there are mini blow holes and the water spurts up in a fountain, it only happens at a certain tide height though so you don't see it all the time. I convinced Barry to come in the water with me so we both dawned our wet suits and went snorkeling along the shore line and into one sea cave. You can really feel the tidal surge once you get inside the cave so we didn't go very deep, unsure if we would be able to swim out once we were in too deep. The colour in the water was fantastic, purple and plum coloured sea urchins and then red, purple and green starfish. We saw some kelp and it was neat to watch it wave back and forth under the water. We saw a few fish and some other queer looking sea life, I will have to get out my book to identify some of it.
We also went ashore and went for a hike. The used to be a ranch on this island so there are narrow gravel roads all over the place. We climbed up one road to the top of a hill and wandered along the ridge for awhile. There was supposedly an old oil well about 2.5 miles from where we started but we didn't have any water with us and Barry was starting to limp, he had forgotten his walking stick so we didn't attempt to find it. There were big plants that looked like over grown dill all over the place so I got brave and tasted the seeds, I think they must have been some kind of anisette because it sure tasted like licorice.
Not sure what the plans are for today, but there is another island that is about 12 miles long that I would like to circumnavigate. There aren't many good anchorages there so perhaps we can sail around it and come back here. Hope all you folks in Canada have a Happy Thanksgiving, I am not sure I could even find a turkey in the stores if I wanted to. We did by some turkey breast the other day so we will cook that up tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, October 06, 2006

We made it up to the Santa Barbara Mission. It was established in 1786 by Franciscan monks so it has been there for a long time. They still use the chapel for services. The grounds of the mission were very impressive and the view from the front of the mission was outstanding, it was up on the hillside and you could see the whole waterfront, an amazing spot. I was glad we went to visit and was particularly struck by the graveyard. It was the first time I had seen a mausoleum, where all the bodies are stacked up inside a building, oh Ilie, I probably saw one when we were in England but I have forgotten about it. The art that was done by the aboriginal people's when they were living around the mission was quite striking, all the handmade dies and the very intricate designs. Last night we went to the Santa Barbara Yacht Club and watched the Wednesday night races. What a lovely setting for a club, right on the water and the view of the beach from three sides of the building was spectacular. We watched a catamaran try and right itself for about 1/2 an hour, it was right in the middle of the racers and some had to move off their chosen path to go around it. The way they finally got up was some boat went over and sailed very close to wind ward to the cat and then in the lee of the sailboat the cat popped up and sailed away. Oh, by the way most people I have talked politics with out here with figure ARNIE is doing a pretty good job. One guy told us he does a lot of business in his cigar tent which he put up on the legislature grounds shortly after becoming governor. We headed back to the Channel Islands today. We had a great sail, about 20miles across the Santa Barbara Channel to Santa Cruz Island, and went to our chosen anchorage. It was called Diablo Anchorage and for good reason. The wind howled like the devil through there. There wasn't much swinging room and once the anchor had set we were uncomfortably close to these nasty looking rocks. Sooo, we hauled anchor and got the heck out of there and headed off to another anchorage about 12 miles away. This one is much more to our liking, but it is starting to roll a bit in here. If the anchor decides to let go during the night (which it won't) we have about 20 miles of room before we would hit anything so that is a very comforting thought. There is a lovely full moon out there tonight and it is lighting up the sea and the island, everything is bathed in this luminous glow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Santa Barbara is beautiful; the Spanish influence is everywhere, the architecture in particular as well as the street names and the people. It was a delight to stroll around town and see the large arches and cool spaces beneath in a lot of the public buildings as well as the adobe structures with the red roofs. There are palm trees everywhere as well as flowering hedges and exotic looking bushes lining the streets. I am hoping to get to the Santa Barbara Mission which was established way back when, when the Spanish monks came north from Mexico to make Christians of the aboriginals in the area. I am sure I will know more about it once I’ve actually been.
I think I have a premonition about the next ailment to strike the people of southern California. It is going to be some elbow problem perhaps lower forearm or could even affect their shoulders. This ailment is going to be caused by people tightly clutching their cell phones as they engage in recreational activities such as jogging, aerobic walking or bicycle riding. I can’t believe that people are so attached to their phones that they have to have them in their hot little hands even when they go for a run. It is truly a sad state of affairs.
We are not sure when we are going to leave, we quite like it here, it has been sunny and warm the last few days. We are doing some boat chores today, I am trying to repair some dings in the gelcoat and Barry is fixing a problem we had with the hole where the anchor enters the boat, Barry says it might be called the hawse hole, now you learned something today!!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

We are now in Santa Barbara, it is sunny and warm and we are going to explore the city today. We figured we would take a city bus and just see where it takes us. It gives you a good idea of what the city is like, showing you the architecture, the neighbourhoods and you can see quite a bit for very little money.
We had two pretty wild nights at anchor in the Channel Islands. The anchorages were protected from the direct wind, but it would funnel over the hills and just scream down over the water. It was hard to get back to sleep once you had been woken listening to the howling, banging and flapping that was going on above you on the deck and wondering if the anchor would hold. The anchor was a brick, did it’s job, no questions asked, we had a lot of chain out but it would still pull off the bottom so was a little dicey.
After the first night we were headed back across the Santa Barbara Channel when the winds dropped and Barry relented and we went back to the islands to a different anchorage to try another night. We went ashore on Santa Rosa Island, some of which is a National Park, which means that some isn’t. The part that isn’t allows hunting on it, I guess they hunt for stocked deer.
We had our first surf landing on Santa Rosa. The surf wasn’t too bad and I just got my pants a little wet. You have to time your arrival with a wave surge and then jump out and pull the dinghy up onto the sand before the next wave arrives, tricky but fun. I imagine it gets trickier the larger the surf. The rock formations along the shore were really fascinating.
The islands are all very dry, it is like stepping onto a part of southwestern Sask. or southern Alberta. There are grasses and thistles and everything is dry and dusty, but it had that wonderful sage smell to it. The smells brought back memories of a ranch we know in southern Sask. There are few trees, the one there are, are all bent over and misshapen due to the prevailing winds. They had all sorts of fencing up for horse or cattle paddocks, the fencing was broken down in parts and all the boards had moss and lichen growing all over them. I went for a walk to see if I could see what the campground was like and a plane dropped in on the island. It was quite unbelievable to see that plane in the middle of nowhere, as I watched it land I could see the pilot battling the winds, his wings were waggling much more than he would have liked I am sure. As I got closer I could see them loading deer horns on the plane, they were huge horns and I imagine the hunters were very pleased.
At our first anchorage we were the only souls around and there was one other boat at the second anchorage. There were about 5 small sailing kayaks, which were rigged as trimarans scooting around the bay, they were really moving and it looked like a whole wack of fun. We had our first rain since we have left Vancouver Island on our sail over to Santa Barbara. By the time we arrived here I was ready for a nice hot shower and to tied up in a nice safe marina.
We had a wonderful sail over to San Miguel Island today. It was about 23 nautical miles and we sailed the whole way, we made it here in just over 3 and 1/2 hours. The wind was on the beam, starting out about 10 knots and building to about 20,(hard to tell for sure without a wind speed indicator). Anyway Cat's Paw just flew across the water, we reefed and then double reefed and took in some foresail and she was still doing over 7 knots, yippee!! San Miguel Island is gorgeous, tall steep craggy hills with long beaches and sand dunes along the waters edges in the harbour we are in. There are huge sea lions frolicking around on the shore and pelicans soaring along in formation before they dive beak first into the water after their supper. There are some sea caves that need exploring as well.
We are unable to go ashore at the moment because it is howling up a good blow out there. There is a stiff west wind and it is sweeping down over the hills into the valley and straight at us. This is probably the most wind we have seen since the west side of Vancouver Island. We have lots of chain out and it seems to be holding just fine. The wind usually drops at night and we hope to get to shore in the morning when it is usually calmer. Not sure what the plans are tomorrow but the skipper is not happy with the anchorage we are in, due to the wind conditions, so I imagine we will move on.