Yesterday we shed our foul weather gear for bathing suits and something about that gorgeous sun on our sickly white, translucent bodies just made it feel official. Our trip has begun! Until yesterday we had been sailing day and night fully clad from head to toe, with only a little slit for our eyes between where the winter hat left off and the collar of our fully zipped foul weather jackets began. Unlike Erik, I had the luxury of my finger tips basking in the sunlight since I had decided on fingerless sailing gloves, but still you get the point, not a lot of warm weather on the way down. Due to the timing of our departure, the first of February, we have had a painfully slow trip down the California coast dodging storms, crab pots, and a severe lack of wind. The one thing that San Francisco did not prepare us for was how to sail in such alarmingly light air. Our tried and true response to the incessant luffing of a sail has always been to turn to the iron genny, but that method is not going to work for much longer. If we keep feeding Resolute diesel the way we have been our own food budget is going to start feeling the sting.
We arrived in Santa Catalina four days ago, after a brief stop over in the rugged, breathtaking northern Channel Islands. At their closest point, the northern Channel Islands are a mere 30 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, however, we had them all to ourselves. Well, not entirely to ourselves if you count the large pod of playful dolphins that escorted us both into our anchorage and out two days later. Our first stop in Catalina was the small town of Two Harbors. We arrived just as the sun was rising, which made a surreal scene that much more otherworldly. Laid out in front of us was approximately 200 mooring balls with a backdrop of soaring cliffs, and a small Mediterranean looking village with skinny palm trees reaching skyward. Our gawking abruptly transitioned to full on go mode when we saw the location where Charlie’s Charts directed us to anchor. A tight little beauty with cliffs on one side, partially submerged rocks on the other. It turned out to be quite spacious with the use of a bow and stern anchor to prevent any swing, however, a couple days later when we woke up to 4 other boats trying to share the 200 square foot anchorage, we knew it was time to go.
Another reason for leaving the quaint little spot came the night before in the form of harbor patrol steaming up to our boat. We waved a friendly hello to the rapidly approaching patrol boat, naively assuming they were there to welcome us to the area similar to the gracious greeting we received by harbor patrol upon arrival in Morro Bay several weeks earlier. As the boat pulled along side of us the man behind the wheel quickly revealed the bad news. We had been banned from the island. Yes, you read that correct, we had been banned….from the island. My jaw dropped to the cockpit floor, then remembering my gullible tendencies I began to laugh, I had been duped again, harbor patrol must be having a little fun with the newbies. But unfortunately, I was wrong, again, it took him several minutes to convince me he was not joking. I abruptly stopped laughing and he explained the reason for our banishment. It turns out the outdoor beach showers that you see littered along public beaches across Florida and California, were on Catalina privately owned and were only to be used by people staying at the campgrounds. Ooops! After a long talk with harbor patrol and a couple trips to and from our boat, we lessened our banishment to only the campground itself, like I said before, it was time to go.
Following our bathing suit clad motor sail yesterday we arrived at the indescribably beautiful Small Harbor anchorage on the south side of Catalina. There is a small campground along the beach (with showers we will not use!) and a vehicle pull out, but overall the place is pretty empty and we are the only boat for miles. We are trying to enjoy a little of the slower more relaxed lifestyle we came on this trip to pursue, but so far has just felt like another to do item on the list. As I sit here in this pristine cove I am reminded the daunting list of boat projects to be completed, phone calls to be made, and trip plans to be finalized, all can wait. The sun here will set at precisely 5:56 pm and it will rise again at 6:13 am tomorrow morning bringing with it a whole new set of things to do. I will let them wait…