Originally we planned to spend two weeks hopping down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles but we had such a great time in the coastal towns along the way that, in the end, we took five weeks to complete the passage. We lingered in Morro Bay for almost a week but eventually managed to uproot ourselves to continue the voyage around Point Conception and onwards into Southern California.
Point Conception is the headland which marks the corner between the mostly north-south trending coast in Central California and the east-west trending coast near Santa Barbara. It has a bad reputation for strong winds and rough seas but we had a beautiful sail with a 15-20 kt breeze in smooth seas. We rounded the point and dropped anchor in Cojo Anchorage, a small cove just behind it with a fantastic view of the lighthouse.
From Cojo we wanted to cross the Santa Barbara Channel to visit the Channel Islands but thunderstorms and sheet lightning were forecast for the next evening. We preferred to be anchored in the more protected bay at Santa Barbara where hopefully there would be a yacht close by with a taller mast than ours! We enjoyed cycling around the city and visited the Mission which is one of the few remaining old buildings left standing after the 1925 earthquake that destroyed much of the downtown area. The Mission was the tenth to be built in California by the Franciscans back in the early 1800s and is the only one which still operates as a Franciscan Friary.
While we were in Santa Barbara we found a fantastic community bike shop which rebuilds donated bikes and sells them, in the process teaching people how to repairs bikes. It also sells second hand parts and provides tools, space and expertise for people to come in and work on their bikes at a minimal cost. We had a fine time giving our pitifully rusty pushies some much needed TLC and now they are running like a dream.
The sea breeze almost always picks up here in the afternoons giving a fairly steady 20kt westerly which blows until the sun goes down. We had a fantastic sail across from Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands. Once we’d anchored we pumped up our inflatable kayak and had great fun paddling amongst the caves and sea arches which characterize the steep northern shore. The anchorage at Little Scorpion Cove has a small sandy beach so we could go ashore and climb up the path for a walk along the cliff tops. It was a glorious sunny day, the visibility was sensational and it was great to see Distant Drummer anchored in the bay below us with Anacapa Island in the background.
From Santa Cruz Island we headed to Ventura where we wanted to get the mainsail re-sewn. Having split a seam rounding Point Sur it was quite probable that the stitching of the other seams was also weak so it had to be done. We tied up at the Ventura Yacht Club and Gary (from Ullman Sails) dropped by to pick up the sail. He had it re-stitched it and got it back within 48 hours – he sure moves quicker than we do!
The yacht clubs in North America have a brilliant system of reciprocity and offer free moorage and hospitality to cruisers visiting from other clubs. We met local sailors Elizabeth and Alan on the dock and were invited to a pot luck at the Ventura Yacht Club. We had a warm welcome and a lovely evening chatting with the locals, listening to a few yarns and gaining a bit of local knowledge about favourite spots. We planned to stop in Paradise Cove on the way to Marina del Rey but were warned that the Pacific swell wrapped around Point Dume and the anchorage was often rolly. We were lucky and spent two gorgeous days there and had a great time snorkelling with about twenty sea lions at the point – they were curious and circled playfully around us, often coming in for a closer look.
The Malibu coast between Paradise Cove and Marina del Rey is home to some of the hottest real estate in the world. We enjoyed gawping through the binoculars at the luxurious beach houses and the palaces in the hills above as we sailed by. The beach houses were mostly expensive boxes on pilings above a thin strip of sand but the estates in the hills were incredible – no expense spared and no architectural fantasy unfulfilled.
We stopped for a few days in Marina del Rey and were warmly welcomed at the Del Rey Yacht Club and the California Yacht Club – we’re really getting into this reciprocal system. MDR was the closest kick-off point for us to Hollywood so we had a crazy time sightseeing – but that’s a whole other blog all by itself!
Now we are in San Pedro, the port district on the south side of Los Angeles, and somehow another week has flown by. We aren’t in a hurry; we have a month or more before the end of the hurricane season in the Caribbean and Mexico, so we’re going to hang out here with our friends Britta and Tom and enjoy the SoCal sunshine.
Ciao for now