We’re Caught in a Hurricane!! (for Halloween)

Hey Everyone – We have been having a blast here in San Diego!  We have met a bunch of new friends, biked all over the city, listened to great live music, attended free cruising seminars, crashed the Baja HaHa parties and found numerous ways to quickly burn our cruising kitty!

Yesterday we attended the Baja HaHa send off party at West Marine, got in for free (we met the bartender, Marc, through Marlene who we met in Avalon), and WON the costume contest!  It was a blast. Here is a pic of our ridiculous costume:


We came up with the idea an hour before the party.  We were sitting in a cantina enjoying lunch and contemplating how lame we would be if we showed up without a costume to a costume party.  We didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a costume so we thought up random ideas with what we had on hand.  We had two nasty old orange life jackets in the dinghy so that was prop #1.  Alyssa then found an idea online to turn umbrellas inside out and be “caught in a hurricane.”  It was an awesome idea.  We procured the umbrellas at the drug store down the street and then grabbed the lifejackets and some duct tape.  We taped a bunch of random stuff to us: newspaper clippings, leaves, sticks, etc.  IT WAS A TOTAL HIT!  Everyone at the party loved it and kept taking pictures of us.  They all persuaded us to enter the costume contest and WE WON!  They even gave us a West Marine gift card!  

So we aren’t enrolled in the actual HaHa event, we got in for free, paid very little for our last minute costumes and won a gift card!  It was a blast and we met a bunch of great people who we are meeting up with both here and down in Mexico.

We spent a bunch of money today at West Marine getting some final spares we wanted on board before we leave and we bought a ton of fishing tackle to ensure delicious free meals on our way south!

Well, back to the to-do list.  I am going to change the engine oil today and make sure it’s all tip top before we leave US waters next week.  Next on the list is a bunch of boring paperwork, making copies of everything, getting a Mexican fishing license, procuring Mexican boat insurance, mailing requested evidence to the tax man, fixing the watermaker and installing the Pactor modem.  Guess I better get back to work!

We’re in San Diego – But It’s Cold?!?!

Hey all – We made it safely into San Diego harbor last night and are anchored in the ‘cruisers anchorage’ on the east side of Shelter Island.  We are joking that we brought SF Bay weather with us because it’s cold and overcast here (high of 63)!  The friendly authorities that boarded us for an official ‘inspection’ last night promised sunshine by the weekend.  Guess we’ll have to wait and see…

This is a busy port!  All the helicopters buzzing around, navy and coast guard activity and then there is the airport a few hundred yards from us!  So much for the quiet serenity of Catalina!  We will have to get everything done here quickly and escape before the chaos of the city drives us crazy!

The anchorage is nicely protected and there are a bunch of friendly cruisers here that have already come up to Ellie to introduce themselves and offer any help we need – one guy even offered to take us anywhere we need in his truck!  Gotta love how nice cruisers are :-)

We are cleaning up Ellie and headed over to Marlene’s yacht club this afternoon.  She owns Egress and was moored next to us in Avalon.

Slove – you asked what happened to our watermaker.  Well, we burned the boost pump out in the delta by accidentally turning it on and burning the motor out.  In addition, the membranes are not producing up to the rated flow rate and membrane #2 is not even producing drinkable water.  The TDS readings were off the chart and we were making water with only one membrane while in Catalina.  Luckily, Rich with Cruise RO was cool enough to come meet us next week and replace everything under warranty!  Should be up and running 100% before we leave for Mexico!  

The plan is to be here through Halloween weekend and then we are crossing the border into MEXICO BABY!  Getting excited already!  Cheers all!

p.s. – This is your last chance to call us on the telephone!  We will be cancelling our cell phones right before we leave San Diego.  After we leave the states we will only be reachable via email, ssb radio and vhf radio.  So give us a call and let’s catch up!


Under Way for San Diego!

Good morning  from aboard Ellie.  We are under way for San Diego and expect to be in protected waters before dusk.  We pulled anchor at 0430 early this morning.  The conditions are calm and Alyssa just whipped up a delicious breakfast, her famous huevos rancheros. We’re about to lose our internet signal, but we thought we’d check in. The lights of Avalon are to starboard; it’s really a beautiful picture at night. We are really going to miss this island. We’ve anchored around Catalina for almost 2 weeks and it has surpassed expectations with calm protected anchorages, amazing diving, clear water, and great people.

We will be fixing our broken watermaker and installing a new pactor ssb modem while in San Diego.  We’ll update you all on progress sometime in the next week.

Have a great day!

Cabrillo Harbor, Catalina – I speared a Huge Fish!!

- – Here are a couple posts I made while swinging on the hook this week on the north east side of Catalina.  We are back in Two Harbors for a cruisers weekend event, anchored in little fisherman’s cove.  Hope everyone is having a great Friday!! – -

October 16, 2013

CabrilloHarbor, Santa Catalina Island, CA, USA

Ellie and I are gently rocking at anchor to a slight NE swell and wind chop from the 15 knot breeze coming down the canyon.  The sun just set on another great day in Catalina.

I awoke this morning to absolutely gorgeous weather.  It was already 75 degrees by 9am and the forecast was calling for highs in the mid-80’s.  The wind was a gentle 5-7 knots from the west.  The water around Ellie was glassy and crystal clear.

My workout this morning consisted of 15 minutes scaling the companionway stairs then stretching on the bow followed by a vigorous row from Ellie to the lee of Long Point to scout for a good dive site.  Since there was little to no swell I was able to row right up to the entrance to a sea cave.  The cave entrance was about 10 feet above the water level so I tied off the dinghy and ventured up the rocks and into the cave (barefoot of course).  Once I made it to the entrance I could clearly see light coming from the other side.  I walked in and could see out the other side – how awesome.  I returned to the dinghy, climbed in, shoved off and rowed around Long Point to investigate the other entrance to the cave.  On my way around the point I could see huge kelp beds below through great visibility.  There were schools of fish and bait balls dancing through the kelp; I was getting more than excited for my dive today.  I wasn’t able to enter the other side of the cave due to the surge so I set a course back to Ellie to gather my gear.

After breakfast I loaded up the dinghy with my dive gear and spear gun and headed back to the lee of Long Point.  I suited up and slipped below the surface and entered a spectacular show of sea life.  There were tons of sardines, many schools of top smelt, calico bass of all sizes, huge sheepshead and a variety of other fish I couldn’t even identify.  I was literally swimming through the schools of fish as they swirled and danced all around me – it was surreal and amazing.  I followed the edge of the kelp forest and descended to 65 feet, where the big fish live.  I saw a bunch of large male sheepshead but didn’t shoot any because I was unfamiliar with the fishing regulations (I read up and they are fair game – it’s on for tomorrow ;-).

On the way back I decided to enter the kelp forest and hunt for dinner.  I saw a bunch of large fish but I didn’t know which were protected and which were fair game so I was only looking for Calico Bass this time; and a big one.  The Calico’s were quick to swim away from me as the other species would swim right up to my mask; I assume this behavior is learned as they surely have been hunted here before.  I held off shooting a few decent size fish because I wanted a big one.  I swam through a dense patch of kelp and emerged near a vertical canyon about 20 feet high.  As soon as I cleared the kelp a massive Calico Bass appeared and was swimming into the canyon.  He hesitated a moment too long as he gave me enough time to line up the spear gun and WHAM!  The spear shot out and struck him though the stomach and he flailed wildly in circles trying to escape.  He was bleeding so I was scanning all around me in fear of competition from sharks.  No sharks, OK, have to secure my catch now.  I swam over to him and grabbed the spear, he flailed wildly again.  I grabbed him and pinned him against the rock.  I had forgotten my dive knife so I pulled the spear out and then stabbed him in the brain.  He was motionless.  I pushed the spear all the way through his head and scanned again for sharks.  I cautiously ascended back to the surface, expecting an encounter with jaws any moment.  Luckily no predators this time.  It was kind of crazy because here I am with a big Calico Bass on my spear, bleeding, and as I am ascending the other fish are still coming up to me like there is nothing wrong here and I am not a threat.  I guess that’s just how cut throat the wild can be.

Once back at the dinghy I strung the bass on my dock line and hung it in the water to keep it cool.  I went back down to try and secure another but the gig was up and the Calico’s had vanished.

I rowed back to Ellie, cleaned the fish and made lunch.  After lunch I decided a change of scenery was in order so I pulled anchor and motored a few miles up the coast to CabrilloHarbor.  The weather has been relatively benign so the entire coast seems like one huge anchorage.  I dropped the hook in 75 feet and went rowing again to scout more dive sites.  Looks like Little Gibraltar point is promising.

I almost had the entire cove to myself but two kayakers set up camp for the night on the beach.  I almost went ashore to meet them out of curiosity but was too tired and not feeling social so I relaxed in the cockpit and made some dinner.

The sun set on another great day.  Too bad the weather isn’t forecast to stay warm.  Guess it’s getting time to head south!


**Will upload more pics and video when connection allows**


Pirate’s Cove

October 15, 2013

Pirates Cove, Santa Catalina Island, CA, USA

I awoke this morning to the gentle rocking of Ellie in the slight west swell that wraps around the Casino breakwater on the north side of AvalonHarbor.  I think Ellie was getting a little restless being on a mooring for almost a week now; I know I was.  I made some breakfast and sat in the cockpit soaking up the morning sun.  It was warm, warmer than it has been; this is due to the NE flow brining warmth to the coastal waters from the desert.  After breakfast the harbor patrol boat came alongside and informed me that we had to clear out by noon or pay for the next two days; even though this wasn’t the arrangement we had with the harbormaster office, I decided to clear out to sea anyways.  I think both Ellie and I were fed up with the chaos and crowds of Avalon.  The final straw was seeing two cruise ships drop anchor just outside the harbor….we decided to get out of dodge, and quick.

Within 45 minutes I slipped both mooring lines and pointed Ellie’s bow to open waters.  Almost free of the immense minefield of moorings, of course a huge flotilla of idiots on kayaks blocks our path.  I keep steaming towards them with a slight optimism that they don’t want to be hit by a 40 foot ship…..but alas, they are idiots, and apparently they don’t understand that they would seriously lose in a collision.  I flip the transmission into reverse and stop Ellie in her track so that the village morons can go along on there merry way into oblivion.  Dodge the fishing boats, dodge the ferry, dodge the passenger shuttles, dodge the cruise ship, and finally free!  Whew!  Open water at last.  It feels great to be out again.  No more noisy harbor, no more chaos; just us and the sea.  Felt really great.

I unfurled the jib (because I was just too lazy to raise the full main) and turned off the engine.  Ellie was cruising along the warm, flat, clear water at a lazy 3 knots in only 8 knots of wind.  We sailed about 40 degrees off the wind and were headed for a point far enough off the island to donate the contents of our holding tank to the San Pedro Channel.  – – See when in Avalon, the friendly Harbor Patrol was nice enough to board us and put a dye tablet into our head (toilet).  That turns any discharge water bright neon yellow.  So if you dump overboard in the harbor, they immediately know about it and you are hung in the public square and they send your boat to the depths….ok, the consequences are probably not that bad, but we didn’t want to chance it. – -

On the way out to the dump site we saw a pod of pilot whales swimming just off our bow.  I hesitated about crossing their course but my curiosity got the better of me and we sailed right over them.  I got a great video of it! 

Once far enough off shore I flipped the switch to the macerator and out went the neon yellow contents, leaving a huge trail of evidence in our wake.  We then set a course almost due west towards Pirate’s Cove.  Once at Pirate’s Cove we sounded into the bay and dropped the hook in 60 feet of water.  I let 200 feet of chain out and then backed down hard – our trusty anchor caught immediately.  I let out another 40 feet of chain for good measure and a sound nights sleep and immediately launched the dinghy.

I rowed along the coast sounding the depth with our portable depth sounder and eying the depths below for sea life.  The visibility was superb; I could see straight down to the bottom in 30 feet of water!  I went close to the kelp beds and saw tons of fish and even a stingray trying to hide in the sand.  I got excited and rushed back to Ellie to gather my dive gear.  I didn’t even want to take a lunch break so I chowed down a clif bar while throwing my dive gear into the dinghy. 

I rowed back to the dive site, dropped the dinghy anchor over, suited up and dove in.  The swaying kelp was amazing.  The towering kelp stocks extended from the sea floor to the surface even out to 40-50 feet!  I cautiously made my way into the dense kelp jungle, being careful not to get hung up.  What a magnificent sight to see the sunlight peeking through the swaying kelp branches with fish of all sizes schooling around me.  There were many small bait fish of various types, many Gibraldi both juveniles and adults, tons of juvenile kelp bass and even a few huge suckers!  Note made that I had to bring my spear gun on the next dive to try and procure one of the big’ns. 

Towards the end of the dive I picked a spot against a large rock, deflated my BC and sank to the sea bed.  I sat there on my knees for about 15 minutes just observing the fish and immensity of life all around me.  Once I was sitting idle the fish actually came up to me out of what I assume was curiosity.  It was quite comical because the large Gibraldi came up, then the juveniles, then some more, until they were all swimming up as if to say hello.  I watched as a fish worked diligently to remove the sand from around a rock; not sure why he was doing it but I assume it was to find bits of food in the sand around the rock. 

I also watched as a kelp clingfish used his unique color, shape and grace to dance in rhythm with the swaying kelp plant.  It was amazing to watch him use the plant for disguise.  I shot a video of it – see if you can spot him the whole time. 

I surfaced with 1500 psi still remaining in my tank because sitting on the sea bed and not moving my muscles had brought on the cold pretty quickly.  I rowed the dinghy back to Ellie and off loaded all the gear.

I took a warm shower, soaked up some warm sunshine, sat in the cockpit and read and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. 

There is little swell running.  There is no wind.  It’s warm.  We are tucked inside a well protected anchorage.  I hear gulls, pelicans and seals enjoying a sumptuous dinner to be sure.  The only thing missing is my best friend (she is visiting her aunt this week in Newport).

Here’s to the sun setting on another magnificent day in Santa Catalina; and looking forward to what tomorrow has in store. 

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**Will upload more pics and video when data connection allows**     

Hangin’ with the Rich and Famous in Avalon on Catalina Island!

Well, after riding out the rain storm in Cat Harbor we decided a change of scenery was in order so today we motored around the island and caught a mooring ball in Avalon for the week!  It’s absolutely beautiful here!  There is so much action it’s a bit of sensory overload.  There is a jazz festival going on this weekend so the mooring field is suppose to be completely full.  They had a deal going on for the moorings – if you buy 4 nights you get the next 3 complimentary – so we splurged and are going to be tied to this mooring for a week!  So all our friends who live in LA – GET ON THE FERRY AND MEET US OUT HERE!!  Our cell phones work here so give us a call and let’s meet up!

Here are a few pics of landfall and the view from our cockpit.  I’ll upload more this week!

Oh, and I updated the location page in case you have been living in a cave and don’t know where Avalon is ;-)  I’ll try and upload pics from the channel islands while we’re here.

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Anchored in Sunny Santa Catalina Island – Swell Free At Last!!

Hey all, we are moored in Santa Catalina in Catalina Harbor on the south west side of the island. We arrived early this morning after a 22 hour overnight passage from Forney’s Cove on the west side of Santa Cruz Island, a total distance of 88 nautical miles.  We made it to 33 degrees north!!  After trying our hardest to find a decent anchorage on Santa Cruz we finally gave up yesterday morning and pulled anchor at 0900 and pointed Ellie’s bow south bound for Cat Harbor, a nicely protected cove on Santa Catalina Island.  We are in relatively flat water and loving it!

So, as an update, we left Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon around 1300 and sailed across the SB channel over lumpy seas because of the remnants of the NE swell from the strong Santa Ana winds over the weekend.  They were bouncing off the islands and coming back at us in a SE direction so it made for a raucous passage.  Luckily the wind stayed above 15 knots so we could sail across the channel.  We arrived at Forney’s cove and anchored amongst fellow cruisers and enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous sunset.  That night was torrential; we were getting tossed about in 35 knot winds coming straight down the canyon into the anchorage; oh, and we had some huge rocks and a reef as a lee shore – perfect!  We stayed up and took shifts watching our position and making sure we weren’t dragging anchor.  A Trimaran that was anchored off our port bow dragged backwards, through the immense kelp beds and within 50 feet of the rocks and reef!  Luckily it seemed his ground tackle held and he didn’t run aground.  Another yacht off our starboard bow was dragging but caught within 50 feet from us so we danced around our anchors within striking distance all night which was hair raising.  Around daylight the wind let up and we were able to get a few hours of sleep.  Our anchor didn’t move an inch all night.  Did I mention that we LOVE OUR ANCHOR!?!

The next day was a real treat.  The NE flow brought warm weather and calm winds and a low swell that we thoroughly enjoyed.  We both dawned swim suits and basked in the warm sunshine.  I sat in front of the dodger in my awesome arm chair with my kindle and read while Alyssa soaked it up and read along side me.  In the afternoon we dropped the dinghy into the water and I loaded it up with my fishing arsenal: pole, tackle box, net, spear gun, mask, multi tool, and radio.  I rowed over to the reef and tied off to a long stock of kelp, dawned my mask and looked below.  The visibility was 30-40 feet and I could see a few rock fish and sea bass swimming on a pinnacle down below me.  I dropped my fishing gear into the water, a double squid rig, and after a couple minutes of jigging was hooked up with a 18″ sea bass!  Dinner!!  I rowed back to Ellie and delivered my catch to the chef!  We cleaned it on our folding fish table and packed it in the fridge – we are bringing it over to s/v FYFM tonight to share for dinner :-)

That night the weather deteriorated and a huge W swell rolled into the anchorage and by the early morning hours was tossing Ellie beam-to-beam even with our flopper stopper poled out on the boom.  We couldn’t sleep and decided to bag the channel islands and head to a better protected anchorage on Catalina Island.  

We pulled anchor at 0900 and sailed due south until we cleared the island then set a course of ESE about 100 degrees and set the monitor windvane.  We sailed this course for the next 16 hours and made a few sail changes in the process to deal with the variable winds.  About 18 nm south of the east end of Santa Cruz Island I heard an announcement that the coast guard was conducting live firing south of Santa Cruz Island; the coordinates that gave were very close to our location!  Oh sh!t, what was the exact location they said?!?!  I radioed the coasties on channel 22A and asked they repeat the coordinates.  They came back with a location that was 7nm SE of our location and they advised we keep at least a 5nm berth; uh, hell yes we will!  I diverted our course to take us north of the firing location and we skirted within 7.5nm of the firing.  We didn’t see or hear any firing but it could have been muffled in the dense fog.

After avoiding being fired on by our nations finest, we had a nice sail south while trailing two tuna lures and we enjoyed a nice sunset while riding down 5-7 ft wind swell and being pushed down wind by 10-14 knots of wind.  We enjoyed a delicious hot dinner of leftover chinese food that Alyssa made and then I took a nap.  Alyssa woke me around midnight and let me know that there were two huge tankers only 1.5 miles off our stern …..  WHAT?!  After assessing the situation, she correctly read the nav lights and they were safely taking our stern and headed straight for Long Beach…ok, we don’t get run down tonight….that’s good.

Alyssa went down below to take a nap and I was on watch from 0000 to 0330.  This was one of the most fun watches I have ever had because I was so used to being in rough seas that being down below didn’t faze me at all and I spent most of my watch at the nav station watching radar and the instruments while also watching a movie!  I watched the naval film Master and Commander!  It was awesome!  So, here I am in the middle of the ocean, it’s pitch black outside, the only sounds I hear are the water rushing past the hull and the occasional flogging of the sails, and I am watching an epic naval film about battle in tall ships on the high seas!  Does it get much better than that?!?  I don’t think so.  It was awesome.  And yes, I did go up topside every 10-15 minutes to check for nav lights, buoys, etc.

After my shift ended I woke up the very reluctant Princess and she took over until daylight when we were only 3-4 miles off Catalina.  We motored into the harbor over glassy seas just after daybreak and had the anchor down and set hard by 0800.  No swell, no wind waves, great protection, great holding ground … oh, ya – we may stay a while :-)

We met up with Allan and Rina on s/v FYFM (Alyssa’s parents boat) who have been down here in Catalina all week.  We all had lunch and enjoyed some much deserved rum punch on the beach at twin harbors.  Now it’s off to dinner to eat my fresh caught fish!  

Life is good.  Dreams do come true.  Stay tuned because this can only get better.  



p.s. – We are planning to be here for a week of longer so I promise to upload pics and video!!  (seriously this time)

Back in SB!

We are back in Santa Barbara for a couple days after spending a great week on Santa Cruz Island! The forecast is calling for gale force Santa Ana winds that blow offshore from the mainland. They are suppose to kick up this evening and persist until Saturday evening. We decided that instead of getting tossed about in an unprotected anchorage, we would make the leisurely 4-5 hour sail back to sunny Santa Barbara; so far we made an excellent call :-)

We just went on a run along the waterfront. There were palm trees and mountains to the north and the beach and ocean to the south. It was beautiful and seemed like we were running through a movie scene!

We plan to spend the next day or two here before heading back out to the islands and then Catalina.

We’ll try to make some posts while here to share our experience at the channel islands. We had an amazing sail out, escorted by dolphins of course! Then we spent the night in a tight (and sketch) berth deep inside Frys harbor, then sailed to Little Scorpion anchorage for a few nights where I speared my first fish while diving!! Then we stayed a very rolly and uncomfortable night at Smugglers Cove before returning to the mainland yesterday.

Will try to upload pics and video later but may not have enough ‘down time’! We’re going to explore downtown today and then there are the obligations that get in the way like happy hour at the the endless summer beach bar ;-)

Hope everyone is having a great Friday! We miss you all!