Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Harrowing or exciting? (written 12/03/2008)

Although sad to say goodbye, day-17 (December 2nd) as we found ourselves looking at Arch Rock, the eastern tip of the northern Channel Islands, we decided to head back toward mainland and continue our trip south. Once past the shipping lanes we set a course downwind toward Point Dume and Paradise Cove, the next available downwind anchorage and settled in for the relaxing ride. Then we checked our messages. We had just missed Chris’ Mom Jane and stepfather Abe who had just arrived from their East Coast summer and Central American travels to Santa Barbara the day before. Now 30-miles south (and more importantly downwind) we reached another decision point. We decided hurrying south just wasn’t everything. We came about, prepared the boat for upwind travel and we again found ourselves beating toward Santa Barbara. As the sun set beautifully behind the northern Channel Islands and the sliver of moon met dazzlingly with planets Venus and Jupiter we braced for the new heading- Ventura Harbor.

As we were again clawing our way upwind, the wind switched slightly and unfortunately directly where we were headed and then diminished leaving us flogging into the swells. We fired up the trusty engine and continued on. A couple hours later, Shawn down below navigating, noticed Chris seemed a bit tense from on deck. The thin fog had settled in and turned dense, not a good sign when attempting landfall during night at an unfamiliar and reputedly dangerous entrance. As even the stars above disappeared, Shawn triple timed plotting GPS positions on the chart and Chris was steering a straighter course than ever. We navigated this way methodically following three pre-entered waypoints toward a supposedly flashing red marking a half mile off shore and the mouth of the Santa Clara River and what can be nasty breaking waves. We agreed that if from the final waypoint we could not see the flashing “2UV” buoy we would head back out for a sleepless, but safer night at sea. Just when we were both ready to admit we may have to turn back, magically the flashing buoy appeared. And soon after, the harbor entrance red and green flashers appeared, the fog was lifting- slightly, but enough. (Not religious people, we later confided to each other that we had both been praying to the Universe and Oceans). At 2030 we thankfully found the slip that we had called ahead for (10 minutes before the office closed) and let out a huge sigh of relief as we tied up at a dock for the first time in nearly 18 days! Sometimes going with the flow is the right choice. Thanks, Jane, for instigating this unexpected respite time for recuperation and visiting.


  1. Guys: if you're here, feel free to call. First round is on me.

  2. i'm so happy to see your journals on the blog. shawn, you're a wonderful writer. your prose is so smooth and graceful, easy on the ol eyes and i'm right there with you (as they say in the business, nice "showing" language as opposed to "telling"). I'm such a dork. keep 'em coming. LOVE IT!!!

  3. Looks like you are having a fun and exciting trip so far. wish I had known you were heading out a little could have stopped over in Morro Bay and had dinner. if you are ever in town (or nearby) drop me a line. Q- says "Hi"

  4. Hi Guys! Though I don't speak sailing, I do speak adventure and you guys are sure at it! Sending you heaps, nay, mountains of love! Let me know when you've anchored (moored?) in a warm crystal blue bay with gentle rolling shore breaks. Hata and I will find you for some cold beers and fresh fish tacos......
    xoxo maggie

  5. Hope all is well and thinking of you both

  6. Beautiful adventures... I hope the wind stays at you back for a while.