So our sail went on up the coast to the north end of Santa Catalina island to Two Harbors, the day was beautiful. Hot, sunny with gleaming blue water surrounding us after the morning fog broke.
My feeling that the cruising life was definitely something I enjoyed was reiterated as we sailed closer to the Two Harbors port. Like Avalon, we were met by cheerful harbor patrol boats, that took the anchorage fee, told us which hook to connect to then left us to tie up and relax after the very enjoyable sail…tis a hard life, it is Saturday after all, as Steely and the Whey to Go Admiral states…everyday :-). Which was another reason to define the cruising lifestyle as rather blissful…Every day is Saturday!
The dingy lowered and boat-bound crew loaded themselves and gear into it for an afternoon stroll through the little port shops, grab an ice-cream and a ramble over to the second harbor.
Yes, it actually is named Two Harbors for a reason, as the tip of Santa Catalina has a small stretch of land where two harbors divot into each other. What looked on a map to be a couple of miles walk turned out to be a shorter than expected…15 minutes of grueling sheer cliff faces! No not really, but it sounds better than a pleasant 5 minute meander over scorched brown dusty turf dotted with an occasional tree.
The land and heat were similar to the Southern end of
Catalina Island but the northern harbors were beautiful with no cars in sight, a few stores that blend into the small community, pelican’s and arctic tern’s dive-bombing to feast on the small fish that were spawning, and a meandering road heading off to the pacific edge of the island. Of course that was where some of the crew wandered, not all fearing another ‘Gillian’s Island’ adventure, soon part of the crew wandered back to the wee local bar, and others stayed put and photographed the birds in fascination – what a spectacle they were.
And so the camera SD card was filled … and lost due to a computer glitch…ahh the trials of a photographer [sigh].
Santa Cruz was the next port of call, the 10 hour sail had us leaving pre-dawn. The anchor was hauled, sails readied, course plotted and we were off. I had my role on the mighty sailing vessel…barista for the crew on watch.
In fact there were several roles doled out by the Cap’n and the Admiral …Best Mate, who asked Cap’n Steely enough questions of all the intricacies of the boat, it’s engines, its safety preparation, and electronics to fill a book filed away in his head, the Bosun who as soon as the anchor was dropped in any port of call tried to con as many of the crew as possible to jump off the mighty Whey-to-go – some like the coffee barista were rather dubious, deciding that jumping off a perfectly good vessel for fun was not
something she felt the need to participate in to get the full enjoyment of cruising life again. Then there was the cabin girl…who literally loved her spacious first class cabin, book, and the comforts associated with it so much, she came back to Alaska whiter than she arrived. Lastly, but not least, was the Operations Chief who ensured that the electronic devices needed to ensure correct direction, speed and all else that make the boat go where it should, was actually removed from the box, turned on, data entered and correct course plotted.
Santa Cruz, the largest of the Channel Islands at the top of the group. The sail around the North end to our planned anchorage appeared to be lacking in the excitement of a port with harbor patrols, other boats associated with the civilization of Avalon and Two harbors. Which mattered not too all, except the young bo’sun and cabin girl, for this meant there would be forced hikes and all the extensive exercise disliked by those of that age group.
The older Whey-to-Go crew looked forward to a chance to visit the historical Island and yes indeed, a couple of hours of wandering around. This was not quite the expected story of exploration and fun…remember the crew of the ‘Minnow’ and a four-hour tour? Well, with the first mate taking the lead saying…”oh just a bit further…check this out!…oh look…” and then striding off gallantly immediately after the crew had finally caught up to see what he was pointing at. So the Whey-to-Go crew and the Minnow had something in common…the 2 hour tour extended version.
What Santa Cruz did offer apart from the energetic excursion, was a wonderful look at a rare California commodity – a wilderness where a native fox lives, extraordinary sea caves, sandy beaches and coves that echoed long since passed histories of sheep and cattle ranchers, otter hunters, fishermen and smugglers. During the second world war it was used as an early outpost looking for ships and planes, and indeed became integral in the Cold War as a communications station of the Pacific, which is still in operation, although not at the same levels as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. This delightfully fascinating island now is part National Reserve and part owned by the Nature Conservancy which facilitates scientific research and education.
The next morning had the crew rousing for an early start, heading to Santa Barbara on the coast of California. Which from Santa Cruz was a short 20 mile morning jaunt. The ocean was full of life, with sea lions and dolphins, and the sky full of bird. Yes, this cruising boat life is a very pleasant one indeed.
Now Santa Barbara if you have not been there, is a rather hot bed of color, sounds and sights rolled into a county that has made the transition from a coastal beach community to modern city full of ethnic diversity, adobe color and architecture, and a blissful Mediterranean-style temperatures and beach life.
With a rich history in native American, Spanish, Mexican and Rancho periods of colonialism, the effects of a country that has been through two World Wars, all rolled into what to this day one of my favorite places, still has the term ‘quaint’ whispered in the ocean breezes.
Several of the Whey-to-Go crew departed the sailing adventure in Santa Barbara and headed back to a green and not so temperate climate, while the other’s continued onto what was an epic maiden cruising voyage. With Moro Bay, Monterey and San Francisco being ports of call.
Yes, I think I could say that the cruising life would be one I could easily step aboard for again, especially on the Whey-to-Go with it’s hospitable and wondrous Cap’n and Admiral who always is willing to put way-ward sailors to work.