Baba BarAnn Around the Pacific


Chapter 4 - Monterey to Santa Barbara


We liked Monterey so much we stayed there four nights. It was fun watching the sea lions, pelicans, and otters, although I never got used to the stupid barking of those dumb sea lions. I mean all night long they would bark. The only quiet time seemed to be between 0600 and 1100. We went to the world famous sea aquarium. Yes, it's quite a bit nicer than Seattle's. We restocked at Safeway. We've noticed that the Safeway's here in California [detailed map of northern CA]don't seem to be quite as nice as the ones in Western Washington. However, they do sell scotch! We walked all over town, trying to find some ink jet paper for the Diconix. SIX stores later we found it, and bought 3 packages. That should last a long while. We also picked up photographs which REI developed and sent to the Monterey P.O., General Delivery. These included several shots covering the trip to San Francisco. Richardson's Law is "The amount of fun is proportional to the number of dumb photos." We obviously had a lot of fun. The dumbest pictures were taken with the camcorder, but we really enjoyed them.

From Monterey the next stop was San Simeon, more than 90 miles away - about 15 hours. Due the length of the passage, and the likelihood of fog upon arrival, it was prudent to leave Monterey at 1800, in order to arrive during the day. When we tried to weigh the stern anchor in Monterey, it wouldn't budge. Using the boat's engine to apply some real pressure . . . snap, the anchor rode broke. Boy was I ticked off to leave my Danforth stern anchor and some chain on the bottom of the bay. I'm sure it's down deep enough so that no one will have a problem like we had in the Delta, and it wasn't a floating polypropylene line.

The overnight passage was not without its thrills. About midnight, with Candace on watch, we came nose to nose with a very large freighter. They had decided to cut directly in front of us. Candace kept trying to stay on the RIGHT, like she's suppose to, while the freighter kept turning to port, crossing in front. Finally, both boats took sharp turns to the LEFT to avoid collision. She'd been watching this freighter for at least six miles. It was going to pass slightly to our port. Then, all of a sudden, it decided to turn in front of us! At midnight! In perfectly clear weather!

Just before arriving in San Simeon, we saw two sharks. They were moving slowly, as close as 50 feet away. Above the sea surface we could see a dorsal fin . . . a black, equilateral triangle, about 18 inches on each side. It seemed pretty large to me.

Hearst Castle.jpg (20369 bytes)San Simeon was very pretty. The cove had only four sailboats, two power boats, and two fishing boats. There were several otters . . . no sea lions. The next day we rowed the dinghy into shore, and walked about a mile to catch the bus for the Hearst Castle tour. If you ever get a chance, don't miss it. It was one of the most enjoyable, interesting place I'd been to this side of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

When we got back to the dinghy, later that afternoon, the "surf was up" (perhaps only 2 feet) and we had to launch the dinghy through the waves. We need a lot more practice. Candace and I were on opposite sides of the dinghy, standing in shallow water and trying to time the waves so we could get over them before they broke. I shouted "GO" and started pushing the dinghy out into deeper water. Candace thought "GO" meant get in the dinghy. What a disaster! We took on one wave that soaked us and filled the dinghy with about 6 inches of salt water. But the weather was nice, the water wasn't too cold, and we got back to the boat safely.

The next day, Sunday October 8, we went to San Luis Obispo Bay. The seas were too rolly there, and we were glad to leave the next morning, for the trip around Pt. Conception. This is the big turning point. It separates Northern/Central California from Southern California. One book calls this point the "Cape Horn of the Pacific." We were lucky to have very calm weather. It blew 22 knots, right on our nose, at Pt. Arguello, but by Pt. Conception it was about dead calm. We spent the night about three miles east of the infamous point, in a windy spot called Cojo Anchorage.

Tuesday, another very calm day, we motored to Santa Barbara. We encountered about six offshore oil rigs, but no real excitement. The last few days, since San Simeon, I've enjoyed reading the autobiography of Marion Davies who was W.R. Hearst's mistress. She was really beautiful. She sounds like an air head, but I'm sure she was darn sharp.

We're looking forward to replacing our Danforth anchor, getting our mail, and doing several chores in the big city, Santa Barbara. We haven't done laundry since Benicia three weeks ago.

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Santa Barbara

On October 10 we motored into Santa Barbara and spent the night at a rolly anchorage, east of Stearns Wharf. It's been pretty disappointing that we've had to motor so much since leaving San Francisco. But the motor has loved the exercise.

We really liked Santa Barbara. Can you believe we spent 13 days there? A record. Laundry done; much provisioning at super markets; several trips downtown. We replaced the Danforth anchor (left in Monterey Bay) with a Fortress. According to Practical Sailor and the U.S. Navy, they're better than Danforth. Yes, it cost almost $100 more! Instead of waiting for San Diego, we decided to haul and get our bottom painted in S.B. Out on Thursday and back in the water by Friday night. The service was great. We only had to live one night "on the hard," climbing up and down a ladder to home. They also tapped out some of the crinkles that the prop accumulated in the Delta. 

Both Candace and I couldn't help remark about differences between Seattle and California. Several times I made many calls in Seattle, just trying to find someone who would be willing to do some work. In California, not only have the providers of service been willing to provide service, but they have been eager. The quality of service has always been equal, and usually better, and the price hasn't been higher (maybe even a little bit less) than what we'd expect in Seattle. This has really been puzzling to us.

For example, service at West Marine in Seattle is generally quite good. But we've perceived that the salespeople feel a little pressured to help someone else if we can't make up our mind right away. It seems that the California stores have fewer customers. Thus, the salespeople seem to be in no hurry to leave you, and get on to someone else. They're quite willing to give you all the time you need. I hate to beat this concept to death, but it's so completely different from our expectations, that I can't help dwelling on it a bit. Bus drivers have been friendlier and more personable, ditto with super market checkout clerks, and other salespeople.

Well, that wave we took in the dinghy, getting back to the boat in San Simeon, was a Hell of a lot more damaging than we could have expected. Saltwater ruined BOTH the camcorder and our 35mm camera. We took the camcorder to a repair store in S.B. They estimated that it would cost $500 to fix it. We said no thanks. Even if they fixed it, the camera would be just as vulnerable to the next wave. Our Canon AE-1 was about 12 years old and likewise not worth repairing. We figured it was a $1,500 wave we hit in San Simeon. Pretty expensive lesson!

In Santa Barbara we bought a Nikon camera that can be taken 10 feet below the surface. It's an automatic everything camera, but should be able to take the saltwater environment very well. We've never thought that automatic focus cameras did a good job. Candace even prefers to set the speed and aperture herself. Auto loading, winding, and unloading are just battery wasters. Anyway, that's what we've got now. Partially because of the camera, with its two AA batteries, we bought some rechargeable batteries at Radio Shack, as well as the recharger. We also bought some rechargeable batteries for the Diconix printer. Our computer printer can run on batteries; five rechargeable "A" batteries fit inside the platen.

We also put a completely new ham radio antenna up. It was a cheap $8.00 one from Radio Shack, but it worked fairly well. We used one of the ham radio nets and contacted someone in Tacoma for a telephone patch to Alex on Mercer Island. We hope to use the ham radio a lot more now that our rig is working so well.

In S.B. I also wired in a cigarette lighter. It seems that all DC systems get their juice from cigarette lighters! Of course, that's because most people only have DC systems in their car, and they can get access to the battery most easily via the cigarette lighter. We use the lighter primarily to plug in our 300,000 candle power spot light (good for checking out anchorages at night.) However, I've discovered that another great use for the lighter is to melt the ends of freshly cut nylon lines. Works great.

In Santa Barbara I also improved our anchor equipment. On the bow roller, we have a 45 pound CQR backed with 175 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon rode. We also have a Danforth plow (similar to a CQR) backed with 6 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon. With only six feet of chain, its lower weight makes it easy to row for a second bow anchor.

Hanging on the stern pulpit we have the new Fortress anchor. In the lazarette there's a duffel bag with 6 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon rode.  To set a stern anchor, the bag can be easily lifted up, rode attached to the stern anchor, and then rowed out in the dinghy. Then you drop the anchor and row back to the boat, paying out line. Of course you must be sure not to drop the anchor too far from the boat!

We generally just drop the main CQR at 25-35 feet, and let out four to one scope. After making sure it's set, we then put on our anchor bridle. That's a single chain hook with two 25 foot lines attached . . . one leading to each of the port and starboard haws holes. The bridle not only provides an elastic snubber for the chain, but also keeps the chain off our bowsprit when the tide changes. So, with the bridle, it ends up being about 5:1 scope. Of course, tight anchorages demand less scope, and more open-to-the-weather anchorages beg for more.

In S.B. I spent a lot of time researching solar panels and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) systems. Despite the nice price (now down to $2,550) and cute, compact size, I'm not that impressed with the Magellan GPS. I think that more expensive systems may work a lot better. I'm waiting for the prices to drop some more on GPS. At the moment, I don't like ARCO solar panels. They seem to have the most amps per square foot and per dollar, but they're heavy, cumbersome, and breakable. Solvonics are nice and flexible, but don't provide as much juice per dollar or per square foot. If the Solarex panels pan out as advertised, I'll be getting some of them for the boat. The wind generator can't provide all the battery charging that we want. I'd like to run the engine as little as possible just to charge batteries. With all the motoring we've done since San Francisco, we've only had to run the engine six or seven times solely to charge the batteries. That's pretty good for two months.

Another "project" in Santa Barbara was the purchase of some "Rocker Stoppers" to cut down the motion at rolly anchorages. I hope they work. Finally, we got another, second hand, dinghy while we were in S.B. I bought a nine foot Achilles dinghy with all the accessories for just $240. We've heard about several boats that had their dinghies stolen in Mexico, so now we've got some insurance. It can be quite difficult to replace a dinghy, as well as quite expensive. Anyway, this was a GREAT buy, and we had room to store it under the vee berth.

Perhaps the most difficult project, and maybe the most important, we completed in Santa Barbara involved the radar cable. When we installed radar in Seattle, we didn't pay attention to the potential of the cable banging inside the mast when the boat rocked. Of course at Ballard Mill Marina it wasn't a problem. Well, in the ocean it is. After thinking about the problem for quite sometime, I got some foam cushion from a carpet store in S.B. ($3.00 for eight square feet). This was cut into 2" wide strips. Then, Candace hoisted me up the mast in the bosun chair, where I disconnected the cable. Then I tied a messenger line to it, and lowered it down the inside of the mast. She wrapped it with the form strips and tape. Then I raised it back up the mast. Everything was reconnected after much effort fishing the cable back out the little hole in the mast. The cable is now quiet when the boat rocks.

The earthquake in the Bay area didn't hit this far south. Like so many others, I had tuned in the TV to watch the World Series, only to see all the grief in SF. That fire in the Marina district was just a few blocks from where we had docked on the night we had dinner with John Atteridg. We had walked up that street to Lombard Avenue on two occasions. We were glad we weren't there. What a tragedy. What a mess.

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