June 7, 2000
We departed Long Beach at around 10:00 AM, having slept in a bit longer than planned. Our plans were still a bit fluid at this time as we were still getting a feel for the daily range of the boat. We planned on Ventura but thought maybe we would end up in Oxnard (Santa Barbara seemed too far away, but maybe not out of the realm of possibility). At this point we were getting closer to Point Conception (the notorious area of southern California many had warned us about), so we were beginning to think of where we wanted to be before making an assault on the point. It was a long way from Point Conception to the next port of call (Morro Bay, about 90 miles from the point), so being in a position where we could make a one day trip out of it loomed as very important.
Leaving the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor we were privileged to share the waters with a
tall ship from Japan (undoubtedly headed for the big
July celebration in New York harbor). We passed the northern break water leaving
the harbor. Debbie went below to start rounding up the munchies that are a vital part of
any sea cruise, leaving me on the flybridge to
man the helm (note they don't
woman the helm - ;-]). Looking over the windscreen to see what the
odd noise I'm hearing is, I see the Willamette Yacht Club burgee and its staff depart the
boat. Seeing it float on the water I immediately reduce throttle and turn toward the
mutinous burgee this startles the crap out of Debbie, as she has no idea why the
speed and course suddenly changed (we're both a bit jumpy on this novel adventure, ready
to think the worst at the slightest unexpected change). Debbie virtually runs up the
ladder to the flybridge for an explanation and is alternately relieved we're not sinking
and angered over not being made aware of the situation (yeah, this boat's so big we need
intercoms installed). But nonetheless, she grabs the pike pole and fishes the burgee
out of the water. Phew, our crisis for the day is over!
Cruising a direct GPS course to Ventura, we again see dolphins, seals, etc. The sun is shining, the sea is calm, the beer is cold - boating just doesn't get much better than this. But as fate would have it, it wouldn't last.
Passing Point Vincent and heading out into the Santa Monica Bay the wind and seas began to pick up. We were getting bounced around pretty good for a while there, then just as suddenly they dissipated to calm, but windy, seas. But the sun was still shining and the beer was still cold. OK, so it gets a little better than this, but we're not complaining.
One form of aquatic life that Debbie and I had seen was what I'm told is a sun fish.
Debbie had convinced herself that this big fish we were seeing (it looks like a big
fish head laying in the water) was a dead dolphin, I told her what I thought it was and we
sparred over it for a bit. Then we see another in front of us and we'll get a good
look at it this time. Debbie has the helm as we approach the fish and we both lean
over to get a look at it as it disappears under the boat. Expecting it to dive, as all the
other critters do when they're about to get run over by the big blue behemoth, we're
instead surprised by the
thunk, thunk, thunk sound of the fish hitting the
bottom. Looking back over the stern we see the fish emerge from the wake of the boat and
raise its huge fin as if to flip Debbie off for not swerving (this boat don't swerve).
Debbie's relieved the fish is OK and we both laugh at its judicious use of its appendage
to make a comment.
The cruise was very comfortable as we passed Point Dume (that name ought to give you pause in planning any passing) and Point Magu. After passing Point Magu we noticed the water turning brown, I mean really brown. Checking and rechecking the depth gauges were relieved that the color change didn't mean we were about to run aground. We don't know what the color change meant, but we do know that very shortly after that the seas started churning and the wind started howling. Passing Oxnard the waves really started to build, but with plenty of sail boats up ahead, we figured it had to get better.
We were wrong.
About 5 miles from the entrance to Ventura harbor the waves really started coming on. At first they were coming at us on the bow and spraying up over the flybridge, but then they moved to a point of coming at us on the beam. And believe me, this ship can roll when in a beam sea, far too much for anyone to be comfortable. Things were sliding around on the deck, the wind was blowing and Debbie and I are starting to get a bit cranky. Passing the entrance buoy into Ventura didn't see things getting much better and now we were in a following sea, kind of wallowing around with the bow pointed alternately at one shore or the other as we entered the relatively narrow harbor. But the water did calm down before we hit any rocks and now we were left to find which one of the four marinas we had been assigned to. Oddly enough, they number all their docks the same for each of the marinas. We were assigned F3, of which there were four. The first F dock we passed had a boat in F3, which left us to pull up next to a boat on an end tie to ask where the F3 we were looking for was. Pointed to a marina that looked to contain all the condemned boats of the area, we were told that's where would find our slip. (Debbie called it Shipwreck Harbor.)
Debbie just corrected me she didn't call it shipwreck harbor because of the condition of the boats moored there, she called it shipwreck harbor because of my driving. Sheesh, swap a little paint and she gets insulting!
Maneuvering toward the slip became an exercise in wind drift. The wind was coming out of the west directly on our beam as we tried to dock in the small slip assigned to us. Each time I turned toward the slip, the boat moved to the east. When it would look like I was going to hit something, I pull out and try to make another run at it. I did this several times until I unfortunately found myself in the position of being cockeyed in the slip. Pulling out for another try had the wind push me hard against the corner of the slip. Trying to maneuver away from that with differential engine thrust pushed me right into the runabout moored behind the boat in the next slip. I put a fair amount of blue paint on its rub rail and transom before getting the boat away from the runabout. I finally managed to get the boat into slip F4, rather than F3, which I determined was good enough. We tied up there.
Debbie bought the owners of the runabout off with a bottle of tequila, which given the atmosphere of the marina, seemed to be the proper currency in trade. I didn't charge them for the paint either, which seemed to improve the looks of their runabout. Everyone was happy.
The slip rental only cost $16 for the night, but the two six-packs Debbie bought at the marina store cost $17. There's an entrepreneur that understands their market.
We settled in for the night if nothing else, this boat is comfortable. Tomorrow we'll make a short trip to Santa Barbara.