Monday, October 10. Santa Barbara

Written by Jack van Ommen on October 10th, 2016

I am sitting at the kitchen table of Wilja Happé, the daughter of my Dutch high school class mate Willy Happé-Kerkhoven, who is visiting here and leaving tomorrow for more visits of her grandchildren in Texas and North Carolina.

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Yesterday started out with a thick fog but turned into a much nicer sailing day than Saturday. I managed to cross the designated ship traffic lanes in the Santa Barbara Channel at Point Concepcion at Dusk. Just after a long parade of vessels passed through. This picture of my digital charts with the AIS positions shows the rush hour traffic. “Fleetwood” is the red boat and the red route. The green and yellow are the commuters. AIS is just the best thing since GPS. It is incredibly useful for me to stay out of their way. It shows me the direction speed and the time and distance they are closing in on me. I just have to do some guess work as to which direction they will go after they leave their ddsc_0086esignated lane, going north or peeling off to Asia. My zig-zag course is due to jibing when sailing down wind to get better speed and fill the  sails at less than 180 degree to the wind. This is the second time, the first was in 2005, that I rounded Point Conception. It can howl around this cape. But it was a very pleasant sail, with a half moon, until the wind died and I turned on the iron horse at 2 a.m. I heard the deep breathing of a porpoise. Saturday night I got as much as eight hours of sleep but not last night, dodging the oil platforms. Actually, I wished the wind would have died before the presidential debate, when the engine runs it is impossible to hear the radio. It would have spared me the embarrassment.

Here are reports I wrote on board from my Friday morning departure from the Saint Francis Yacht Club.

October 8, 2016

Somewhere off the California Coast between Monterey and Santa Barbara. It is 11.30 a.m., the fog is starting to lift. It was a rough night, with several sail adjustments. I did not get much sleep. On Thursday morning I found out that I could have a slip at the St. Francis YC after all. It was a beautiful ride across the bay from Alameda. I could not figure out what all the Coast Guard, Police, Fire department and Sheriff boats were doing on the bay. But then I found out that they were keeping the middle of the bay blocked off from traffic for the Blue Angels fly over. This is all part of the annual Fleetweek. Quite a show from my vantage point on the boat and later in the moorage. Car alarms were going off all over the place when they came roaring over.

The St. Francis Club Flag

The St. Francis Club Flag

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“Fleetwood” at the St. Francis YC

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The dinner alone, scallops, was worth the presentation on Thursday evening. This is one of, if not the, most prestigious yacht club on the West Coast. But I found this group very down to earth and very welcoming. But just like the presentations in Port Townsend, it is not a place to sell my books. I do best in a one on one situation. The visitors at the Arabella’s Landing Marine were my best customers. I figure that in a crowd they feel self-conscious. The club has a fabulous view of the bay and the Golden Gate. A kite surfing race was going on in front of us. When I did my last minute provisioning, at the Safeway near pier 39, I observed many European tourists along the waterfront. The grocery prices are about 30 to 40% higher than in Gig Harbor, at least in this one market in the tourist area. I left at 5.30 a.m. to get the benefit of the ebb. I motored the first three hours until I caught the NW wind. It started out very well.

I was in the cabin when I had a collision. A hard slam on the bow. It had to be a log or a container. I checked the bilge right away. When I looked behind me I saw about fifty Sea Lions, close together grinning through their whiskers at me. Apparently I sailed right through their orgy. I could not detect any damage to the bow. The boat was sailing at a little more than 6 knots. A little later I saw parts of black plastic and green glass on the deck, then I discovered that the starboard side of the pulpit was dented and the running light destroyed. The Sea Lion must have come up above the surface and slapped the pulpit with its tail. Probably a little sore today.  Scared the hell out of me. Never heard of anything like this.

even the 7/16" bolts were twisted like pretzels

even the 7/16″ bolts were twisted like pretzels

The wind kept picking up and I ended up, for a few hours during the night, again sailing on just the storm jib. Right now I am sailing with the full main, downwind, but the seas are extremely confused and it is an uncomfortable sail. I purposeful, after my 2005 experience and rescue by the Monterey Coast Guard, give Point Sur a 40 miles berth, but I still ran into a short rough patch again.

The "Nieuw Amsterdam" entering the Golden Gate

The “Nieuw Amsterdam” entering the Golden Gate on Friday morning.

 

 

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