From the initial greeting to the last goodbye, Santa Barbara proved to be a positively pleasant pit-stop. Whilst leaving Coho anchorage last Sunday we really didn't have a definitive reservation for refuge. The hoard of harbors in southern Cal is really the antipodean of central Cali and its long stretches of treacherously empty coast line. So, as we were sailing south, deeper into California's bight, our chance to seek sanctuary was aplenty. Among them... Santa Barbara. Now, if you take a look at the picture to the left (Elliot, Ren and 35 Million), words like "exclusive" might come to mind. The thought occurred to us but by late morning we hailed Santa Barbara on the marine radio anyway. The harbor politely asked us to call back at 1:30 pm since that was the "late" check-out time for guest berthing. Erika called back by 1:30 and five minutes later we were booking a coveted slip in the "American Riviera" marina.
Mason is feeling very angst regarding our nomadic lifestyle. He is only looking forward to more time in one marina and therefore isn't getting off Steadfast much. Pictured right: Mason "relaxes" for a few minutes on the beach in front of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club/ Leadbetter Beach. Dad, on the other hand, is feeling angst about not "getting out" and seeing enough of the sights. Kind of a conflict of interests at the moment wouldn't ya say? The last day in Santa Barbara I enjoyed a stroll down State Street, downtown Santa Barbara, with everyone. Though not closed off to car traffic, State St. is a shopping/eating destination for tourists, "trendy" locals, and university students alike. Not quite Mason's scene. Personally, I could have stood more time hunting down museums and historical sites.
As Steadfast slumbered in Santa Barbara a large mass of cold air began building amid the high elevations of Nevada's Great Basin. With a low pressure system located in southern California, the mass of air to the north was predicted to hurry our way by the end of the week. These winds, known as the Santa Ana's, were going to rush through Southern Cal's canyons and out to sea Thursday and not abate until Saturday afternoon. If you look at the picture to the left, Santa Barbara is located right above the strong winds indicated by the red color. Ventura/Oxnard, our next destination, is located right in the middle of that red mass. We planned to leave Santa Barbara Saturday morning but decided to put off until Sunday morning. The staff in the Santa Barbara harbor office didn't flinch an inch when we requested an additional days stay...kudos for their professional hospitality. Along with the marina's moderate slip fees (0.90/ft), convenient bathrooms and laundry facilities, West Marine, convenience store, restaurants and a maritime museum just outside the gate, we would no doubt, look forward to another visit. Hasta la próxima vez!
Wrapping up a pleasant stay at Morro Bay, we cast off our dock lines from the yacht club just before day break, Saturday the 28th. Expecting light conditions (NW winds 5-15 knots, seas 1-3 feet) we topped off our fuel tank the previous evening. Luckily, Erika had called the Harbor Patrol for the fuel dock's operating hours. They thought the attendant would be there till 5pm, wowzers, it was already 4 o'clock. Twelve hours later, Morro Rock astern, running lights aglow, we motored south bound for Coho, a well protected anchorage right around the corner from California's historic Point Conception. Point Conception and its brother to the north, Point Arguello, are infamous for their marine weather, turning away both historical and contemporary skippers alike. Again, our marine forecast from NOAA predicted light to moderate conditions but we really only saw the former. Pulling into the empty anchorage by 3:30 in the afternoon was a real treat. We had plenty of time to launch the dinghy, do a little surfing, and comb the beach. Returning to Steadfast a couple hours later, the troops were tired and hungry. Erika whipped up some fresh veggie and noodle stir fry and promptly fell into her bunk. I washed the dishes, rinsed the wetsuits and the boys who wore them, checked the anchor and followed Erika.
Above - Rise and shine, departure time (Coho Anchorage 7 a.m.)
With winds light from the SW, Steadfast motor-sailed most of the way to Santa Barbara. The little guys (Ren and E) spent the majority of our six hour sail sitting on the bowsprit watching for dolphins, and their patience payed off numerous times. Mason, on the other hand, slept till noon. I personally kicked him out of his bunk to, at least, witness our arrival into Santa Barbara Bay.
Below - 13 second HD Video of Dolphins bow riding Steadfast while Ren and Elliot watch from the bowsprit above.
Travelling down the coast on a Sunday probably increased our chances of running into more "birthday" balloon bouquets than on your average weekday. We yanked the ones we saw along our path...pictured below, according to the design on this "rescued" bouquet, someone turned 60, but it wasn't Loren. Sailing into SB this weekend was like sailing into Disney-marina! Aside from the Cruise ship parked outside the marina with their numerous bright yellow shuttle boats taxing back and fourth, or the 50 junior sailors clogging up the north side of the harbor, obviously in the middle of a mini-regatta, or the screaming-cheering from the Pro Volley Ball tournament (Kerri-Walsh, etc) just up the beach from the harbor entrance, or "Harmony", a 164 foot mega Yacht a few slips from our humble 50 foot end-tie.... you might be getting the picture, Erika and I looked at each other....Welcome to Southern California! Luckily, as warned by our numerous neighbors, Monday proved much quieter. By morning, everyone was back to work, including us. For dinner, we were treated with a special visit from Aunt Sonja and Uncle Shorty. After feasting at a pleasant eatery near the marina, we walked back to the boat and showed off Steadfast. Later that evening, according to Erika, I was suppose to check for stowaways...but I really couldn't see how Uncle Shorty could hide in any of our stowage compartments... ;)
A UCSC graduate in Marine Biology, Keith holds a 100 ton USCG Capt. License and is an ASA/US sailing certified instructor.