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Thread: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

  1. #71
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Thanks for keeping us up to date. I assume you're in Charleston. I imagine it's changed in the 40 years since I was there.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  2. #72
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    We snuck out of Coos bay is a dense fog that I though would lift but never really did. Bound for Eureka, and pushing a little bit to hit the tides at the right time on the notorious bar. Conditions were pretty calm around Cape blanco, a welcome relief from many weeks of steady near gales in that spot. It did build for a few hours to the point that my feet got dunked on the bowsprit lashing down the jib and we made 7 kts under only a double reefed mainsail. But the teeth had gone out of it and about midnight we fired up the old Perkins to bring us the rest of the way into Eureka. California!



    This is my stalwart crew, six hours of dense fog and still smiling. For the camera at least!

    We half hoped conditions at Cape Mendocino would be favorable to push on, but decided to rest for a day or two first. Mendocino is the scariest place on this coast. Shallows, competing currents,strong winds and steep irregular waves have us a bit apprehensive. Reading other people's horror stories hasn't eased my mind.
    The coast pilot claims that south of this Cape the breeze doesn't hit home quite as hard, the fog isn't quite as thick, and the rain doesn't fall as steadily. We head out to round it first thing tomorrow, bound toward San Francisco.

  3. #73
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Thanks for keeping us up to speed, Jon.

    Three years ago, on our way to SF just a few weeks earlier in the season, the most fog we ran into was just south of Cape Mendoncino. It was also the place where we encountered a number of small migrating land birds fluttering around the nav lights in the night watches.
    Alex

    "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
    - Vincent van Gogh

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  4. #74
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    I check in most days to look for an update on this thread, usually with mixed emotions. On one hand I hope to see the photos and read the updates, but part of me thinks that if there are no updates they are out in the boat sailing which puts a smile on my face !

    At what point does one make the right hand turn to the Hawaiian islands?

    Cheers,
    Mark

  5. #75
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Success!



    More later..

  6. #76
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Welcome to the Bay!

  7. #77
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    WOOHOO! Always a fun perspective!

  8. #78
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Congrats on this !
    Welcome to the sh!t show that is trying to anchor in Richardson Bay

  9. #79
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Congrats on this !
    Welcome to the sh!t show that is trying to anchor in Richardson Bay
    Yes, yes it is. And once that is handled, you are still wholly unprepared for the situation at the dinghy dock!

    We left Eureka in a flat calm, and the densest fog we've seen yet. There was a good sea running. The fog was so thick there wasn't even the local false horizon, and no difference between the color of the fog and the sea in the early morning light. Smooth, oily, heaving seas appeared seemingly out of the sky and sea both. Very disorienting.

    It did finally lift a bit and we sailed around Mendocino wing and wing in a nice breeze. The seas were large, probably the largest we had yet seen, but they were well spaced and fairly comfortable.





    We sailed into the night. It was very dark, no hint of a moon. Only a few stars showing through the haze and the phosphorescence of our wake to indicate up from down. Suddenly there were glowing torpedos of light as large as a person just a few feet under water, shooting around the boat and coming straight at the hull only to disappear at the last second. Scared the life out of Whitney, who was on watch. As soon as I saw them I knew, dolphins! They didn't play in the bow wave like during the day, the turbulence around the propeller was making a glowing ball and I think they liked that, I never saw them surface. The living tubes of light veering right at the cockpit at high speed was a bit unnerving for sure.

    The next day we sailed on, the wind was predicted to increase so we were a bit cautious of setting too much sail. But finally we could see the headland protecting Drake's Bay as the sun was getting low on the horizon. The wind had not increased like we thought, so we crowded on sail to try to make landfall before dark. Under full main, reefed mizzen, and the staysail we carried on downwind. Speed was increasing and we were making great time. Everything was sheeted in for the final gybe about 6 miles offshore, and we came around and rounded up a bit too far. Then the full weight of the wind was evident, and with everything sheeted in we were unable to bring her head down, caught beam-on to the seas in a 30 kt + gust just as a big swell caught us. I don't know how the swell raised up so quickly, they were manageable 6-8 ft only moments before, but this beast looked nearly double that. I thought we would be knocked down for sure looking up at the wave with all that sail set, but it just rolled under us without issue. I clawed the mizzen down and we were able to bear off and hold a course, though still way overpowered. The wind now seemed steady at about 30 kts, we only had a few miles to go to get in the lee of the land and I was hoping to make that before getting the mainsail off. But it was clear from the load on the helm that we needed less sail asap, so we rounded up briefly and I pulled the main down. With just the small staysail up things were much more manageable and we made the remaining miles without more drama except for a lot of water on deck.
    Drake's bay is a remote spot and there was only one tiny light on shore visible, not enough to orient ourselves in the dark. So we trucked on until the depths looked good and the swell was gone and dropped anchor in the bay. A strong wind was blowing through the bay, but the holding was very good.



    We spent two nights in Drake's Bay, to rest and hit the tides right in the Golden Gate. We took the Bonita Channel, and were sucked into the gate with several knots of current behind us. Where the Bonita Channel met the shipping lanes there was a tide rip to rival any in Puget Sound. We sailed under the bridge, raising and dousing the jib as needed for steerageway.

    Certainly one of the highlights of a sailor's career, coming under that bridge after an ocean passage. Its been 700 miles at sea since leaving Neah Bay, broken up with several stops of course.





    This was a big moment for us. All along, we have focused solely on getting to San Francisco. We felt that if only we could make it this far, we would be able to do whatever comes next.

    Now, we are setting our sights farther south, hoping for a pleasant winter in Mexico. Just taking it one step at a time.

    After a couple days in Sausalito (Richardson's Bay) we spent a rolly night in the roadstead north of Angel Island. For such a big bay, there is not really that many protected anchorages here. We may have found the best of them, right downtown of all places. It does cost $10/night, but that pales compared to $200/night at the marina next door. Two other great things, no motor boats allowed, and the view is of the old ships at Hyde St pier.



    We've been doing some day sailing in the bay. The sailing is amazing. San Francisco has that thing Seattle sailors lack, wind!

  10. #80
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    'Really enjoying your thread Jonathan - but you have to pay to drop anchor???? How is that considered ethical?
    Larks

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    “It’s pointless”, said reason.
    “Give it a try”, whispered the heart.

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  11. #81
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Quote Originally Posted by Larks View Post
    'Really enjoying your thread Jonathan - but you have to pay to drop anchor???? How is that considered ethical?
    Yeah first time I've encountered that. They did build a breakwater right around the whole anchorage, so I guess that might be why they feel okay charging. The whole cove is a National Historic Park. Anything to get away from the continuous ferry wakes rolling in from the bay!

  12. #82
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Sailing in under the Golden Gate bridge after an offshore passage is indeed one of the great entrances of the world. I've done it three times, once in a Navy frigate and twice under sail. It never gets old.
    Alex

    "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
    - Vincent van Gogh

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  13. #83
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Really well done Jon. It looks like tremendous fun and adventure!
    Chuck Hancock

  14. #84
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    After some time enjoying the great sailing of SF bay, we decided to push on and look for warmer weather.



    We had good company under the golden gate, first an aircraft carrier followed us out, and then the brigantine Mathew Turner passed us on the same course to Half Moon Bay. I think she was just heading there for fuel, and after buying fuel in Sausalito, that was a good idea!



    My Dad headed out to have an adventure in Alaska with his other kid, so it was just Whit and I for the southbound cruise. It is only 30 miles to Half Moon Bay and we were resolved to sail the whole way. The wind was dead on the nose, the first upwind leg of the entire journey. We beat and tacked and fought the sloppy seas and eventually made it before dark, feeling like we had earned the miles. I took water into the jib several times, now thinking about re-cutting it higher before any long upwind passages. Mostly just white spray, but it wouldn't have taken much worse seas to have real green water filling the sail. Yikes. I guess we didn't get the camera out much on that leg. Picture grey skies and grey seas....

    Half Moon Bay, which is actually Pillar Point, is a wonderfully protected anchorage and not much more than that. But we enjoyed the calmer anchorage for a few nights after rocking and rolling everywhere we went in SF bay. Still not warm, we pulled anchor early for the 60 miles to Monterey. This started out a beat, we were just able to lay the course. The seas were low and the sailing was good. Upwind is lovely when the seas are down, especially if the course is all miles made good. The boat steers herself beautifully of course, no more preventers, no more rolling.

    This is our self steering arrangement for upwind. Very high tech.


    The skies cleared, and the wind just kept clocking around in our favor. We eased sheets a little at a time and eventually were on a beam reach under full sail and blue skies. And we were WARM! This was an absolutely lovely sail, probably one of my best ever. Just mile after mile with nothing around but smooth water. The boat charging along taking care of herself, while we watched the miles slide by.






  15. #85
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    The Monterey Aquarium is very cool. We shelled out the entry fee, which is quite extravagant, but worth it in the end. The deep sea exhibit full of 6 ft long tuna darting around is amazing. We ended up with a lot of videos of the jellyfish pulsing....



    Our dinghy got into a bit of a tussle with some pilings on a rising tide while we were off exploring San Francisco. So I scarfed in the finest 1x2 home depot had to offer on the city dock. Have you ever walked 3 miles for a 1x2? Should hold though.



    We enjoyed Monterey, but I was still anxious to move on. There is one last big stretch of coastline south of Monterey with essentially no harbor or refuge. The weather forecast was calm so we headed out on the 130 mile leg to Port San Luis. This was our first overnight passage with just the two of us. It turned out that the wind was a bit too calm, it was just enough to keep the sails full if we motored along slowly. So we kept the engine ticking over just above idle and the sails drawing to conserve fuel, and did the entire leg at a slow 4-4.5 kts. The moon was fully obscured by clouds, so it was another dark night. We only saw one or two fishing boats and barely any lights on shore either.



    The scenery around Port San Luis is really starting to look like southern California, or Mexico Norte depending on the century. We dropped the hook by a sandy beach lined with palm trees and cooked up some fish tacos to celebrate.

    In the morning the fog had set in again, but it was calm and we set out to round the great obstacle on this part of the coast- Point Conception. Referred to as the "Cape Horn of the Pacific" but I think that is a bit much. It can be a windy place, for sure- but Cape Horn is never as placid as it was when we rounded Conception. Granted, it is gusting to 40 kt off the point tonight, so I shouldn't speak too lightly of it. The coast pilot mentions markedly warmer air to the south of the point, it marks the true beginning of SoCal.





    Just in the lee of the point is Coho Anchorage, an open spot that is marginally protected from the NW wind by the point and exposed to the open sea in other directions. We spent a rolly night there, tucked in behind the kelp beds which help reduce the swell somewhat. The coast guard was warning of thunderstorms passing through south of us, with gale force winds and hail. We must have caught the effect of one of those as it blew hard from the south in the middle of the night and we were totally exposed. We kept an anchor watch until it subsided, and I think we may have dragged somewhat as the anchor reset in the opposite direction- a first for our trusty Rocna.

  16. #86
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Following you guys with Google Earth open on another tab. Thanks!

  17. #87
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Yeah this thread needs maps! We've covered about a thousand miles of coastline so far. But I'm about to head off grid again so it'll have to wait.

  18. #88
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    No hurry. We aren’t going anywhere. Sadly. Unlike youse guys.

  19. #89
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    For those of you scratching your heads,

    Port of San Luis is under the black square "Avila Beach". Cutesy little town that was mostly torn down in the '90s when they discovered the oil pipelines running under it had been leaking for years. Definitely on my short list of places I'd get a condo and mooring after winning the lottery.
    Steve

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  20. #90
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Madison View Post

    In the morning the fog had set in again, but it was calm and we set out to round the great obstacle on this part of the coast- Point Conception. Referred to as the "Cape Horn of the Pacific" but I think that is a bit much. It can be a windy place, for sure- but Cape Horn is never as placid as it was when we rounded Conception. Granted, it is gusting to 40 kt off the point tonight, so I shouldn't speak too lightly of it. The coast pilot mentions markedly warmer air to the south of the point, it marks the true beginning of SoCal.
    timing is everything. glad you made it safely. The tidal stairs and currents at Point Conception are something to see when the wind is blowin like snot. I know of a few people who lost their boats there.

    enjoying the thread very much.
    Without friends none of this is possible.

  21. #91
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Just came across this thread. Fantastic Jon! The perkins looks like a 4108. I am in the process of putting a new one i found to replace my older one so will end up with a full kit of spares. Both water pumps on the old engine were new within the last 12 months. They are a good engine but the old one leaked a bit of oil. It never let me down but was getting tired. I will definitely be following your journey All the best
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci.

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  22. #92
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Quote Originally Posted by Hallam View Post
    Just came across this thread. Fantastic Jon! The perkins looks like a 4108. I am in the process of putting a new one i found to replace my older one so will end up with a full kit of spares. Both water pumps on the old engine were new within the last 12 months. They are a good engine but the old one leaked a bit of oil. It never let me down but was getting tired. I will definitely be following your journey All the best
    Mine is a 4-107, so basically the same but even older. Good engine, but leaks every fluid despite constant efforts to seal it up. Changing a chunk of absorbent pad is part of the startup routine...

    We left Point Conception and headed to San Miguel Island. There was a two day weather window before big winds blew into this notorious and little travelled region. We intended to do a night at San Miguel, then a night at Santa Rosa, then run to Santa Barbara for shelter. By the way I've learned that when the Spanish travelled this coast naming things (things that already had names) they just named everything for the saint who was celebrated on the day they happened upon the new region. So everything is named for a saint and for no other reason than timing. Not much creativity.... I'll try to come up with a few maps to keep the saints organized. That's Conception at the top left, San Miguel island about 30 miles offshore to the far west, and Santa Barbara is on the mainland coast about 45 miles from San Miguel.



    We saw a huge number of dolphins on the way over.



    We got to San Miguel and were absolutely amazed. This was one of the coolest places I had ever been. It felt for the first time like we had arrived in a true cruising destination, a remote desert island, covered in fine white sand, with clear waters and almost no other people.



    The north channel islands are apparently so far from the population centers and in such a rough exposed location that they are not nearly as busy as Catalina to the south. In fact the cruising guide warns gravely of travelling here on ill-equipped boats or with inexperienced crew. But our crew was very happy to have sand between her toes in such a beautiful place. We'd enjoyed the cruise thus far, but since starting down the coast it has been a different kind of fun- a wet, cold, scared kind of fun....



    The island was bombed heavily by our own air force, so you are not allowed to hike without a ranger guide. Luckily the guide is free and gave us a personal tour. There are no trees on the island, save for 4 palms planted by a previous rancher down by the beach. It was extensevely overgrazed for 150 years until there was nothing left but sand and erosion. And then bombs. But the giant coreopsis are making a comeback, and I'm told that if I return when I am an old man they will form a sort of pygmy forest. Weird plants, they looked completely dead.


  23. #93
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    This is the anchorage, all four boats are from Seattle.









    We quickly decided to spend our second night at San Miguel as well, so the mysteries of Santa Rosa remain unknown. But the weather was changing, so after the second night we were carried out on the beginnings of the gale toward Santa Barbara, leaving San Miguel far to windward.

  24. #94
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    If you haven’t read it already, put Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast on your reading list.

  25. #95
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    enjoying this very much (thank you) and a strong second on Dana's book - an incredible man, writer and story!

  26. #96
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Really enjoying your updates and the scenery that's so foreign to what I'm used to.

  27. #97
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    You guys are doing great! Enjoy So. Calif. Just try to avoid the freeways.... Hellish things.

    Jeff

  28. #98
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    I do have Dana's book on board, but haven't gotten to it yet. We've been reading Steinbeck, since our stop in Monterey.

    Santa Barbara is a good place to hide from a blow in the northern Channel Islands. There was barely a ripple in the harbor, and it is a pretty town despite having too much money. We were put in a 60 ft slip and our little ship tried hard to fill it but was left feeling self conscious about her rust stains and lack of hydraulically operated dinghy garage or underwater light show. Each morning the paid crews swarmed the docks polishing and buffing gelcoat in matching tee-shirts. We did some laundry and showered and tried to fit in.

    The marina staff were fully armed police with tactical belts and macho haircuts for some reason. So don't try to do your crimes in the Santa Barbara Marina I guess...



    The produce at the farmers market was excellent, we stocked up heavily on that. Fresh citrus and melons, tomatoes that were picked when ripe and never refrigerated, and new kinds of peppers. Even the cabbage seemed superior.

    I was relieved when the weather cleared and we headed out to Santa Cruz Island, 25 miles offshore.





    As usual, we were escorted by dolphins. I don't think we've done a passage south of San Francisco that didn't include both dolphins and whales. It is amazing to see so much life out there.



    Santa Cruz island is another stunning place. More popular than the islands farther out, it also has many more anchorages. There are boats from the mainland that bring hikers and campers, but it is still extremely wild and rugged. There is not a single anchorage that is protected in all directions, most are just little indentations in the coast exposed to the open sea. It was at this time that we discovered something new, a southerly swell. The winds have been from the northwest for 1000 miles, not a strong southerly wind in months. Yet the swell rolls in perpetually from some system far to the south, completely confusing my instinct to find shelter on the southern side of the islands.



    So we spent most time on the north side of the island, keeping a close eye on the weather.


  29. #99
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    We had this cove to ourselves. Forecast was for a flat calm all night, but we set the anchor in the middle of the cove on a sand bottom, set it firmly and put out long scope and the snubber anyway- happy to have swinging room.

    It was a good thing, as we started hearing thunder after pouring the evening cocktail and suddenly the VHF was alive with predictions of extremely strong thunderstorms, complete with waterspouts and hail. We watched a large cell burn its way up the channel 10 miles off, but then new flashes lit up the ridgeline above us and more cells moved around the other side and directly over us. The rain was heavy, but then died away and the wind started. Gusts rushed down the canyon and into the anchorage, it was hard to judge their intensity in the dark, but we had full rolling whitecaps just in the 50m fetch from the beach. The anchor held fine, and we were thankful that the wind was directly off the land rather than any other direction. It smelled of the first rain in the desert, spiced scent of junipers and sages.



    The whole island is riddled with caves, this one had a rare triple entrance. Many can be kayaked through.



    The largest sea cave in the western hemisphere is on Santa Cruz (disputed), large enough for our sailboat with the masts up in the first chamber, 130 ft high and 1200 ft deep. Apparently a large sloop once entered, and dislodged a boulder from the ceiling, which crashed down through the deck and almost flattened a crew member. Such things are not allowed any more. There were just the two of us on board, so we took turns kayaking into the cave while the other held station out front. There was another wooden boat there with us, nice to have comradery in such a foreboding place. The cave is primeval. The huge chambers go back into the dark, take a turn some hundreds of feet in and apparently terminate in a beach covered with sea lions basking in the pitch dark. We did not make it past the bend, a sizable swell was running and stories of huge standing waves inside was the reason we cited, but being alone in the dark with the howling of the lions echoing down the passageway might have been part of it...







    Attached Images Attached Images

  30. #100
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    The days went by, we spent them hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and lounging in the hammock. Eventually we started running low on fresh food, and started to see forecasts for a proper gale on its way in. We headed east, to probably the most austere of all the islands, Anacapa. There is only one place marginally suited to an overnight stay, and it is reputed to have more boats washed ashore than any other anchorage in the channel islands. It is a beautiful place, surrounded in thick kelp forests with huge pelican colonies. We set the hook firmly, a little nervous about being the only boat who decided to stay at this obvious stopover on the way to the shelter of Ventura or Oxnard.



    Our forecast was accurate and we had a good night at Anacapa, but in the early morning a swell started rolling in. No wind, so we were broadside to it, I knew it meant the weather was moving our way. Pretty soon the wind filled in, and I noted while half asleep that our motion had turned to pitching rather than rolling. Time to get moving. The anchor was sluggish to raise, and finally came up with a large chunk of metal debris, perhaps part of one of those boats broken up on the beach. I climbed out to wrestle with it, getting dunked up to my knees in the building swell. Finally we got it free with the help of the snubber line and it crashed down to snag the next poor soul, we wasted no time getting the hook up and leaving the thundering breakers behind.







    We were bound to Marina Del Rey, a leg of about 45 miles. Marina Del Rey is 2 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and is the most shocking contrast to the remote islands possible. Within an hour of docking, we were on one of those famous freeways getting passed by 6 lanes of cars all somehow doing 80 kts. It was like getting dropped inside a video game, all bright lights and fast action. The marina itself is pure chaos, everybody's stereo competes as they drive circles around the fairways. This is the largest man-made small boat harbor in North America, and has 5000 pleasure boats docked here. The boat traffic is insane and it seems many boats never leave the harbor, content to drive around the sprawling complex of marinas. The conspicuous consumption, conspicuous everything is turned up to the maximum. What a place.

    But hey- they have free wifi in the park. And the weather is amazing. Overall I was super impressed by the Channel Islands we have seen thus far. I never really knew about them, other than that they exist. They are a worthy cruising destination in their own right, and I wish I had more time to keep exploring them.
    Last edited by J.Madison; 10-12-2021 at 05:46 PM.

  31. #101
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Nice stuff. I hope you keep this thread going.
    -Dave

  32. #102
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Great thread--thanks so much for sharing your journeys here!

    Tom
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  33. #103
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Here in NZ at the other end of the Pacific I am enjoying your travels. Thanks.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

  34. #104
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Wonderful updates to your ongoing travelogue, Jon!

    I can sympathize with the culture shock of arriving back in "civilization" after being out there, where there are few people.
    Alex

    "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
    - Vincent van Gogh

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  35. #105
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Count me among those who never knew the channel islands have so much to offer. Great stories! I really enjoy your updates.

    -James

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