The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest partTom Petty
In our last post, we reported reaching King Harbor in Redondo Beach. We were lucky enough to snag a reciprocal spot on their outer guest dock. This one had no power or water, but was apparently the prime viewing location for the 4th of July fireworks coming in a few days. We met lots of nice people at KHYC including former Tacoma Yacht Club members who were part of the KHYC bridge, and we shared the dock with a great couple on their new boat. We rode bikes along The Strand through Hermosa Beach and points North. We could have ridden up to our next destination, Marina Del Rey, but hunger got the better of us. We attended a fun Friday night dinner with our new friends, and headed north to Del Rey Yacht Club after two nights at King Harbor. We had a final celebratory dinner with Miranda in Marina Del Rey, and then she was off on the 4th, heading back home to Seattle.
After our Southern California sojourn with Miranda, we began our journey North in earnest. We didn’t make it very far. The next day we traveled about 50 miles to Ventura Yacht Club, where we stayed on our way down in 2019. We had a couple of nights there, going out for dinner in the harbor and riding bikes over to Ventura Beach for lunch. Next, we made the short run to Santa Barbara, where we had a reciprocal spot at the Yacht Club. It was a good thing, too, as the marina was full. Fortunately, the yacht club had a cancelation, and we were able to stay on the guest dock.
We are still sitting in Santa Barbara, here for two weeks already, waiting for a weather window to get around Point Concepcion and up the central coast. This is the place where we make the transition from the generally benign Southern California weather to the notoriously windy central coast, and Point Concepcion is the corner we need to round.
You can see the SoCal coastline generally goes from West to East below Point Concepcion, and is protected from the prevailing NW wind patterns. You can see this reflected in the nice cool colors (low winds) around Santa Barbara, where we are now, and further East.
This pattern is caused by a high pressure system that generally sits off the Pacific Coast combined with a low pressure system that sits somewhere in Southern California. If you recall, winds circulate clockwise around a high pressure system and counter clockwise around a low pressure system. This combination produces patterns of strong NW winds along the coast that can last for weeks, as we are learning. The big problem, in addition to the wind, is the size, period and direction of the waves. The swell generally comes from the NW, so is right on our nose. The size has not been too bad – in the 4-6 ft range, but, the period – time between waves – has been very short, on the order of 8-9 sec. Our rule of thumb is that we want to see periods of at least twice the wave height, and ideally 2.5 times. The short period we are seeing makes for some serious pitching and pounding, the same conditions that caused Gwen to have a very rough night on watch during the Baja Bash.
So, we’ve been waiting. We spent a week enjoying the hospitality of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club on their reciprocal dock, and then moved into a slip in the VERY crowded Santa Barbara harbor marina. The weather has been fantastic, with sunny, mild days replacing the June gloom. Santa Barbara is a great town to be stuck in, so we can’t (OK, shouldn’t) complain. They have an outstanding farmers market that we have now visited
three four times. The fruits and vegetables are absolutely amazing. We’ve enjoyed dinners out with friends Maria and Eric, and CUBAR friends Alex and Maria, and went to a party with friends Dave and Cammie.
Before the party, Dave took us for a ride up into the mountains to visit the Cold Spring Tavern, an old stagecoach stop off Hwy 154. They are famous for their Tri Tip sandwiches, music, and plenty of beer. The place was absolutely packed on a warm Sunday afternoon, but we did get to sample the excellent sandwiches and beer.
We learned later in the week that the marina was going to kick us out on Friday 7/23 because they needed the space (we are using someone’s slip). Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with that departure date, so had to scramble to make some backup plans. First, we were able to secure a spot again at the Ventura Yacht Club if we really needed to leave. I hate to backtrack but don’t see any good options. Second, we have been looking into getting a captain to continue the run up the coast and letting Gwen go home. We really need to move on with house hunting in Corvallis and the rest of our lives. The rationale is that between me and another Captain, we could manage with slightly bigger seas than we’d be comfortable with just Gwen and myself. Of course, most of the delivery captains we know are pretty well booked at this time of year. However, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several of them about both their availability and the prevailing conditions along this part of the coast. They all agreed that Point Concepcion is the biggest hurdle in terms of having to wait for the right conditions, and a two week (or more) wait is not uncommon. In those conversations, I’ve also heard significant respect for Gwen’s willingness to do the Bash.
In spite of being in sunny Santa Barbara, our spirits were a bit down. We have enjoyed the weather and hanging out with friends, but honestly, we are ready to go home. Things started looking up when Dave invited us to stay in his lovely home in the Santa Barbara hills while he went out of town for a weekend!
We went wine tasting in the Santa Ynez valley with Maria and Eric. We visited two wineries (Sunstone and Lincourt), had a picnic lunch at the first and tasted a variety of mostly Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (remember “Sideways”). Being the Bordeauxphile that I am, I picked wineries that were at low elevation, so we were also able to sample come Cabernet and (gasp!) Merlot.
We also did some bike riding around town and along the shore. Our folding bikes came in handy for trips to the famers market, for lunches in town and for some fun rides along the very well developed Pacific Coast bike trail.
As I write this in the middle of week three, it looks like a weather window might finally be opening this coming weekend. This one looks much better than what we have been seeing up this point and may allow us to get up to San Francisco.
It is still early in the week, and this could very well change, but it is encouraging. Getting up to San Francisco will make things much easier. The timing would align reasonably well with the potential availability of a couple of captains that I have been speaking with, and it certainly is easy to fly in and out of here to Seattle. Looking at our route, it is 280 NM from Santa Barbara to the Golden Gate Bridge. This should take us somewhere around 36 hours depending on currents, and if we leave very early Sunday morning, we could expect to be there by Monday afternoon. San Francisco here we come!