“If you detect a raccoon on your boat mid-channel on your way to Catalina Island, DO NOT proceed to Catalina! Turn back to your harbor of origin and contact either Anytime Animal Control or All City Animal Trapping… Raccoons are excellent swimmers, and can easily reach shore from a moored vessel.”–Catalina Island Conservancy
Ok. I am not sure how it is really possible to get on your boat and realize only several hours later that you have a raccoon aboard!
We arrived Catalina Island on Saturday, October 29th at 7:30am. We made the passage in 13 hours and are exhausted. We didn’t double-check, but we are pretty darn sure that we did not have any raccoons stowed away. Sooo happy to be able to tie up to a mooring ball, skip the night passage watches, the anchor watches and have a good night sleep! After showers, 12 hours of sleep, hiking, running, and a Buffalo Milk (think White Russian with a twist) we are happy, relaxed, and loving boat life!
Our boat is the closest sailboat. Green cover.
Maybe this is where they tried to put the raccoons?…
Aftet 3 overnight passages and 1 night at anchor at Santa Cruz Island we have come to Santa Catalina Island to recharge our batteties. Looking forward to sleep! More details to come.
It has to be timed well so you don’t drift in to shallow water or in to another boat.
- We used the main halyard to lift the motor off the dinghy and put it on the stern rail.
- Then Conor rowed the dinghy to the stern anchor, pulled it up out of the water, and rowed back to the boat.
- Dan pulled the anchor up on to the boat from the dinghy while I started pulling in just enough rode on the front anchor so we wouldn’t drift into a nearby boat.
- We attached the main halyard to the bow of the dinghy and hoisted the dinghy on to the foredeck standing upright as to not interfere with the anchor.
- Conor pulled in the rest of the rode, chain, anchor, and secured the anchor for our passage.
- While we motored out of the anchorage we lowered the dinghy to lay flat and face down and tied it down to the toe rail.
- Tada!!! It was so nice to have a departure go perfectly right for a change!!!
Hiking on Santa Cruz Island
- Conor and Lanea at Santa Cruz Island. Moondance is anchored behind us.
It took us 2x to set the bow anchor and 3x to set the stern anchor and thankfully Dan offered to help with the driving as I don’t yet have a strong command on maneuvering the boat while anchoring near shallow waters. I’m also thankful I have a strong husband as we do not an electric windlass so he was the one that had to pull the anchor and chain up every time we had to reset it.
Finally we were secure, angled the solar panels to face the warm sun and relaxed a bit. There was no power, cell reception or store, and virtually no people. During the one night and two days we were there we kept company with only two other boats at any given time and we were surrounded by female sea lions (quieter than the males in Monterey), schools of fish, sting rays, and diving pelicans.
These are photos of the anchorage that we took from a hike.
Conor and Dan beach the dinghy and pull it up on shore.
Anchorage at Prisoner’s Harbor
Shot of boat in the anchorage from our hike
Dan teaches us how to play Hearts while on the hook.
Dan schools us at Hearts
We took several sites to help us make sure that the anchor was not dragging and we checked every hour that evening. We had purposefully chosen an anchorage that would be sheltered from the west winds (we checked the forecast in Santa Barbara). Every time we went on deck to check the anchor was a special experience. Pelicans were diving for food every five seconds. The fish moving in the water lit up the bioluminescence making it easy for the pelicans to spot their prey. At 5am our stern started to wander. We pulled in just another foot of rode on the stern anchor and stayed put.
This is a video taken the next morning
After our hikes the next day we decided that we were ready for a harbor and a shower! We made dinner at 4pm and prepared for a night passage to Santa Catalina Island 70 miles away.
Leaving SC Island
Leaving Santa Cruz IslandSunsetThe sun sets behind Santa Cruz Island upon our departure
After 42 hours of 4hr day watches and 2 hr night watches we made it to Santa Barbara. It started out with light winds and minimal swell. We were even able to refuel 10 gallons of diesel with our jerry cans at sea. Aside from the fact that I ended up with diesel all over me, this was an exciting accomplishment. The swell got up to 9 feet and got pretty topsy turvy. At one point we couldn’t stand up without falling over.
Here is a video of the swell when it was still small.
I was on watch (8-10pm) when we passed the light house on Point Conception “Cape Horn of the Pacific.” There was large swell and 20knots of wind until ½ hour before the Point. Then the wind died, the swell lessened, and it was a peaceful passing under a thick blanket of stars. It felt almost magical and was definitely my favorite part of the passage.
The next morning, Thursday, October 27th we arrived Santa Barbara at 7am
Sunrise in Santa Barbara 10/27/2011
They were completely booked! We were so exhausted and so disappointed that we couldn’t use the harbor. Conor ran to the grocery store and was so tired that he came back with coffee and mayonnaise and asked, “What was I supposed to get?”
We filled up our tank and jerry cans at the fuel dock and headed for Prisoner’s Harbor at Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz Island helped remind us why we are embarking on this silly adventure.
On the way to Santa Cruz Island
My husband is such a cutie!
Conor Raises the Sail
Dan the Man
Dan the Man!
Me! So happy we are not in the harbor any longer.
Sunset at sea
Small boat modifications at sea
The light on the compass had burned out. We replaced the light but it was too bright so we covered it with a pair of shorts. A classy solution for a classy boat!
We literally tried to leave Monterey 3x. 3x! Between the fuel dock closing early one night, intimidating swell, and transmission issues it seemed as if we would never leave Monterey and started to think about getting a PO Box. After the first failed attempt to leave Monterey we had to come to grips that we would not make it to San Diego in time for the Baja Haha. We had been working 12-16 hour days for months to meet this event deadline. Tired, bummed out, and frustrated, we called our crew to share the sad news and dragged ourselves to the local pub to commiserate over a couple cold ones. Surprisingly, with the stress of a schedule now off of our shoulders, we slept better that night than we had slept in months. Don’t worry, we are still planning to go to Mexico!
It wasn’t all bad in Monterey though. We had animals romping all around our boat. Literally. Walking down the dock at night we encountered both barking sea lions and otters scurrying around. Sometimes the sea lions would lie so close to our boat that we could hear them breathing at night. A little nerve wracking considering these animals weigh 800+ pounds and if a small group of them decided to have a party on our boat, it would definitely sink.
This is the noise we slept to every night.
I got some running in along the coast trail on my trips to West Marine, and I made my first meal on the boat- chowder and dumplings
I also saw a friend, Nancy, and her three kids. I have not seen her since high school and she made us chocolate chip cookies which were crucial treats during our upcoming night watches! And, good news- one of our crew and friend, Dan Haynes, decided to meet us in Monterey and sail with us down the coast. Hooray!!! We shared a boat with Dan and his wife sailing in the BVIs several years ago. Since then Conor has done several races and deliveries with him. Dan has 40+ years of sailing experience and we were so happy to have him come with us! His wife, Elizabeth, even made us banana nut bread which we had every morning until it was gone- delicious!!!
After resting as best as we could assess our systems. After a quick call to Galen at Johnson & Hicks it turns out that the depth sounder does in fact work. It just does not have the power to read high depths so it goes haywire and reads really low numbers or no numbers at all. We also discover that our amp meter does not read the battery charge from the engine. We had fully charged batteries, but the meter read 26% charged. This tool will be best used at anchorage or while sailing only. Now all we have to do is change the transmission and engine oil on our new engine and we are outta here!
Simply unscrew the bolt on the bottom, let 200 mL of ATF (automatic transmission fluid) drain out, put the bolt and washer back in, pour new ATF in the top. Then use the super easy pump on the engine to pump out the oil then use oil funnel to add new oil. No big deal, right? Well, here is what happened instead:
- Drain ATF and refill transmission with engine oil instead of ATF
- Have a mini freak out!
- Call Hirschfeld for advice and find out we don’t need to freak out, just change it a couple more times
- Drain engine oil from transmission and add ATF
- Pump engine oil out of engine, put new oil in and get oil smudges all over the boat
- Run the engine for about an hour and go through all the gears
- Drain ATF from transmission again and refill with new ATF again
- Run the engine for a couple more hours, go through all the gears
- Decide to change ATF one more time the next day since our next stop is not for 215 miles… bad idea
- Drain ATF, put bolt back in (very weird awkward angle) and accidentally strip the threads
- Try to make it work anyway, refill with ATF, try to leave the harbor, ATF is obviously leaking, turn back to Monterey Harbor
- Call Hirschfeld for reinforcements and Shane (we love him!) drives from Sausalito to retap the threads in our transmission, put in a new bolt, change our belt on the engine, and we vow to pump the ATF from the top opening and never touch the bottom bolt again! This vow is second in importance only to our marriage vows.
At this point we are sooo thankful we can safely leave the harbor and make our way to Santa Barbara. However, we also realize that our steaming light on the mast is out (deck light works but steaming light does not work) so I go up the mast and try to fix it.
Going up the Mast- photo courtesy of Dan Haynes
In the process I also manage to loosen/short the wire to the deck light so now neither of the lights work. Seriously?!?! Forget it, we’ll deal with it later and just use our anchor light when motoring at night. So… tired… of… boat… work…
The visibility got somewhat better but as soon as night fell the fog started to squeeze a little tighter around us. By 7pm it was dark and foggy and we couldn’t see a thing. And everything was damp.
This was my first night passage and it was pretty empowering to do my own watches.
Ok. So I didn’t do everything perfectly, but I didn’t break or sink the boat during my night watches. I had a bird to keep me company some of the way and saw plenty of dolphins and jellyfish. Conor even saw a number of sharks. The hardest part was sleeping. I got absolutely none of it that night.
My birdie friend
Me trying to sleep
We had a couple of hiccups that night. On two separate occasions the depth sounder started going haywire and showing numbers impossibly low. At one point it even read a number as low as 11. Our keel draws 7 feet and we are supposedly in 11 feet of water. It is dark, foggy and we can’t see a thing. Oh my gosh, what if none of our electronics work- depthfinder, gps, radar… and we are actually about to crash our boat in to land. I panic and try to go west further out to sea but the light in the compass on our binnacle has gone out and I end up doing a 180 and go north. For some reason, the depth sounder starts showing numbers that we can believe again so we turn around to go south (and a little further west just in case) and press on. The same thing happened again a couple hours later and we went a couple more miles out to sea and the depth sounder didn’t normalize until we got about 2 hours from Monterey. We decided that it would be best to tuck in to a harbor, get some rest, and figure out what was what. We arrived Monterey shortly before dawn and slept until noon.
Monday, October 17th, 2011
At 8am we were out of South Beach Harbor and on our way. The Golden Gate Bridge, a representation of the beginning of our trip, in sight we were excited to start our adventure on this clear and beautiful morning.
Leaving SB Harbor
leaving South Beach Harbor in San Francisco, CA 10/17/11
Unfortunately our boat did not agree. The boat was pulling to the left when we increased the RPMs on the engine and the rudder post was still leaking when under way. We had a decision to make. Leave through the Gate and figure it out along the way or hang a right and go back to Hirschfeld and KKMI in Sausalito and make sure everything was fixed.
By this point we had a great relationship with the guys at Hirschfeld Yacht Maintenance, Johnson & Hicks, and every time we walked in to West Marine they ask us for our time card. We decided it would be better to have out boat looked at in Sausalito vs an unknown boat yard.
After a quick phone call Ben at Hirschfeld was ready for us and jumped in the boat for a test sail to see what was going on. It turns out that the first ‘problem’ was not a problem at all, but the rudder post leak deserved some more attention. As soon as we turned up the RPMs the back of the boat drops down in to the water and the rudder post dips below the water line and a streaming leak appeared. So we went over to KKMI.
A second false start, another night in Sausalito, and a mini haul out later we were on our way at 10:20am on Tuesday with a new rudder packing gland and no leaks! It was a cold and miserably foggy morning and we were so thankful to have radar.
There were 20 knots inside the gate and 5 knots outside the Gate. We were happy to have a new Beta Marine engine as it looked like we would be motoring for quite some time.