Vancouver to San Diego Part Ten

Sept 20

5:20 am awake

5:50 am off dock

It’s an early start and the sun has barely begun to show us its intentions to provide some light. We cast off Sea Esta and then follow suit in the shadowy darkness. The narrow channel is a challenge but not as bad as it was when we came in. I light up the buoys with a flashlight as we head out into the bay. I doubt Tim needed it with his eagle-eye vision but it gave me something to do.

It is calm with hardly any swell; much smoother than our entrance a couple of days ago. As we get out into the bay the swell height increases but the swell period is really long, so it is a gentle rise and fall; really quite comfortable and relaxing. It’s slow going at 5.2 to 5.5 knots.

8:30 am
36° 38.4126′ N,121° 57.8335′  W

Still calm. We are just exiting Monterey Bay. Carmel and Pebble Beach Golf Course are just ahead. There is a beautiful sunrise over the coastal hills with crashing waves and layered clouds. It’s incredible beautiful but the dozen or so pictures I tried to take failed to capture it. So I give up and just enjoy it.

9:00 am
36° 34.6285′ N,121° 59.3645′ W

The seas calm to glassy smooth water although the swell frequency returns to normal, with 8′ plus swells making the ride more like it’s been on previous days.

Donna is baking bread and sundry loaves and it smells great. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing although I guess anticipation has its rewards later. Still, I’m an eat-the-marshmallow-now kind of fellow and happy to be so.

The houses up on the hills are mostly mansions and some have some very castle-like silhouettes. There are at least 6 golf courses on the peninsula here, one of those being the famous Pebble Beach. We can’t see it though as it’s hidden behind a point as we pass by.

10:45 am
36° 25.8671′ N,121° 57.9889′ W

The sun is finally out. It’s been trying all morning but the clouds and mist were not cooperating. Things warm up substantially. Still no wind.

We just passed a lovely cutter-rigged ketch going the other way, but other than that it is pretty lonely out here. We are cruising about 3 nm offshore and the terrain is very hilly, small mountains really, with rocky shores and crashing waves. The highway winds its way along the hillsides following the shoreline; that must of been quite the project to build.

12:00 pm
36° 18.6396′ N,121° 56.1934′ W

We are just off Point Sur. It’s a big, big rock attached to the mainland by a narrow penninsula. Up top is a big light house and a meteorological station that look more like a fort than anything else. Around the corner from here is Big Sur, but frankly I have no idea what Big Sur is. Or, for that matter what a Sur is. Things to Look Up Later for $500 Alec…

We’ve rolled out the jenny and have picked up almost another knot of speed. But we are having to head off our rhumb line and it’s hard to say if the extra speed is helping in the end or not.

12:30 pm

We spot 2 humpbacks. The far one is breaching, launching himself out of the water and hitting the surface with a massive splash. He does this half a dozen times although often we just catch the splash. The other is quite close and we are treated to a few blows before he arches his back, flips his massive tail and disappears below.

The cloud and fog are back and once again we are sailing with nothing but white all around. The winds increase to 12-15 knots from behind but we leave the engine on nonetheless.

2:20 pm
36° 7.3893′ N,121° 48.8849′ W

Still motor-sailing making 6-6.5 knots. Still cloudy/foggy. We’ve long since lost sight of Sea Esta.

3:13 pm

We heard a whale blow and then spotted him about 200 feet off the starboard quarter. He just hung out there surfacing several times as we slowly motored away. They are so so big.

Visibility is still less than 2 miles but it is warming up again. So that’s good.

3:30 pm

Another whale ahead. Donna and I spotted a big splash and then saw him blow a few times before he showed us his tail and dove. Lots of whales in this country it seems. Always a pleasure.

A mountain top suddenly appears through a break in clouds. It’s a startling sight in an otherwise unbroken wall of white and gray where the shoreline is impossible to distinguish. And then out of nowhere this short range of mountain top appears shining in the sunlight like an unfinished painting on a dirty gray canvas.

5:00 pm
35° 59.8863′ N,121° 34.3089′ W

We move in closer and spend some time gybing back and forth near the coast. We are only half way through today’s trip plan but it’s already been a long day. At least this close we can see some of the sights. The hills are definitely small mountains now.

5:30 pm

We give up on having jib out. It’s not getting us anywhere and keeps our stern on the most uncomfortable angle to the waves. The sun is out again. For now.

6:15 pm
35° 53.7100′ N,121° 29.5260′ W

It is colder. The wind has a definite bite to it and it’s from the back so we can’t even huddle behind the dodger to get out of it.

Two more humpbacks appear close off the port side. They are finally close enough to try and get a picture so I snap a bunch with my phone. Still blurry though. Stupid whales.

7:25 pm
35° 51.2297′ N,121° 27.7531′ W

Dusk. We talked to Sea Esta On the radio. It looks like they are 4 or 5 miles ahead of us — almost an hour at the speeds we are doing now. We raise the possibility of heading to San Simeon which is an anchorage 3 hours away rather than sticking it out for the 7 hours we have left to get to Morro Bay. But everyone is afraid of getting caught in the upcoming winds tomorrow if we dawdle so we decide to press on.

8:15 pm

I was chatting to L via text, thinking I would go below to rest, when Tim decides he will take the first rest shift. 3 hours each will bring us just about to our destination. So Tim heads below and I settle in.

There is no moon and the Milky Way is ablaze in all its glory. There so many stars which just never see. The air is warm now that winds have died a bit. I was a proponent for trying for San Simeon mostly because it had been getting so cold, but now that it’s pleasant I don’t mind getting this leg over with tonight.

I read for a bit then chatted with Donna when she came up to keep me company. Oh so slowly the clouds inexorably creep back and the mists begin to form around us. The stars won’t last too much longer.

10:47 pm
35° 31.9591′ N,121° 12.8419′ W

Dolphins. Silver streaks in the water racing in from the blackness and leaving a sparkling trail behind them. As they come alongside their smooth backs and fins trail phosphorescent lines of bubbles that seem to make every surface glow. Then they surface, grab a loud breathe and streak off towards the bow.

It’s rough enough I don’t want to head out on the forward deck to watch even though I’m tethered to the jack lines, but I crowd the life lines and call the dolphins encouragingly as they zoom by. They accommodate me by falling back and catching up. Or maybe it’s just new dolphins.

It’s indescribably magnificent watching them in the dark.

Mow it’s starting to get even more misty and there won’t be much to see by the time Tim comes on shift.

11:00 pm

I’m heading down to try and catch some sleep for 3 hours or so. But before I do we are treated to even more dolphins. Really a highlight of the trip for me.

Sept 21

2:00 am awake
35° 22.2062′ N,120° 53.7692′ W

I got the alarm wrong. Again. I set it for 2pm. Luckily I wasn’t sleeping well and checked my phone at 2:01.

It’s foggy but calm and we are almost there. Sea Esta has arrived and have decided to just anchor for the night rather than mess round in the dark looking for a spot to tie up.

Tim says the dolphins (they could actually be porpoises for all I know–just another thing to research later) came back and stayed with him most of the time I was below. Donna had caught some sleep before going back up and they saw up to 20 at one point. I guess he’s the dolphin whisperer on board, but I’m plenty satisfied with the few I saw.

2:40 am
35° 21.9461′ N,120° 51.2719′ W
Morro Bay

We came in the narrow channel in the fog and darkness with no issues and, after we spotted Sea Esta anchored, tied up to the mooring ball beside them. It’s of a Caribbean style mooring with a heavy line and a short pennant you can snag to drag in the line. Makes it much easier to grab but it’s way more slimy. But at almost 3 in the morning I will take ease of convenience every time.

2:50 am

Having just got up I am now back in bed. The floating dock of sea lions just a few hundred feet away are loudly serenading us but I’m not going to let that keep me awake.

What is keeping me awake is the nagging doubt that I actually finished tying up the mooring line. I’m sure I would have finished it but for some reason I just can’t remember doing it. So eventually I grab a shirt, pop the forward hatch and proceed to double check.

And of course it’s all fine. I duck back down my hatch, crawl under my blankets and fall asleep to the not-so-dulcet tones of irate sea lions.

8:40 am awake

It’s all calm and serene as I head out on deck with my coffee.

There’s a big rock here. A big rock. It’s called Morro Rock and I saw portions of it in the mist last night when we came in but thought it was a hillside. Turns out it’s a big honking rocky outcropping that guards the entrance to the bay.

It’s a bit of a kayak heaven here; there are kayaks galore with paddlers heading across the channel to the sandy point that protects us from the Pacific. Tons of sea otters as well, although not as many as at the last place we were at. Wherever the hell that was. I’m getting damned confused.

9:00 am

We cast off our mooring ball to go for a look-see. The Harbour Patrol slide by in their boat and ask if we needed a spot to moor. We let them know we are looking for fuel and they point out the fuel pier and then the yacht club docks for later.

As we slide by the yacht club, Paradisea is tied up and they say the spot immediately aft of them, marked off limits, should be ok for a few days.

So we swing around and head for fuel. Once again it’s a pier rather than a dock and we have to rely on the sketchy plastic bumpers that are haphazardly attaches to the oil-soaked pylons. But there is no wind so Tim manages to bring us to a gentle stop inches away and hopefully we won’t rub too much while we are here. I scramble up the ladder and tie is off.

They’ve got propane here so we unship the one empty bottle (it only lasted 2 weeks, Donna does a lot of baking) and haul it up the ladder to the pier.

The fuel attendant is super friendly but obviously new at his job. Either that or all his regular clientele are super anal about every nit and dot because he was making a lot of rote statements and repeating a lot of obvious information. But, as I said, a friendly guy. Costs for deisel and propane were pretty damn high though, but then it’s California.

Five minutes later we were tied up at Morro Bay Yacht Club behind right behind Paradisea. There’s another boat, Harlequin who is also Baja Haha bound and a third who isn’t. After Sea Esta fuels and then rafts to us that makes five boats tied up to Morrow Bay Yacht Club’s docks. We should be good to stay until Saturday morning when they have their dinghy races, which fits the current schedule.

Most everyone hits the showers but I decided to wait a bit and relax. I write a bit for the blog and decide to install Donna’s new all-in-one HP printer on her Mac. They have wifi here so I can download the drivers And other software. That’s the problem with these new laptops: no cd drives. The printer has got a wireless feature that allows her to connect without a network and after a bit, I have it humming along.

Then I try it on Tim’s Windows 10 laptop. Oh Windows…you make the simplest things so complicated. Oddly enough I get the ad hoc wireless printing going after a minimal amount of effort but do you think I can get it to print using a usb cable? I broke out some of the swear words I haven’t used since last time I was doing IT.

Eventually I gave up in an attempt to lull the laptop into complacency. Laptops are foolish that way. I’d be back.

After a bit I headed out for a walk. The road along the shore is crowded with art galleries, kayak and surfboard places and tons of restaurants. There are scruffy palm trees and succulent gardens filled with the same succulents I have growing in my little clay pots–except they are taller than I am. Not too crowded with tourists, although I guess it’s late in the season.

I grab a coffee and an apple strudel-like thing at a quaint yet slightly ramshackle cafe staffed by giggly high school girls, so I can use the wifi and catch up with Leslie. Of course I can’t get the wifi to work. But since I had a date, I fired up the data roaming and ended up having a lovely visit, catching up on all the gossip from home.

Donna (and Tim) have been spending a bunch of time trying to replace me. They have their nephew joining them for the Haha but he’s only 16 or so and now they are thinking they want at least one more crew since it involves several overnight passages.

It’s kinda weird hearing them describe your current situation to someone else in anticipation of your absence. They assure me I am welcome to stay, but since the Haha doesn’t leave until after Halloween, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be very welcome back home afterwards. Or at the very least I would pay for it for a long time 🙂

The boat is empty when I return and Sea Esta is locked up tight as well. So I hung out until it occurred to me that I hadn’t restarted Tim laptop after installing the new drivers: rookie mistake. So I tried restarting Windows and it turns out Tim has his login password protected. Aaargh. Now I have to wait to see if that fixed it. I hate waiting. And Windows. And unnecessary passwords.

So I read. I might actually get some books done on this trip but it does look like my September totals will be kind of dismal. Oh the first world problems.

Eventually the gang come piling back to the boats. Turns out they were guzzling happy hour wine two boats down and getting to know all the neighbours. That’s a lot of socializing — I think I’m glad I missed it. Harlequin, out of Sidney, although the owners live in Point Grey, is apparently a highly customized job with lots of high tech everything. Seems like half of Canada is heading to Mexico.

Dinner is around 8, then after some chit chat and general lazing about, its time to hit the bunk and drift off with a book in my hand.

A note about my bunk. Tim added a connector piece so the two singles in the vberth are now one big double. Very spacious and comfie. But the connector piece covers a small step. In order to climb in, I have to jump–not too high so as to not smash my head into the ceiling, but with enough gusto to actually clear the lip with my knees. The height is slightly higher than my hip bone and seems custom designed to be perfect for maximum awkwardness. Of course short people using the space would probably look less awkward and more comedic, so maybe that was the intent all along. Anything for some entertainment on these long voyages.

So I just went to sleep.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Eleven

Sept 22

7:30 am

I got up and headed straight to the shower. I got everything all ready, started the water and stripped down. But the water wasn’t hot. I tried flipping the knob the other way but nada. I splashed a bit of coolish water but it just wasn’t doing it for me despite a valiant attempt to tough it out. Then I wondered if there was a hot water switch like I ran into back in Bragg Creek.

So I stepped out into the main area at the exact moment that someone came into the the washroom. There I stood slightly damp with my half hearted attempt to get soapy, stark naked. We locked eyes. He smiled. I blurted out something about hot water and he assured me that the hot water worked automatically; he’d had a few showers already. So I thanked him and retreated back into the relative privacy of the showers. That’s my embarrassment for the month taken care of.

Oh, and he was right. The water was plenty warm by the time I got back.

Back on board I had my coffee that Donna had thoughtfully put in a thermal mug and had some peanut butter and jam on toasted bagels. While I ate Tim read from a paperback they’d picked up at a book exchange.

It’s about this crazy guy who took a sailboat solo from Panama to Australia to rejoin his wife after WWII. He didn’t know how to sail and the story of his first attempt was both hilarious and frightening.

Then everyone (else) headed off for a run and I sunned myself on deck for a bit. Then it was time to beat Tim’s computer into submission. Apparently the restart did the trick because after I got it all plugged in and wired up it printed with nary a hiccup. Did I mention my feelings about Windows yet?

I finished my book (and the series) and spent some time fussing over what to start next. And then I started it. Life is pretty simple here at dock.

A few club members showed up to do some sailing. They have a nifty hoist system here. They just wheel their trailers (most of the small boats are stored in a compound across the street) and hook a three point harness to a hoist. Then they lift it up, swing it over the edge and drop it into the water easy as pie. A few minutes later they hoist the sails and sail off the dock.

Still in IT mode, I decided to set up the 24 inch monitor Donna bought. No big deal except that since both Tim and Donna’s computer have HDMI outputs there was no need for the adapter she had also bought.

After the team got back from their run I walked up to grocery store to resupply my stash of trail mix. I’d eaten the last of it a couple of days previously. It was a nice walk through a more residential area filled with succulent gardens and topiaried trees.

Upon arriving at the Albertsons I spotted a McDonalds and decided to indulge myself in junk food. The fries were distinctly less salty than their Canadian counterparts. I wonder if that’s a US thing or a Californian thing. The only other difference was instead of East Indian immigrants staffing the place, the workers were all Mexican. Different, yet oh so the same. I took advantage of the free wifi and wrote a bit.

Back at Albertsons I picked up more trail mix ingredients: raisins, peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips; I like my trail mix simple. Then I walked back towards the waterfront down a more commercial street and peered in all the shops as I went by. Nice little town.

The winds had been climbing when I left and they were going full bore by the time I got back. The boats were straining pretty hard at their moorings.

Tim was working on the broken cup holder. He had a bit of spare star board and had fashioned a brace for the piece I had snapped off. I helped with the last 5 minutes of the work and then retreated below.

By now the boat is really pushing on fenders. Our stern is facing into the wind which is blowing 25-30 kts in the bay. The waves are pounding into the transom and water is occasionally spraying over the back, even as far as in through the hatch.

Rafting was not the best idea in this situation and we are scrambling to get the fenders right between Sea Esta and us as well as making sure the ones on the dock side don’t burst under the weight of two 42-foot boats. The winds peak at 36 or so knots and blow most of the afternoon with lots of thumping and banging and halyards clanging to keep us awake down below.

So other than checking fenders and lines occasionally, I just hang out for the afternoon and relax.

Dinner is burgers and then around 8, Mark and Jim come over for Scotch night. I stick to red wine while the three guys sample scotch from Tim’s collection of 8 or 9 opened bottles that he cleared out of his Degnen Bay house when they moved out. There are Islay’s and 12- and 18-year old Glenfiddichs and a raft of other single malts.

I texted back and forth with Leslie while this was going on and eventually the evening wrapped up. The winds had died to nothing and the stars were out full force. It was actually a pretty nice night as I headed for bed.

Sept 23

7:30 am awake

This morning I started the day with a coffee followed by a shower. Hopefully the caffeine will prevent me from any more “shower moments”.

The weather is calm and glassy. No trace of the storm left in the harbor but I overhear some locals say the ocean buoy reports are still reporting some steep waves out there.

Everyone is off for a run again. I catch up on my last blog post and am all up to date again. Donna asked for the link so I guess typos count now. Hopefully Leslie will catch the worst of them.

I read for a bit and then headed out for a walk after the runners returned. I have got to remember to take more pics with my phone so I have something to post. Sometimes I think I should have brought the laptop and other times I’m glad I didn’t.

Morro Bay has a massive power station just like Moss Landing. They have these huge smoke stacks but apparently aren’t used unless they are needed. Not sure what that means in California but I’ve heard about their rolling brownouts. Maybe they fire them up in air conditioning season?

At the base of the smokestacks is the future home of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. Right now all they have is a nice sign and three static exhibits. One is an old Coast Guard lifeboat, there is an old working tug and finally there is the DSRV Avalon.

The Avalon is one of two Deep Sea Rescue Vehicles, mini subs, that were created after the Thresher disaster. It was designed to be flown anywhere in the world and deployed to help rescue sunken submariners. So cool.

A little further down I came across a cat on the beach named Rascal. He was a bundle of curious energy. I think he was working for the paddle board rental lady. As they were headed back up to their van he put on a burst of impressive cat speed and then plowed right into the soft mesh of his carrier. How red was his face?

I also spot a couple of surfers paddling out towards the big rock. They are on their knees scooping the water on each side to propel themselves along in the calm water of the bay. It looks like a real inefficient method of propulsion.

On the other side of the long dune joining Morro Rock to the mainland is long beach with tons of surfers. The waves are crashing in and surfers old and young are hanging out beyond the breakers waiting to catch a wave. It’s just like the movies! There doesn’t seem to be much standardization of boards though. There long ones and short ones and even some in between ones. Personal preference? Maybe they just can’t afford to change them every time styles change? I hang out watching for half an hour or so before wandering back towards the bay.

There are 2 packs of about twelve sea otters each floating in some kelp beds. A couple have pups on their stomachs and they are busy grooming and fussing. I could just hear pups complaining, “Aw, mom…”

I follow the lovely path back towards town. Just past the place I met Rascal there is a sea lion just off the beach. He doesn’t look like he’s doing well, just sort of floating in a foot of water and raising his head to breathe every 30 seconds or so. There are a couple of Marine Mammal Rescue people there observing and putting up some temporary beings saying keep away.

Turns out he is a fairly large, crested male adult. It is not abnormal for them to sleep on beaches, lifting their head every once in a while to breathe. He’s apparently been there for an hour or so and they are keeping an eye on him. The only unusual things about it was the busy location; usually they like more privacy. Then, after about 7 or 8 minutes of me watching him he just took off. Apparently I was creeping him out.

On the way back I grabbed a hot dog for $3.78. Nothing is cheap around here. I also check out a surf shop. $600 for a board and another $600 for a wetsuit and I’d be all good to go.

The boats have all moved around by the time I get back. They guy on the end volunteered to leave the dock so Northwest Passage and Sea Esta moved over to free up the dock space for boats preparing for an event tomorrow. But I found them anyway.

Turns out there is a 6 o’clock happy hour at the club and we are all invited. So I settle in to read and relax while Tim and Donna head out to fill up the other propane tank. Then it’s just hanging out for the rest of the afternoon. By that I mean Tim tries to wash the boat without using water conspicuously and Donna does laundry and paperwork for San Diego and Mexico. I just read and write some more. Some crew huh?

We are still unsure of our destination tomorrow, just sure we are leaving at 6am. It might be Port San Luis Obispo or it might be Cojo Bay. One is 3.5 hrs away and the other is 10 hrs. 6 am seems excessive if we are only going to San Luis though.

The other thing that is up in the air is my final destination. It’s looking like Northwest Passage might possibly be taking its time on the LA to San Diego leg. If so I will likely get off in LA rather than wait to the 6th or 7th of October to arrive in San Diego.

Tim is looking up a replacement starter as we are having issues with this one engaging 100% of the time. And as he says, in his experience these things don’t fix themselves.

Happy hour was crowded. There were snacks, and pints for $3. I had a dark IPA which was weird. We talked to a few people and I did my token socializing before scurrying back to the boat after and hour and a half.

Chatted with L a bit online, talked destination arrival with Tim, ate some chicken wings and that was that. Just another day stranded on shore.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Twelve

Sept 24

5:50 am awake

Coffee. Then it’s time to gear up after our long, long break. I dig out the long johns and extra layers, and haul my stuff out into the cockpit and make ready for the day. Our plan is Port San Luis Opisbo which is a pretty short day, and then to the dreaded Point Conception in the predicted lull tomorrow.

Today was my first estimated date of return but we aren’t even at LA yet. I haven’t bothered trying to come up with a revised date for now. I will wait until Santa Barbara where the travel distances are much shorter. Mark still needs to be back in BC before the first of October and is pretty sure he is leaving from LA.

6:30 am

Off dock. It’s a warm wind but a light one, so no sailing for now.

6:45 am
35° 21.6065′ N,120° 52.2675′ W

We turn the last corner and leave Morro Bay behind.

As we clear the breakwater, the wind gains an edge of cold and our sea legs welcome back the swells. Standing on ground that wasn’t constantly moving has been just plain weird.

The Santa Annas are being predicted in the coming days, which will bring high temperatures in Southern California (into the 100s F) and potentially cause us wind problems with onshore winds up to 50 mph. If we are lucky they will manifest further south and then be gone when we get there. For now all we want to worry about is Point Conception when we decide to go.

8:00 am

Tim spots the first whales of the day off in the distance. There is a new kind of bird out there flying in small flocks really low to water and maneuvering at high speed. Fun to watch.

8:15 am
35° 13.7066′ N,120° 56.4685′ W

We raise the main with one reef, sailing downwind in 12-15 knots.

8:30 am

There is a huge school of dolphins way off the starboard side. We can see a long wall of white foam in distance and with the binoculars it turns out to be a massive number of dolphins thundering along. Since we are ahead of Sea Esta anyway we tack to try and get closer and end up chasing them back the direction we came. We never do catch them, though, as they are both faster and more maneuverable than we are. Eventually we tack back and resume our original heading.

9:00 am

Sea Esta calls and the first change of plans for the day is announced. The decision is made to do the long day to Cojo Bay, 55 nm and 10+ hours away. I’m good with that because it makes much more sense to me since the weather is good and a short day leaves us with nothing to do at anchor.


In the distance off Sea Esta‘s stern we spot 3 or 4 whales in the morning sunlight bouncing off water. Pretty; worthy of a painter or much better photographer than I.

9:40 am

We haul the gennaker up from below and get it rigged to go. Then I hoist the sock and we are flyin’ along at 6.5 knots with gennaker and main together; way faster than we can motor.

Paradisea and Pinocchio are 5 or so miles behind, also heading for Cojo and Harlequin is back there too somewhere. Looks like we all decided to make the most of the good weather, although most had expressed a plan to head to San Luis.

10:45 am
35° 1.9176′ N,120° 55.5180′ W

Now we are sailing along hitting 8.3 knots occasionally and it’s a great sail–very comfortable and a lot of fun.

I’ve got a good signal so I decided to post a blog entry. Turns out the signal’s not that good and it’s oh so painful getting the images to upload. But eventually I get it done. Lucky you!

11:30 am

Winds are climbing and get up to 19-20. We decide it’s time to haul the gennaker down, but it was grand while it lasted. Bringing it down was fun as the swells and the higher winds made me feel like I was dangling on the end of a giant kite. Woo-hoo…

But we are still making 7+ knots with just the main as the winds grow to 22-23 knots.

We spot a sun fish off port maybe 4 feet away and then another even closer a bit later. It’s to bad they go by so fast; they look fascinating and I’d love to look at one closely or at least get a decent picture.

1:00 pm
34° 45.8313′ N,120° 50.3459′ W

The winds are calming although seas remain steep with a short frequency. This means the distance between each wave is smaller than we’ve been experiencing and the anchor is occasionally just a foot out of water, and once or twice actually submerged as we hit the trough between waves.

We are still making speeds in high 6s though.

1:40 pm

Ho hum, more whales. But wait! There’s a dozen or so dolphins as well. That’s more exciting! Seriously, it’s like we are starting to treat whale sightings as mundane, we’ve seen so many in this trip.

There is an offshore oil rig in distance. That’s new. Oh, and more whale spouts.

2:15 pm
34° 38.1738′ N,120° 48.0613 W

The winds die to 5 knots just off Point Arguello which is the first of two closely related points that make up the “Cape Horn of the Pacific.” So we roll in the jib and start the engine and carry on our way.

One of the things we have been seeing with alarming frequency is those mylar balloons that say happy birthday or some such other celebratory phrase. I guess they are tougher than regular balloons and when they land out here they float on endlessly. It’s a bit sad the number we have seen.

I spot some sea lions (Donna says they’re porpoises) bounding out of the water between us and Sea Esta. They sure move fast when they are determined; and while I’m pretty sure I’m right, they look a lot like dolphins on the move and are just as fast.

It almost appears the oil rig we have been coming up on is under tow. There is an AIS target right in front of it moving at less than 1 knot. But then again, maybe not, as there are two more off in the distance. We do hear a call on the vhf saying there is a boat performing ROV operations in the vicinity, so maybe that’s what’s going on.

Then we spot a third platform. Seems like there’s oil to be found in Southern California.

I notice a huge structure on the coast line and check Google only to discover that Vandenberg Air Force Base is just off the port side. What I see is SLC 6, where the space shuttle had been planned to be launched. I haven’t been able to discover if they ever did do any missions from the West Coast as the Challenger disaster changed all the plans. Nonetheless, super cool!

3:35 pm
34° 32.3087′ N,120° 41.6592′ W

We are sailing again. We’ve got the main up with one reef and the genoa out, making 6.3 knots versus the 5.8 we were doing under motor. Our speed slowly climbs up to 7.5 as the winds also climb; the wind instrument is now showing 24 to 26 true.

4:30 pm

The consensus is we need to throw in a second reef. This is easier said than done when running downwind in stiff winds. There was some discussion about just toughing it out but what the hell, we need the practice anyway. To put in the reef we will need to heave to which is, as Tim succinctly puts it, going to be fairly violent. So for several exciting moments, as we swung up into the wind, with everything banging and crashing and heeled over almost 30° before we could backwind the genoa and bring us to a fairly stable stop, we had a wild ride all so we could let the main loose enough to work with. Then we worked to bring the sail down in a controlled manner while bouncing up and down the swells and still heeled over at a fairly significant angle. Once we got the main all cinched down again, we hauled on the main sheet and brought her around so we were now sailing downwind on the other tack. That meant we would have to gybe again, but we were heading offshore a bit so we we could clear Point Conception with a little extra room. All good fun.

So we headed out to sea for 10 minutes or so before we gybed back on original tack, which is always a touchy maneuver in anything less than calm winds. Soon we actually hit 10.2 knots surfing down the swells. These big points sure provide a lot of fun, but I would hate to be going the other way.

5:30 pm
34° 26.1957′ N,120° 29.8480′ W

We just passed Point Conception, which is the last big hurdle of the trip. We spotted and chatted to a sailboat named Sheila who was in fact going the other way. They were looking for a weather report and between us and Paradisea 5 miles back; we let him know the conditions he was facing. Watching him sure was uncomfortable as his bow would come up, and then crash down into to the oncoming swell. Didn’t look like much fun.

6:00 pm

We just rounded Government Point and are entering our anchorage for the night. It is literally right on the south side of Point Conception. The wind is suddenly warm and the whole environment has suddenly changed.

We try to maneuver around a bunch of massive kelp beds, fail miserably and slowly work our way past the crashing surf to where we can see Footloose, a 42-foot Katana catamaran, already anchored.

6:15 pm
34° 26.8886′ N,120° 26.4931′ W
Cojo Bay

All anchored. And I start stripping. It is so hot and my long johns and fleeces have got to go.

We are now sharing the bay with Footloose, Sea Esta, Harlequin, Paradisea, and Pinocchio. Four out of the six all destined for the Baja Haja.

It’s beautifully calm here but you can hear the surf crash all along the shore as the sun slowly sets over the point. And it’s still warm even after the sun disappears. I hang over the side and dip my toes in the water. Warm, but I’m not yet tempted to dive in.

The temperatures are still warmer than anything we’ve yet experienced, although I do grab a fleece as the evening progresses

We have a lovely dinner on deck and the stars are stunning with the Milky Way unraveling its splendor across the middle of the sky. There are so many stars. It’s one of those moments when you are reassured that it’s good to be alive.

What can I say? Beautiful, peaceful, glorious, amazing, all words to hint at the combination of peace and serenity being at anchor in this remote place with so few manmade objects to relate to and so many of nature’s glories to revel in.

Sept 25

6:40 am awake

I had a pretty bad sleep, the worst in fact, of the whole trip so far. Part of it was the anchor chain creaking on the bow roller as we swung around and part was that I was more than a little thirsty after the third, obviously inadvisable, glass of wine. But I was too lazy to get up and grab more water so there I lay, awake.

There was also the occasional odd beep from the main cabin and my phone would buzz. Hmmmmm…

7:22 am

Anchor up and we are off. But not without a few issues. The beeping I had been hearing was the inverter complaining and the house system was completely dead when we got up. Not even enough juice to power the solenoid to fire the stove to make coffee. Oh the inhumanity of it all! But the engine started fine so it was all good for recharging everything. But it’s another project…

The swivel on the anchor also bound, leaving the anchor in a position where we couldn’t bring it past the bow roller. But some manhandling popped it back into place and we got it all up and secure. Another project…

Footloose followed us out of the bay on almost exactly our heading so I guess we are all headed to Santa Barbara. The other three boats pull out about an hour behind us, but they are heading for the Channel Island to explore before heading on to San Diego.

Some frisky sea lions are racing us out on this sunny, warm day. They really are amazing to watch when they are going full tilt. The winds are south east at 8-10 knots so basically right on our nose.

8:30 am
34° 25.4321′ N,120° 19.7689′ W

There is very little swell and the winds are down to 5 knots or less. And it’s a straight shot to Santa Barbara so auto is going to do all the work today. We just need to try and stay cool and keep an eye out for occasional crab trap.

I started the day with no long johns and no windbreaker for the first time this trip. So far so good. I’ve just got my one fleece on and I might even be down to bare arms by noon.

10:15 am
34° 24.1893′ N,120° 8.6200′ W

Down to shirt sleeves. Woot!

10:25 am

We just drove through pack of porpoises. They were bouncing around right on our heading, veered off as we passed by and then joined us. They swam under the bow for 3 or 4 minutes before heading back to whatever important porpoise purposes they had previously been pursuing.

Look closely

The water is much clearer here and you can see the dolphins easily as they weave and whirl alongside. Donna got some nice video.

It’s calm and peaceful but it’s also pretty boring; I don’t think I would want to do days of this. We are passing a ton of oil rigs and can see Santa Cruz Island off in the distance.

12:30 pm
34° 22.9845′ N,119° 52.5833′ W

We just passed an oil rig fairly closely (a couple of thousand yards) and the water was filled with scum and oil residue. The smell of crude in the air was almost like being back in Alberta in the patch. I really hope this well was having a problem because if they are all putting out this much crap then I think California has a big issue.

1:00 pm

There is a huge pod of dolphins in distance. It’s an amazing sight, almost like a huge standing wave spanning hundreds of feet. Another appears smaller, about 300 feet off the port side. They don’t stick around and are heading somewhere fast.

2:30 pm
34° 24.5770′ N,119° 40.8985′ W
off Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara

Well we are now at anchor in Santa Barbara off Stearns Wharf. Today’s deviation from the plan was pretty mild, consisting solely of giving up on tying up at the marina and opting to anchor out for free. There was a moment there when I was thinking we might carry on the 22 nm to Ventura since the winds were finally up, but the lazy buggers among us won through and we called it quits for the day.

3:20 pm

We’ve unshipped the dinghy from the davits for the first time and are now tied up to dinghy dock. The entrance to the marina past the wharf and breakwaters was as crowded and congested as I have ever experienced. In the narrow, congested channel there were surfers, paddle boarders, sailboats, jet skis, inflatables with outboards, swimmers, sailing dinghies and big powerboats all coming and going within a broad spectrum of sense and nonsense.

A quick visit to the harbour master and then we are hitting the showers to clean up and cool off. It’s is super sunny and warm so I opt for a warm shower with a cold water cool down to finish it off. Lovely.

It’s very hot, probably 30°. We all meet up at the West Marine below the harbor master’s office, then Mark and Jim head for a beer, Tim and Donna go downtown and I follow them as far as the old wharf before splitting off.

On my way back I walked along the beach and got my tourist quota of California girls and bikinis. Apparently the heat is due to the Santa Anas and pretty unusual, so the locals are taking advantage.

I grabbed a beer back at the marina head and then indulged in some people watching. I was having a bit of a crisis as I couldn’t get a charge on my phone before I left and was down below 20%. I had to curtail the blog entries And Candy Crush playing. A bit later I moved down to the dockside and watched the ridiculous traffic in marina. Keystone cops anyone… Phone down to 8%!!

A little after 6, I met up with Tim & Donna and we piled into the dingy for the ride home. on the way we stopped for a happy hour glass of wine on Sea Esta and then headed on to Northwest Passage

I relaxed reading in my berth for a bit to work off some of the heat and then headed up to enjoy the cool night breeze in the cockpit.

Dinner was BBQ’d steak and carrots eaten under the stars on a warm and calm evening.

Tim fussed with the electrical system with no discernible results. The alternator didn’t look like it had been charging the batteries while we were motoring. Then he decided to try out his new Honda generator. We are officially one of those people now, but the road noise from the city was so loud I doubt anyone noticed us running a generator at nine in the evening.

So I went to bed.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Thirteen

Sept 26

6:30 am awake

I’m lying here trying to get motivated to get up, but also not really interested in going back to sleep. I don’t know what kind of monster I’m turning into! 🙂

7:00 am up and around

Ok, everyone else is now up so I better get going. Coffee is already going when I emerge and we sit in the warming sun; it’s so weird to have it warm and pleasant at 7am at the end of September, but they do say this is unusual.

After grabbing a calendar and talking over the next few days I decide it’s likely better to disembark in LA rather than rushing everyone on to San Diego. I can grab a direct flight from LAX for a couple of hundred dollars cheaper, and the airport is only a couple of miles from the marina. It’ll be convenient and take the pressure off Tim and Donna to go, go, go.

So while Tim and Donna pick up Mark and head in on the dinghy to grab a shower, I borrow the laptop and book my flight. The regular rate is $295 but since I usually like to book my seat ahead of time and I have baggage, I decide on a once-in-a-lifetime splurge and book Westjet’s version of first class for $400. It will only cost me about $50 more when all’s said and done. I know, I know, it’s not real first class, but I do get a comfier seat.

9:10 am up anchor

It’s calm and it’s hot. We are headed for Ventura Isle Marina where Mark has managed to secure us two slips. Only 22 miles but it will be a long motor in the sun.

I talked to Mark and he and I leave LAX on the 29th. His flight is 1:30-ish to YVR and mine is at noon. So we will take a taxi in together from the marina and leave Sea Esta and Northwest Passage to their own devices. Kinda sad really, but I think it will give them more time to enjoy SoCal.

10:20 am
34° 21.0443′ N,119° 33.6076′ W

There are 8 oil rigs, all in close proximity and a few more we can see off in the horizon. Who knew this part of California was such a oil boom town.

11:40 am

It’s an interesting area. Between Conception and Santa Barbara there wasn’t much but the occasional ranch-type house and the rail line running along the coast. Now the shore line is intermittently crowded with beach houses and the highway. At one section there was a long string of monster beach homes with an Amtrack line immediately in their back yards, a jam-packed highway behind that and then pump jacks dotting the ridge line behind them. We are definitely back in civilization.

We are treated to some more fresh baked cookies. Man, we have been spoilt, and my goal of losing some weight this trip has definitely been thwarted.

Donna followed up on Mark’s booking at the marina. It was going to be $60/night, but she managed to wrangle it down to the cost of a couple of cookies. It’s good she’s on our side.

12:42 pm

We are at the entrance to Ventura. It’s beautiful with emerald-colored water, breakers crashing along the shore and a huge beach on either sides of the entrance.

Turns out there is yet another beach in the inside of the breakwater as well. It’s so different here…

1:10 pm
34° 14.6452′ N,119° 15.7166′ W

We are all tied up in Ventura Isle Marina. There are three or four marinas here and a boat yard all crowded in the estuary behind a series of breakwaters. The place is huge. The slips have docks on both sides and there are so many different shapes and sizes of boats. And unlike a lot of marinas we have visited, they all seem to be used regularly.

At Donna’a insistence we unshipped and pumped up paddle boards. Tim is still baffled by the electrical; his alternator is working fine today. So Tim and Donna decide to go for walk instead. I just laid back and relaxed.

A bit later we shared a cold beer and I finished up and posted a blog entry. Then we just sat in the cockpit and watched time float away for a while

They decided to break out the paddle boards, so then I sat in the cockpit and watched Tim and Donna float away for a while. Marinas are like that.

We are dinner outside and then, because it was late, Tim listened to the last 10 minutes of debate online. I think we caught the highlights 🙁

And then there was bed.

Sept 27

6:30 am

This is voluntary. I hope I’m not turning into an early riser. That would really suck.

I had my magic coffee and checked real weather for the first time on the trip. Usually we just listen to the marine forecasts that are high on wind info and low on temperatures. It’s a predicted 31° here in Ventura, but Edmonton is going to only 14°. Brrrr!

Everyone is off for a run before our predicted departure time of 9 am, which is so late so we can return our key and get our deposit back. It’s going to be an 8 to 9 hour run to Marina del Rey.

8:00 am

I can feel the heat from the sun. It’s already starting…

9:10 am

We are off the dock and headed out. We were hopeful with the breeze at dock, but it faded to nothing as we headed through the breakwaters trailing a couple of tourist boats.

So we motor.

10:20 am

Endless beaches. Seriously, it’s been one long series of beaches from about 4 miles outside the Ventura breakwater and there is no end in sight.

From the sea you can see that Ventura exists geographically like a mini Vancouver, sprawled out in a large flat estuary surrounded by mountains on three sides. Up ahead you can see the development come to a fast halt as the mountains come right down to the water, leaving only enough room, and very little of that, for the highway and railroad tracks.

11:21 am

The sails are up! Woohoo! We are in a close reach heading into 12 knots of wind and pointed pretty much where we want to be.

It’s warm winds and bare feet sailing today: super pleasant.

12:20 pm
34° 3.9333′ N,119° 5.7470′ W

Our first big tack out to sea. We are making speeds anywhere from 5 to 6.5 knots over the next few hours depending on how close inshore we get as we tack back and forth.

34° 2.3507′ N,118° 59.8375′ W

We tack again before we have to in order to track closer to a huge pod of porpoises. Then we tack again because the pesky things won’t hold still. Around 1:45 we catch them.

They intersect our path and about 20 or 30 peal off to visit for a while. They zoom along in our bow wake and dance alongside for 5 minutes or so and then take off to catch up to the main group. Still one of the coolest things ever.

2:40 pm
33° 57.7673′ N,118° 55.6155′ W

The wind unfortunately dies after a glorious final sail, but we still have 23 nm to go so we fire up the engine and point toward our destination.

4:22 pm
33° 59.1999′ N,118° 43.2736′ W

We eventually head inshore off our course because it was just too damn boring. Right now we are just off Malibu Beach. I think I can see Charlie’s place from here. I looked it up: that aerial shot from the show (Three and a Half Men) was just past the lagoon.

5:08 pm

More Mylar balloons. These have big 40s on them. They really are a scourge.

5:30 pm

And then another one. I think this is a problem, people.

5:40 pm

And another. Sigh.

We are still cruising close to the beach and not making great progress towards our goal but at least enjoying the scenery. Sea Esta has made it to del Rey, but we’ve got an hour or more still to go.

The shoreline is wall to wall beach houses with the highway right behind. The hillside climbs steeply immediately on the other side of the highway and is dotted with houses, mansions and compounds of all shapes, sizes and architectural preferences. I find out later that the big white one that was kinda out of place was Pepperdine University.

The landscape slowly becomes more and more crowded and less and less hilly as we move south down the coast and LA proper hoves into view.

We also experience dueling traffic copters zooming over the beach which now seems to stretch along the entire coastline. We can see Santa Monica Pier up ahead with its amusement park. I guess that means we are off Santa Monica now.

6:00 pm
34° 1.3410′ N,118° 31.8944′ W

And another balloon.

6:50 pm

We are entering the channel into Marina del Rey right at sunset. A while ago we were part of the tourist scenery as we passed the Santa Monica pier with our full sails out and a glorious sunset behind us. Hundreds of people were crowding the end of the pier and you could see the flashes of cameras going off. Nice to be of service. I wonder if I can write this off somehow?

Anyway, the channel behind the first breakwater is huge with its own traffic separation scheme. The center lane is reserved for sailing boats but everyone is motoring today. We are followed by two other sailboats that seem to know where they are going. All we have is a verbal description from Mark.

It’s a fading light that barely illuminates the massive basin as we enter. Boats are sailing and others are maneuvering and it’s all good. We just motor on by.

There are 6 or 7 huge boat basins that come off this main one. We are looking for Basin D, the fourth one on the port side.

7:30 pm
33° 58.7738′ N,118° 27.1355′ W
Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, Marina del Rey

We found our basin and counted fingers. Sea Esta helpfully turned on their masthead light and we slowly glided down a narrow channel. Sea Esta was tied up in a tiny finger that doesn’t really fit and we needed to do likewise one slip up; it is too narrow for our beam so we are now hanging out. We made it just before dark.

I relaxed, waiting for Tim and Donna to sign in, then hit the yacht club with Mark and Tim for a beer. The people here are very friendly. The yacht club is just 4 guest slips and the clubhouse. Everyone needs to find their own moorage.

We eat dinner in the cockpit and relax as the air starts to cool. Then I head up to grab a shower before bed. And put on clean clothes. The sailing is done for me and I can revert back to street clothes again.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Fourteen: The End

Sept 28

6:50 am awake

I got up and had my traditional coffee in the cockpit. I’m gonna miss that. I spent some time watching the to and fro of the marina. A fire truck just backed out of the complex and it had a stand-up paddle board strapped to the top. I guess we really are in LA.

The crew took off for a run and I headed off at a more sedate pace to walk down to Venice Beach. They will give me a call when they are finished their tribulations and we will meet for breakfast.

I walk down Ocean to Washington and head for the seaside. Almost to the beach, I encounter a young crazy dude railing against two tattooed muscle boys outside a crowded coffee place. The tattooed dudes are all like “ya ya, move it along” and the crazy one is all like “it’s a violation of nature and the constitution and shit.” I just keep on trucking.

A mile or so after leaving Marina Del Rey I reach the Venice Pier and see my first real “California” beach. Did you know the sand is groomed overnight? Not a footprint on most of it. There are a few casual commuters this early but mostly it’s just me and the surfers at 8:30 am. I’m not sure if it’s a pre-work surf or just the start of a very long day of hanging 10.


I walk out pier a bit to observe their technique and then head back to start walking down the beach. The shadows are still long and the sand is incredibly pristine. I guess the beaches are as “manicured” as the people here in Tinsel Town.

I get tired of plodding through the sand and walk down the path, which as I am later corrected, is actually the boardwalk. The walk is still pretty sleepy with none of the shops open yet.


I wander through a movie set or tv show being filmed or something. I was just looking at all the tents and food and stuff when I noticed them off loading gear and all the movie trailers, I suppose filled with starlets and famous types. I thought about asking what it was and then I thought I would just wander off before I was escorted off.

The big black and white LAPD helicopter buzzed the beach a couple of times…this is just like being in TV! There are cops and life guards and ooh, it’s just so exciting.

Mark called and told me to pick a place for breakfast so I headed back toward the pier. As I approached the coffee shop where the confrontation happened there were 3 or 4 cop cars and motorcycles and 2 LA fire engines. The crazy dude was surrounded by casual-seeming, uniformed personnel and the muscle dudes were nowhere to be seen. I have to imagine the situation escalated after I left. But it didn’t look like they were gonna do much to crazy dude; although I wonder why the overwhelming response of equipment and people.

We met for breakfast at the Terrace. While I sat in Venice Beach just on the outskirts of Santa Monica (which was my next destination after breakfast), what should come on the radio but All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow. It made me laugh.

I parted ways with everyone as they headed back to the boat and then on to Costco. I retraced my steps back down the beach heading to the Santa Monica Pier which was apparently about 6K away. Things were starting to open now. Everything from head shops to t-shirts places to surf shops. Along the way I encountered Muscle Beach, with its weight equipment and even a mini-stadium. It’s a real thing but unfortunately had no muscle dudes to populate it. Maybe its a summer thing?

Bike rentals seem to be the big thing here with literally dozens of places that rent all sorts of bikes. There is also a Green Doctors medical marijuana analysis business with tons of franchisees all dressed in lime green scrubs.

Santa Monica pier is packed with restaurants, shops, an amusement park and even a trapeze school where you could watch wannabe trapeze artists try and fail to fly through the air. It was great fun but man it has to be frustrating to miss, climb back up, miss, climb back up etc. It is also, apparently, the official end of Route 66.


I head into town on my way back and walk down Main Street; lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. As I leave the core I come across those incredibly lush community gardens right in the middle of the residential area. Things grow big here and it’s nice to see the set aside room for gardens. The residential lots are certainly too small to grow anything. The houses range from affluent to ramshackle and the breadth of gardens and boulevard trees is amazing. Everything from palms to azaleas in the boulevards with succulent gardens. And even the occasional well-tended patch of grass. I also passed a couple of dog parks. They are all dirt here; I suppose with the lack of rain that dirt is easier to maintain than grass.


I am so, so hot as I headed back. I bought an ice-cold Gatorade halfway home but the sweat has been pouring off me. The boat is empty when I got back so I drink a couple of gallons of water, soak my face with cold water and relax with a couple more gallons.

Eventually everyone shows up in a cab with their haul from Costco. I help haul the boxes below and finish up my second last blog post while Donna unpacks.

Tim heads out to do some “projects”. The dinghy had been missing from the davits when I got back and I found it over on the dock. He was cleaning it and spraying on UV protectant. I lent a hand applying a stencil he had gotten made up and then we spray-painted the name of the boat on the side.


Somewhere around then I realized I was starting to get sunburnt ankles so I ducked back in to slather on the sunscreen. It would suck to come back painfully burnt on my last day.

All done with chores, Tim and I had a beer and I read for a bit as it started to cool down — it was after 5:30 by then. Sunset comes early here.

There is some talk of heading up to the club for the hockey game but it comes to nothing. A good thing really, since there actually was no game; we were apparently a day early. So we relaxed some more before we sat down in Sea Esta for a lovely Costco roast-chicken dinner and some wine.

It’d been a long hot sweaty day so I hit the shower. Of cours,e while I bring a clean shirt, I forget my towel drying on the life lines. Are you still clean if you use your dirty, sweaty t-shirt to dry off with?

And then it’s time to enjoy my last night in SoCal up on deck. We are waiting for Jim and Mark to return from their galavanting at the club so we can enjoy Tim’s 90-year-old mothers’ pound cake with fresh whipped cream and a good soaking in booze. And then we wait. And wait. And wait. Seems the party is going on up on the club’s deck and it’s not looking like they are going to be disengaging anytime soon. Eventually Donna makes the executive decision that if the mountain isn’t coming to the pound cake, then the pound cake is going to the mountain.

They slice me a delicious piece and then head off to the club to distribute the goodness. It sounds a bit too rowdy up there for someone as sober as I am. I enjoy my piece existing the temptation to just lick off all the whipped cream. But they aren’t gone long (apparently it was a bit too drunk out for them as well) and they bring the remnants back after only a short while.

And then it’s time for bed. I pack most of my stuff and then grab my book to “read” for a bit…mostly with my eyes closed.

Sept 29

6:30 am awake

Last Day. I pack up my remaining stuff and have my last cup of coffee. There was a heavy dew last night so I stay below as everything we didn’t put away is soaked.

Mark has booked a cab for 9:30 so we are good to go. Then I just hang out and chill. I am going to leave my new inflatable pfd behind as my share of the voyage costs. Northwest Passage needs another one with an integrated harness and I had agreed to chip in for beer and fuel and stuff so it’s an equitable exchange, although Tim and Donna kindly insist it’s not necessary. Still, it seems reasonable to me and my bag is already too full.

Then I have my my last, last cup of coffee.

By 8:30 I am already sweating. It’s going to be another hot one. But I left a fleece in my carry-on for home where it’s only going to be 14°.

Tim and I stick our noses in the bilge for a while and scratch our heads over the intermittent bilge pump cycling. At 2:00 am last night the pump started to cycle endlessly. Like on Never for Ever the pump can’t suck out all the water and always drops whatever’s in the hose back into the bilge. But on Northwest Passage the float switch seems to be miss-positioned and it always dumps just enough water to set off the float switch again and restart the cycle. This will just keep happening until someone uses the manual pump to take a tiny bit more water out. Which I did when it woke me up. It seems like it should be an easy fix but you never know. That’s why boats are so much fun.

Eventually Mark called over and we all trouped up to the parking lot to await the cab. A few pictures, smiles, handshakes, hugs and thanks all around and Mark and I were off. Partings can be so abrupt sometimes.

Traffic was light until we hit LAX then it just slowed to a crawl. But eventually we stopped in front of Terminal 2 and Mark and I shook and parted ways. Westjet was a bit further down but oddly to me, all the airlines are actually separated by walls so you have to walk outside. I guess that makes sense in rainless California.


After checking in, walking on to the security is also done outside. It went pretty quick and soon enough I was in line for a slice of pizza to enjoy while I waited. I did see an older couple take a header in the escalator. There were three of them and I think it was a chain reaction with only the fellow on the end remaining in his feet. The other gentleman and a lady were sprawled almost upside down legs and arms akimbo. The attendant did stop the escalator almost immediately but no one made any moves to help right away. Seemed an odd reaction to me. But I think everyone was ok.

10:00 am LAX
33° 56.8032? N,118° 24.2354? W

And then I waited. And typed on my phone and watched the hustle and bustle.

We boarded about 20 minutes before take off. This 737-800 has no entertainment system at all…unusual. My Plus seat comes with complimentary water and massive leg room. The middle seat is a fold down table with a
cup holder and space to store my reader…posh! I get free lunch and free booze (which I don’t avail my self of) and a hot towel for who knows what reason.


California from the air is as strange to me as California from the sea. Low dry mountain ranges interspersed with flat populated areas give way to intermittent drier mountain ranges and densely crowded, flat agricultural zones. Much like the Okanogan, water is seemingly both abundant and completely absent. It is not at all as I have imagined it. I don’t know why I have always associated California with lush even though I know its generally one big desert. Live and learn…

4:00 pm MDT
53° 17.7835? N,113° 34.4861? W

Touchdown. My bag is the first one off the carousel. That never happens.

And voila, c’est tout.

Vancouver to LA: The Wrap up

Well I have been home for a few days, and sorting through my 1200+ images and movies. Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of “fantastic” shots. I guess the ocean kind of looks the same after a while unless you are actually there. And a lot of the real interesting stuff was impossible to get a shot of. I have gone through and fixed a few things in my blog entries and extracted some data as well as plotted all my waypoints and gathered all my statistics. I will jot them down here for posterity.

Northwest Passage is now in Newport, CA and on their way south to San Diego. I am pretty bummed that I couldn’t do the whole trip but at the same time pretty glad to be home. They will pick up more crew at the end of October in San Diego and then head south with the Baja Hah, before making their way to their final destination of Zihuateneo, Mexico. I am so grateful I got to do this trip. Thanks Tim and Donna!

My Final Take

It wasn’t that hard. I was worried that a long offshore voyage wouldn’t be for me, but in the end, while it was challenging and occasionally intense, it really wasn’t that difficult. Like all things sailing, prudence goes a long way.  I think if we had done a lot more overnights then having more crew would have been good, because your energy levels start to diminish over time. But overall it was a fairly pleasant journey with the minimum of nerve-wracking experiences and a lot of glorious ones.

Having a solid boat counts for a lot. Watching Sea Esta X bob and bounce over the swell and comparing it to the real sense of secureness I felt on Northwest Passage, I can certainly begin to see where all the bluewater boat arguments come from. Because on a long downwind sail like that, it is the swell that you affected by much more than the wind.

Would I do it again? Yup.

The Stats

  • Trip length: 29 days
  • Travel days: 20 days
  • Travel hours: 232:25
  • Total km: 2392.4
  • Total nm: 1291.9
  • Hours motoring: 200 hrs
  • Fuel used 520 L
  • Overnight sails: 3
  • Longest leg: 54 hrs

Daily Distances

Day Kilometers Nautical Miles Hours
1 84.4 45.576 5:00
2 45.7 24.678 5:20
3 165 89.1 15:40
4 76.1 41.094 7:25
5 130 70.2 12:25
6 271 146.34 25:45
7 cont’d cont’d cont’d
8 0 0 0:00
9 0 0 0:00
10 151 81.54 13:45
11 0 0 0:00
12 0 0 0:00
13 498 268.92 54:00
14 cont’d cont’d cont’d
15 cont’d cont’d cont’d
16 166 89.64 16:25
17 120 64.8 11:45
18 114 61.56 10:50
19  0 0 0:00
20 212 114.48 20:50
21  cont’d cont’d cont’d
22  0 0 0:00
23  0 0 0:00
24 141 76.14 11:45
25 71.6 38.664 7:10
26 43.6 23.544 4:00
27 103 55.62 10:20
28  0 0 0:00
29  0 0 0:00
 Totals 2392.4 km 1291.9 nm 232:25 hrs

Embedded map version

This is a map of all the actual waypoints I recorded along the way. I used it to calculate the distances. A lot of times when we were sailing we would be tacking back and forth which may not be represented in the paths or the stats above so the numbers are approximate.


Google My Maps version

Google My Maps seems to need a Google account to access it, although I can’t prove that. That’s why I embedded my KML file above so I won’t be dependant on Google. But zoom in and check out some of the harbour entrances and remember most of them were done in the fog or the dark or both.