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.