August 1, 2005

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We've been in Ventura Harbor for almost a month.  The days are flying by, and we're having such fun!  Following is a recap of our month.

We threw off the dock lines in Ensenada early on the morning of July 7.  As always, we were wishing we could sail, but wanted to make it to San Diego before the office for the public dock closed at 5 p.m.  So we had to raise the iron sail (i.e., turn on the motor).  The wind and current were working against us and we arrived too late to get a $10 public slip.  We paid $75 for a slip at the Kona Kai Marina next door.  Ouch.  In the morning, we enjoyed using their nice facilities, then promptly moved over to the public dock to wait for Sean to arrive on the Amtrak that evening.  We had the whole day to kill and were excited that Ray came down to have lunch with us.  He agreed to loan us his car for the afternoon so we could go shopping for provisions.  After shopping, we picked up Sean at the train station, went back to Ray's office, and he returned us all to the boat.  What a great friend!

Sean told us he wanted to sail (not motor).  He didn't care how long it would take, or if we had to tack back and forth to catch the wind, he just wanted to sail to Ventura.  So we were ready to zig-zag up the coast, and take as long as we needed.  We cast off the lines in the early calm of the next morning.  Much to our disappointment, the winds never came.  The total trip took us about 25 hours, and only 2 of those hours were spent sailing.  Those 2 hours were really fun, though, because we had about 20 knots of wind which gave us a great ride!  The rest of the time, we just listened to music, relaxed and motored along on flat seas.  The only other hiccup was with the watermaker.  Our watermaker is installed under the forward berth.  We were running the watermaker and Mike went down to check on the progress.  He noticed that there seemed to be moisture around that area, which is not good.  We turned off the watermaker and Mike would have to tear things apart when we got to port to figure out the problem.  Arrived in Ventura about 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, where Keni and Kailyn joined us later for a cook-out.

Our first week back in California was filled with boat chores and family events.  We discovered that the watermaker had a defective bolt.  It had been squirting water through a hole in the bolt.  In addition, the water was hitting the bow thruster mechanism and corroded the connectors on it.  That explained why the bow thruster failed on us when we got to our slip in Ventura.  Mike ordered new bolts for the watermaker and rewired the bow thruster.  Now everything is working beautifully again.   For fun stuff, we attended Kimberly's co-ed softball league game, Blake's basketball practice, and all the kids came up for a day on the boat.  Then, Dave (Bella) drove Ian (Witch Way) from Ensenada to LAX so he could catch a flight back home to New Zealand, and they stopped by to visit. It was great to see them again.  I already felt like I had been gone from Mexico for so long. 

 Connie and Lew (pictured right) came by to hang out with us one afternoon, so we whipped up margaritas and chips with salsa and pretended like they were visiting us in Mexico.

When Bill and Monica were here we took Aquila out and flew the asymetrical spinnaker.  What fun that was!   It took us a little while to figure it all out, but we got her up and flying with only 2.5 to 3 knots of wind.  We bought a spinnaker launching bag (box bag) so we can store the spinnaker on the deck and not worry about stuffing her down and pulling her out of the forward cabin hatch.  We were having trouble figuring out where to stow such a big sail, so this was our solution.  It works great.  Billy and Mikey spent a lot of time discussing Ray's upcoming retirement party.  Watch out, Ray!


With Larry and Mary (pictured right) we enjoyed our longest day of pure sailing on Aquila.  We had 14 to 18 knots of wind all day and sailed around for about 6 hours.  It was fun being out with experienced sailors and we even practiced heaving-to.  Heaving-to is a heavy weather storm tactic which basically stops you and holds you in a weather-friendly direction (about 45-50 degrees off the wind), so you can rest, or ride-out a storm.  The method is the same for most boats, but the sail balance is different and should be practiced.  We will continue to practice this maneuver in a variety of sea and wind conditions.  Even though they spent 2 nights on the boat with us before returning to North Carolina, we never feel like we have enough time together to get caught up with these good friends.  We're looking forward to the day when we will all be sailing together to far away places.  I hope Larry's toes aren't broken.  He got a nasty boat bite the first morning on a wet slippery deck.  His second and third toes had an abrupt meeting with our toerail.  We never heard one word of complaint from him, but we watched his toes turn purple over the next day and a half.

A very special event this month was our 4-day trip to Catalina Island with Kimberly, Lance and the kids.  They came down to spend the night on the boat so we could leave early in the morning.  We got underway about 6:45 a.m., and encountered large swells once we got out of the harbor.  Garrett woke up seasick and after the first hour, when the swells were still large and frequent, Kimberly and Lance decided that we needed to turn around.  They decided to take Garrett and Paige with them on the Catalina Ferry and join us in Avalon the next morning.  Blake (our 7-yr-old grandson) would stay with us for the 12 hour sail.  At 9 a.m. we were underway again, and had a good voyage over.   Blake enjoyed taking pictures of the large jellyfish that floated by and the huge freighters that passed by.  But the greatest excitement came from the dolphin encounters.  Absolutely amazing.  We saw hundreds of dolphins throughout the day.  Blake took some great photos.  He's a great little sailor, a real natural.  See the July photo album for more pictures of our Catalina adventure.

  We tried our best to arrive in Avalon before dark, but couldn't do it.  We had to pick up a mooring in a very crowded cove next to Avalon harbor, in the dark, in the wind.  Mike snaked us through the other boats and turned over the helm to Linda at the last minute so he could go forward and grab the mooring pick-up stick.  But the wind blew us away and we had to make another approach.  At Catalina Island, the moorings have a bow and stern line which must be connected.  I think they do that because they pack the boats in so tight, they don't want anyone swinging around.   Mike was definitely ready for a beer after we finally got hooked up.  It was a bit of a rolly night in this location.  In the morning, we were not happy to discover that the mooring lines had rubbed against our beautiful blue hull after the wind shifted during the night.  It doesn't look good for our paint job.  We'll have to see if it can be polished out.

Kimberly, Lance, Garrett and Paige arrived in Avalon the next morning on the Catalina Express.  We took the long dinghy ride over to the dock to pick them up.  The dinghy dock is not very large, and the dinghys are tied up 3 deep.  It was a challenge to squeeze in there and then get everyone back to the boat.  Gratefully, the harbor master allowed us to move to a mooring right there in Avalon Harbor for our second night.  It was a more comfortable spot and easier to motor around in the dinghy and go kayaking.  We spent a few hours in the afternoon with the kids at the beach.  On the third day, we sailed to Two Harbors at the other end of Catalina Island, and picked up a mooring for the night.  There were plenty of people there, too, but it had a much more relaxed atmosphere.  Avalon was cute, but very touristy.  At Two Harbors we were tucked in close to the cliff and the kids had fun exploring and playing on the beach.  We went for a hike up the hill and got a fantastic view of the harbor.

The following morning at about 8 a.m., we took all the kids to the shore so we could start sailing back to Ventura.  The first ferry they could catch back to their car in Long Beach didn't pick up at Two Harbors until noon.  But we couldn't wait that long to leave.  We knew it would take us at least 10 hours to get back (it took 12).  The funniest thing that happened was when we lifted the motor off of the dinghy.  Mike was in the dinghy and Linda hoisted the motor up to the stern rail mount.  Then Mike said "Uh-oh, I'm drifting away!"  We forgot to tie the dinghy line to the boat.  And with no motor, and no paddle, Mike tried to hang over the side of the dinghy and paddle with his arms.  He gave up, as he drifted farther and farther away.  He grabbed the line and after checking his pockets to make sure he didn't have a wallet, he jumped in the water and swam the dinghy back to the boat.  Linda was dying of laughter, as I'm sure many other on-lookers were doing.

Our voyage back was 62 miles, and only 2 hours were spent purely sailing.  We had to motor the remainder of the time.  We started out making good time and thought we'd be in early.  But the weather changed, and we had to motor through choppy seas with 20 to 25 knots of wind on the bow.  Even so, we greatly enjoyed the trip.  Linda doesn't seem to get seasick anymore, and the dodger makes the ride so much nicer (warm and dry).

Our month finished with a family gathering at Kimberly and Lance's house for a cookout to celebrate the birthdays of Paige (age 2), Garrett (age 5), and Kimberly (30-something).  Paige and Garrett's Great-Grandma Marion was there, Grandpa Lee and Grandma Linda, and Uncle Sean and Cousin Kailyn.

Check out the photos from July in the July 2005 Photo Album! 

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