SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
We said goodbye to our American friends that we had been traveling with, as we hooked up with some of our fellow Canadian Contingency (Reaction, Wandering Star and Ocean Girl) to sail over to the Channel Islands. En route to Santa Cruz Islands, we were visited by a pod of whales twice in one day.
Cruising the Channel Islands provides a view of California that is in stark contrast to the crowded marinas we would have encountered harbor hopping down the mainland. The islands have a pristine beauty of their own, almost treeless, rising 2434 feet with very steep-to shores. The shoreline is diverse and features steep cliffs, huge sea caves, coves and sandy beaches.
Initially we found it hard to find an anchorage big enough for all our boats to swing as the anchorages on the island are small and rather unprotected. The Santa Ana winds are always a concern so we were keeping a close watch on the weather conditions. We finally anchored in Pelican Bay. The first night we had a great happy hour on Ascension.
The next day we planned to explore the Painted Caves, the largest Sea Caves in the world. However we awoke to dense fog and we were not completely sure where the cave opening was. We decided to take 2 boats to where we thought the sight might be, about 5 miles away. We sent 2 dinghies to scout the shoreline in the thick fog and the cave openings were finally located.
The walls of the cave are about 80 feet high at the entrance, and flanked by boulders. The ceiling rises to more than 125 feet inside and slopes down to about 20 feet at the rear. The magnificent greens, yellows and reds in the caves were awesome. There was a loud surge running into the caves which was thunderous and very scary! About 600 feet into the cave you had to alter course into the side chamber, which extends 150 feet in total darkness. I shone the light around and practically blinded a poor sea lion sleeping on a ledge in the back of the cave.
We all decided to head for the other side of the Island to Smugglers Cove for the night. We awoke the following morning to thick smoke and soot all over our decks from the California forest fires which we could see blazing across the channel on the mainland. The fires were a real tragedy destroying over 2600 homes and taking the lives of at least 28 people.
We headed out at 4 AM for Catalina Island. We ended up sailing on glassy seas and all around you could look out in any direction and see dolphins jumping out of the water. We dodged colored balloons for miles and miles as they bobbed around in the water, probably the remains of a celebration of some kind, who knows from where. It was a lazy day and Dale on Reaction baked cheese buns and Shirley on Wandering Star did laundry.
Our little Canadian armada dropped the hook in Catalina Harbor 13 hours later. Santa Catalina Island is a rugged island and a favorite spot for tourists from the mainland. However, being off season, it was relatively uninhabited with other boats.
We enjoyed taking the dinghies to shore and walking around the island. A short distance to Two Harbors, we discovered Epic 5 (EJ & Mike) anchored, so visited with them on the beach.
One dark night at anchor, we received an email from our good friend Jane who we sadly left behind in the Okanagan. She mentioned that another friend, Jim, had been to Catalina Island and was enthralled by the flying fish that appeared when a flashlight was shone over the water. We immediately grabbed a light and went out to try it. And it really worked!! Fish were jumping out of the water everywhere. Before long everyone in the whole anchorage was shining flashlights out over the water and the bay was boiling with little fish.
Since it was raining down ash and soot in San Diego we decided to spend more time on Catalina Island until conditions improved. However, Wandering Star decided to leave a day early because they were anxious to reach San Diego.
Since the weather looked favourable, we decided to head out for San Diego which was about a 18 hour sail away. Reaction, Ocean Girl and Ascension left the bay around 3 PM and had an enjoyable evening sail. The dolphins again left their sparkly iridescent trails like green torpedoes darting around the boat. We played "oldies" songs on the radio and drank hot chocolate long into the night.
Click here for Photos SIDNEY TO SAN DIEGO