Tuesday, October 20, 2009

bye for awhile

Probably won't be blogging much for awhile. Our "underwater" camera died, and our position will be relatively static for the next few weeks while I dig in to teaching fall term courses. We'll also be seeing lots of family and friends, and doing some boat maintenance. Tonight we'll spend our first night off the boat in over 10 weeks, as I need to lay down a few coats of varnish on the cabin sole. My cousins are loaning us their beach cottage, only a few blocks from where the boat is moored.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

back to Catalina

Last week, we had some nice family time with Juli, Willie, Vaughn, and Lila, and the first rain since leaving Oregon. As soon as the rain ended, we headed back to sea and returned to Catalina for the Lats and Atts (sailing magazine) "Cruisers' Bash." Saw several whales and pods of dolphins on the way, and even had a hitchhiker part of the way - a tired little goldfinch on his way to who knows where.

The Cruisers' Bash turned out to be not much of an event, besides meeting a few other Mexico-bound boats, but we did get our pictures taken with the one and only Bob Bitchin. Heck, that was worth the trip in itself! We've also had some nice snorkeling (sorry forgot to bring the camera along this time) -- today I was swimming among a school of about 100 barracudas, and saw an octopus and lobster as well! Morning hikes in the hills above Two Harbors have been nice too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

another Newport

We've traveled over 1000 miles now, from Newport, Oregon to Newport Beach, CA. This will be our base for the next couple of months, while fall term classes are in session. And it's a great spot for cruisers. Despite being surrounded by multi-million dollar homes, there is a free anchorage in the center of the harbor, and moorings are available for $5/night. However, the main reason we're here is that my niece and her family live only a mile or two away. Family time!

Amazingly, we have rain in the forecast for tomorrow night and Wednesday! We'll head back to Catalina on Thursday, in time for the weekend Cruiser's Rendezvous sponsored by Latitudes and Attitudes magazine.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back to the beginning

We are now at Catalina Island, where it all began. This picture shows me at the helm of my parents' sailboat at about age 5 or 6. The Casino at (a much smaller) Avalon is in the background. Vicki and I were also married in sight of the Casino, on a friend's sailboat, in 1981. We sailed our first boat, Mischief, to Catalina at least 50 times in the early 80s. So it's nice to be here this week. Our 28th anniversary is next Saturday, and hopefully we'll be here to celebrate!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New islands

We finally left Santa Barbara after 11 days in a slip, our longest period of inactivity since we started the trip. Part of this layover was due to the start of fall term at OSU and Mark's need to be online communicating with 70 new students; then Chica's death; and finally a 2-day blow that saw peak winds of over 70 knots at nearby Anacapa Island.

Monday we had a nice sail back out to the islands. It was so calm we decided to anchor at Anacapa, even though "East Fish Camp" wasn't much more than a dent in the rugged coastline. When we awoke during the night, we saw why the anchorage was so named; we were surrounded by the lights from over 2 dozen fishing boats! Some were still there in the morning.

Tuesday, after visiting the lighthouse on Anacapa, we had to motor nearly the entire 35 miles to Santa Barbara, the smallest and most remote of the Channel Islands that are accessible to the public (two are used by the Navy and are generally off-limits). On our way across this large, empty expanse of water we actually had to change course to avoid a freighter for the first time on the trip. Santa Barbara is beautiful in the spring, when the giant coreopsis and other plants are in bloom. At this time of year it is just desolate. We took turns ferrying each other to shore for a hike on the island's trails; it was too rough to land the dinghy!

Below the water's surface it is surprisingly beautiful here. The water is crystal clear (athough the photos don't show it well), with visibility up to 100 feet at this time of year. We could see our anchor on the bottom and all 100 feet of the chain leading to it. Sea lions would periodically streak by and check me out underwater.

Today we had a beautiful sail to the place it all began for us, Catalina Island. The 24 mile passage was marked by repeated encounters with dolphins, at least 3 different species of them. The white ones are called Risso's dolphins, they have blunt heads, orca-like fins, and mottled skin patterns, and are about 12 feet long; the dark ones we haven't identified yet, but they were also about 12 feet long and made us a bit nervous as they played near the bow. We didn't get any pictures of the more common bottlenose dolphins.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sad news

This started out to be a perfect day. The sun was out early, so after breakfast we jumped in our kayaks and paddled out to the surf break at the point just west of the harbor. Later in the day, after our chores were done (cleaning, shopping, and OSU classwork) we went for a swim and marveled that it is the first of October. We showered, dressed, and got ready to walk to the Santa Barbara Bowl where we had tickets to see Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

As we sat down to an early dinner, the phone rang. We don't get many calls, and Vicki couldn't get her phone out quickly enough, so she had to return the call. It was Karen, who is caring for our dog. Chica had been unable to get up from her bed for the past two days, so Karen was taking her to the vet. We told her that our own vet had given Chica a clean bill of health only a few months ago. We had seen her back legs go out from under her once before, but she recovered soon and we chalked it up to over-exertion.

The next call was from Karen's vet. An X-ray showed significant damage to Chica's spinal column - the technical details escape us, but it was clear that Chica had been suffering for some time and had come to the end of her days. We agreed that she should be put to rest.

Karen called us once more to let us know Chica had gone peacefully, cradled in her arms.

We're still in shock. Chica was 11 years old, and we knew this could happen, but it all played out so quickly. This is the second time we have lost a dog while we were away from home, and it leaves a big empty place in our hearts. We console ourselves that she had a good life and was always surrounded by people who loved her.

Chica is being cremated, and we will have a small remembrance for her and scatter her ashes when we get back to Woods Creek.

We are so grateful to Greg and Erica, Sue and Al, and Karen and Dave for taking care of her since we started our voyage, and to all our friends who showed her affection over the years.