Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Smuggler's Cove

After several days getting our land legs back and generally just getting recharged, enjoying some sun and the fact that we could wake up and put on shorts / sundress because we were back into a warmer latitude, we left for the Channel Islands.  We were aware that there were remnants of a Hurricane Dolores headed our way, providing that rare tropical feel to southern California.  Prediction called for thunderstorms and mixed winds and some good sized swell.  Initially we planned on taking advantage of this and tried to anchor on the north side of Santa Cruz Island and go check out the Painted Cave, usually pestered by the strong W-NW winds.  We had a great sail from Santa Barbara over to Cueva Valdez anchorage towards the west end of Santa Cruz Island.  We put the sails up and barely touched the wheel for the next 4 hours.  Now that's an efficient auto-pilot!

As we approached the islands I scoured the coastline for the supposed anchorage.  Ummm....maybe that small patch of sand there...? or that one there...?  Either way, I was looking through binoculars and even still the anchorages weren't looking that inviting.  I could see people fitting in there. well 1 maybe 2 boats, but it'd be tight and there's no room to swing so it's a must 2 anchor set up.  Also, the Dolores effects hadn't shown up yet and by this time in the afternoon, 4pm, we were seeing 16-18 kts of wind with higher gusts.  Nahhh..... we decided we'd make use of the winds and take a shot at the 25 miles to Smuggler's Cove (a much more protected, wide open and sand bottom anchorage) on the complete other side of the island.

With 25 kts gusting to 30+ we made Smuggler's before 8pm, yep we were sailing fast... (for us anyhow).

We didn't really do much while there, the swell started to build the next morning and made a beach landing pretty treacherous so we never did get to hike around the island, a bit of a disappointment.  We did take out the inflatable sea kayak a couple of times and I went checked the surf around the corner on Tipsy (our tender) but all I can say is that that wave is at best a decent longboard wave at the right tide, with the right wind conditions, even on this S-SE swell.

The highlight (or low light) of the trip will always be the evening of Saturday when the hurricane swell peaked at about 6 feet, which was manageable, until we got a 2 foot cross chop from the east and that really mixed things up.  We went on permanent anchor watch for the next 12 hours as we got batted around.  We watched the other boats suffering the same way but none of us had dragged as the sun was setting so we dozed off, me in the cockpit with shoes on and Monica down below. We didn't sleep much but did make it through the night.  Things calmed down around 4am.  This is a picture of our anchor watch app as the winds shifted (just called Anchor! - works on GPS so anywhere in the world basically, and if you have cell service it will add satellite imagery).  You can see we held pretty well.  This is over the course of 24 hours

We had a good fleet of boats anchored nearby, except this barney in the video below.  He did end up moving after Monica and I sat on the decks staring him down for 20 minutes.  (by the way, I'm working on getting a better quality video, they look great on my phone but when I send them anywhere, email, youtube, facebook, dropbox, the phone software seems to be downsizing them and ruining them, I'm open to suggestions....?)

And we did get 3 1/2 gorgeous days with ocean temps in the low 70s so Monica celebrated by cannon balling several times!  Yes we like warmer climes....