Journal 23
Journal 3 - San Francisco to San Diego
12th October 2003 :
DANA POINT HARBOUR – Southern California

LOCATION:  33º 27’604” N  117º 42’ 039” W   

anta Barbara was grey and drizzly, very unusual for this time of year,
but we’re being affected by the tropical weather systems down on the
Mexican peninsula – they’ve had a rough time of it with 4 hurricanes in
a 2 week period.  Nevertheless, the grey didn’t dull the stylish elegance
that is Santa Barbara – with a wonderfully eclectic main street serviced
by (inexpensive) electric trolleys, outdoor café’s, plazas and all sorts of
artsy boutiques – my kinda place!!!  It’s interesting for me to go
shopping now, knowing that I cannot buy anything!  Space being the
driver – however, I intend to stick to my pledge of only acquiring wisdom
and jewellery from now on based on the premise that neither takes up
much room.( H-did I bring enough money???)

We were assigned to the end of a very long dock at Santa Barbara
marina, provided with a pink (yes, pink!) toilet tablet(to make sure we do
not discharge the holding tank) and a key to the washrooms – which
were close to 5-star.  It was a pleasant stay, made more enjoyable by a
visit from our Jack London (San Francisco) dockmates, Ernie and Billy,
who just “happened to be in the area”!  The cost of docking at marinas
in Sthn California is expensive, and seemingly more so the further
south one travels – Santa Barbara was $29 a night with no electricity…..
Catalina Island (Avalon Beach), $25 a night for a hole in the water (ok,
complete with mooring ball & line) and San Diego is outrageous, though
we have managed to secure a half month dock rental in a primary
marina for a rate of $18 per night, which is, according to the locals, “a
steal”.   We’ll spend a lot more time anchoring out in the future, but for
the California coast shake-down cruise, tapping into a dock every few
days is a gentle way to break into the cruising lifestyle. Additionally we
have friends all down the coast, so it’s been lovely to have them visit us

BOUQUET: to the Santa Barbara sail maker, William Paxson, who
personally picked up, fixed and delivered our mainsail back to the boat
within 24 hours, then dropped everything the next morning when we
discovered the slider he had added didn’t quite fit our mast track….
immediately deployed his top worker to change it and refused to accept
payment.   He could have ripped us off, knowing we were on a schedule
and the fact that he was the only sail maker in town.  Long live
customer service.

** Note to the Californians – if you’re saying “why are you telling me
this?” or “I knew that!”, be patient, the majority of folks on the
distribution list don’t live in the USA so it’s helpful to be a little more

Technicolour toilets!   California (and no doubt other places in the US)
are rightfully very strict about the disposal of human effluent in
harbours and marinas.  So each boat has to have a “holding tank” for
said waste, per each toilet on board.  So, just to make sure you’re not
dumping effluent overboard in what are mostly pristine marinas, the
Harbour Patrol boards your boat immediately to place a dye tag in your
toilets.  Our Santa Barbara dye tag was fluorescent pink – now, I’ve had
a “blue loo” before, but never a flamingo pink one!!  It was funnier still
as we passaged overnight from Santa Barbara to Catalina…. One pumps
sea water into the loo basin: there is so much phosphorescence in the
water there, that it sparkled like diamonds coming into the bowl, along
with the pink colour – so we had our own technicolour toilet for a while!  
On arrival in Avalon Beach, Catalina,  we had the procedure repeated
but with a yellow dye tag, not quite the same impact !

We left Santa Barbara mid afternoon for a 100 mile overnight passage to
Santa Catalina Island – grey, foggy and damp.  Murphy’s Law dictated
that the fog would pea-soup just as we crossed the shipping channel so
we ran on radar all night with no problems.  Additionally, the shipping
lanes here are almost empty compared to those around Singapore and
Hong Kong/Macau, so we had no issues.  We’re taking turns to nap in
the cockpit about every 2 hours during a night passage.   Eventually one
of us will probably sleep below on a more formalized watch schedule,
but for now, as we’re still becoming more familiar with the in-cockpit
technology, this works for us.   Henry is becoming a whiz-kid on the
Navnet/Radar and I on the GPS  & Weatherfax.  We put the routes and
waypoints into both systems (which run independently) for back-up and
we’re swapping about now – last leg I entered the routes/waypoints into
the Navnet, and Henry, into the GPS.  We decided to leave the marine
gizmo’s off during the 36 mile jaunt from Catalina back to the mainland
and turned everything off, going back to basics, handsteering and using
pencil and paper chart to navigate…it’s good policy to do that.  Whilst
the technology is wonderful, the fact remains that electronics and sea
water are poor bedfellows and at some stage we may have to deal with
the fact that we have zero electronics available.

Catalina Island is a very special place: 25 miles off the mainland coast, it
is a lovely haven for boaters, tourists and locals.  The main center is
Avalon Beach, characterized by colourful Spanish-style tile art, upscale
touristy shops, bars and restaurants perched over the water.  We’d
visited here last year by ferry, but it was such a buzz bringing
DREAMCATCHER in.  The moorings are Hong Kong style: a line tied on
fore and aft.  We came in early and secured our mooring with no
difficulty and then proceeded to watch the entertainment du jour of
other boaters trying to tie up – some of them made a real mess of it, so
we felt quite smug having got it right first time.  Our boat neighbours
were from Dana Point on the mainland and also had a sailboat,
complete with two clearly “salty” felines aboard.  These folks were
friendly and ferried us to and fro in their dinghy, as we’d decided to
leave ours deflated on the foredeck.  We joined them for a pleasant
lunch, it was fun to meet some new people….naturally, conversation was
centered around the Californa election and who Arnie would “terminate”
during his reign!  Once again, the kindness and cordiality of cruisers
was exceptional.

Catalina gave us a chance to relax, eat icecream, have a candlelight
dinner aboard, start reading a book,  and just generally be at one with
the world.  I finally had the time to get my new video camera working, so
hopefully, we’ll have some interesting footage to provide content to our
(up and coming) website.  Henry has secured the domain name – watch
this space !

We arrived at Dana Point yesterday afternoon, to meet Tom and Nancy of
“Liberty”…..finally, under blue skies!!   They also have a Cal 3-46 (the
same boat as DREAMCATCHER) and we’d met last year at the Cal
association meeting…. Henry and Tom have been in constant touch on
boat related topics, and we’ve caught up socially a few times in the past
year.   They guided us into our slip, then took us in the dinghy to their
annual Yacht Club party – what a hoot !!!  There were at least 30 boats
all in a circle, stern to the middle, forming a circular “lake” in the center
which housed dozens of dinghys and a few swimmers.   Everyone was
visiting everyone else’s boats and there was an hors’duerve
competition….which wasn’t entirely objective nor taken too seriously by
anyone: suffice to say the food was plentiful and tasty and once again,
the cordiality just wonderful! We had a great time, were provided with a
super Italian dinner by one of Tom’s neighbours.  We’re discovering he’s
also a computer whizkid and has thus set us up with wireless internet
at the marina, so we’re now sitting on the boat tied up at the dock,
doing email.  Wireless seems to be the communications mode of choice
for marinas on the west coast – we were even able to pick it up from 300
yards offshore in the Avalon Beach mooring, supplied by the Catalina
Island Yacht Club!   It’s a great life.

We’ll head south in a few days, to San Diego, where we’ll attempt to
tackle the 3-page long job list before starting the cruisers rally to
Mexico, the Baja Ha-Ha.  More from San Diego in a couple of weeks…

Glen & Henry