The weekend of September 22-24 was the last cruise on SBSPS 2023 calendar. Calm seas and light winds on Friday made for a relatively quick and easy motoring for Point lead, Scott Burns & wife Lisa, and Boris Alves to Pelican Bay anchorage where 3 sailboats: 30′ Catalina similar to Burns’ Benchmark, a well-outfitted J-31 from San Francisco, and a 40′ Beneteau.
After laying stern & bow anchors, dinghy and kayaks were offloaded and lunch served under clear skies. Then Lisa showed Boris her favorite kayak destination, Hole in the Wall, with the blowhole cave that Lisa calls dragon’s breath because it sprays a mist of ocean water, depending on the tide. Water temperature was 66.
Scott brought a printed copy of the Nature Conservancy’s trail guide from Prisoners to Pelican. A pdf of the guide can be found at https://islandpackers.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Pelican-Trail-Guide-.pdf Boris kayaked over the steps of the old hotel, now covered with barnacles. Scott took a safer way to land using a dinghy or kayak to the small pebble beach around the east point of Pelicans.
Winds picked up in the late afternoon and 2 sailboats left, making us wonder what they knew, however the evening winds did not disturb our well-anchored 30′ Catalina, Benchmark, with 150′ scope on either end.
On Saturday, Libertad arrived at Pelicans with exciting news of seeing whales, including a pod of Orcas working together to catch fish. We made arrangements for appetizers and dinner on their beautifully remodeled ketch.
Sunday was a completely different sail for Benchmark as all three sailboats at Pelicans sailed together to Santa Barbara. The crew of the Benchmark saw whales breach airborne, another whale repeatedly slapped its fluke to capture fish, and dolphins with their calves swam by.
We had a meeting on Friday evening, so Libertad had to head out Saturday morning to join our monthly cruise. When we were at Catalina, we found that our outboard would not idle. Dennis spent a day or two fiddling with it with no success. Fortunately he could order a new carburetor and it was delivered the day before we were to leave. The outboard now runs great. Pelican anchorage was the destination and we would be using two anchors. Using our stern anchor takes a bit of prep before leaving the dock as we manage it off of our bow roller. Dennis pulled the anchor out from the depths of its storage locker, attached the chain leader and long rope rode, and positioned the anchor on the bow, next to our main anchor, with the rode pulled along the port toerail to the stern of the boat. Once we had it all secured, we headed out.
We motorsailed most of the time, but were able to turn off the engine as we approached windy lane. We saw so much marine life that day. Just off our port for a good portion of the trip we saw whales, dolphins, more whales, sea lions, and then all three together for a bit. It was amazing. They weren’t doing a lot of acrobatics; it appeared to be a feeding frenzy. As we got nearer the island and were sailing, we saw orcas on our starboard side. They were being the true wolves of the sea by circling and corralling their prey. After watching them for awhile we saw the Double Dolphin whale watching catamaran in the distance, headed our way. We have never seen so much marine life on a trip across to Santa Cruz. Sorry for the lousy pictures – just couldn’t keep the camera still!
When we arrived at the anchorage, the crew of Benchmark, and likely the other two boats, settled in to watch the show. It does take us some time to scope a spot, drop our stern anchor from the bow, walk along the side deck managing the rode as it pays out to make sure it doesn’t get near the prop while we motor forward to drop the bow anchor and then go into reverse to center ourselves between the two anchors. There was some wind in the anchorage and we were a bit closer to the Beneteau than we planned. They were only on one anchor and we wanted to give them more swinging room. As we were working to realign ourselves, they deployed their stern anchor and all was well.
It was a lovely day. We enjoyed our lunch in the cockpit and relaxed a bit before gathering the group aboard for happy hour, dinner, and lots of stories. Scott and Boris were part of the crew when we delivered Libertad to Ensenada for some refurbishing (varnishing and painting) about a year ago. Dennis wanted to launch the dinghy on Sunday morning and run over to Prisoner’s Harbor and go ashore to look for island foxes. Nevertheless, the wind picked up early the next morning and it was deemed necessary to head for home. So we still need to have a sea trial of the dinghy.
We all left the anchorage about 9am Sunday morning, with three of us headed for Santa Barbara. We had enough brisk wind as we first headed out and were crossing windy lane and kept enough wind to sail most of the way home. Unlike Benchmark, Libertad saw very little marine life on Sunday. We saw a few whales spouting in the distance. It was a very pleasant overnight trip, which left us hoping for some good boating weather weekends in the coming months.