October 25, 2014
Only 15 minutes in southern California, and we had a “celebrity experience!” We were gliding along in the Channel Islands Marina in Oxnard after an all-night sail around Point Conception, when what do we see on the end tie of the dock next to ours but Ragland – Neil Young’s big old wood ketch. I said to Birgit, “Hey, look, that’s Neil Young’s old boat.” It had been for sale in the northwest a while ago.
A round-headed old guy working on deck looked up when he heard me say that. It was Neil Young! We heard later from some people we ran into while walking that Neil Young either bought the boat back, or failed to make a sale, and was living (and holding jam sessions) on board. And we’re not even in Hollywood!
We left Morro Bay to do the 120 nautical miles to Oxnard Thursday morning, with the forecast for northwesterly winds of 10 to 20 knots with gusts to 25. Maybe a little more than we would like, but it was apparently as good as we were going to get. Further on, the forecast offered southerly wind, then as much as 40 knots from the north. By the way, just to get it said for less nautically-inclined readers, a knot is a nautical mile per hour. A nautical mile is 6,076 feet, useful for mariners in this metric age because it is exactly equal to one minute of latitude. One nautical mile equals 1.15 US statute miles, or 1.85 kilometers.
As it turned out, we had a great sail south for about seven hours, the best of the trip so far. Later in the day the wind died down and we motor-sailed around Point Conception and past the oil platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel. One of the cruising books we have describes Point Conception as “The Cape Horn of the Pacific,” which is a bit of hyperbole, but gets across the idea that it is often tough to get around, and that is a significant geographical spot.
It’s the place where you start to think about long-term storage of your foul weather gear. For example, we were eating dinner at an outside table at a local restaurant when some wisps of fog began to blow across the marina. “I just love it when it does that!” the busboy exclaimed. “You should move to Seattle,” we remarked. He said he had thought about it because he loved the “indie film scene there.” Ah, southern California.
The marina and the area around it has a lot of what we don’t love about southern California. Without a car you have few options, and most of the jumbled, omnipresent architecture looks like it was built to last ten years. The beautiful, barren Channel Islands lie just a few miles away, as if to say, “Look what you started with, and what you have done with it…”
You don’t get a lot of sleep on a 24 hour sail, unlike getting into the rhythm of “four-on, four-off” on a longer passage. So we’re in that delicious phase of catching up on sleep and food, and doing much-needed clean up, including a hot shower.
We’ll be here a week, meeting up with Hannah, doing an oil change, and provisioning for the run south. One stop in San Diego to top off fuel and water and pick up some final items we shipped to friends of Andy’s, and then we’ll be South of the Border!