Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Channel Islands Harbour Oxnard

We feel like we are in Mexico already!   The weather is magnificent – 80 degrees of dry heat each day, cooling down in the evening making it very comfortable for sleeping.  No rain.  Blue skies.  The sea is 21 degrees.  The beaches in southern California go on forever – mile after mile of curling surf and golden sands, buffeted by palm trees and framed by mountains.  Bougainvillia, Bird of Paradise and so many varieties of succulents- all in enormous proportions - enhance the landscape.  We’ve been wearing our bathing suits, eating our meals in the cockpit and enjoying every bit of it.

We left Morro Bay as planned for our overnight passage after breakfast on October 21.  We motored for the first couple hours, then a very good wind came up and we sailed on a beam reach at 6 knots until sunset.  It was a rather misty day and we were far enough off shore that all we could see were the headlands in the haze.  The wildlife continued to be abundant and I even saw what I later identified as a 6 foot Mako shark, making its way just under the surface of the water.  

A lovely half moon rose and the wind and waves died.  We passed the Cape Horn of the Pacific (Cape Conception) under starry skies and little wind progressing along with the help of the Yanmar.  We arrived in Santa Barbara, unscathed, just after sunrise.

We were hosted by the Santa Barbara Yacht Club for our first night and enjoyed watching the comings and goings of commercial fisherman bringing home a variety of catch from sea urchins and rock crab to spiny lobsters and white fish.  

The Santa Barbara harbour is huge with hundreds of pleasure boats both power and sail, as well as a busy fishing fleet. 

Stearns Wharf across the top - Yacht Club at the bottom - we were on the docks to the right

The marina is immaculate.  The beaches surrounding it are gorgeous – we watched a machine combing them one morning!  

Doug looking down the beach in front of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club
The city itself is picture perfect with no high rises and surrounded by the east/west Santa Ynez mountains that contribute to the area’s Mediterranean climate.

Ka'sala on the SBYC guest dock surrounded by hundreds of yachts

Not a great shot, but looking down the beach toward the yacht club and marina.  We massaged our toes in this gorgeous sand several times during our stay
We spent our three days there walking the beaches and riding our bicycles just enjoying the balmy air and the views.

 We also took in a bit of culture, visiting the lovely Courthouse and Mission.

Built in the late 1920's after the great earthquake of 1925, this beautiful structureis  filled with historical murals, artifacts and lovely galleries, hallways and rooms.

Fascinating clock tower room with surrounding time piece mural 

Lovely light filtered through this spiral staircase in the Courthouse
In the clock tower of the  Courthouse looking south over Santa Barbara to the marina and ocean beyond

Mission at Santa Barbara - The  Franciscans  estabished it in the late 1700's - one of their many missions stretching from San Diego to San Francisco

We couldn’t resist the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company on Stearn’s Wharf where we tucked in to a feed of local crab and shrimp.

Rock Crab with the trimmings - YUM!
A satisfied customer!
Wandering down boutique and cafe lined State Street, the main shopping area of Santa Barbara, was an architectural treat.  Though we didn’t buy anything, we enjoyed window shopping and people watching.

A typical scene on State Street 

A secret doorway inside the theatre.  Almost all of Santa Barbara was destroyed by an earthquake in 1925 and rebuilt in Spanish Revival Style prevalent throughout the city.  This particular entranceway put me in mind of Intramuros in Manila.

Unfortunately, Santa Barbara is also very expensive, so after three days it was time for us to move on.  On Sunday, October 25, we left after breakfast in hopes of having an enjoyable sail to the Channel Islands Harbour in Oxnard – a distance of about 30 nautical miles.   It was not to be, however, as the wind stayed below five knots, and we “African Queened” it along on flat seas at 2200 rpm.

As we motored along, I couldn't help but think about the original inhabitnts of this beautiful place.  The Chumash people lived along the coast of Southern California for thousands of years before first contact with the Spaniards beginning with Cabrillo in 1542.  When settlement began in earnest in the late 18th century it didn't take too long for this entire nation dwindled from over 20,000 to less than 1500. Their homelands had stretched from modern day Morro Bay to Los Angeles and by the end of the 18th century what remained of the Chumash people were living on a 127 acre reserve.  Today their language and most of their culture is lost.

We are the guests of the Channel Islands Yacht Club here in Oxnard.  This small club is generous with reciprocity and we are very comfortable in their clean marina.

Channel Islands Yacht Club

It is funny how the little things make you so happy on a sailboat.  There are washers and dryers!  I was able to catch up on all our laundry just a few paces from the boat!  We also have shore power – so that means I can use my little dust buster vacuum cleaner instead of crawling on my hands and knees with a hand held whisk and dustpan (which never works well).  Who would have thunk?

Channel Islands Harbour is an unusual place.  Geographically, it looks like it was once an enormous estuary.  There is a bar with a protecting breakwater that leads into the marina area and inside there are thousands of boats down channels in several marinas.

This arial picture shows the entire expanse of the Channel Islands Harbour.  At the top are the marinas we are in docked in the upper right quadrant-  part way down is a bridge and in the foreground is the many waterways lined with houses and docks 

This photo shows the upper region of the Channel Islands harbour with the bar and breakwater.

At the far end are tracts of houses with two car garages in the front, and docks in the channel in the back to park boats.
These channels have "street" names on every corner

A typical house on one of the canals - these curious little electrical boats, like Todaloo are prevalent.  The local grocery store has a dock for provisioning!
Along the beach side is a phalanx of houses, on either sides of two streets with spectacular ocean views.   Everything is clean and well ordered, though architecturally diverse in appearance and size.   The area is serviced by a series of outdoor strip malls.  There doesn’t appear to be any “downtown” or any cultural centre – perhaps that is farther inland. We did not see a lot of adults or children about – it seems like the average age in this community might be quite high.  Even the yacht club where we are staying has recently installed an elevator!  Yesterday we explored by bicycle and today we investigated the many channels  by kayak. The wildlife still proliferates!

Leave it to sea lions to find a comfortable place to sleep!
An elegant heron close by  Ka'sala

We have met other cruisers on the dock here.  One couple, down from Portland last year on their way to Mexico, love it so much they have stayed.  Another couple, Brian and Mary Alice, who have circumnavigated the world (and then some) aboard Shibui, a 44 foot Norseman, are on their way to Hawaii and Alaska.  Most of the other boats in this marina are powerboats with a smattering of liveaboards.

Squeezed in by powerboats, but on the dock at the Channel Islands Yacht Club

Tomorrow we head out to sea again heading for Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles - about 40 nautical miles south.  We are looking forward to staying at the Pacific Mariner’s Club – where we spent a week on our way down south five years ago.

Still time for boatwork!

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