The next morning (Dec 30th) we lifted anchor and sailed south. The wind steadily rose throughout the day and in the late afternoon as we approached Ventura, CA the coast guard announced a gale warning. They called for Santa Ana winds – strong, dry, often warm, east or northeasterly wind – to begin blowing by sunset. We sought shelter in Ventura Harbor and good thing too because the wind started howling mightily and continued to blow for the next 24 hours.
Ventura is a charming beach town, with a mellow vibe and access to some of southern California’s most beautiful wilderness. It’s also just a few hour sail to Channel Islands National Park. The park consists of five Mediterranean-like islands – Santa Barbara Island, Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island and San Miguel Island – that are wild, unspoiled, and host to amazing underwater life. Two summers ago we spent a week on Orion with a bunch of friends exploring the bays and shores of Santa Cruz Island. It was a sweet trip filled with friends, beautiful wildlife and solitude that went down in history as our first voyage on Orion. As we sailed south past the islands this time we felt sad that we weren’t stopping for a visit. We were feeling anxious to move south to the warmer waters of Mexico (thus far the journey had been cold!)… and we’ll be back.
The next day was New Years Eve. We left Ventura at sunset for the ten hour trip to Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles. We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to begin 2015 than out on the water under the stars. We motored sailed under clear skies with our favorite constellations overhead (guess which is our favorite). At midnight fireworks blazed over Ventura and we reflected on the past year and how grateful we are to be living our dream.
With Orion we are part of an awesome community of Tartan TOCK owners. In all only 30 TOCKs (Tartan Offshore Cruising Ketch) were made back in the 70’s and we are in touch with about half of them via a facebook group. The group has been indispensable when it comes to advice about repairs and inquiring about mysterious parts of the boat, as well as inspiration and camaraderie. A fellow TOCK owner, Mike, offered to let us stay as his guest at California Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey. It put us at ease to have a safe place to keep Orion for a week while we visited family and friends and got swept up in the whirlwind that is LA. Plus it was a bonus to meet Mike and his beautiful TOCK, Gypsy Wind.
We bid farewell to Orion and spent a lovely week in the warm sunshine, steep canyons and fragrant chaparral of Topanga Canyon and Agoura Hills. We had a wonderful visit and late Christmas celebration with Jonah’s mom, Karen. We experienced the permaculture transformation of the home of Daniel and Anne-Chris. We relaxed with Marsha and Irie. We also had the pleasure of taking a trip to the store Minnie’s in Newport Beach, which is famous for having the largest array of used sails of any store I’ve ever heard of as well tons of other used gear. We found a used storm jib and used storm trysail of the right dimensions for Orion, thus completing our desired sail quiver (for now).
The morning of January 7th we said goodbye to our loved ones and headed out for twenty-four hour trip to San Diego. We sailed until the wind went dead calm in the lee of Catalina Island. As Orion bobbed in the calm we watched a beautiful sunset and ate a relaxing dinner. Still no wind though. When we realized we were heading slowly northwards we fired up the motor and rumbled south. The ride was uneventful, though the boat traffic got heavier as we approached San Diego. As we rounded Point Loma, the entrance to San Diego Bay, we gave a wide berth to a large naval warship that was exiting. With multiple helicopters flying overhead and plethora of boats of all shapes and sizes zipping this way and that we were welcomed to the most active harbor we’ve yet to sail into (granted we are new at this).