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November 2007

Dear Friends:

Though I know I am a gypsy at heart, I am glad we have always had to stop and work for part of each year as we voyaged. Some of our best memories from cruising came about because we had to stay put in one place and came to know the local folks far more than we would have if we hadn’t worked along side them for three or four months.  This seasons’ cruising on Taleisin was definitely spiced by our work induced stop in a place that, though it was less than 60 miles from where I grew up, was almost unknown to us.

Best thing about stopping for a while – catching up with family and old friends.  Peter Legnos lived with us on board 24 foot Seraffyn for six weeks in Cartegena Columbia when he was only 18. He and his son Kyle flew from San Diego to join us on board. 

During the more than four decades since Larry and I met, we have never lived near my family. We’ve enjoyed three and four day visits together when ever we were in the US, occasionally one or another of them have come to join us in foreign ports. Now, with all of my immediate family living in southern California, Larry agreed we should find a stopping place near them while we did the final research and editing on the next edition of Storm Tactics Handbook  so it could be ready for spring of 2008. We needed a relatively quiet place and Santa Barbara, enjoyable as it was, definitely was not that. Arbitrarily I chose Ventura Harbor, with Channel Islands Harbor only five miles south of there as another possibility. Either would put us within 25 miles of “family”.  As we sailed close to the rock breakwaters on a relatively benign day, with about four foot westerly swells rolling under us, I remembered why we had never entered this man-made haven before.  It had often been beset by silting and huge breakers closing the entrance – especially when winds shifted to the southwest.  So, with Larry’s urging I used our cell phone to call the harbor department before sailing into the channel. “Small markers show where there has been shoaling. Channel is good for 12 foot draft. Come on in.”

This is the almost perfect quiet spot Dean found for us

Unfortunately we learned the hard way that his warm welcome was not going to be the absolute norm. For the first time in our lives we were refused dockage not only by the local marinas, but also by the office manager at the local yacht club as policy a these facilities is all boats, foreign or local (Taleisin is Canadian documented) must have proof of full insurance cover. Fortunately I had the number of Dean Prophet who is not only a cruising sailor but one of the forces behind the Ventura City sailing center. “Bring Taleisin over to the centers docks and we’ll solve your problem” he said. And he did, finding us the perfect place, a dock in front of a private home in one of the canals that lay hidden at the north end of this harbor.

The ice cream express – Larry and three of my younger relations head off to the main harbor. That is Samantha, Kyla and Ian Osborne, my grand nieces and nephew.

Dean even loaned us a car to join my family the next day for a traditional 4th of July barbeque and fireworks in the park at Camarillo. The next day our bicycles came out of the lazarette, an electric cord found its way from the dock and into our cabin and we settled in to work, to enjoy evenings out with  family and old friends and to bicycle along the miles of beach front paths that run almost 30 miles right from Ventura to Santa Barbara. Though Ventura is definitely in Southern California, it is definitely not part of it.  For some fortunate reason, the overcrowding, over commercializing that has changed this part of the world has not happened here. So though the wonderful weather you’d expect for a southern California beach town blesses this area, the streets and beaches around us were almost empty compared to those only 30 miles south or north.

About a mile from our berth is the main part of the harbor, grand ice cream shop – lots of food and a lovely place to take a stroll.

Eight weeks of diligently working on our book, doing up the paintwork on Taleisin’s bulwarks (after three years it was still in amazing condition thanks to the International Brightside one pot polyurethane  paint we’d used) trying out each of the local café’s, especially all those we could reach easily by bicycle, left us feeling well caught up, refreshed and ready for some sailing.

It’s obvious that everyone’s efforts to clean up the environment have worked here.  In 1980 the California brown pelican was a threatened species.

Larry and I met each other 42 years ago in Newport Beach.  I’d learned to sail by joining him on race boats and deliveries between Oxnard and Newport Beach while we worked together building Seraffyn, our first cruising boat. We’d spent almost a year sailing these waters when we first launched Taleisin in1983. This would be the first time we’d been back by sea during all of that time and I was excited as we unplugged the electrical cord, stored the bikes back in the boat and filled the ice chest with enough fresh food so we didn’t have to look for shops for a few weeks. We’d been watching the weather patterns and knew the winds usually didn’t fill in before 8 AM. The alarm went off early on the last day in August and Larry set the sculling oar in place to propel Taleisin clear of the dock and out through the narrowest part of the canal before the wind was over 3 or 4 knots. It was a good thing we’d gotten up early and also that we had removed the sail covers, gotten the sails ready to go up and pre-set the sheets as a fresh westerly breeze filled in when we’d sculled only 300 yards, but by then we were into the more open part of the canals where there was room to haul up the mainsail, then staysail to short tack into the main part of the harbor,. Once there I pulled up the working jib to for the close reach out into the open sea.

I’ll share our cruise into nostalgia with you next month.

Hope Thanksgiving sees you with friends or family and a fine Turkey to enjoy.

Lin and Larry
at Kawau Island, New Zealand

P.S. We have had a lot of folks ask us about getting plans for Taleisin and Seraffyn, both designed by Lyle Hess. Contact information is now on this site. Click here to see it.






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