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October 2007

What a treat, taking true enthusiasts out for a sail. Ken and Loretta took a lot of detail photos to use as they finish Taleisin’s newest sister-ship, Morning Song.

Dear Friends:

Our voyage south from Santa Cruz reminded us once again that there is no such thing as standard weather.  Our memories of sailing along the coast of Southern California were of consistent fresh northwesterlies until south of Point Conception, then lighter northwesterly breezes, increasing slowly during the day, fading away towards sunset to be replaced by easterly offshore winds as you sailed south towards the Mexican border. We got the fresh northwesterly seas, but the winds never matched. We rarely had more than eight knots of wind, often less than five and fog banks drifted through, many so dense we decided to press on southward past several interesting anchorages in the hopes of enjoying some California warmth. Between fog banks we were able to see Point Conception, take some careful bearings and reach in toward the anchorage at Coho, 1-1/2 mile east of the point, just before dark, two days out from Santa Cruz.  By the time we’d set our anchor just outside the kelp beds and about three hundred yards from two big tuna boats on huge mooring balls, the fog closed down to boat-length visibility.

Racing in light winds on a big boat with a cast of what seemed like thousands, was an enjoyable addition to our stay.  

Early morning brought a fresh southeasterly wind (about 22 knots) with more fog banks. The chop that immediately began setting into the anchorage woke us up and encouraged us to climb quickly out of bed, up anchor and get away from what was now a lee shore. About five miles down the coast, away from the weather maker known as Point Conception, the wind eased off but still held from this unusual direction. With fickle headwinds, patchy fog, cold and drizzle but an almost flat sea, we beat past the huge oil rigs of Santa Barbara channel, through the ever-present natural oil seepage that left its mark on our topsides. (Native American’s harvested and traded tar lumps that washed up on the beaches here. They used this tar to make torches before the first Spaniards roamed through this area.) The next morning, just as we reached the entrance to one of our favorite California destinations, the sun came out to warm us.

Jimmy Moore helped Larry buck up the rivets on Seraffyn 41 years ago.

We’ve always had a good time in Santa Barbara and this visit was no different. Friendly people, not too pricy berthing ($.60 per foot per night for the first two weeks, doubling after that) a great place for biking, and a truly beautiful town. We have some grand friends here. One of our oldest friends, Jimmy Moore has moved here and by coincidence we ended up moored only five boats away from his J145 race boat Sequoya. That was an interesting contrast, going out with him and his crew of 12 for round the buoys racing. Sequoya, though 48 feet long, weighs less than Taleisin. She handles almost like a super sized dinghy (when her engine could not be used Jim was able to sail her in and out of a very tight slip and to short tack out of the harbor using just the mainsail). But with her deep, narrow keel and a bulb at the bottom, she tended to catch any kelp that came by.  In fact, part the starting procedure for the fin keelboats in Santa Barbara races is to scope out the line, then stall the boat out and get it to sail backward in hopes of dropping any kelp off the appendages.

Our stay was livened by the annual Summer Solstice Parade in downtown Santa Barbara. It’s definitely a laid back, alternate style affair, full of happy kids.

Over the past five years we have enjoyed living two separate lives, putting our New Zealand home away from our thoughts as we explore in the northern hemisphere, and the other way around. In Santa Barbara that didn’t seem to happen. Almost 28 years ago, when we were cruising near Victoria, British Columbia, a young man rowed out to look at Seraffyn. I invited him to bring his wife for a sail the next day. On arrival in Santa Barbara with Taleisin that same man decided to reciprocate. Peter Copeland is a fine guitarist and songwriter, turned homebuilder and has a lovely S and S designed Dolphin 24 footer he keeps here. He took us out for some fine music and dinner, and began discussing the up coming America’s Cup Races.

Beautiful women, grand rhythms.

This lead to a week long slumber party.  Peter would pick us up each evening. We’d go up to his place and vow to get right to bed but then the guitar would come out, or we’d get into some interesting subject and talk until midnight – then it was up at 0515 to turn on the TV and try to cheer on our home team as they raced their hearts out against a so called “Swiss” team on board Alingi in Spain.  We say “so-called” as most of the main players on the Swiss team were Kiwi’s. We know some of the behind the scenes guys on the America’s cup teams, some of the sailors, so had special insights to share with Peter – he has done a fair amount of racing as has Larry so it was good fun trying to decided which way our team should tack and when. Glad we don’t have to sail under the pressure those guys endure.
Handsome men enjoying being outrageous for a day.

We’d just gotten over the America’s cup jazz when my email inbox had an influx of letters from friends around Auckland and our home island of Kawau. All of them were warning us of an extreme storm approaching – worrying that Thelma might be threatened. Fortunately, Helen and Dave Jeffries who run a classy bed and breakfast place directly across the bay from us are true sailors (www.kawaulodge.co.nz.) Rather than let us worry, Dave wrote, “Forecast calls for 70 to 80 knot winds. I went out and inspected Thelma’s mooring lines. Look good.” Then the next day, “It’s blowing 70 with gusts to 95 knots – never seen anything like it but so far Thelma is riding like a duck. Her covers are good. We’ve lost a dozen big flowerpots; our outdoor table did a flip in the air and crushed them. We’ll go over and check your place out if this ever quits.”  When I didn’t hear from them again – I called to find that over 20,000 houses were with out power, and at our island there was no electricity for five days. No, this is not normal – a once in 100 years storm from what we heard. But hearing how every boat in our bay came through just fine reminded us again of why we chose North Cove as our home base. On the other hand, worrying about Thelma for seven days and being unable to do anything about it reminded us that having two classic boats in two hemisphere may not make a lot of sense (though it is kind of fun!)

And as this is definitely California, there had to be a touch of outrageousness. Since the town fathers banned nudity in the parade, packing tape has been a big seller the day of the event.

Combined with new friends, lots of time spent with Ken and Loretta Minor who are in the final stages of completing their exceptionally elegant version of Taleisin at their home in the canyon 5 miles north of the harbor, catching lots of good music, we burned the candle at both ends and maybe even the middle. When the harbor department reminded us that our slip rents were being doubled we decided we should head south and find a place to stop playing so hard and get to work on the next edition of Storm Tactics Handbook. But even the doubled rent didn’t get us moving too fast, so three weeks slipped by before we left the town that is still on our list of favorite destinations.

This is not only a lovely fun town, but a real sailors mecca. It’s a mark of honor to sail in and out of the slips; even better is to get the spinnaker up and pulling before you leave the harbor.

Fair winds and comfortable anchorages,

Lin and Larry






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