Update: November 3, 1996

And now for something new...

We have finally ventured into territory and experiences that are new to us. Having sailed our previous boat Moonshot as far south from San Francisco as Stillwater Cove near Carmel, we had already been to the previous harbors and towns we visited on this trip. We are now tied up to a mooing buoy in Morro Bay. Also new to us was having to stay offshore, on the ocean overnight because there was no place else to go...

We left Monterey Harbor at the break of dawn, about 6:15 AM on Friday morning. The forecast was for good weather, mild seas and up to 10 knots of wind from the Northwest. We left at this time because of the advice given both in Brian Fagen's book California Coastal Passages and the Monterey harbormaster's office. They said it was good to get around Point Sur before noon because it can get rough there. Then you can take best advantage of the better afternoon winds cruising along the Big Sur coast.

The morning was uneventful. The sun appeared while we were motor sailing towards Cypress Point. There wasn't much else happening in terms of sea life or other boats. We were making great time motor sailing for the next few hours. Marsha had boiled a few eggs the night before, so I made combination tuna and egg salad triple layer sandwiches for lunch.

Later in the afternoon, the wind picked up enough for us to kill the engine so we were able to get in a few good hours of sailing. The sun was warm and the sea motion was kind so it was pleasant. Spirit does well in a following sea, taking advantage of the motion and ooching out better boat speed on a straight and steady course.

Late in the afternoon, the wind started subsiding so we opted for engine assist to make our hull speed. We also started pondering the reality that would soon be upon us, the fact that we would watch the sun go down into the ocean with no obstructions and that soon it would be dark and that the closest ports of refuge in any direction were many hours away.

I took advantage of the remaining light and prepared a chicken pot pie for my dinner and red bean soup for Marsha's. The oven warmed the vessel's insides for the night. It's great to get a warm meal in the stomach at the beginning of this new shift. I used the remaining hot water from Marsha's soup to brew tea. One of our rules of offshore overnight work is no beer or wine. I find that ice tea makes a suitable beverage to keep water in my system so a pot for the evening seemed appropriate.

I thought I had fixed it while stranded in Santa Cruz by cleaning the contacts, but our primary autopilot, BoBo, started acting up again and would forget it's course and begin spinning in clockwise circles so we had to shut it off. Fortunately, as a back up, I had dug out the spare autopilot, Josh, from the spares hatch and had it handy to the helm. We had removed Josh from Moonshot prior to the charity donation. Eventually, I had installed all of the fittings and ran wire so the Autohelm 3000 would serve as a light service spare. It does a great job, especially when motoring. The conditions it doesn't care too much for are fluky winds and downwind sailing.

We were about 7 miles off shore. We had been underway already for 12 hours and we were now about to go through another 12 before seeing daylight again. It was soon dark and also soon to appear was the most spectacular view of the stars I have ever witnessed. Everywhere we looked there were crystal clear constellations. Every one we recognized had many more surrounding stars than any prior memory. The Milky Way was directly over head. Behind us was the largest version of the Big Dipper I've seen.

It wasn't long before we started experiencing a different kind of boating, night sea. I was reminded about the phenomena of night vision from star gazing. This is where at night, if you look directly at something, it appears dimmer than if you look at it with peripheral vision. I can't yet explain the sound phenomena, but because of the lack of daylight, the sounds we heard felt like listening with our eyes closed. We had to keep our imaginations in check to keep the whales away.

The miles were clicking away. We had already dissolved a 40 mile waypoint set at Point Sur. Because we had been making such good time and we were still doing better than 7 knots motor sailing at 2400 rpm, Marsha realized we would arrive at the nearest ports, Mooro Bay or San Luis Obispo in the middle of the night. We already knew we would pass San Simeon at night and wouldn't be pulling in in the dark. She made the suggestion of keeping going. We got the charts out and calculated at our current rate, we would be approaching Point Conception at dawn. This would enable us to reach Santa Barbara well before dark on Saturday afternoon. This was especially appealing to me since I had read in the chart guide's fishing section that the climate zone changes after you get past Point Conception from Northern to Sub-tropical. We let our minds go for this more aggressive plan and set the next waypoint for Point Arguello, 97 miles away. We changed course by 10 degrees which would put us further out to sea, completely passing by Estero Bay and San Luis Obispo Bay. At the rate we were going, the current autopilot course would sail us through the night.

We would just need to manage keeping one of us awake on watch while trying to get the other rested to be able to take over. We hadn't established our watch schedule yet because we know from listening to other's experience it's personal and varies. We also knew on this first overnighter, our adrenaline would most likely keep both of us awake all night. Suddenly, I was below while Marsha heard a noise from the engine or drive train. I heard her cry 'Oh No'. I climbed on deck and we listened. We weren't loosing boat speed, but there was a new vibration in the drive train. I went below to check the engine, transmission, and V-drive. All appeared OK, but we shut the engine off in case there was some problem with the strut.

The wind had picked up more, so with a little trimming, we were still maintaining over 6 knots. We were sailing directly downwind with a preventer on the full main and the whisker pole on the jib, wing on wing. We were still clicking off the miles and needing some recourse to a potentially failed engine, we kept our course. We had to go somewhere anyway. We could sail close to port and call for assistance getting in as we had done in Half Moon Bay. We would just need a port that had a lift in case we indeed needed work done to the strut. Just in case the wind conditions eased, we checked the chart book to see if a lift was available in either Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo. There was so we were set for now. We had burned up a couple of hours of the dark so far, but there were many more to go. Because we weren't using the engine, we were now experiencing what it would feel like on a longer passage were you don't run the engine because you have a limited supply of fuel. You just go when there is wind.

Eventually, the wind conditions did ease down and our boat speed settled to between 3 and 4 knots. Also, it stated becoming clear that it would take us much longer at the current rate to make Santa Barbara, so we backed off on that aggressive plan and changed course back to either Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo. This would mean some backtracking because of the fact we had gone further offshore. Because we were still going down wind, we decided to spell Josh from the helm and take turns steering the boat. We made a few more miles with me at the helm while Marsha tried to get some rest. At least laying down with your eyes closed and your mind not focusing on running a ship into the darkness is some rest. The wind kept easing, and the boat kept slowing down.

It was after midnight so we had burned up half of the darkness, half of the sensation we were flying blind, but by now the wind had died altogether. We were 20 miles off shore. Marsha pointed up to the top of the mast and we could see a problem with the running lights. It appeared the light housing had come off and was hanging in mid air. Another problem to fix later. I remembered my decision to have the mast steps installed and was thankful. I turned on the lower running lights. It was getting wetter all over because of the dew. We had layers of clothing under and our foul weather gear on the outside. A chill was still getting through it all. We were stalled so it was difficult to keep the boat aimed in any direction, so periodically we would find ourselves in a trough, getting bounced around like a cork.

Marsha spelled me from the helm so I went below to the berth in the aft cabin to rest. I removed only my outer wet gear in case Marsha sounded the air horn, our signal to get back on deck for any reason. The bouncing and rocking persisted and we still had 5 more hours to go until dawn. I had the lee cloth up so eventually I discovered a method of resting where your mind just doesn't care about the body's motion so it relinquishes any resistance. By laying on my side with my knees bent, I could let my body just rock with the boat any way it wanted while I was tucked neatly away in my head on the pillow. I never really lost consciousness, remaining within earshot from the helm with the companionway entrance open. I did get to that semi conscious dream state. I experienced several similar dreams where I was solving some puzzle that involved three different things and nothing fit together yet they were supposed to.

Marsha called me to come take over around 3:30. It was difficult getting out of the berth only momentarily because I knew I was fortunate to get two hours of shut eye and it was Marsha's turn. The bouncing and bobbing were at their worst. The inside of the boat sounded like hell was breaking loose. Everything in the hatches was clanging together. The deck sounded like army troops were marching over. There was still no wind and we had drifted two miles back out to sea. The periodic radar checks showed nobody in the neighborhood. It wasn't long before a gentle breeze picked up. It wasn't enough to sail, but I thought it might be enough to stabilize the boat so I furled out the jib and tried to get a steady course. I did, but it was in the wrong direction, so I managed to jibe to the opposite direction. We were now steady on a broad reach aiming towards our waypoint, so I was able to call Josh back to duty.

The wind picked up a little more so I asked Marsha to keep one eye peeled while I went forward to raise the main in hopes of making headway. I strapped myself to the starboard jack line and made my way forward to the mast pulpit. As I got the main raised half way, the halyard jammed. I could not raise the sail any further, nor could I lower it. I noticed it was at about the second reef mark, so I was able to get the clew on the gooseneck. I tightened the reef line and went back to the cockpit to flash a light up the mast. While Marsha flashed the light I could see a tangled mess of lines around the radar reflector half way between the spreaders and the mast head. I went forward again to try to untangle the mess but was only able to lower the sail. I kept trying to untangle the lines but was unsuccessful and the attempt wore me out. I went back to the cockpit to rest, then went forward again to put away the main sail and just get the boat stable.

This activity burned up another hour of darkness but we still had a couple to go. Eventually, Marsha went below to climb in the berth. Having gotten used to the idea that we had found our own little square mileage of ocean, I set the egg timer and let my eyes close if they wanted to with a ding going off every 15 minutes to remind me to check the horizon. A fog bank was hanging within flashlight distance off my port stern, but if it passed on top of us, it wouldn't have made any difference. We still couldn't see anything and the radar was on standby. I went through several cycles of this and finally I could see some daylight appear above the eastern horizon. Marsha popped her head out and felt comforted. She went back to get another hour of sleep before the sun came up.

When the sun did come up, it had a waking effect on us both and we mentally started preparing for a new day. Late in the afternoon yesterday, we were talking about not seeing any marine life the entire day just before one fish jumped out of the water. This morning a dolphin appeared next to the boat. It was not kind we were used to seeing in Northern California. It was two tones of gray, darker on top. Then we started seeing more swimming all around the boat. We felt this was a good sign and that things were probably going to go well today.

We were slightly over 22 miles from shore with no wind so we decided to try the engine and see if there were any problems, or if what had happened was just a paranoia caused by our senses in the darkness and lack of confidence over the engine because of recent problems. It had been running longer than we had ever run it. It started and after warming up, it sounded OK in gear, so we started motoring towards land. I went forward to examine the mess of halyards in the daylight. I undid the spinnaker halyard and went forward to lay on the foredeck so I could comfortably look up. After studying the mess for a minute, I flicked the spinnaker halyard once and it popped all of the lines free from the radar reflector. I tidied up the lines and went back to the cockpit. With that settled, I looked up at the mast head and could see no problem with the running lights. Marsha looked up and we were befuddled at the illusion from the night before. I was starting to appreciate the sensation of a change in the way I was viewing our vessel and all of the gadgetry we were what many times seemed like frivolously investing in over the past 5 years. Everything was no longer just an expensive toy individually purchased and played with once, everything was an integrated vessel, a machine, our home.

The dolphins swimming around our boat were growing in numbers. After a while, it appeared to be hundreds of them coming towards our boat, jumping out of the water, from every direction. It was a spectacular sight. A breeze started picking up from the Northeast so I raised the main to motor sail on a broad reach. We picked up to between 5 and 6 knots of boat speed. We weren't totally confident with the drive train yet so we kept the rpm's down at 2000. Soon the wind picked up more so we were able to let out the jib and kill the engine. We decided that even if it meant a little more back tracking, we would head for Morro Bay. I was glad because we had been thinking about that port as the next destination that Moonshot was not big enough to make for many years.

It was easy getting in and now we are tied up to a mooring buoy across the channel from the Mooro Bay Yacht Club. We were successfully tied up after an unsuccessful attempt at fitting into the last remaining anchoring spot at 11:30 am. The rest of the afternoon felt like a mid June cocktail hour before finally getting some real sleep. We begin to explore tomorrow.

Continued on November 5, 1996

We have pretty much healed from the experience described above and are now waiting to do it again to get around Point Conception to Santa Barbara. This weather window thing makes it hard to predict timing. This makes me wonder when we really will get to La Paz (the place in Mexico where great friends will be meeting us during the second week in December). After Point Conception, I believe we will have gotten through the worst of the passage making. The previous owner of SPIRIT advised me when we do take off, by the time you get to Santa Barbara, you will think you are crazy for doing what you are doing, but keep going!

We are tied to a Mooring Buoy that belongs to the Morro Bay Yacht Club. They are very hospitable to transients (our current occupation). They have a dingy dock on the other side of the channel, and we have a key that gets us into clean showers and a wooden shed with a washing machine and a dryer. We were first in line at the laundry today as 3 other cruising boats (all smaller than SPIRIT) also pulled in. The dynamics of 4 cruising couples going back and forth for errands here and there and with laundry bags in a line by the picnic table was amusing. At one point Fred and I set up his Mac SE with my acoustic coupler connected to the pay phone next to the laundry. An upside down ash can was the MAC stand and an upside down recycling container was the desk for his keyboard and mouse pad. The things we do for internet access these days...

Anyway, so I get this months issue of Latitude 38 at the yacht club and see a write up about us in an article called No Forwarding Address - Baja Ha-Ha III Preview. This is the second article in a series talking about the cruisers rally (that we missed) participants. It goes as follows:

Spirit - Pearson 424, Steve/Marsha Sears, Knightsen, CA When people mark their occupation as cruisers on the Baja Ha-Ha entry form, you know they're serious about having fun. Need we add that the Searses are serious? We have no idea what they do in the real world, but we're sure happy to have that kind of a spirit aboard in the 'unreal' world of the Ha-Ha. Although they've both been sailing for more than 25 years and have many local and coastal passages under their belts, it's interesting to note that Spirit has more offshore experience under her keel than her present owners. Under her previous owners, she's been to the South Pacific and back. Steven and Marsha are about to remedy that. After spending the winter in the Sea of Cortez, we understand that their plans are: Don't know - ??? Sounds indicative of long term cruiser mentality to us!

Continued on November 8, 1996

We couldn't leave Morro Bay on Tuesday because the weather forecast said gale warnings off of Point Conception and we want to avoid adverse conditions if we can. Since we had been using up the batteries while on the mooring buoy, I decided to rig the wind generator to shake that down. It took a few minutes to fish it out of the V-berth and assemble it but soon it was up in the fore triangle cranking out the amps. Actually, the wind died after I hoisted it but soon it was back and it blew until later in the evening. When the gusts would hit 20 knots, the amp meter would read 9 amps in. I think this is tremendous bang for the buck in terms of how much space it takes to stow the thing. I don't mind having the rigging mounted version because I can keep it out of the weather when not in use, and it easily converts to a trolling generator which will be useful if the boat ever does a crossing. Because of our mizzen boom, we couldn't rig a pole mounted version on the stern. My other option was mount it on top of the mizzen mast, but I didn't want to have a gadget I may need to service that high up. If I ever have the mizzen mast pulled again, such as to install a new radar system, I may reconsider installing it on top, but then I would install folding mast steps as well. For this trip we are set.

On a windy day at the anchorage, we can manage the electricity so we generate more than we use with the generator and the solar panels. Our main energy consumer is the refrigerator/freezer. We're meeting cruisers with various approaches to the compromises that need to be made to accommodate this lifestyle. Fred and Mary on PAX and George and Janice on Dos Amigos have opted to live without refrigeration, stating you can easily get used to things not being cold. I've tasted the beer in England and I could possibly match that temperature in my bilge, but I've opted for ice as long as I can pull if off, thank you.

Wednesday looked like the day to go because the wind was easing. It would still be windy, up to 25 knots from the northwest, but SPIRIT would do well with a reef in the main and the 95% jib we are using for now. I decided to put on my wet suit and dive to check out the propeller, and drive shaft. I can't wait to get to warmer water. It's not so bad once you get used to it but that hyperventilation while your body adjusts is not fun to look forward to. I did notice that the sacrificial zinc on the end of the Autoprop was already starting to dissolve, but hopefully it will last until those warmer waters are under us. There was a long piece of seaweed wrapped several times around the prop shaft which I removed, but everything else looked ok, so with that secured, I put away the wind generator, turned in our key to the showers and stowed the dinghy in preparation for leaving. We were set to go by noon, which would have us rounding Point Conception (stated in Ed Winlund's ChartGuide California as Cape Horn of the Pacific) close to midnight when it is supposed to be calmest. This would bring us to Santa Barbara shortly after dawn. We would have the option of pulling in or continuing on to Ventura or even the Channel Island Harbor in Port Hueneme before dark the next day. The last thing I wanted to do before untying the mooring lines was check all of the fluid levels. I had learned from a lecture an engine mechanic gave during John Neal and Barbara Merrit's weekend seminar on offshore cruising that 50% of all mechanical problems could be avoided by checking all of the fluids before going out every time. The cooling system was OK, the engine oil was OK, the transmission oil was OK, the V-drive oil was ACCHHCH%#$*!!!!!

It looked like a grayish yellow version of chocolate milk. Sea water had gotten into the oil. It had to be coming in from the chamber at the top of the drive, where sea water from the cooling system is routed through the housing before feeding to the engine. Marsha suggested getting over to the yacht club's dock before doing anything, which was a good idea. The couple from Vancouver had already taken off so there was space. While motoring just across the channel half way, the drive train started making a high pitched screeching noise. This distraction made our approach to the dock appear far less than elegant or graceful. At best I can say it was panicked. Aren't we supposed to be in Mexico by now? (read that as are we having fun yet?).

So instead, Wednesday was spent talking to the V-drive manufacturer, then taking apart the V-drive and lining the water cooling chamber with Marine Tex. I'm not sure if it was the corrosion in the housing we discovered in Santa Cruz or the gasket made by the engine mechanic we worked with there. It leaked after the first install so I was suspicious. The Marine Tex was finally set up as the sun was going down, so we decided to continue the next day. During the first test while tied up at the dock with fore and aft spring lines secured, the screeching noise was no longer present, so we gained confidence we didn't fry anything, such as a bearing. But some salt water was still in the oil when I drained it after the test. We went through several tests, and still had some salt water in the oil. By the way, those 11x17x1/4 bilgesorber cloths available from marine supply stores do a fantastic job of soaking up oil and converting it to a disposable substance.

I spent the rest of the afternoon tracking down a machine shop within walking distance to help me fabricate a new gasket, then added an aluminum epoxy layer to the Marine Tex barrier coat in the base of the water chamber in the top of the V-Drive housing. Meanwhile, Marsha got a ride from Dial-A-Ride, for a dollar, to the farmers market for provisions. All of the goops have hardened, so Friday morning I fill it back up with more oil and test it again. I have the feeling it will now be functioning correctly and we will be able to take off by noon. We'll see.

Morro Bay has been a pleasant place to hang out. It is a sleepy little town that serves as a fun place to stop over for people touring up and down the coast by car. Many small motels and bed and breakfasts, and lots of souvenir shops and seafood restaurants with a good view of the rock. It's hard for other business to make it here because of lack of business.

Continued November 10, 1996 from Santa Barbara:

We finished testing the V-Drive Friday morning and once convinced we knew the difference between sea water and air bubbles in the oil, and that all we had were air bubbles, we were ready to go. While I was taking a shower at the yacht club, the famous 50' Santa Cruz Merlin pulled in and rafted up to us. They had a happy crew of two couples and three children that had just come north on their way from the Long Beach boat show. I believe Merlin holds the record time to Hawaii under sail. They gave us a button that reads 'Get Licked By Merlin' displaying a set of big red lips with a large tongue hanging out. Also, for the folks from Oyster Cove that may be interested, we've been seeing Esperansa at every port we've been to. It was at Santa Cruz and Monterey when we arrived, and just pulled in here this morning before we took off. It's captain is Matt Matthews. Dos Amigos, PAX, and Rajada had already left. A small trimaran called Untouchable with three young guys as crew planned to leave the same time as SPIRIT.

Merlin and the Peterson 34 Sloop docked in front of us, MAGEWIND pulled off to make room for our departure and we were under way at 11:00 AM. Our next destination, Santa Barbara, 120 miles away. The plan with this timing is to have us rounding Point Conception in the middle of the night. The weather forecast is for mild winds and sea conditions, 10 - 15 knot winds from the northwest, 2 foot wind waves and 4 foot swells. This is supposed to hold for a while. Having had a few days to internalize the experience from our first night offshore, we were better prepared mentally for this one. It seemed liked no big deal with fair weather predicted, just what we need to do to get some miles under our keel to get to warmer weather.

Once out of the harbor, we hoisted all sails. The wind hadn't picked up to it's fullest yet so we were sailing at 2-3 knots west to get off shore. Untouchable was not far ahead of us doing the same. I deployed the monitor wind vane for self steering. We haven't named this autopilot yet, but it does a wonderful job of maintaining a course with respect to the apparent wind. We have to be conscious of wind shifts because it will change course to keep the same relationship to the wind direction. It is also quiet and uses no amps!

After a while, the wind picked up to it's predicted speed and we set our course for the next waypoint, Point Arguello, almost due south, 47 miles away. I trimmed the sails for a broad reach on a starboard tack and we were averaging 4 knots of boat speed. I didn't need to trim the sails for the next 7 hours. The conditions remained constant. It was a warm afternoon, warm enough for no T-shirt. We listened to music on tape and then on a great radio station 94.4 FM out of Morro Bay. This is how we spent the afternoon, on a mellow sail, warm weather, music, and enjoying the coastal scenery. By the way, I understand from a guy in the fish market at Morro Bay that the democrats won the election.

As the sun started dropping, we started layering on clothing and preparing for the evening. I lit the oven to let it warm up (30 minutes) so we could enjoy our offshore dinner of soup and pot pie before dark. While the pie was in the oven, we did our routine stand at attention to watch the sun sink into the ocean. This sunset was a great one, with swirlly clouds paint a beautiful picture of pinks and reds.

Shortly after dark, the wind started to ease. We were better at our clothing layering system now and it was fully deployed. The elastic suspenders on my foul weather pants had rotted from years of hanging in the wet locker unused so I adjusted them for a better fit so I could move about easier. My first layer is polypropylene long underwear, next is pants and a Patagonia fleece jacket. Marsha hadn't worn here foul weather jacket before and ended up wet from the dew before, so she was better prepared this time. Fully dressed, I trimmed the sails for a down wind wing on wing on wing run that lasted less than a half hour at 2-3 knots before the wind totally died.

We decided we needed to make headway if we were ever going to make it around Point Conception so we decided to use the engine. After it warmed up, Marsha put it in gear and guess what, the screeching noise was back. I went below to check the V-drive but it seemed OK. I opened up the engine compartment and learned the noise was coming from the back of the engine. Marsha stated she thought it was the V-belt slipping. When she would increase the throttle, the tachometer would decrease. This made perfect sense. The engine mechanic that overhauled the engine before we left stated in a month or so, I would need to readjust the new belt. One of the things the previous owner of SPIRIT left with the boat was a can of Belt spray. I fished it out and blindly sprayed it on the back of the engine as best as I could and it worked.

I brought in the jib and the mainsail, leaving the mizzen up as a stabilizer. Marsha found 2100 rpm's to be a good solid sound from the engine which moved us along at an average of 6 knots. It appeared Untouchable, still ahead of us by a small amount was motoring as well. With the running lights and mast light which signified we were a sailing vessel that was motoring on, our course was set. Marsha tried the primary autopilot, BoBo, and it seemed to be working fine. I had studied it's manual and learned how to remove the brain and adjust it's contacts. This seemed to fix it's problem on the way to Monterey, but it had started acting up again on the way to Morro Bay. We decided to leave Josh in his box and see how long BoBo would behave.

It was now about 8:00 and we started discussing the importance of shifts and a rested crew. We decided to try 2 hour shifts and since I had been running around mucking with the sails and engine, that I would be the first to rest. With the boat steady on it's course the stars shining bright on this moonless night, I went below, peeled my foulies and crawled into the aft cabin berth. The sound of the engine next to me purring was easier to get used to than the sound of Highway 280 next to our old apartment. By the way Mike, how do you like your new apartment?:-) The rest of the boat was much quieter than before. The seas were calmer, but we had stowed things below a little better. The only thing that went flying out of the V-berth on the previous overnight trip, which we now refer to as the shed was Marsha's computer, but it didn't hurt it. I didn't totally fall asleep, but I kept my eye's closed for the next 2 hours.

One of the tidbits I picked up at the only BA HAHA seminar we managed to attend was that it was important to have treats on the night watch's to keep the spirits happy. Before coming on deck for my shift, I heated some water to make cups of Earl Gray tea, then pulled out a fudge brownie for me and some of Marsha's favorite cookies from the treats hatch. I also pulled out a Dunhill MonteCruz 220 for me. Marsha informed me we were now approaching the land of oil rigs and pointed out several approaching on the distant horizon. Our current autopilot setting was aiming us through the middle, one to the left, three to the right. After enjoying the tea and cookies together, I lit my cigar and Marsha went below for her rest. She was almost sad to leave the helm so soon, with all systems working fine, but knew it was important for later.

The situation was actually quite pleasant. The entertainment for the night were the oil rigs, dolphins, and the constellation Orion. The oil rigs were brilliantly lit up, reminding me of Chevy's house in the movie, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The dolphins would appear several at a time, leaving glowing phosphorescent trails shooting off in all directions around the boat. Occasionally they would surface making a distinctly loud exhaling noise. Mighty Orion shone brightly through the night sky, leading the way like a constant companion.

When Marsha rose for her next shift, I was still enjoying the experience. The two hours passed in what seemed like no time. We kept rotating through the night, while the iron Ginny and BoBo kept performing their tasks perfectly. The second waypoint, Point Conception was 17 miles further. I slept well from 4:00 to 6:00 and came back up into the daylight. We had already passed the point. Marsha decided not to sleep through the last shift, opting to watch the morning shore and seas in the Southern California sub-tropical temperature zone we were now in. We clicked off the last 15 miles to Santa Barbara watching a perfectly calm sea and unusually clear visibility. The air smelled oily though, as if there had been a spill somewhere.

I raised the Santa Barbara harbor master on the VHF and learned they had one slip available for a vessel our size. Marsha eased to the registration dock at 10:15, just over 23 hours after we had departed. I was directed to slip M-19 which we barley squeezed into. It's 40 feet by 13 feet. SPIRIT is 42'-4 plus the wind vane off the back. Both rub rails touched the post and dock as we docked. I think Marsha learned she should have, in fact, slept her 6:00 to 8:00 shift, because it does take more energy to make the landfalls, but we're learning. This one was almost fun. And now we are in Southern California. The minute we were tied to the dock, it was tank top and shorts, and an early cocktail hour, and a nap:-)

Today's plan is tool time which is the name we use for any conversion of the aft cabin berth into the work shop, to tighten the V-belt. Then clean the boat, update this web page, and tour Santa Barbara for a few provisions. Though we haven't decided on the next destination, we expect we will be underway again by Tuesday.

Life is good!

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