Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sleepless Nights

Do you know what it feels like to be sea-sick in your sleep? Because I do.

Adam and I have finally departed Santa Barbara after being able to spend time with my Grandma and Great Uncle, who live there permanently, as well as two of my uncles, my Dad and his wife Jane.  Everyone traveled in for an extended birthday party and bon voyage.  We also accomplished quite a few of what Adam calls “capital improvement projects.”  He says that soon we will be moving from the “capital improvement phase” to the “preventative and reactive maintenance phase.” Joy of joys.  Still, I have to say that after three (make that 20+) years of brain-intensive work, the novelty of hard physical labor every day has not yet warn off.  We rise with the sun, work hard all day, go to bed with the sun and sleep soundly. 

Well, sometimes it is less soundly than we would like.  Tied up in a nice no-wake marina makes Moments a pretty cozy home, but at anchor we constantly fret about whether the anchor is dragging or not.  I am sure our nerves will continue to be more at ease as we gain experience anchoring Moments.  Or at least I hope this is true because our marina budget is almost maxed out after the trip down the coast!  Currently, we make sure the anchor is holding by leaving the chart plotter on most of the night so that we can see the arc of our swing on the rode (anchor chain).  This is not a great solution as it uses so much of the precious energy we have stored in our batteries.  Currently, I write to you while on my anchor watch shift here in beautiful East Fish Camp anchorage on the southern side of Anacapa Island.  Anchor watch is not a super sleep-friendly option but saves energy and calms Adam’s nerves enough that he can sleep and not walk around like a zombie (a very grumpy zombie) the next day.  Tonight, all is calm; there is a nice breeze blowing in, just enough for the turbine to give the batteries a little juice, and the rolling swell is barely noticeable.  Then there are nights like last night.

We are still not sure what happened, but from what we can put together it seems like the Santa Anna winds blew in across Santa Cruz Island last night at about 2-3AM.  The Santa Anna’s are notorious, warm, strong winds that blow in from the northeast with very little warning.  They are often responsible for the spreading of wildfires throughout southern California.  Yesterday we had a beautiful ride from Santa Barbara during which we saw (not exaggerating) hundreds of dolphins, some that even raced the bow of our boat!  We got to Santa Cruz Island at twilight and decided to stay for the evening rather than continue the passage to Anacapa.  Along with a few other boats, we dropped our hook at Yellow Banks Anchorage where the boat was not motionless by any account, but there was adequate protection from the northern swell.  We had plenty of room to move, even if the anchor began to drag, so we turned on an alarm on the chart plotter, checked the forecast and went to sleep.  I am not sure when it really started to roll, but I do remember waking up nauseous, hardly able to walk down the boat due to the roll and before long I was tossing my cookies overboard.  After significant teamwork and getting soaked by more than a few waves we made it to our sheltered little cove on Anacapa just in time for the winds to die down. We spent the rest of the afternoon at anchor napping and drying our clothes on the rigging.

We definitely learned some things from our experience this morning, and I became much more comfortable and confident at taking the helm during rough conditions.  Still, what I keep being reminded of every time we are sailing is how the ocean is truly amazing.  From the dolphins, turtles, seals and sea lions we have seen, to the fish I dream about catching, to the wind and waves of this morning and then finally the calm rocking this afternoon amongst 30-foot-tall kelp stalks in crystal clear water.  Too bad it is so cold or I would pull on my snorkel gear and go hang with the fishes.

My watch is up and it is my turn to sleep. On to Catalina tomorrow and Newport Beach the next day!  More to come.

BTW I have received many helpful messages letting me know that it is difficult to comment on the blog.  This problem should be fixed, but if you are willing give it a try so that I know you all are out there reading.