No Particular Place to Go.

The nice part about this lifestyle is that there are very few firm timelines. That’s a good thing, as Avalon turned out to be a rather fun place to hang out so we stayed for 4 days. We even managed to catch a night of jazz music as the Catalina Island Jazz Festival was on for the weekend. What a cool venue for a live concert.

Avalon Casino Ballroom

Weather is the prime motivator for us and with reports of strong winds headed for Avalon Sunday evening, we made the decision to leave Avalon at 3am on Sunday morning and head straight to San Diego. We had reserved 2 weeks of marina space in town at the Police Dock on Shelter Island so we could prepare for the Baja Ha Ha Rally which departs on the 29th. As it turned out it was a great location, close to all the boat yards, suppliers and provisioning stops.

After a benign 12 hour crossing we arrived in San Diego and all the hustle and bustle that comes with big city life. Currently, in the 26-space marina we are in, there are 21 boats taking part in the rally.

Met this one on the way into San Diego
Marina full of Ha Ha participants

There is a comradery amongst all of us and we are all helping each other, whether that’s lending tools, suggesting fixes, trading recipes, happy houring, playing cards or just BS’ing on the dock. It’s great to meet like minded people on the same program as ourselves. While we were here, they had the National Junior Women’s sailing finals. These were high school girls and they had some very good boat handling skills. Crew changes on 15 boats on the fly right at our marina.

Crazy boat skills. Not one boat hit.

We are down to crunch time with the rally starting tomorrow. We worked on a few projects that required parts or expertise that may be more difficult to find along the coast of Mexico. In our case that included a new sea water cooling pump on the starboard side that just started leaking. We have purchased some spare parts to have on hand.  Some kayak racks were added to the stanchions so we can store the kayaks inflated and ready to go when we are anchored.  We installed a larger anchor (another Rocna) and are keeping the old one as a backup. We have made a Costco run and a few Supermarket blitzes to restock the pantry with our favourites.

Other errands included getting our TIP (Temporary Import Permit) for the boat, Mexican fishing licences and our exit papers from the USA, all from different government offices throughout the city.

Downwind Marine and West Marine are sponsors of the Baja Ha Ha and have both are offered seminars every evening this week. They cover a wide range of topics and we attended several. You never know what little tid-bit you may pick up. With all the work we have been doing there really is no need for another excuse to go to the boat store. Good marketing ploy on their part. I’m almost at the point where I suffer withdrawal symptoms if I leave a boat store without a purchase. West Marine even sponsored a Halloween costume party for Ha Ha participants. We went as pirates. Some of our friends really got into the spirit of it.

Costume Party
Ghost Busters go boating
Day of the dead paddle boarder

In between the work and the socializing, we are keeping our eyes on the weather. There were a couple of storm systems that passed through the south end of the Sea of Cortez and Mazatlan last week but things seem to be settling down now and it looks like there will be light winds for the first few days of our trip.

All of that said you can feel the excitement building as we all get set for the start of the rally. It looks like there should be about 150 boats leaving San Diego Bay on October 29th.  First leg is to Turtle Bay, 350 kn. It should be a blast.

 

Gems

Now I’ll have to admit I was not expecting much from a place called Oxnard, but it just proves why you should never prejudge something. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Upon entering the harbour, we stopped at the Harbour Master’s dock and checked in. We were assigned a slip down the channel. The channel is lined on one side with boat slips and condos, and the other with boat slips and commercial buildings. The slip was nearly at the small low bridge that separates the marina area from the canals. Turns out, a big part of Oxnard is like Venice Italy, with several canals that run through town all lined with houses and condos and all of these with a boat or two in front. We spend a couple hours in the dinghy just cruise’n through the “streets”.

Under the bridge
Canal Homes

From Oxnard it was on to Marina Del Rey. This is a massive Marina complex with space for over 4500 boats. Even so, it is nicely divided up and our slip was right at Burton Chace Park. It was a short walk to the grocery store and they had a free electric car shuttle service that would take you around the marina area and even to the Venice Beach Pier. Of course we took advantage of that and spent an afternoon walking Venice Beach and its famous boardwalk. People watching is a sport in this area and there are some very “interesting” people to watch.

Marina Shuttle
Fisherman’s Village – Marina Del Rey
MDR Sunset
Venice Beach

Our friends on Salish Dragon and Sedna both stopped in Marina Del Rey as well and between the visiting, sightseeing and the re provisioning (30% off wine if you buy 6 bottles, my favourite red was $4.19 a bottle!). We spent a full week here, it was a great spot to hang out for a while.

After a week in town it was time to move on and Santa Catalina Island was calling. This Island is located just 35 miles off of LA and is known to be a popular getaway for the city’s boating community. Read – it gets very busy sometimes. Our first stop was the bay called Two Harbours. There are 257 mooring buoys in the bay which provide you with a unique learning experience the first time you must do this.
1. Radio Harbour patrol to get your buoy assignment. Advise if its your first time. They are very helpful.
2. Motor to the numbered buoy and pick up the 6-foot-long stick floating vertically beside the buoy. Its attached to a big yellow loop that you place on your bow cleat.
3. Once the bow cleat is secured note that there is another line attached to the yellow loop. This is the spreader line and the other end of it is attached to the loop that goes on the aft cleat, so you quickly have to hand over hand along this line until it pulls tight and you get the aft loop to secure on the aft cleat. And you are all done.
4. It’s that easy. Yeah right. I mentioned there are 257 mooring buoys, so on a busy summer weekend you are crammed in there like a mall parking lot during the Boxing Day sales. The wind and waves are moving the boat almost exactly where you don’t want it to go and of course all the other boaters are watching. We made it without too much drama.

Two Harbors offers a beautiful beach with 1 store, 1 bar and 1 restaurant. Hey at least the choices are easy. There are several trails you can walk on.

Two Harbors mooring field

The crew of Salish Dragon hiked to the top of the mountain. We took the trail across the island to check out Catalina Harbor and spent a good part of the next day just sitting on the beach. That night the sky lit up with the launch of a SpaceX rocket. That’s not something we see everyday. We celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving Day with a dinner onboard Sedna with all of us agreeing we had much to be thankful for

SpaceX rocket Launch

From here we moved down the Island to Avalon Bay. Avalon is the playground of the rich and famous and now us. Same mooring ball program but we’re seasoned pros now so this one went smoothly. Avalon is a much larger town with numerous hotels, restaurants and shops. Even some cruise ships make this a port of call. In Avalon, golf carts out number automobiles as the means of transport. We split the rental cost of a four-person model with Ken and Cheryl from Sedna and took an hour drive around town. They have a route map with the one-hour tour planned out almost to the minute. Take your pictures quickly or you’ll be late and charged extra. We made it back in 58 minutes.

Let’s go carting
Avalon from the lookout point
Avalon’s Casino – without the gambling

We happen to be here at the start of the Avalon Jazz Festival and have managed to grab tickets for the Friday night performance. We will do that and then probably leave very early, like still dark early, Sunday morning and make the run down and over to San Diego.
Its still hard to believe that we have sailed from Vancouver to Alaska and are now getting close to Mexico. We have travelled 2615 kn going north and 1387 kn so far southbound.