Another fun visit to Smugglers Cove, Santa Cruz Island

Following the successful group outing to Santa Barbara two weeks ago, the B-Dock gang decided that a run out to the islands was in order. Dave and Jen on their Catalina Grace were the forward inspectors, as they departed yesterday and verified the anchorage is still here. Beetle was next out early this morning, I’m here sans felines, have Hearts of Space on the stereo in the background, and am quite enjoying being off the dock. The Pirates are following on Pole Dancer – the usual suspects of Mac, Risa, Roger, and Mike on board. Mac and I have a scheme organized to bake different flours this afternoon as the prior King Arthur whole wheat grain flour produced something that doesn’t quite drive nails but was extra super dense bread upon exiting the oven. It took a lot of butter to make it palatable. We’re thinking I didn’t put enough yeast and sugar/honey in while making the dough, therefore the yeastie beasties did not rise to desired proportions. The intention today is to correct that with extra honey, four times the yeast, and perhaps the bread will burst out of the pan – we shall find out.

During the 17 mile crossing to the anchorage there was a fair bit of chatter on VHF-16 from Fleet Control and Navy Aircraft. There were two live fire exercises happening all day yesterday and they must have been using some large guns – the nearby keep clear area was a 20 mile radius circle that actually overlapped all of Anacapa Island. That made no sense to me, makes me want to ask Fleet Control if they are concerned they might hit the island? There were at least two USCG boats hovering in the pass between Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands – I have a suspicion they were there to shoo away any boats headed south towards where the exercise was located. So it appears that I spent yesterday afternoon anchored inside the local exercise. No large shells flew by that I noticed.

The other exercise was an even bigger area set offshore from Point Conception at 55 nautical mile radius. The problem with selecting that particular area to announce that no boats shall enter is the shipping channel to/from Long Beach exits right at Point Conception, at which time boats will head west (right into the exercise), or north (also directly into the exercise area). The Navy pilots were flying the perimeter and turning the shipping off in different directions to keep them out of the way. The pilots have an interesting way to describe VHF-16, “Maritime guard channel 16.” One ship was told to turn 30 degrees south and go 23 miles, then they could resume course. That’s a long detour, even for a big ship. Makes me think the Navy should move their exercises further south and out to sea – unless they were doing something with Vandenberg AFB, which is located on the coast at Pt. Arguello just inshore from the exercise area.

With Mac and Pole Dancer arriving that made three boats here from the dock, and I had a fun opportunity to hear about Dave’s adventures in Yosemite. He’d mentioned he had dome some rock climbing, what I learned is that he worked in Yosemite guiding big wall climbs up El Cap and some others. He’d spend several days on the wall and described setting up his sleeping platform hung on the wall and going to sleep. After he got married he decided perhaps something less risky might be a good career change. And now he’s out here on his boat with Jen and their son. Mac & Roger made up an excellent salmon dinner which we all enjoyed on Pole Dancer until it got dark, at which point the dinghies went back to their respective boats.

This morning it’s clear skies and sun, wind is calm, there a low southerly swell rolling through the anchorage and crunching on the rocky beach inshore. Plan is to be under way by noon, and I’ll need an hour or so to put away the outboard motor and dinghy. Hopefully there will be sufficient wind to make it a pleasant sail back to Channel Islands Harbor.

Enjoy the day!

– rob

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