And back from the weekend run

Beetle is back in the marina, where I was greeted by a large sea lion that was determined to have a nice long soak in the sun despite my presence..

He’s a juvenile male (note the bump/shape of the forehead), and these guys are so heavy they crack the concrete docks. One learns pretty quickly round these parts to approach the sea lions while waving a hat or something that looks large and shoo them off the dock. Usually the sea lions give you a not-so-happy look, might roar at you, then flop over into the water.

Most mornings when I first get up I’ll look outside to see if we’ve drifted during night (nope – still right where we started, this is good), then I’ll check the latest marine forecast. To the west the wind is building as the High moves east toward the coast, that’s expected. What was unexpected, upon downloading the latest High Resolution model run and the text NWS-LOX forecast (which is read out over the VHF radio by NWS computer Perfect Paul), to find that NWS-LOX was calling for 15-25 knots out of the south right where out little group of three boats were anchored. This caused ears to prick up! Looking outside it was a perfectly gorgeous morning, good sun, light breeze from the southwest, tiny wrap-around swell; difficult to have a better morning than this.

I opened up the HRRR model run output for the area and it showed the Catalina eddy happening, that’s a counter-clockwise air rotation created by the strong NW wind whipping down the coast. With the strong breeze offshore a back eddy can be created in the Southern California bightm the eddy providing no-wind to light southerly and easterly breezes. The model depicted the eddy and nothing in there looked like 15-25 knots from south-ish, the only strong wind was from the north on the coast. This lead to interesting discussion over breakfast on Pole Dancer, where everyone convened for eggs and bacon and pancakes and other goodies that Mac & Co. cooked up. We decided it must be a typo or similar in the NWS forecast. The model run did call for perhaps 6-10 knots south wind later in the day depending on which direction the Catalina eddy drifted.

We decided to sail back over the south side of Anacapa in hopes the model was correct, and if we were on the south side we wouldn’t get stuck in Anacapa’s wind shadow. Turns out it almost worked – there were some light winds for the first few hours, enough to get sailing, and then the eddy must have drifted north a bit and our wind shut down. Still made for a super day on the water, good sun, warm, and flat. Grace and Beetle spent several hours getting the four miles across to Anacapa from Smugglers, then elected to turn on the engine as otherwise we weren’t going to get to the marina before dark.

Grace, as seen from Beetle, as we ghost along looking for boat speed. There’s a current that flows between Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands and it was not easy to keep to the south of Anacapa as we got swept right to left. Top boat speeds where 3.2 knots in 2-6 knots of wind!

When I got back to the marina I looked up the telephone number for the US Navy (if you look up US Navy you’ll find there is basically one phone number and someone answers) and called them to ask after, “Who organizes your live fire exercises in Southern California?” I eventually ended up at the Port Hueneme Public Affairs Office and explained that I wanted to ask if they would shift their exercises slightly south and west to avoid including all of Anacapa Island and those of us anchored on the east end of Santa Cruz. The fellow I talked with wasn’t aware of the exercise, but said he would track it down and see what he could find out. I did send over an email to him with a screenshot of Beetle’s laptop with the exercise areas displayed. Who knows, if nothing else they might be interested in how a recreational boater might look at the information Fleet Control provided over the radio.

Here are the two live fire exercise areas from Saturday. The big circle on the left is the 55 NM radius exercise which had pilots flying above it moving ships out of the area. The little circle on the right is the 20 NM radius area with a different set of boats (and possibly planes) moving boaters away.

Back here at the dock I’m stripping the port primary winch as it became sticky while sailing along with Grace. The sea lions occasionally jump up to bark and look for a spot of sun, and life is good!

– rob/beetle

One response to “And back from the weekend run

  1. Nice photo of Grace. “Anacapa”, I seem to recall there was an eBuy supplier by that name. Happy boating. –Steve

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