Once we got settled in our anchorage and cleaned up the boat a bit, we just hung out and relaxed the rest of the evening. The next day, we decided to go ashore. We rigged up a makeshift bridle to get our trusty dinghy up and over the lifelines and into the water. A task that proved challenging as we were moving a bit from the swell. Gymnastics and timing – and a little luck.
Once said dinghy was afloat, we threw the gear in and started rowing. We did a lazy lap around the boat just to check it out from a distance for fun.
The water color was stunning in both color and clarity, especially given that we were sitting at 50 foot depths. It was tough to take your eyes off of as we made our way to shore. The beach has a bit of a dogleg curve that is more protected than the rest, and we worked our way into that corner. At about 2 feet from shore, Denise hopped out and we worked together to haul the dink up the beach safely out of the tide zone.
It was a beautiful sight. A forested valley surrounded on all sides with soaring cliffs and rugged terrain. The beach itself was all golf ball sized rocks, which made for uneven footing moving around. There were some interesting caves at some of the cliff faces, both in the water and ashore. We watched a few other intrepid explorers disappear into the brush earlier, but after fumbling inland in our shorts and flip-flops, we decided there was really no where to go unless we started hacking through dense bushes and trees.
We decided there was no need to blaze a path to nowhere and just sat to bask for a while in the deserted serenity. There was barely a sound but the lapping of waves and an occasional unidentified bird.
Time to move on I guess. Soon enough we were back at Maluhia, dreading the process of hauling the dinghy back up on deck. We were starting to second-guess our choice of a hard dinghy but boating is compromising. It really wasn’t all that bad as long as we were careful and took our time.
Before we knew it, the evening had past and Labor Day was here. By 9am or so we pulled the hook and were on our way back. There was little to no wind about 3 miles off Santa Cruz, and we were in no hurry, so we simply drifted about and messed with our boomvang. An hour or so later, the wind filled in and we had a truly perfect sail back over to the mainland – 10-12 knots and little to no swell.
Just to keep us on our toes – our steering mysteriously would abruptly hit an invisible brick wall and refuse to turn. What the heck?? First thought was that something was amiss in the steering cable, sheaves or terminals – so after a quick look at the cable in the engine room (tension and sheaves look all normal), I started the tedious process of removing the covering boards from the quadrant to double-check that as well. It was all in order. Hmm, perhaps one of the engine remote control cables that runs in the pedestal along with the steering cable is fouling up the wheel? Off came the compass to provide some room to eyeball the works. Nothing wrong there either.
Then we realized – the feel (and sound) of the wheel when it “stuck” was exactly like how the wheel behaves when our Autohelm ST4000 is engaged. SO – must be that the mechanism / clutch / belt is out of whack. The wheel started behaving itself again, and once we realized the cause, we were not afraid to give it some pressure and “pop” free the wheel to continue its turn as needed (we can always fix the autohelm back in the slip). We don’t plan on using the autohelm anyway. Helming is a job for a windvane, who does his work without even a milliamp of power. What electric autopilot can compete with that?
The VHF traffic had boats SE of us calling and asking for Radar info, and from the look of things a dense fog had filled in between us and the coast. We were still a good 10 or so miles ahead of it, and by the time we made progress to the point where we would have hit the edge, it started to lift. Plenty of wind and a bunch of traffic near Ventura had us tacking around for hours near Pierpont Bay before stowing the sails and motoring back to the slip.
The harbor was hilariously crowded by the afternoon – Labor Day and all. We dodged: SUPpers, a windsurfer, tour boats, kayaks, commerical fishers, jetskis, dive boats, dinks, and even the Harbor Patrol for good measure. It was a funny scene with everyone running into and around each other.