Thursday, August 28, 2014

The rest of the Coastal trip: San Francisco to LA

The trip rolls on...  Mike completes the delivery to Los Angeles

Editors note: I recently published my daily trip notes for an American Tug 34 delivery from La Conner to San Francisco.  Mike, the owner of the boat invited me to join him for the cruise.  That was only part of the story as Mike continued down the coast to his home marina in San Pedro, CA.   It sounds like I should have volunteered for the final 400-miles!   Here is Mike's report:

August 20, 2014, leaving San Francisco YC

Upon arrival to San Francisco, we were graciously welcomed into the San Francisco Yacht Club where we had a two-day respite from our usual routine.  Steve Scruggs and Gerry Henson were delivered to the airport and flown home. 

At the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere
New crew member and fellow AT owner, Scott Sibbald (Trooper, AT 365 hull # 09), boarded and we prepared for cast off on Wednesday, August 20th.  Torn between waiting for high tide (10 am) to occur and wanting to get away early enough to make our desired miles before sundown, we compromised at a 0745 exit which set us on the remnants of the flood cycle.  Despite a 2-knot adverse current, our AT made a great exit under the Gate & we then followed the main channel markers until we turned left.  Our destination was Moss Landing, centrally located in Monterey Bay, about 95 miles away.  

Scott and April’s 2013 AT 365 “Trooper” at commissioning

Reaching Moss Landing at about 7PM, we tied to the dock, sprayed the boat off with fresh water, and went in search of Grub (Phil’s Fishmarket & Eatery…recommend it!  After “pre-flighting” our Cummins diesel, we turned in for an early departure.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Scott & I pulled away from the Moss Landing dock at 0415, needing an early start to reach Morro Bay before too late.  While the channel was well marked (in daylight), most of the markers were not illuminated, however, they were nicely reflective.  Perched on the foredeck with a flashlight, Scott pointed out each marker and we had an uneventful low-tide exit to Monterey Bay in flat seas with a gentle swell. 

The famed Pebble Beach
 The “sail” from Monterey Bay to Morro was, in a word, exquisite.  With flat seas, beautiful lighthouses, and breaching whales, time and miles flew by.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to take your AT out into the open seas…please do so—she handles beautifully. 

Point Sur Lighthouse

Upon entering Morro Bay—still some 5 to 10 miles from the fabled “rock”—we began to see large pods of whales, dolphins, and some really entertaining sea lions (flipping themselves out of the water while chasing fish).  We have always had a bit of trepidation relative to entering Morro Bay Harbor—as the entrance can fetch some really large waves over the bar.  Our concerns were unfounded as the entrance was smooth and glassy.  Tying to the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock at 6:30 PM, we dined locally and then turned in after pre-flighting the Cummins.  Our total mileage today was 118.51.

Flat seas near Morro Bay

Friday, August 22nd:

We pulled away from the Morro Bay YC docks at 5:55 AM, bound for Santa Barbara Harbor, about 110 miles distant.  Visibility was 1/2 mile, with light fog.  Following fishing vessels out of the channel, we had an easy exit into smooth seas.  Setting our course for Pt. Buchon, we stayed about 1-1/2 miles off shore until it was time to turn left.  Once again, we had smooth seas (did we pick a superb weather window, or what?) all the way to Santa Barbara Harbor. 

Piedras Blancas Light Station near San Simeon

 Pt. Conception is often referred to as the “Cape Horn of the Pacific”—thankfully we caught her sleeping.  Very smooth ride around her.

Point Conception Light 

At Santa Barbara, one ties up to a 30 minute dock (right in front of the Harbor Office and a West Marine) and then visits the Harbor Master for dock assignment.  After paying the requisite amount, we were assigned a dock near the entrance of the marina.  There are several nice restaurants within the marina, saving us from having to search for a place to eat.  After pre-flighting Mr. Cummins, we turned in for a (by our terms) reasonable departure.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014, Santa Barbara to LA Harbor:

We exited the marina at 0555, bound for Los Angeles Harbor.  Victory was at hand and we could smell the finish line—oh wait—that is petroleum we are smelling!  Off of the California Coast, stretching from about Santa Barbara to just north of Malibu (Pt. Dume), are a string of offshore oil platforms.  These platforms are lit up at night like small cities…with activity going on around the clock.  Scott and I smelled a heavy odor of petroleum in the air, and looking down at the water we saw an extreme oil sheen.  Then came the dark brown blobs of oil.  All we could think of as we motored past at 9 knots was the terrible stain that this was going to leave on the hull.   It never materialized.  I remembered that this oil “seepage” in this area is actually a natural occurring event…it just seeps up from fissures in the seabed.  The oil drilling platforms have nothing to do with the seepage—the fact that this area is so oil-rich is precisely the reason the platforms are here.  In fact, by doing a little research on the subject, I learned that the oil drilling platforms actually serve to decrease the natural seepage by relieving pressure.  Who would’a thunk?  

The ubiquitous offshore drilling platform

Fact - Seeps Are Natural Phenomena

Crude oil and natural gas seep naturally out of fissures in the ocean seabed and eroding sedimentary rock. These seeps are natural springs where liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons leak out of the ground (like springs that ooze oil and gas instead of water).
"Almost 50 years ago, an oil spill from a California offshore platform will lead to creation of the modern environmental movement. Natural California oil seeps – offshore and onshore – today leak tons of petroleum each day – and have for several hundred thousand years.

Arrival, Los Angeles Harbor:

Ok, this is a little weird, but not wholly unexpected.  After some “washing machine” wave activity just outside of San Francisco, we had traveled the rest of our journey without getting water on our deck.  Then, 15 minutes from our new slip, we rounded Angels Gate (LA Light) and got blasted with 3-foot chop and 20-25 knot winds that covered our boat with seawater.  No big deal—just kinda funny.  It had taken us 4 days to reach LA Harbor from San Francisco, and couldn’t have been a more pleasant trip.  She was snugged up in her new berth and received a nice bath (and dry).  During our sojourn from Canada, nothing had broken and everything had worked as designed. As an aside, I couldn’t have found a better and more amenable crew to help me down the coast.  We all got along fantastically and had the time of our lives.


Editors Note:  Great report!  Thank you very much for including me in your trip home.  I too really enjoyed spending time aboard with you and Gerry.  If you are thinking about a delivery down to Mexico...   Steve