I’m on a boat. And this time, I like it.

Sailing Day 3, 4, 5

Santa Barbara to Oxnard

Day 3: Santa Barbara Sunshine

I woke up Monday morning feeling rested after a full nights sleep. Brent was still snoozing quietly next to me, so I crept over him (well, I clumsily rolled over him- boats are not conducive to stealthy movements) and proceeded to clean up some of the mess made by our transit to SB. After taking Mindy for a walk (she was very happy to be on land again), I covered the main sail and tidied the jib lines. Though initially disappointed to find that the Keuring would not run off the inverter, I cheered up considerably upon realizing that coffee was just a few steps away at the Harbor Market. I contented myself with the thought that I would get some after a shower, and set off to bathe.

The Santa Barbara marina is well-kept and beautiful. On my morning walk to the showers, I noticed lots of people milling about, loading their boats and preparing for the day. It took a few minutes for me to figure out that it was Memorial Day! A holiday! How delightful. Holidays are an excellent excuse for people to sit around in the sun and drink- which was precisely what I intended to do with my afternoon. After showering- with Mindy tucked up in the corner of the shower stall- she and I made the short walk down the beach so she could do her morning business. We then made our way back to the boat to see if Brent was ready to rise and shine. He was, and so we set off to the Harbor Market to get our coffee and do some people watching.

The Harbor Market has quite an assortment of goods for the nautical traveler, but beware: shit is expensive. I needed to buy a disposable razor to eliminate my furry beast legs (we don’t have the luxury of wearing shorts in Morro Bay 90% of the year), and the girl behind the counter told me that they were $2.00 each. For the super cheap, no-soothing-strip plastic razors. Two dollars!!! An outrage. Anyway, I purchased my overpriced razor and coffee, and we walked out to the Sandspit to check the waves.

Crowds of people were gathered around one part of the marina docks, watching the sea lions herd fish into the shallows, where seagulls would then dive and prey on the poor unsuspecting fish. Hoots and howls of laughter could be heard from a quarter mile away. We have a moderate distaste for both sea lions and seagulls, so we didn’t pause to watch the bloodbath. But apparently it was quite entertaining.

The tide was super low when we got out to the Sandspit, and Mindy befriended a fluffy white dog. They relished in the opportunity to chase each other around the beach, and for a short time a lab jumped in on the action too. Unable to resist, I found myself chasing all three of them, playing a game of doggy tag, laughing and rejoicing in the warm weather and earth beneath my feet.

Mindy & I at the Sandspit, Memorial Day 2012

After Mindy wore herself out, all three of us trekked back to the boat, and Brent and I spent a little more time getting things squared away.

Getting squared away

We realized that our shore tie (power cable for the boat) was too short, and so we added it to the list of goods we needed from West Marine. The list included:

-Bilge sponge

-Gloves for line handling

-Shore tie

-Lines for new fenders (hot pink, so awesome, courtesy of Senior Chief @Station Morro Bay)

Owning a boat, so far, has been a non-stop process of list making. Lists of things to buy, lists of things to fix, lists of things we should really learn how to do…


It’s fun. I like learning, and I like making lists. So far, being a boat person is right up my alley.

Santa Barbara Harbor is home to Brophy Bros., a chowder house and seafood restaurant renowned for their New England clam chower. I had long been hoping to check it out and see if the chowder was all it was cracked up to be, so we leashed Mindy up once again and walked over there to see if we could get some chow. The Memorial Day holiday had the place swamped, so we scooted over next door to Sushi-a-Go-Go. Better name for it would be Sushi-is-So-So. Our three rolls took about 25 minutes to get to the table, and were room temperature when we got them. Personally, I prefer sushi cold, but beggars can’t be choosers, so we wolfed it down and then decided to walk into town to see if we could find an HDMI cable for the flat screen on the boat.

The trip to RadioShack was uneventful, and they didn’t have the cable we needed, so we allowed ourselves the consolation prize of frozen yogurt. Sitting on the curb in front of the Levi’s store, we watched the European tourists take pictures of themselves giving a thumbs up in front of the Levi’s sign. Super-American. The way back to the harbor was almost as uneventful, except for the brief excitement of me running straight into the metal sign on the side of the railroad tracks- with my head.

This whole boat thing has been one mild head injury after another. You really learn to be aware of your height living on a boat. For someone like me, who lacks spatial awareness, it’s a regular reminder that I am not five feet tall. I have bumps all over my head to prove it. Ha.

After returning to the boat, we took the stand up paddle boards for a quick spin around the bay, just to see if we liked it.

NOTE: Haters gonna hate. I have shit-talked stand up paddle boarders since I started surfing, since their presence in the line-up usually means danger for anyone paddling with their arms (you know, REAL surfers) instead of a 6 foot carbon fiber paddle. In defense of my seemingly hypocritical decision to purchase a SUP, I will ONLY use the board in the bay, while wearing a swimsuit. This serves a dual purpose: 1) I will get a rockin’ tan. 2) It’s a great core and butt workout, and my dear friends KNOW I can’t resist a good butt workout. And I want smokin’ abs. End of story. If you ever see me trying to drop in on a wave on a SUP, you have my blessing to knock me off the board.


So… that being said, we put Mindy in her life jacket and cruised around the harbor. It was pretty fun! And Mindy was a hit- she had people getting paparazzi status on her furry self, taking pictures right and left of the “cute doggy on the surfboard! just look at that!” She’s a star.

See the video of the first few days, including Mindy SUPing, here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCdVKzk1NiE&w=853&h=480]

Whew! With a full day of activities under our belts, we were ready to relax. That evening, we enjoyed our first proper boat even ing. Brent popped open a bottle of champagne, I got out some chips, salsa, and guacamole, and we reclined in the cockpit with our feet up and a nice little buzz.

Happy to finally relax

Later Brent whipped up rice pasta with turkey marninara, garlic bread, and we shared a bottle of Petit Petit- a Syrah that I’m quite fond of, primarily because of the circus party elephants on the label. It’s amazing what you can cook up with a toaster oven and camp stove.

First real dinner on the boat

Late into the evening, we lay outside, watching the stars, listening to music, and feeling happy and content with our new lifestyle.

Day 4: Finally, Waves

Tuesday morning was spent on the boat, Brent doing odd chores and me tinkering with my blog. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit salad with some amazing peaches, yum. The divers of Salty Dog Salvage came around 11 and cut the line that was wrapped around the shaft of the prop- freeing us from our bondage to the Santa Barbara Harbor. With that, we made plans to enjoy the rest of the day, and set sail Wednesday morning for Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.

Once the divers were done, Brent & I decided to cruise out to the end of the jetty and see if the Sandspit was working. The Sandspit in Santa Barbara is one of the most fun waves to surf. Even when it’s super small, with a west swell the wave comes in and breaks off the finger jetty that protects the harbor, wrapping all the way in and offering surfers a really run ride. When it’s big, the wave jacks up after hitting the jetty and then barrels, and spits- hence the name Sandspit.

Tuesday afternoon we got the Sandspit all to ourselves- about 2-3 feet and super fun from around 3 to 5 in the afternoon. We got to try out our new Ripcurl wetsuits- the upside of being jacked of the old ones was the excuse to buy new. They were pretty sweet, I was toasty warm in a 4:3 with the sunny skies and water around sixty degrees. I truly believe no better feeling exists than playing in the ocean, getting fun waves, with your best friend on a sunny day. It was absolute bliss. After wearing ourselves out, we clambered over the rocks and paddled pack to our boat.

Most of the Memorial Day tourists and traffic had cleared out of the marina by Tuesday afternoon, so we were finally able to get over to Brophy Bros. to try out the clam chowder that I’d heard so much about.

dinner @ Brophys

We were seated on the deck overlooking the harbor, and I ordered a glass of pinot grigio, calamari, and the chowder and salad combo. The restaurant is pretty cool, with open-air seating, an oyster bar, and a lively crowd. Sunburned and pleasantly tired, we sat back and enjoyed a leisurely meal. Overall, the meal was good. The calamari was perfectly fried and dusted with a delish cajun spice, and a nice spicy horseradish cocktail sauce.

The chowder, which is touted as being the best in the world, was quite good- though I can’t say I’d give it my #1 chowder rating. No fireworks for me with the salad- it was good, but too garlicky- the garlic parmesean dressing was a bit overwhelming for me. The verdict? Brophy Bros is worth a visit, if only for a drink and calamari.

We turned in early Tuesday, and set the alarm for 5. We’d charted the course to Channel Islands Harbor, and packed the cooler with beer. The morning plan was to get up, head out, and make the six hour sail as pleasant as possible.

Day 5: Bitchin Boat Party in the Big Blue Sea

Brent and I both woke up before dawn, around 4:45am… not because we were so excited to sail, but because we had to pee. Together we walked down the dock to the marina bathrooms, and discussed just making coffee and watching the sunrise, getting underway early. Then we paused for a moment, and almost at the same time said… “nah.” So we went back to bed and got up around 7, readied the boat, and headed out to sea.

For those who read the account of the transit from Morro Bay to Santa Barbara, you know how awful that trip was. Suffice it to say that the trip from Santa Barbara to Channel Islands Harbor was the opposite in pretty much every way. Number one, it was totally rad. As we got out past the buoys in Santa Barbara, the sun was shining, and a light breeze was blowing out of the north. We put up both the sails and turned up the stereo loud, opened some Mexican beers, and greased up with sunblock.

Considering my previous sea-going experience, I decided that I should probably be at the helm for the better part of this trip. Like any kind of motion sickness, it’s definitely better to be the one driving… and I also learned that beer is much more effective than Bonine at curing sea sickness.

“Beer me!” I commanded, shortly after we left the harbor.

“Yeah?” said Brent, clearly a bit surprised at my eagerness to imbibe at the early hour of 8 in the morning.

“Si, senor. I refuse to get sick today,” was the reply I issued.

“Alright, then, let’s do it,” said he, and popped the tops of a Sol and Tecate, snuggling them into their coozies and handing one to me.

I took a long swig of the Sol and appreciated for a moment just how much I enjoy Mexican beer. Mariah Carey was bumping on the stereo, and I found myself singing along to “Emotions” at the top of my lungs. In that moment, everything was perfect.

The ride down to Channel Islands Harbor consisted of drinking beer, singing songs, and laughing with each other about how awesome sailing is. About halfway there, the wind picked up enough that we cut the engines and rode the rest of the way with just the sails. The feeling of sailing is wonderful- when you have wind, and we did. By about two in the afternoon we were nearing Channel Islands, and I was nearing drunk as a skunk. Brent took the helm, and I found myself drifting into a peaceful beer nap with the rhythmic lapping of the waves on the hull of the boat singing me an ocean’s lullaby.

Before I knew it, Brent was urging me to wake up, telling me we were pulling into Channel Islands Harbor, and asking me to prepare to drop the main sheet. Grumpy, drunk, and a wee bit sassy, I nevertheless complied.

Our mooring in Channel Islands was the guest slip at Channel Islands Yacht Club. Yes, you read that right- we’re fancy.

One perk of being active duty military is the benefit of joining a yacht club for the low, low price of $40 per year. Most yacht clubs are tres expensive, and not necessarily our cup of tea- or so we thought. My previous impression of yacht clubs was like country clubs- snooty, expensive, and full of smarmy assholes who I wouldn’t care to know.

Boy, was I wrong. Yacht clubs are just the jam of older people who dig the ocean and partying. As our host Bill Cline, Port Captain of the CIYC, put it- “Yacht clubs are just dive bars with a higher class of drunk. And boats.” Um, hello? I love dive bars. Party time, excellent.

We were greeting at CIYC by Bill- he showed up on the dock like lightning after we tied off. Garrulous and jovial, he encouraged us to please come join them for dinner in twenty minutes at the club house. It was casual, he assured us, just meatloaf and cocktails.

Brent and I looked at each other, back at Bill, and grinned. “Sure, Bill, thanks for the offer! We love meatloaf.”

It’s true. We do love meatloaf. In fact, just the other day we stopped at an awesome little joint in Dana Point for dinner- and we both ordered meatloaf with mashed potatoes. There wasn’t a soul in the restaurant besides us who wasn’t a card carrying member of AARP… but the meatloaf was bomb. I digress.

We changed clothes and headed up to the yacht club for dinner. Not knowing what to expect, we were a bit nervous. After being buzzed in, Brent made way for the mens room. I waited for him, three minutes, then five… then started to wonder what the heck was taking him so long. Then I heard a knocking coming from inside the men’s room- he was locked in! Laughing, I opened the door for him. Bill later told us that the door only opens into the men’s room- but to get back into the yacht club you need a key. “You know,” he said, “to keep the riff-raff out.”

But of course. Riff-raff or no, we made it into the club and enjoyed a delicious dinner of cupcake meatloaf (just what it sounds, meatloaf baked in cupcake pans- so clever!), mashed potatoes, and green beans. It was very tasty, and all the volunteers serving dinner were terribly gracious. After dinner, we were introduced during the announcements as guests for the evening, and welcomed warmly by all the members of the club. After dinner was a bingo game, which we unfortunately could not stay for… why? Really we have no excuse except it was really intimidating to think about playing bingo with a bunch of people who would surely kick our butts.

So back to the boat we went, full and happy. It was a bit cold, so rather than sit outside we just crawled into our little boat bed and fell fast asleep.

Up next… Oxnard Wanderings & sailing further south… stay tuned.

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