September 21, 2006

Santa Barbara and Channel Islands Harbor

Hi everyone!

After arriving safely in Santa Barbara on Monday, Sept 11th, we got caught up in the social whirlwind, meeting some of this year's Ha-Ha cruisers.

Our trip down was uneventful. The most difficult part was at 10PM, trying to see all the channel markers as we left Morro Bay. We had fog almost the entire way. Going around Point Conception was remarkable only because the sun was shinning brightly as it rose. That did not last long. The fog retuned.

I managed to sleep some on the way down. Bill did not do as well. It was rather amusing seeing him later in the day in that "fun stage" of sleep deprivation. Being an expert in sleep deprivation from my years in the OR, I recognized what was going on with him and let him enjoy it.

Santa Barbara was an enjoyable place for us. The town is so accessible from the marina. We mainly walked but shuttles were available to the marina and up and down State Street, the main street through old town.

There is a wonderful farmers' market on Tuesdays with all sorts of vegetables and fruits, even Dragon fruit, flowers and grass-fed beef. The aromas of the basil, mint, cilantro, etc. mingled with the Spanish guitar being played in the background.

State Street is lined with restaurants and shops. These feet stop at all the interesting shops. But that's not where I made my purchases. That I reserved for Sarah's gems. Sarah and Darrell, our dock neighbor's from Alameda, were in Santa Barbara too. Sarah makes beautiful one of a kind jewelry. See for just some of her work.

We even had a little fun trying out the Segways at the local dealership see We have seen some power boats with them ready to go on the stern. But they are still to big for our boat. Fun and easy though. What a great way to get around if you lived in town!

The best part was all the people we met. The last time we saw Pat, a single hander, was in Port Angeles, Washington. Stan, who we met in Monterey, arrived before us. Carl, Yvette, Joel and Kyle on Liberty came in the next day. Sarah and Darrell unfortunately were not continuing south with us yet. We spent some time getting to know Richard and Andrea, Flamenco dancers on Saete. They are planning on performing to finance their journey to Spain.

Then Richard, Karen and Richard (their son), on Chessie, arrived and docked by us just in time for us to convince them to do the Baja Ha-ha with us. No sooner had they pulled out than Chere with Charles and Cathy pulled in...friends made in last month in Alameda.

Now my memory is being challenged with all the names. I know I am forgetting some of them already. And to think there are 182 boats signed up for the Ha-ha all with at least 2 folks on board and many with 4 or more!

Down the road we'll get to spend more time with Mark, his wife and little 2 year old girl on Southern Star. Same with Mike Moorehouse and his wife who were busy with boat projects. We had been expecting Robyn and Chris with their boat Robyn's Nest (nice cozy name)for a couple of days. So we were happy to see them pull in.

The biggest surprise came from some buddies that we met on the 2004 Ha Ha. We kept extending our time in Santa Barbara for a couple more days. We were having too good of a time. It was a good thing. Rob and Shannon were bringing their new 1990 Angel 56 Pilot House Motor Yacht down to Mexico in a hurry. So they were not making many stops in order to get Rob back to work on Sunday. So into Santa Barbara they come with Rob and Shannon, Craig and Barbara (who sold their boat Capella) and Roger and Mona (who also sold their boat Cherokee Eagle). What a sight for sore eyes! They looked jubilant but a little tired as they/we all toasted to "cheating death again" done on arrival to each destination. John and Kay Semon of Semonship (their boat is docked in Santa Barbara) drove down to make our group complete.

Santa Barbara held one more surprise for us...a wind shift that brought fine ash down on us and the entire area. It came from the fires roaring away up near Magic Mountain. That lasted for two days. Then the wind shifted again to blow it in the opposite direction. It was a pain to be scrubbing it off the boat. At least we could hose down and scrub the boat. It's not so easy for the home owners.

We finally broke our ties to Santa Barbara and moved on a short distance to the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club, Channel Island Harbor, Oxnard. It's a nice club, complete with pool, Jacuzzi, bar and restaurant. Here we met up with Len and Norma, also friends from the 2004 Ha-ha. What a kick! We definitely had some laughs getting together.

Tonight we are having dinner with Don Anderson and his wife, Joan, from Summer Passage, a Valiant 47 see:

Don is the famous and most helpful weatherman for cruisers, especially in Mexico. He not only gives the weather projections but helps all the cruisers learn what to expect and how to anticipate the weather. We'll report back on this later.
Our next stops:

Sept 22 - arrive in Marina del Rey - California Yacht Club

Sept 28 - leave Marina del Rey for Catalina

Oct 16 - arrive in San Diego - Silver Gate Yacht Club

Let us know if you would like to come visit us or go day sailing!
That's all for now from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Mary and Bill

September 11, 2006

Rounding Pt. Conception

Hi Everyone!

We rounded Pt. Conception at 7 AM - Just 1 hour ago - and are anticipating arriving in Santa Barbara around 2 PM.

We left Morro Bay just after 10 PM last night (we couldn't sleep so we decided to leave early).

The hardest part of this 103 mile passage was leaving the harbor! The lights going out the Morro Bay channel were washed out by the street lights up by the big power plant at the head of the bay. Once we turned the corner and headed out the main channel - it was a bit easier - but it was nerve racking until we passed the breakwater. The moon wasn't fully up yet and it was overcast so there wasn't very much background light.

A few hours later, it was much brighter as the moon was higher in the sky - even though it was still overcast. We had no trouble at all on the difficult parts of this passage (between Morro Bay and Pt. Conception).

Interestingly the winds were light and it was a dead downwind run the whole way. We motored as the winds were too light to sail.

The strongest winds were off Pt. Arguello where it was briefly blowing 18 knots. Otherwise it was 8 to 12 knots the whole way.

Off Pt. Conception it was only blowing 4 knots! Quite a change from 2 years ago when it was blowing 25 to 30. OK, 2 years ago we rounded at the peak wind time at 4 PM in the afternoon and today we rounded at sunrise.

Right now we're motoring up Santa Barbara Channel with 1 to 2 knots wind...

We're officially in warm weather! Halfway between Pt. Arguello and Pt. Conception (10 miles apart) the overcast and fog lifted, the moon and stars came out and we saw a beautiful sunrise over Pt. Conception. This was our first observable sunrise since leaving the bay area. All the other mornings were foggy and overcast.

It's now noticeably warming up! It's time to stow the dorkey hats and long undies. If the weather is anything like our cruise 2 years ago, we won't need them again!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

September 10, 2006

Leaving Morro Bay

Hi everyone!

We've had a relaxed 10 days, getting back in the swing of cruising, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Heading to the sunshine.

It's really great that we have so much less stress than our first time down the coast. We're enjoying this a lot more and worrying a lot less.

We also posted some pictures of the start of our cruise at

If you've been following along with our position reports via the "Position Reporter" link on our website or directly at You'll see that we've been progressing down the coast and are now in Morro Bay. Our latest position is the blue balloon. Be sure to click on it then zoom in with the "+" button and click the "Satellite" button for a view from space.

We Anchored in Half Moon Bay until Labor Day, the 4th, which was also our 8th wedding anniversary. Over the weekend we were joined by Jim and Sheila Goetsch on the Valiant 42 "Aurora" and Ed and Cornelia Gould on the Valiant 42 "A Cappella". Our friends Kim and Trish Casey on "Cheers" anchored not far away. We all had a lovely dinner Friday night at the local brew pub before things started getting crazy on Saturday.

It was an interesting sight with 3 Valiants rafted in a row. At one point a lady started taking lots of pictures of our boats. It turns out that she was from Scanmar - the company that makes Monitor wind vanes. Since all three of us have them it was an interesting picture. I'm sure we'll probably end up in one of their brochures in the future.

Saturday, was a literal boat parade with the majority of the boats arriving. There were literally hundreds of boats moored in Half Moon Bay, with 5 yacht clubs having major parties, BBQs, Pot Lucks, etc. Everyone had a great time.

We've started meeting many more cruising couples heading down the Mexico. Many will also be doing the Baja Ha-ha rally see We'll talk more about some of the folks we meet along the way as we spend more time with them.

After most folks left on the 8th, we pulled into a slip in the Marina. Bruce Bongar, Karen Friday - of "Berkut" the Waterline 46 and Gordon and Vlasta Hanson of the Valiant 40 "Far Country" joined us for a great fish lunch in Princeton Seafood right in the Marina.

We left Half Moon Bay on Tuesday, the 5th at 630 AM on the 63 nautical mile trip to Monterey. It was totally uneventful, with little or no wind until we started crossing Monterey Bay. Then we benefited from a 15 knot tailwind that sped us along. We arrived in Monterey around 300 PM, in time for the Tuesday farmers' market.

On Wednesday, we re-visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is one of the best aquaria in the world. They have a new juvenile Great White Shark in their open ocean tank. The only one in captivity. see

On Thursday, we hiked up the hill to the Whole Foods and cleaned them out of Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa Chocolate see This is our favorite and we now have a good stash in our chocolate locker. After lunching at Abalonetti Seafood Trattoria we retired to the boat to tidy up and retire early for the next leg of our trip.

We got up at midnight, Friday morning Sept 8th and left at 1220 PM on our 104 nautical mile leg to Morro Bay. It was a little lumpy with light winds until we passed Pt. Sur, then the seas calmed with just a 6 foot swell. As usual, what little wind we had was on the nose until we rounded Point Piedras Blancas, then the wind shifted to a close reach. We arrived in Morro Bay at 4 PM and tied up at the Morro Bay Yacht Club.

When we arrived, the dock was full, so we were asked to raft up to another boat. The owner of the boat stuck here head out of the hatch and said "They can't raft here" with a gleam in her eye. It turned out that we rafted next to Sarah and Daryl Erickson - our ex-neighbors from 2004 in Paradise Village in Alameda!

Since the club was having races on Saturday and Sunday and they have a small dock, we had to move to a mooring on Saturday morning.

That night we dined at the home of our friends John and Kay Semon of the Beneteau 473 "Semonship", who we met and befriended on the 2004 Ha-ha. We had a lovely dinner of BBQed Salmon. On Saturday, they joined us on Raptor Dance for a dinner of Roasted Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin and our first game of "Mexican Train" dominoes on this cruise.

Here in Morro Bay we also met the folks on the Peterson 46 "Liberty" Carl and Yvette Nichols and their sons Joel 12 and Kyle 11. They're from Friday Harbor, WA. They're going to join us today for a BBQ lunch on Raptor Dance along with Chris and Robyn Parker from the Island Packet 35 "Robyn's Nest".

Carl and Yvette were kind enough to let us use their dingy, so we didn't have to get ours out. After the BBQ, we'll wind down and get ready to leave again at midnight tonight (Monday morning, Sept 11th) for Santa Barbara.

You may recall that in 2004, we were dreading this section of the coast as our next leg takes us around Point Conception, "The Cape Horn of the Pacific Coast". It turns out that there are lot's of "Cape Horn's of ""X""" around. Just like the rapids in the Northwest - with due diligence and care, proper planning and due respect given to the weather, these rounding can delightfully boring. Our Valiant is a sea worthy boat that is capable of handling almost anything, so with our cautious nature, we have much less concern than in 2004.

That's the news from Raptor Dance!

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary

September 1, 2006

Pillar Point Harbor - Half Moon Bay

Hello everyone -

Well, we did it. We cast off at 945 AM yesterday, Thursday, August 31, 2006 and set off for Pillar Point Harbor at Half Moon Bay.

As is always the case, boat chores were left unfinished on the list - we may get to them on our way...... or not. We've still got some minor items undone from our departure in 2004 ;-}

We had a little wind during our passage - on the nose, so we motored. Opposing swells from our beam made the ride lumpy so we were both nibbling a bit of crystallized ginger. Interestingly, when we left in 2004, this was also the only leg of our voyage where we felt a little off.

We arrived at Pillar Point Harbor around 330 PM and stopped a the fuel dock to top off. This harbor has the lowest fuel prices on the coast by at least 50 cents a gallon.

We then proceeded to anchor, not happy with our first spot (too close to some mooring buoys) we moved and found a lovely spot with no other boats or buoys within at least 150 feet of our position at the end of 100 feet of chain (i.e. the nearest boat is at least 250 feet from our anchor).

We have a Bushnell Yardage Pro 1000 LASER range finder that we use to keep track of other boats, rocks, buoys, etc. at anchor. This is a handy gadget used primarily by golfers to measure the distance to the pin. Unlike marine accessories, this item was pretty inexpensive, just over $100.

That will change in the next few days though as lots of other boats arrive for the holiday weekend. At least 4 Yacht Clubs are coming in and lots of others as well for the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club BBQ. We'll report back on the festivities later.

We've already seen our first set of friends arrive, Dan and Eileen Ulum on their Valiant 42 Naussica pulled in just as we were sitting down to dinner (we had Beef Zinfandel with pasta and broccoli). We didn't know they were going to be here so it was a very pleasant surprise.

There are also two other boats here flying this year's Baja Ha-ha burgee, so we'll go say hi once we get the dingy out later this morning.

Pillar Point Harbor is just as we remember it before. The huge anchorage is very calm and quiet - except for the "HOOOO.............HOOOO............" of the entrance horn (Bill says he feels like Horton the Elephant) and the occasional sound of the gulls. When anchoring here, we made sure to be upwind of the major gull nesting spots on the breakwater as downwind you get bad aroma.

You can see the satellite picture of this harbor is great detail by going to the "Position Reporter" link on our website - clicking on our latest position, the "Satellite" button and zooming in (the "+" button).

It was overcast late yesterday afternoon. This morning it's foggy and looks like a great misty picture. We should get some sun later today.

We've got the heater on this morning and are wearing socks! But we're heading South!

We hope you all are well and will enjoy this wonderful holiday (in the US) weekend.

Warmest Regards to all,
Bill and Mary