In the Belly of the Southland Beast
August 5 - Santa Barbara
Last weekend we - Christian, Heather, Francois, Dona de Mallorca,
and the Wanderer - took Profligate south from Sausalito
to Santa Barbara in preparation for Friday's race to King Harbor.
We saw more whales than knots of wind between the Gate and Pt.
Arguello, but at least the seas were flat and it wasn't very
wet or cold.
We finally set the chute in zephyrs abeam of Arguello, but within
half an hour the fog cleared and the wind was blowing from aft
at 25 knots or more. It made jibing the big main just before
Conception a little more interesting than normal. We've never
seen full battens quite so dramatically tortured.
Often the wind dies just east of Conception, but last Sunday
it continued to blow at 15 to 20 knots most of the way down the
channel to Santa Barbara itself. Although the swell was tiny,
when on port tack the cat lined up perfectly with what little
swell there was, resulting in many 15 to 17-knot surfs. It was
dreamlike sailing as the sun was bright, the air was warm, the
crew was great, and most of the time we were following a part
of the California coast that doesn't look any different from
the way it did 500 years ago.
The first person to bang on the hull the next morning was Seth
Bailey of the Alameda-based Cheoy Lee 43 Route du Vent.
He'd sailed down to Ensenada to get a bottom job at Baja Naval.
He said he only saved a little money over having the job done
in the Bay Area, so he'd just been using it as an excuse for
a trip south.
Then we were visited by Nothern Californian Tim Murrison, who
has his 44-ft wood boat - we've forgotten the name - in Ventura
in anticipation of this weekend's McNish Classic Regatta. Paul
and Chris Kaplan will also be in that event with Bogart's old
As for us, this morning we start the 33rd Annual Santa Barbara
to King Harbor Race, an 81-miler that looks like it's going to
be through the fog in light air. We've managed to convince the
Edwards family to enter their Northern California-based Marquesas
53 cat Rhapsodie. It should be interesting, as it will
be their first race after cruising nearly five years in the South
Pacific. Other Northern Californians in the race are Paul Martson
and Dean Daniels with Paul's F-31 Sally Lightfoot. Three
years ago the duo took fleet honors with the Antrim 27 Nemesis.
Among the 131 or so entries is Jake Wood's Mull 84 Sorcery,
which back in the '80s was among the fastest maxis in the world.
We understand that part of her crew will include the 78-year-old
Bob Dixon, a sailing legend out of Newport Beach who is an all-time
Another notable entry is the Northwind 58 On The Air,
a lovely new blue cruising boat that just came together in the
last week. She's owned by Dr. Laura Schlesinger, an avid sailor
known to the radio world simply as 'Dr. Laura'. We're not sure
if she's going to be running a call-in show for sailors during
the race, but last night - after a number of drinks - we dreamed
she did. The first call went something like this:
"Dr. Laura, this is Bill Gibbs, skipper of the 52-ft catamaran
Afterburner. We rate -145. I'm worried and confused about
being able to correct out ahead of the Switch 51 cat Beach
House that's in our class, as she rates 168. I'm just not
sure we're five minutes a mile faster than the House."
"Well, Bill, it does seem a little odd for a boat that hit
23 knots on her maiden voyage to rate the same as a Cal 3-30
monohull. I empathize with you - and wonder if rater Vic Stern's
computer is broken, as the owner of Beach House told me
Stern originally wanted to give him a rating of 190 until he
complained it was too high. But nobody ever said life would be
fair, so do the best you can and smile. Besides, it looks as
though it might be so light you can still correct out. One last
thing - keep outta my air or else!"
Like we said, it was just a dream.
The California coast, just east of Conception - just like it
was 5,000 years ago.
Francois, who singlehanded across the Atlantic years ago without
telling her parents, and Christan, a vet of both Mari-Chas,
kick back on the boom. Just like our insurance broker would have liked them to do.
Otis could have the dock of the Bay, the Wanderer prefers the
back step of Profligate, while surfing down small waves.
Photos Courtesy Profligate