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Sailing and Dredging in Santa Cruz

Ramp launching a Catalina 22 in Santa Cruz’s East Harbor.

© Vikas Kapur

Seeking a change of pace from daysailing on San Francisco Bay, reader Vikas Kapur headed to Santa Cruz last weekend for a sail on Monterey Bay in a Catalina 22. "I’ll need to pull out the foulies for the pocket cruiser. Each time I sail a pocket cruiser I get totally soaked — cold and wet from head to toe — it goes with the territory. I don’t usually get to deploy full foulies otherwise."

But on Monday he reported that, although it was very clear and cold, "the near Pacific can be a big lake sometimes, and those were the conditions most of the day — no foulies. In the 200 square miles around us, we saw maybe about 10-15 sailboats all day. On the other hand, the drive back was about 40 miles and took almost two hours — bumper to bumper most of the time."

The Moore 24 Scarlett sails past Lighthouse Point and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum.

© Vikas Kapur

"It was a beautiful day," writes Matthew Coale, co-owner with Beau Vrolyk of the Moore 24 Scarlett, "and it was light, but with only a #3 jib we had a great sail. The new #1 may be out for the Midwinter Series. But the Moore does quite well in light airs. Downwind on a reach was just right with the kite and got us into the harbor in a timely manner before sundown. My crew were longtime Moore 24 fleet member Tina Verutti and Farr 40 Astra crew Ashley Neway. Good friends make the best crew."

The SCYC Midwinters start this Saturday, November 18, and run one Saturday each month through March, harbor entrance permitting. It’s dredging season in Santa Cruz through April. "Mariners are advised to check weather and tide conditions and the latest entrance sounding prior to transiting the entrance," says Port Director Marian Olin. "Remember that entrance soundings are adjusted to mean lower low water." Know your vessel’s draft!

Kapur is also a pilot and snapped this aerial photo of the Santa Cruz Harbor entrance.

© Vikas Kapur

The dredger, Twin Lakes, should be passed on the east (Crow’s Nest) side of the channel unless otherwise marked. "Stay at least 50 feet away from the dredge when passing. When dredging operations are underway, the crew can be contacted on VHF channel 8 for passing instructions." The harbor office monitors VHF 9 and 16, and can be reached by phone at (831) 475-6161.

Two boats sail into Santa Cruz Harbor. The Crow’s Nest is the dark building just to the right of the marina.

© 2017 Vikas Kapur

Kapur shares some recommended reading for long winter nights: "The Building of Santa Cruz Harbor is 132 pages of dense (and often excruciating) detail. One learns of the giant tetrapods (25-ton four-legged concrete castings) that comprise the 25,000-ton top of the seawall. About 600,000 tons of mud, rock and concrete were used in the construction of Santa Cruz harbor in the 1950s. The write-up is at the SC Harbor website here."

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Sailing is one of the great escapes, and it’s nice to have a boat that’s ready to go when the mood strikes and the weather is right.
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the granddaddy of all cruising rallies, got underway on Wednesday with the first of two fleets.