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Thread: Left the Bruce at Santa Barbara Island

  1. #1
    Seglare Sven's Avatar
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    Left the Bruce at Santa Barbara Island

    It was a great 2 weeks on the water.

    There was only one unpleasant event and in retrospect even that was worth going through since we came out alive at the other end

    We left Cat harbor on the Pacific side of Catalina Island to head down to one of our favorite destinations; Santa Barbara Island.

    We sailed while there was wind and only started up the engine when it was clear that we wouldn't arrive before dark if we didn't. The forecast was for very large swells onto west facing beaches, further up the coast and westerly winds becoming northerly after midnight, increasing to 15 kts in the morning. Since the landing on Santa Barbara Island (the only anchorage) faces east the weather forecast was rather benign. We'd be sheltered from the swells and the winds would be parallel with the shoreline. My fallback in case things went sour was to grab the CG mooring if absolutely essential and then radio them to ask permission.

    Once we arrived we found out that the CG mooring was gone ? Oh well, it had been a good backup plan while it lasted. At least the wind was very light and there were no wind waves to speak of so we'd have good conditions for our first test of the 44 lb bruce and the windlass. The brake on the windlass wouldn't let go so I manually let out the 35 feet of chain needed to hit bottom.

    I gradually let out the remaining 15 feet of chain and about 200 to 250 feet of anchor line. Based on the chart that should still leave us over 500 feet from the rocks if we swung all the way to the west. Then I tied off the line and went back to join Nancy at the helm so we could back down and set the anchor. This is when we found out that there was a strong current that kept us from getting the bow pointed towards the anchor. It was utterly frustrating to have the anchor line run down from the bow, under the boat parallel to the keel (I kept stepping on the shaft brake to make sure the prop wasn't being slowly rotated in neutral with the anchor line right next to it). Finally I locked the wheel hard to starboard and Senta turned enough in the breeze to let me engage the engine and back away at an angle. The anchor set fine and we didn't move under hard reverse.

    Finally we could relax and have some dinner.

    Wrong !

    The swells started picking up as it got dark and while the motion really wasn't uncomfortable (neither one of us gets seasick) we did roll as the current pushed us one way, the wind another and the swells were from everywhere. The moon was over half full so we could see the white foam starting go up on the rocks at least 30-40 feet vertically with incredible thunder for audio accompaniment. We were still fine as we were mainly swinging on the anchor line parallel to the beach.

    At midnight the wind did start to pick up, but it wasn't northerly as it was supposed to be, it was more NE. It was still only 10 kts so it was only the direction that was disconcerting. I slept on the settee in the main cabin with our little hand-held GPS right next to my head with the anchor alarm set for 100 feet and the companionway hatch completely open. This was the night that we decided that block ice keeps much better than cubed but it must really be testing the integrity of the icebox design as the 20 lb chunks slide back and forth - we'll stick with cubed from now on. The alarm would go off every 30 minutes or so and I'd poke my head outside to confirm the position it now said we were at and reset the alarm for another snooze.

    At about 4 AM the anchor alarm started going off every 15 minutes or less as the wind increased a bit more and our swinging and rocking picked up the tempo. Based on the GPS track we must have wrapped a rock or something because we were now swinging on an arc with maybe 25 feet less radius.

    I think it was around 5:15 that the wind suddenly changed to E and increased to 20 kts (10 m/s). All the local books say to get the hell out if you think a Santa Ana might be coming and you are on a lee shore. Now the wind was winning over the current and we were pointed into the wind, not being pushed wherever the current wanted us. At this point the moon had also set and other than a faint glow over the horizon from the mainland it was utterly and totally pitch black with the steady thunderous roar of breaking waves and swells onto the shoreline behind us. If the rock we snagged was chafing through our line we'd be on the all-rock shore as soon as we could drift 500 feet. The GPS showed that we were certainly not dragging but the chafing possibility was worrying and the idea that we might have the line cut on a rock maybe 200 feet from the bow was terrifying. If it got cut like that we'd have to start the engine, cut the remaining line away from Senta, wait an eternity for the line to sink and then head into the wind and chop away from the lee shore.

    We had already decided that we wanted a bigger anchor and all chain rode so the decision to start up the engine and prepare to cut the line at the bow was an easy one. We just had to be disciplined enough to let the line sink before we engaged the engine and headed out.

    Sometime around 6 or 6:15 Nancy took the wheel as I went up and cut the line just as it got light enough to see anything. The gusts were now up to 30 kts (15 m/s) and straight on shore.

    No more events ... we waited long enough for the line to sink and motored off into the morning, with one anchor less than we had before and doing 3-4 kts at an rpm that would normally push us along at 5.5-6 kts.

    It was not fun but it was really great to see how we worked as a surprisingly calm team. We are both glad to have gone through it. The gale in the Isthmus a few days earlier was nothing in comparison and the rest of the two weeks was paradise.


    -Sven
    Senta II
    1977 Ericson 39-B -- Hull # 216
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  2. #2
    Principal Partner EGregerson's Avatar
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    always an adventure

    Hi Sven; it sounds like the price paid was well worth it in the end; I lost an anchor in the West river (at the chesapeake Ericson raftup 2 years ago); i got a balloon style fender and line to attach to the new anchor; i figured that it would mark the location of the anchor (for others to see) and provide a means of pulling up the anchor in the event the rode was severed (or the shackle bolt came loose!). But I have as yet to use it; after reading your story, I'm making it a new years resolution to start.
    Valinor 1987 E34 Hull#243 2005 Volvo Penta D1-30

  3. #3
    Seglare Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EGregerson View Post
    i got a balloon style fender and line to attach to the new anchor; i figured that it would mark the location of the anchor (for others to see)
    Excellent idea ! It is odd, I actually advised Zac Sunderland to put a float on his rode when he was going to have to make a risky under-sail anchoring attempt, just in case he had to abort and wanted to be able to come back later and retrieve it. It must have been the cold (if 50 f can be called cold) than numbed my brain. The float would have been a great idea, not just for picking up the anchor later, but also to be able to see it so we wouldn't foul the prop and be lost !

    Thanks for reminding me to add that to our inventory !


    -Sven
    Senta II
    1977 Ericson 39-B -- Hull # 216
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    Senta World Navigation -- http://www.grenander.com

  4. #4
    Principal Partner Lucky Dog's Avatar
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    Lost Anchor

    Wow very interesting and having such a great partners. Sometime when my wife are out your way would enjoy meeting you both. We have e35II

    The closest I have every been to a situation was sailing solo on a Hobie 16 on Lake Superior with winds reach 50 and seas(?) cross hatching for several hours. Thought I was going to loose the boat before the day was over. Oddly enough i ended up paddling the last 3 miles back to my trailer that day.

    For the rest of use, What do you carry as a anchor inventory?

    Again nice read with a cup a coffee. It is 21 below zero out side.

    ml
    "The greatest tragedy in life is people who have sight but no vision." Helen Keller

  5. #5
    Contributing Partner
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    Holy smokes, Sven. That sounds like a nightmare. I think it probably was, and it's a bit sobering for the armchair crowd out here. I think a lot about owning another boat. In my ignorant bliss I tend to gloss over the nights spent in similar situations. To be honest, I'd like another boat but not if I have to go through stuff like that again.

    Anyway, I'm glad it all worked out. I know you and Nancy are divers...Any hope of retrieving the gear?

    You've done so many wonderful things to Senta, I doubt I would recognize her ...

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. It's always a treat for me to read the latest.

    Things are going well here. My daughter is home from grad school in NH - she doesn't go back until the 19th.

    On a personal note, I published my first book. Sometimes I'm proud. Sometimes I'm embarrassed ...But it's all an adventure.

    Hugs around.
    Lew
    KJ6G
    Classic 10' sailing dinghy "Schoon Poon Too"
    Landlocked in San Diego
    www.threefingeredpress.com

  6. #6
    Seglare Sven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Dog View Post
    Wow very interesting and having such a great partners. Sometime when my wife are out your way would enjoy meeting you both. We have e35II

    The closest I have every been to a situation was sailing solo on a Hobie 16 on Lake Superior with winds reach 50 and seas(?) cross hatching for several hours. Thought I was going to loose the boat before the day was over. Oddly enough i ended up paddling the last 3 miles back to my trailer that day.

    For the rest of use, What do you carry as a anchor inventory?

    Again nice read with a cup a coffee. It is 21 below zero out side.

    ml
    A Hobie in those winds must have been a blast, even under bare poles !

    As for other anchors we also have the 35 lb plow that originally came with her, but it is in the dock box. Then we have a 22 lb bruce on 300' plus 15' of chain. There is also a small danforth and a dinghy anchor. The replacement anchor will be a 66 lb bruce on 300' of chain with the bitter end fastened to a line that can be cut if needed. Chapmans says that the chain should be 7/16ths for Senta but the existing 5/16ths seemed plenty heavy and strong so we might stick with that size. Not sure if the gypsy would work with the heavier chain ?

    20 below sounds cold We thought waking up with 50 above in the cabin was cold.

    Meeting up would be fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lew Decker View Post
    Holy smokes, Sven. That sounds like a nightmare. I think it probably was, and it's a bit sobering for the armchair crowd out here. I think a lot about owning another boat. In my ignorant bliss I tend to gloss over the nights spent in similar situations. To be honest, I'd like another boat but not if I have to go through stuff like that again.

    Anyway, I'm glad it all worked out. I know you and Nancy are divers...Any hope of retrieving the gear?

    You've done so many wonderful things to Senta, I doubt I would recognize her ...

    Thanks for sharing your adventures. It's always a treat for me to read the latest.

    Things are going well here. My daughter is home from grad school in NH - she doesn't go back until the 19th.

    On a personal note, I published my first book. Sometimes I'm proud. Sometimes I'm embarrassed ...But it's all an adventure.

    Hugs around.
    Congratulations on the book ! What is it called ?

    We still admire the work you did on the headliner ... it is beautiful.

    The new standing rigging and stripped/primed/awlgripped mast, boom and spinnaker pole plus other upgrades really help bring out her beauty. As usual we had complete strangers come over in their dinghies to ask us about her and compliment her. One guy was "Bob" in an Albin Vega that he is equipping to enter in the next solo transpac :-) Another couple came over from their stunningly restored 50' Columbia to tell us how beautiful Senta is.

    Harbor Bruce took us out to Senta after the New Years dinner at the restaurant and he kidded that we could cruise around the harbor if we wanted to upgrade to another boat ... Nancy and I agreed that there wasn't a boat there that we would rather have than Senta II.

    Hope you are all doing well.



    -Sven
    Senta II
    1977 Ericson 39-B -- Hull # 216
    __________________

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    Senta World Navigation -- http://www.grenander.com

  7. #7
    Contributing Partner
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    Sven - My little book is called 'Fingerprints...a coffeehouse reader'. I think I'm more proud of the work my son did on it than what I wrote - he did all the formatting and designed the cover and text. Unlike his father, he is truly talented. Anyway, the book was a long time labor of love for me. I hope that is apparent to the readers.
    Lew
    KJ6G
    Classic 10' sailing dinghy "Schoon Poon Too"
    Landlocked in San Diego
    www.threefingeredpress.com

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