Deck the Hulls

In addition to baking a ridiculous amount of cookies, decorating for Christmas has always been my favorite part of the holidays. When we lived on land we checked off all the boxes: we strung up lights all along the apartment, hung mistletoe in the doorways, put a wreath on the front door, stockings hung with care above our fireplace and of course had a real tree in the corner decorated with the upmost amount of cheer. To say the least we went all out for the holidays, so I was a bit concerned this year when I realized this is the first Christmas we will be spending on our boat- how on earth would we keep with our traditions?

Chris and I put our thinking caps on (and by that I mean our Santa Hats) and thought of ways we could still decorate and make Avocet feel like Christmas. Getting a real tree was out of the question since 1. where the H-E-double-hockey-sticks would we put it and 2. pine needles in the bilge… Forget about it. Instead of a tree we opted for wrapping garland around our compression post, then hanging ornaments from it. Just like that, we had a “tree”.

Moving on to the lights. Now, we see a lot of sailors string Christmas lights up the mast and down the forestay as well as backstay but Chris and I agreed that if we did that we would have to be dedicated to staying in the slip for a while which neither of us wanted. So instead, we got some twinkly lights to trace our dodger and lined the inside hand trim of our boat. Lights: check!

While Christmas shopping we also found some little decorations that were small enough to hang up and put on the shelves and we even got a small wreath to hang above the V Berth! Lastly, since we don’t have a fireplace onboard we decided to hang stockings up anyways, and decided to play a recording of a crackling fire from our iPad just to help set the mood. With the addition of some holiday candles, Frank Sinatra Christmas music and cookies fresh out of the oven, we were ready for Christmas. To celebrate our cheery success, we snuggled up and watched a Christmas movie to make it official. Did you know Captain Ron- er, I mean Kurt Russel – plays Santa in a new movie called The Christmas Chronicles? Super funny!

Check  out the full video on youtube. What are your Holiday traditions on land or at sea? We want to hear your favorites! Feel free to share in the comments below or post in the comments on our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/svavocet/?hl=en

Little Wing

Chris has always loved Lyle Hess designs- I mean how could you not? They are classic and sail like a dream, so it was no surprise that he chose to wait for a Lyle Hess dinghy. We had our hearts set on a Fatty Knees but unfortunately our wallets did not agree with our dreams, however our neighbor just so happened to have a dinghy that “looked like” a Fatty and gave it to us since he didn’t want it. Come to find out, it was actually a Dover Dory, a Lyle Hess design and the predecessor to the Fatty.  I will now pass this blog off to Chris who can give you the details. ~ Marissa

Marissa wrote a great intro, but back to the Dover Dory. This little dinghy was in great shape for being over 40, but there was still work to be done- it is a boat after all. First thing first: washing all the scum off from however long she was sitting out upside down on a dock, exposed to the elements. I gave her a quick rinse with fresh water, dawn soap, and a hard bristled brush which made a huge difference. I followed up with a scotch bright pad and Bright Boy soap which I HIGHLY recommend for boat work since it not only works wonders on removing rust from metals, but it also removes stains from gel coats and paint. After her bath, I dried her off and got to work on the next project which happened to (of course) be much more than I anticipated.

 

Our dinghy needed handrails (or rub rails if you prefer) so I went to Home Depot to pick up some wood. After looking around for some flexible wood. My options where limited to pine, cedar, fur, some super expensive oak. So i picked up some cedar because I am familiar with it after working on the V-berth project. I had imagined getting the wood wet enough to bend but it turned out to be too brittle for the severe bend so I decided to return it. I decided to stop by my favorite lumber yard G&S Lumber Supply where I really respect their opinion and wanted to hear what they suggested, and I know they have hard woods for very reasonable prices. After asking if white oak was my best bet, they agreed that it would work very well. Part of why I love going to G&S because they rip and plane your lumber usually for no charge. While they where ripping this 12” board into 8 smaller 2” wide by 3/8” thick boards I went to go return the cedar to Home Depot.

On my way, s$!t hit the fan. My trusty truck of 290k miles decided to pitch a fit,  lost all cooling and broke down. I have replaced every hose and connection in my cooling system except for (of course) the one hose connector for the back of the heater radiator which is of course, what blew. I had AAA give me a tow to NAPA where I replaced the part and continued on my way to return the wood head back to G&S for my new spiffy white oak.

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Figuring out just how I was going to make this work…

The day after my misadventure, I stayed dockside all day to work on the dink. A lot of passerby’s were curious as to what I was doing, and how I was doing it and each time I told them they proceeded to let me know exactly how they would do it… just sailor things 😉 In all honesty I appreciate their input and always enjoy bouncing ideas off our neighbors. So, what was I doing? I was in the process of bending the white oak around the outside as well as the inside of the laminate to create a sandwich that I would fasten together. The outside plank bent perfectly using C-clamps and some good ol’ persuasion.

I tried to make the bend with the inside plank to mimic the outer plank, but the sheer of the boat was too steep which put too much tension on the wood and started to twist towards the aft. If I had access to a 9 ft steam box, it would have been a simple job but I had to make do with what I had so I decided to craft skarf joint which is a method of joining two members end to end. After one round of trial and error I figured out that around midship was the best place to start the skarf which turned out to be 20 inches long, which is good because the more surface area you have the stronger the skarf will be. I used my oscillating multitool to make the straightest cut I could since I don’t have room aboard for my table saw (haha) and I was lending my skill saw- once again making do with what I got. From there, I used the hand plane to make a flat surface to ensure a perfect fit. After that I just kept on dry fitting and shaving off bits here and there until I was happy with the result then I fastened both planks together using stainless screws with stainless washers moving from bow to aft, clamping and unclamping as I go. Before I had fastened this first handrail I traced them onto the two other pieces so the other side went together much faster.

 

 

 

IMG_6160After some light sanding using some 220 and Semco, I was super happy with the result. I cleaned up our finger and vacuumed up all the scraps before driving to one of my favorite places, Mikes Consignment, to see if I could find some oars. Mikes has everything, and I usually get lucky with finding bronze pieces and whatever else I need for refit projects so finding oars was no different, I walked in and found exactly what I needed. I chose collapsable wooden oars because they just have a classic look that fits the style I was going for, and they store easy. Marissa took pleasure in stripping varnish and revarnishing them to make them look good as new before I took the boat on a test row before permanently attaching the oar locks. Funny story: I used duct tape to soft attach the oar locks tentatively where I thought they should go which worked great for the first few minutes until the Santa Ana gusts started blowing me around the marina, causing the duct tape to rip off and send me floating into our neighbors boats! No damage done, but it was sure funny to watch (peep the whole video at the bottom for evidence of this mishap). As soon as I regained control (“more duct tape will do”) I paddled back to our slip to screw in the oar locks to the hand rail. Speaking of the hand rail, it’s amazing how building that hand rail up has significantly stiffened up the whole boat!

 

Last thing I did was buff the bottom of the boat using 3M Perfect – It to give her a glassy shine. After that, our boat was only missing one thing: a name. Marissa and I had gone back and forth trying to decide on a fitting name but finally landed on “Little Wing” to not only keep within the bird theme (Avocet and Little Wing… Get it?) but also because Little Wing is also my favorite song. We loaded her up onto our davits and adored how cute she looked. We can’t wait to get a sail kit! Stay tuned for more, thanks for reading! Signing off, ~Skipper Chris

 

Escape to Santa Barbara

Last Thursday night we had planned to sail to Santa Cruz Island so we could enjoy a long weekend together in solitude but that plan was foiled by the Santa Ana winds. However, the winds weren’t the worst of our problems. 2 wild fires started up way too close to us, just 30 minutes after I got home from visiting a client in L.A. Within an hour, the sky  above our slip in Oxnard was black and the sun was glowing orange through the smoke, tinting everything with an apocalypse like hue.

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Here is what the smoke looked like from our slip. Air quality was BAD.

We were initially bummed that we couldn’t sail to the Island when we wanted, but that’s just sailing. We decided to wait another night and try to head out the following day, however when Friday rolled around we woke up and the wind was still howling and our decks were starting to get ashy, which is a sure sign to get out. Unfortunately, all the highways in and out were closed so we had no choice but to stay put. We woke up early Saturday morning (despite trying out hardest to sleep in) and a very obvious idea popped into our heads- better late than never I suppose. As badly as we wanted to sail out to Santa Cruz, all weather predictions were calling for another round of Santa Ana Winds starting Sunday and ending Monday morning and we didn’t want to get caught up in that while out at anchor so Chris and I jumped out of bed, turned on the percolator and set course for Santa Barbara which was a refuge from the smoke and power outages caused by the Hill Fire and the Woolsey Fire

As I mentioned, the wind was not in our favor as it was coming directly at us, so instead of sailing north we motored, which was fine since there was virtually no swell. While Chris was at helm, I fixed up huevos rancheros for breakfast using “soyrizo” a vegetarian option to chorizo since we don’t usually keep meat aboard Avocet. We enjoyed our coffee and breakfast out in the cockpit while keeping our eyes peeled for crab pots (there seemed to be more than usual floating about) and marine life. Once I regained cell service I reached out to our family and followers letting them know our plan and that we are safe from the fires. With that said, we want to thank everyone who reached out to us offering their prayers, kind words and support. Although we are okay, there are many people down here that weren’t as luck so we urge you to donate what you can!

After 4 hours on the water the sound of the engine became a lullaby for Skipper Chris, so he handed the captains hat to me and I kept watch up above while I typed out the beginning of this very blog. We finally made it to the Santa Barbara Harbor at 2:30. We decided to stay in the harbor since if we were at anchor we would have to be on high alert for the Santa Ana winds rolling through as well as the swell. Chris’s brother Jon has spent many times at the Santa Barbara Harbor aboard Tara (their first boat) as well as SV Prism so we knew what to expect for the most part. The marina runs on a first come first serve basis so we were stoked that they had a slip available for Avocet.

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We made it!
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Her name was Morning Song, and she is truly gorgeous.

Once we settled in our transient slip we walked the docks to check out what this harbor had to offer. While investigating the scene we spotted 6 Cheoy Lee’s! We were also invited aboard a beautiful Bristol Channel Cutter that the owner had hand built. It took him 25 years and the outcome was well worth his time. Chris has an infatuation with BCC’s because they are a Lyle Hess design that is all teak and sails like a dream.

We parted ways with our new friends and made our way back to Avocet where I began dinner while Chris re-stowed the boat and did other things here and there. After dinner we stuck to our original “island plan activity” which was to set up the projector in the cockpit and watch a movie outside. It worked perfectly! Movie of choice was the Blues Brothers, a true classic.

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Skipper Chris, enjoying his hard work!

On Sunday morning we were up bright and early, ready to get out and explore. After breakfast and coffee we launched the dinghy off our davits and explored the harbor by paddle- just ‘cuz we could! After about an hour of giggles and splashing we finally got the hang of rowing together, and as it turns out we were actually pretty fast! We rowed back to Avocet and got ready for a day spent walking around downtown. Honestly, downtown Santa Barbara was one of the most beautiful towns we have ever seen! It was so floral -seriously- there was greenery everywhere and everything was so clean. We walked all along the harbor, then the pier where we stumbled across a candy shop that we of course had to stop in and sample. From there, we walked all up State street and then back to the harbor where a few of our Instagram followers nudged us to try the Breakwater Grill for lunch, so good!

That night we enjoyed the sunset and walked the beach at sundown, setting up the camera for a time lapse of the stars. We counted 3 shooting stars that night, can you guess what we wished for? We walked along the breakwater and listened to the waves crash against the wall, and talked about future sailing plans. After an hour of talking, star gazing, and freezing our butts off we wandered back to Avocet and got ready for our sail home in the morning.

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Pretty sunset! Oh yah, see that couple? They got engaged 4 minutes after I snapped this shot. Congrats strangers!
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Our “storm jib” (photo taken after we docked, airing out the sails)

To describe Monday’s sail home in one word: Chaos, or if your British you may refer to it as “sporty”… but nonetheless it was insane. All was fine until we hit our half way mark, thats when the Santa Ana’s hit us with gusts up to 40 knots. Luckily, Skipper Chris was well prepared for this instance, so prior to sailing he had reefed our main and replaced our genoa with a small staysail, using it as a storm sail since it is more maneuverable and doesn’t make us rely on our ferler (since they can be known to fail). It was honestly a comedic sight, watching us get drenched with spray from over the bow and keeping our bimini from blowing away- oh ya, did I mention our freaking bimini almost flew away!? Let me paint the picture for you: Chris ran to the bow (fully harnessed with a lifejacket) to save our anchor from letting go after it had shook free from the tension on our gypsy that keeps the chain and anchor tight, as well as our bridle that splits the load with our gypsy (which also acts as a failsafe if our Gypsy lets go). So while Chris was getting a full bath up on the bow (a full wave broke on him, kinda funny, but kinda not) I was at the helm, dealing with heavy random gusts and trying to keep us on course while bashing through 6 ft waves. On top of all that, the bimini pins on the port side shook loose so it nearly flew away! I had the bimini in my left hand, the wheel in my right and my eyes on the bow to make sure Chris didn’t go overboard- it was a real kerfuffle. Chris finally made it back to the cockpit and relieved me from my duties as temporary captain while also securing the bemini back in place. After a few more good sprays to the face we made it through our harbor’s break water and back to our slip, after 2 hilarious attempts to dock (shout out to our neighbor for helping us with the lines)! When we were all tied off, we just looked at each other with exhausted eyes and messy wind blown hair and both said “we did it”. In the future, if there is ANY warning of Santa Ana Winds,  you can find us cuddled up in our slip enjoying Netflix and hot chocolate.

Thanks for reading! We can’t wait to get back and explore everything that Santa Barbara has to offer. Cheers, ~ SV Avocet

 

V-Berth Restoration

When we bought Avocet back in March, we knew that the first big project would have to be restoring the V-berth. The V berth had been used as a sail, anchor, fender, dive gear, and miscellaneous storage area so there were lots of wet things sitting in a small space creating a very mildew-e atmosphere. However, this was not really the biggest issue. The biggest problem was that the anchor locker had no real drain which meant that all of the seawater that was naturally brought in with the chain (which is quite a lot) went straight into the woodwork. The waters path was either into the side veneer panels or into the lower lockers where it was stopped by two bulkheads which ultimately led to around 12 inches water being ultimately stagnant underneath the floor boards before finally making its way to the bilge. Not a great system Cheoy Lee.

The Process

The first step was to rip the teak veneer off the walls as they were epoxied onto a liner,  not the hull itself. Using chisels, crowbars, wedges, elbow grease, and with help from my brother Jon, we got it all off.  After ripping the veneer, the resin/epoxy that was used to attach the veneer simply peeled off the liner giving me a pretty easy shot at sanding the walls a little to create a good paint surface.

 

I wanted to do two things for sure on this build: One was to create tongue and groove (T&G) walls and headliners because my mom’s Mason 43 and my brothers HC 33 has T&G everywhere, and I love the look. Initially, I dabbled with the idea of getting a particle board 4×8 sheet from Home Depot with the T&G look, but I know the particle board would never last in a marine atmosphere so finally after much thought, my brother found a really cool old school lumber yard with tons of old wood stock and extremely friendly customer service. The name of this magical lumbar yard is G&S Lumber Supply which is located in Ventura CA. Quick side story: back in the day this lumbar yard had a crew of over 70 people, and unfortunately due to corporations like Lowe’s and Home Depot, they are now down to just two people which is really quite a shame. Jon and I got to know the kind folks at G&S Lumbar Supply and told them about our V berth project. They hooked us up with some fantastic T&G red cedar that was absolutely PERFECT! Not only is it T&G, but red cedar is naturally mold as well as rot resistant due to the high saturation of sap in the wood. Plus it smells fantastic. Anyways, we got a few boxes of the cedar (which was from the 70’s) and Jon began the daunting task of cutting each individual board and fastening it to the walls and headliner. Each and every board he went up out of the companion way, cut and shaped on the dock, then back down the companion way, measured and fit in the V, then repeated with another board. I tip my hat to my brother, the finished result is beautiful. SO long story short, I got my wish! T&G baby! It smells and looks so beautiful, I didn’t (and still don’t) see a need to varnish.

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The red cedar was a good call. Beautiful craftsmanship done by my brother!

The second thing that was a must for this refit was that Marissa and I wanted to raise our berth up in the V so it was suitable for a couple, or a very roomy bunk for one. This also gave us a crap load of storage which is great for my video gear, extra wood, guitars, Cleo’s kitty box, and etc. So again, Jon mapped it all out and built a frame and cut the panels to construct the upper level that we so desperately wanted. While Jon worked on the V-Berth I was working on the chain locker.

So “while we were in there” (A famous line on this boat, because every time we open up one project, 6 projects follow)  we decided to address the chain locker, which was the original culprit of the V-berths destruction. Right off the bat I took out the partition that was set in the locker since we don’t have any rode, there was no need. After that quick fix, I really needed to figure out a more efficient drainage system so I put on my fix-it cap and got to work. At first I thought I was going to make a hawsepipe to bring most of the chain down into the locker below the first deck, however, thinking about mildew issues I then thought it was smart to keep all of the chain in the locker to seal it from the rest of the room. So taking a PVC Pipe, I built a floor in the chain locker, drilled a hole in the middle, and shaved a concave shape into the floor so all water would drain directly to the hole in the middle. I then fiberglassed the floor and the PVC into place allowing myself some extra room to cut off the PVC excess once dried. “While I was in there” (see? theres that line again) I also tackled the windlass wires in a similar way but kept a 5 inch lip of the 2” PVC so when water is in the floor of the anchor locker it wouldn’t drain down the wire-hawsepipe. I spent some real time in this Anchor locker bringing every square inch down to bare fiberglass with a 60 grit paddle wheel on a angle grinder. Messy, messy…. messy. I spent about three days crammed into my somewhat small anchor locker- talk about boat yoga! During this time, I noticed that there was what was left of an old previous bulkhead to which the owners replaced with the one we have now. When they did this, they cut the original bulkhead out leaving about 3-4 inches on the hull which made it clear that they used a jigsaw. So, I cut away the remainder of the original bulkhead for the chain locker. Following that was more fiberglassing, covering all of the unoriginal bulkhead so we would have no more water damage! THEN I GOT TO PAINT!

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Check out all the fiberglass from the chain locker!

The bulkhead we have in our boat now was put in after being built, and is great because it increased the space inside the chain locker. However, they tabbed the bulkhead on top of a liner which isn’t structural. so WHILE I WAS IN THERE I knew the correct thing to do was tab it to the hull. No matter how much work it would take. For those of you that don’t know “tabbing” involves bonding  bulkheads to the hull with strips of fiberglass cloth wetted with polyester resin.  So I cut away the liner to get to the hull, tabbed in the backside of the bulkhead and pushed in 406 thickened epoxy into the gap stern-side. This stiffened up the deck quite a lot and now there is ZERO amount of play in the bulkhead.

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Marissa sanding before she painted the first coat

At this point, Jon had long departed for his own boat SV Prism and all that was left to do was paint more and lots of varnish. So I got stripping sanding! Luckily this time around, Marissa graced me with her presence and got to get her hands dirty. With her help, we completed the paint which made the whole V-berth appear more put together.

The last thing we have to do is order or make a mattress, but until we get the funds to do so we have set up a very comfortable air mattress which was mom-tested and approved when the family came to visit- meaning it works for now. (The small white wire is our internet while at dock, I have it coming through the anchor locker so I don’t have to ghetto rig our companionway or put it through a hatch.)

 

So, there it is! There is my blog on the V-Berth restoration. A video be posted once we get our real mattress all set up! Thanks for reading. Cheers, ~Skipper Chris

Avocet Eats: Fall Favorites

Fall is my favorite time to cook; warm soups, apple pies, and the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting from nearly every home you pass… it doesn’t get much better. In honor of this fantastic culinary season (as my parents call it) I will be writing my favorite fall recipes below for your own cooking pleasure. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

*Disclaimer: When I cook, I follow the instructions but I also tweak as I go. The recipes below are what I do,  Keep on taste testing and do what you think tastes right

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Q & A with SV Avocet

I can not tell you how many people give me funny looks when I tell them I live on a boat. In their heads, it does not add up. “Where do you sleep? Is there like… a kitchen? Aren’t you afraid of sinking? OMG how much stuff did you have to get rid of?!” In retrospect, those are actually pretty decent questions but we never really put much thought into the little things that seem to make peoples heads spin. So, with that said we asked our Instagram followers to send us all their questions so we could answer them in a video and we got some great questions! I will answer our favorites here:

      1. Why do you live on a boat?

Why do you live on land? All sass aside, we chose this lifestyle because we were sick of renting and didn’t necessarily want to commit to one location forever. On a sailboat we are able to call anywhere we go “home” which I think is pretty neat. This lifestyle will allow us to see the world from quite literally the comfort of our own home. It is also a simple lifestyle, we only take what we need and most importantly we are able to see how our choices effect the environment. We think twice about what we use to clean our boat and what we throw away because we literally see the affects of pollution on the ocean everyday.

      2. What are your sailing plans? 

We have been discussing this a LOT lately. We would really like to casually “race” in the TransPac or PacCup in 2020; both are regattas which sail from Long Beach to Hawaii which takes about 14 days. Some boats are in it to win it, where as we would be only semi-competitive. It would just be a cool experience to meet new people and make like-minded friends that are doing the same trek we are. From Hawaii, we are thinking about sailing to Alaska. Crazy temperature change, am I right? We want to see Alaska before global warming completely changes its environment, plus have you seen the incredible photography that comes from there?

      3. What are your favorite parts of your boat?

Woohoo! I love this question. For me (Marissa), my favorite part of Avocet is our galley. There is so much counter space for baking, the fridge is the biggest I have ever seen on a boat, and I love the way it is set up. It is pretty much mid ship, which is rad because I love entertaining and feeding people. A close second on my list would be our Aft Cabin. Chris and I really wanted a boat that had an aft cabin so we didn’t have to sleep in the V-berth. Our cabin has 2 closets (both mine… thanks Chris!) and 4 drawers. We also have good airflow from our hatch and port light which is always a plus. Chris’s favorite part(s) of Avocet are our new rig, which features a tapered mast which prevents the mast from pumping in high wind. He also loves the amount of lazaret space, our deck and of course our huge cockpit. Chris basically likes all of the technical perks of our boat. Go figure *wink*.

      4. Future Projects?

Ah, are projects ever done? I feel like there are ALWAYS projects… I suppose that is just the joy of boat ownership. In all seriousness we do have a couple big projects on the horizon. We need to varnish the whole interior since, as you can see, our whole freaking interior is teak veneer- which is awesome when it is taken care of! However, the previous owner did not keep up on the teak maintenance as much as we would have liked, but its nothing some fresh varnish can’t fix. We will also be raising our pilot berth so it will be a bit-smaller-queen size bed rather 2 twin bunks, making it perfect for a couple to stay the night aboard. The last “major” project we will be doing is making a stall shower in our head. Our head (bathroom, for you land lubbers) is a “wet-head” as of right now, which means EVERYTHING is made to get wet and wipe down after a shower. Wet-heads are great, but since we have the space for a stall shower we are making a stall shower. It will be small, but we will basically be reconstructing a whole half of the head. We will definitely be taking pictures and videos during all these projects so stay tuned for those!

I hope that I was able to answer a few of your questions! Check out our video for the complete Q and A. As always, thank you for reading and following our adventures of boat ownership. Until next time, Cheers! ~ SV Avocet Crew

Cruisin’ to Santa Cruz Island

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Enjoying coffee in the cockpit (from left to right: Momma Neely, Marissa, Shannon, Jon)

After a long, long wait we finally caught the cruising bug after sailing Avocet further than ever before and spending an incredible few days anchored out at Santa Cruz Island with Chris’s family.  If you follow our instagram (@SVAvocet) you probably were able to follow along and watch our adventure first hand, this blog will go over our adventure a little more in depth, especially since there were so many things we did not via phone. So,we started our voyage Friday morning after stowing away the provisions, a new anchor, and getting the family settled aboard for the trip. It took us about 4 hours to arrive at our first anchorage, Smugglers cove. This was the first time Chris or I had anchored Avocet, and we were so happy Jon and Shannon (SV Prism) were there to help walk us through the steps. Just like that our anchor was set, and we were home for the night.

I had recently picked up a book about Santa Cruz Island from the world famous Minney’s Yacht Surplus (if you know, you know) and I decided that now was a better time than ever to crack it open and brush up on my knowledge of  the Island that is always in sight from our slip in Oxnard. The Island is 96 square miles and home to flora and fauna that is unique to the Channel Islands such as the Island Fox, which can only be found on 6 out of 8 of the Channel Islands and no where else on Earth. Although the fox is the largest of the mammals on the Channel Islands, it is the smallest canid (fox) on Earth! Besides the wildlife, there are many reminders of human life from long ago when there was ranching on the land. You can still see the old ranch buildings, corals, and cattle grates here and there. Chumash natives also lived on the island, making canoes out of planks and using shells as currency. I was blown away at the Islands history, and was sure to keep my eyes peeled for the things mentioned in my book. I was far from disappointed.

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Avocet anchored on Santa Cruz island

Early the following morning we moved to our next anchorage called Prisoners, which was a pretty cool spot to explore first since there was a dinghy dock making it nice and easy to get to land. We got off Avocet for a few hours to explore, and ended up hiking the lookout trail to search for the “illusive” Island Fox that just so happened made an appearance almost immediately. The book was right, the fox was the smallest mammal on the island and absolutely adorable. After our fox encounter and a few prime shots of Avocet sitting pretty in the anchorage, we headed back down to the shore where I decided to go hunt for shells. The shore was scattered with intricate shells that were once homes to crabs and snails, but I was honestly more excited about the bones I found (I am weird, I know.) I found lots of small bones, fish bones, seal bones… all picked clean by what was likely the ravens. After a good 20 minutes of examining shells and bones alike we headed back to Avocet for a swim and some dinner. Fun facts about Prisoners: Prisoners received it’s name because in the early 1800’s, a Mexican prison ship released convicts on the island after being denied permission to do so in San Diego.

The next, final, and favorite anchorage was Little Scorpion which was a gorgeous spot for snorkeling and diving.  Avocet set anchor in the sandy bottom with a stern hook as well to keep us snug during the night. The surroundings were incredible, the east side of the cove had cliff walls that dropped straight into the water, natural rock bridges that you could snorkel or paddle through and thin lines of kelp that was a likely sign of a reef below. After digging out our snorkel gear and the wetsuits that came with Avocet, we suited up and jumped in to explore the world below our keel. The sun never showed up that day, so the fog made the water extra cold but nonetheless enjoyable because the amount of life that lives in that cove is incredible. We saw tons of garibaldi, kelp fish, silver fish, small abalone, and Shannon even found a bug hole (lobsters!) I couldn’t really dive since my wetsuit was super thick and made me extra buoyant, so Shannon was nice enough to dive down and bring the bottom of the ocean to me in the palms of her hand so I could say I “touched the bottom”. We spent about an hour out exploring and I could have honestly spent all day! We did have to get going though, the main land awaited, so we swam back, showered off and started to get the boat ready to set sail with a course set for home.

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Little Scorpion anchorage. The rocks off the bow were the prime spot for snorkeling!

It was an incredible experience being able to anchor for the first time, we now feel like the possibilities are endless and will be exploring our potential cruising plans soon. We wanted to give a shout out to SV Prism for teaching us the ropes (or should I say lines?) when it comes to anchoring with our new Rocna “Vulcan” anchor! Seriously, it is badass! Finally, thank you to everyone who has followed our social media accounts and has reached out to us with questions or thoughtful comments, we do enjoy reading everyone and getting to know you all! Below is a video recap from our travels. Until next time, cheers!