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Friday, December 2, 2011

The "SANTANAS" are blowing!!!

The "Santanas" are blowing in Southern Califonia. I almost lost my schooner to one of them years ago. It was New Years night when the wind and waves started coming into the Isthmus at Catalina island. I was on a mooring and as I tried to power out, even though I watched the sand line sink with a flashlight I somehow picked up the stern mooring line in my prop, that killed my engine and I was headed for the beach. Having an anchor instantly ready to go (old school stuff) was the only thing that saved me from going ashore. I dove over in the freezing water and swam lines out to two other moorings and got the 48' schooner secured the best I could as the winds increased and waves built to 4 and 6 feet. Later the harbor sheriffs came by in their 30 footer Bay Watch and asked me what I wanted to do. I said, "get the hell out of here." They came alongside, got a tow line on me, we hand pumped the anchor home, cut the two mooring lines and were towed out toward Bird Rock. With the prop still fouled with mooring line and unable to reef my big mainsail I set the main and jib and totally overpowered I beat my way out of the Isthmus. As I gained more sea room, I set the main stay'sail, dropped the main and jib and sailed around the west end of the island for shelter on the back side of Catalina. That was a night I will never forget, or would my wife. You will do well to remember that the lee side (the side facing the mainland) of all our Channel Islands can become the "hell" side in our winter time North East winds. It's easy to get lured over to Avalon in our summer like conditions in December and January? Be vigilant, continually check the weather reports. Lot's of times the North Easters blow hard on the mainland and peter out half way to Catalina. But not always. Don't wait for the harbor master to tell you to get out. When the bow of your boat is facing the mainland, and your boat starts hobby horsing on the mooring or at anchor and the swells start coming in. GET OUT. It may be a false alarm, but then again it may NOT??? P.S. Photo is Avalon in a Santana !!!

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