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Wind Dancer Cruises to San Miguel

posted Jun 18, 2012, 1:06 PM by Tartan-Owners Southern California   [ updated Jun 18, 2012, 5:33 PM ]
Our very own Bill Solberg and crew Bob Mahon recently completed a 7 day trip from Marina del Ray to San Miguel, stopping at Santa Barbara and Santa Rosa islands. Bill reports: "We had a perfect weather window for San Miguel, so good that we elected to forego the usual wee-hours passage to the island. Still, from Johnson's Lee on Santa Rosa, it was a quick 20 nm trip as we were pushed along with 20 knot following winds. The passage was special, as we sailed wing-and-wing from Santa Rosa to Miguel, arriving about 1400 hours in brisk wind from the ESE. This posed another issue: we had never anchored here in anything but NW winds. As it turned out, one anchors in this generously large anchorag in the usual location regardless of wind.  

Here are some details of our passage.

Fuel. We cruised approximately 210 nm on 37 gallons + 5 gallons in a jerry can. The objective was to avoid having to re-fuel. We arrived back with four gallons reserve. 

Anchoring. We anchored in the NW area, off the palm trees, searching for sand and avoiding kelp. In 20 knots of wind, we had 250 feet of rode (including 100 feet of chain). We augmented this with a 33 pound sentinel and a rigged riding sail. 

Regulations. I applied for a permit, but received no response. Speaking with a long-time seaman who frequented the Island, we got the opinion that things are not so regulated as it would seem. Still, it might be best to check with the ranger to get permission to walk unaccompanied on the trails. 

Incident report. On Sunday, September 11, we beached our 5HP assisted dinghy near the palm trees, but careful not to encroach any sea lions. We then set out for Nidiver Canyon, where the ranger station is located. We met a rugged rock outfall on the beach, requiring passage through this area. As I proceeded, I lost my footing and fell, severely lacerating my left index finger, among other contusions to the lower extremities. I got a bit concerned when I could look at my finger and see the glistening white tendon sheath -- a real anatomy lesson. Having prepared for some calamity like this, we had an adequate hemorrhage kit along. Ultimately, it was apparent that I needed stitches, so we left the anchorage and made out way to Santa Barbara in calm seas. I was repaired by 1930 hours. Lessons learned: even a benign walk through boulders gives risk when you are in the wilderness -- be aware of all risks. I owe my decisive first mate, Bob Mahon a lot of gratitude for getting me to my medical help quickly and safely. 

Final thoughts. Would I take this trip again? Definitely yes! It is the Mount Everest of Southern California sailing destinations. The required skills and gear are straightforward: solid reefing system, anchoring gear capable of 35 kt true winds, at least a 5 HP outboard and good dinghy, willingness to depart for safer anchorages at any time. For those not familiar with the anchorage, buddying up with another vessel is recommended. Those who are super-timid might first elect to take the charter Island Packet catamarans that arrive daily with tourists so as to better get their bearings.


Wind Dancer visits San Miguel

Be sure to watch Bill Solberg's short YouTube video! or another video on the passage to San Miguel.