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Boethius' To Eel Point, San Clemente Island, California  

June 22, 2011. Rick Kennedy sent in this story about his trip to Eel Point, San Clemente Island with his Yankee #149, Boethius..

Dear Ron and Fellow Dolphin Owners,

I enjoy the pictures, thoughts, and information you all share on the Dolphin website, so in return I have taken some pictures and have some information and thoughts to share. I decided to do write this to you during a long day sailing when I had my camera on the boat. My plan was to go out to Eel Point on the west side of San Clemente Island and back to San Diego in two days. It is sixty nautical miles to San Clemente Island from my mooring at Shelter Island in San Diego. It would be about 140 nautical miles round trip to Eel Point. I slipped my mooring in the dark a little before 5am and figured I would be back late the next night.

This map is from Schock’s 1946 article on “Southern California Yachting. ”Eel Point is an archeological site where Indians lived for 10,000 years until around 1800-1805 when small pox and feuds with otter hunters encouraged the last dispirited natives to move to the mainland where they disappeared as a distinct culture. I teach history, and in my California history class the students read about the ancient people and boats that plied the waters of the California Bight. Eel Point is not only an especially old and isolated village site it is also intriguing for ancient dolphin hunting, a non-essential (sporting?) activity that required serious seamanship and seaworthy boats. Given what we know about Eel Point and the fact that the oldest human remains found on our continent were discovered on the island side of the Santa Barbara Channel we can say that Southern California may be the oldest on-going recreational maritime culture in the Americas. As for me, I wanted to sail out to see the land and experience the waters where these ancient people lived and fished.

The Pacific usually lives up to its name on Southern California mornings. You can see this in the pictures. I bought Boethius ten years ago, and the price included a Tohatsu 9.8 hp long-shaft, 2 cycle outboard along with an elderly autopilot. The motor is bigger than the boat normally needs, but I can hook it up to recharge my batteries while it pushes me along. This means that my electricity-sucking autopilot can suck continuously during the long mornings when Southern California has no wind. See below the pictures that were taken when Boethius and I were about 15 miles west of Point Loma with 40 more miles to go.

Boethius motoring west, mid morning June 18, 2011. Note the calm seas - also the self-steering rig

Note the safety line running from my harness to a pad eye bolted at the aft end of the cockpit.

Note that on aft starboard quarter is a coiled-up rock-climbing ladder so that if I did fall overboard, I could get myself back on board.

I add a couple of interior pictures. (I would like to see more pictures of what people have done with their own interiors.) I cut several inches off of the table to allow for easier movement

Boethius’ galley** 

Note the slimmed-down table to allow more open space in the cabin. The small propane canisters used in this stove are great for light cooking and water boiling.  Two canisters can easily last a week for one person.  The stove can also be moved into the cockpit when watching a sunset or making coffee while staying at the tiller. ** Click the caption below the pictures for a larger view - use your back arrow on your browser to get back here.

Here is my anchor set-up on the bow. It is awkward, but the anchor needs to be mounted so that it is not hit by my mooring ball. My mooring area has an official name but is always called by everybody: “Rock-n-Roll.” It is the cheapest mooring, I think, in all Southern California. I offer a picture on a calm morning before the fishing boats start roaring by—not to mention the cruise ships, tug boats, aircraft carriers, tour boats, and Navy Seal teams that always drive through the bay at full throttle.

I have 200’ of anchor chain plus a 175’ of rode. The Channel Islands are rocks that rise steeply out of deep water. Anchoring on them is often simply clinging to a broad ledge fairly deep below the surface. (There is no need for a swing-keel here in these waters. No wonder the Pacific Dolphins converted to a fixed keel.)
Webmaster Note: Rick must be thinking of the New Zealand Dolphins which have a fixed keel - the Pacific Dolphins had centerboatds. As for the need for good scope, the Santa Barbara channel anchorages are especially windy. Even what looks like a protected anchorage in the lee of an island can turn out to be where particular gusts hit after being concentrated in island canyons. A lot of chain aids one’s sleep. To get all that chain-weight away from the bow, I put a PVC pipe angled aft from the deck pipe. This pipe is visible in the picture of my V-birth. I drop rode and chain down the deck pipe and every once in a while go below and pull the weighty mass as far aft as it will go.

I had fun taking these pictures and dinking around on the boat until the wind began to pick up at noon. The wind came straight from where I wanted to go. I put up the sails in the hope of tacking into Pyramid Cove, an anchorage I had never been to and only open with the United States Navy allows access. The Navy schedule on the island’s website had the cove open only on the weekends in mid June. I had started the day optimistic about my plan to anchor before dark, but I now realized that I was not going to get to Pyramid Cove until much later. The wind was only 20kts-25kts but it stirred up sharp wind waves that bashed hopes of forward progress. Even after firing up my mighty Tohatsu 9.8 I could barely make 2.5kts heading directly toward the anchorage 25 nautical miles away.

I did not want to mess with an unknown anchorage, after dark, filled with I-had-no-idea-what from the US Navy, so I put the sails back up and turned in order to sail, wing and wing, back to San Diego. After a long sail in a following sea, I re-moored at 10:45pm. The best part of the return was a wonderful 15 minutes just before sunset when a pod of dolphins started playing at my bow. I had been seeing dolphins all day, but these were leaping completely out of the water, some within arm’s reach from my bow. Sometimes two or three would leap, twist, and land on their sides just ahead of me.

All in all, it was a great sailing day, but for those of you who don’t sail in Southern California, the home of the Yankee and Pacific Dolphins, I end with a quote from a 1946 essay by Edson B. Schock (the map above is from his essay) The Schock family name is well-known to West Coast yachting. He overstates his case but he points to essential truths that I re-affirm after abandoning my plans, mid-excursion, for sailing to Eel Point:

“Weighing anchor anywhere along the southwest coast of these United States is a deep-sea venture from the start. The minute you shove off you are at sea. Anywhere along the golden strand of movie-land taking a cruise means going to sea. The Southern California yachtsman has no land-sheltered coastal waters in which to dawdle or frolic, no “inland waterway” such as provides a peaceable corridor behind a wall of sandbars along the Atlantic from main almost to Florida. Inlets, bays, breakwaters, and even good harbors are scarce. Water is very plentiful. The well-known Pacific Ocean is the yachtsman’s pond and stepping off of the clubhouse porch automatically turns a rocking-chair yachtsman into a sea-going skipper.” [Edson B. Schock, “Southern California Yachting” in Sailing Craft, ed. Edwin J. Schoettle (New York: Macmillan, 1946), 644-655.]

Again, I enjoy reading about your experiences with our Dolphins. Every sailing territory has its own distinctive fun.

Rick Kennedy

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