Happy Holidays from the Hoff Family
It was the best of years it was the worst of years; but enough
about that! Any way on the better side Jamie and I have been married
ten years this year. Bonnie is in first grade and has just turned
seven today (12/14/97) as I write this. Jessica is four and will start
Kindergarten next fall.
The big news for this year was our sailing trip from San Francisco
Bay to southern California and back on our Catalina 27 foot sailboat,
Heathcliff. I had an eight week vacation. We left August 3rd and
needed to get to Newport Harbor by August 14 for Jamie's parents
anniversary party and family gathering.
On our first leg of the voyage we headed out a foggy Golden Gate
and stopped at Princeton Harbor in Half Moon Bay. We headed out the
next morning in the fog, which burned off by late morning. A strong
NNW wind filled in and we started to sail. A few hours later with the
wind up to 30 knots we took the head sail down and sailed with only
the mainsail. We were on a wild ride aboard a 27 foot surf board as
we rode the waves. After about an hour of this, I noticed on the
horizon a large splash. I thought maybe it was from large waves
crashing together but then it happened again and then again. It was
two Humpback whales breaching. They breached about twenty times with
the nearest time about 200 feet off our port side (left to you land
lubbers). I will always remember those whales and the reaction of my
family to the wondrous site we saw that day. The wind slowly died as
we sailed off Cannery Row on our way to Monterey Harbor.
The next day we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The following
day was a short sail around the Monterey Peninsula to Stillwater Cove
off the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. The next morning in a thick fog we
passed by Pt. Sur without seeing it for the second time (we had passed
Pt. Sur in the fog on our voyage north in 1985). We had light head
winds all day, which was the last thing I expected along the coast.
We also saw 3 humpback whales south of Pfieffer Pt. Usually the winds
are 20 to 30 knots from the northwest. The original plan had been to
try to get to San Simeon Bay by nightfall, but with the headwinds, and
a gas tank problem, and pea soup fog (less than 30 ft visibility) off
San Simeon Bay I decided we should just continue on to a familiar and
well-lit harbor at Morro Bay. Jamie and Jessica were asleep below and
Bonnie slept under a blanket in the cockpit. I just kept wiping the
condensing fog from my glasses and plotting our GPS (global
positioning satellite; best piece of new boat electronics in the last
ten years)! course every hour as the autopilot steered the boat. I
had one heck of a scare when I looked up ahead and it appeared we
were about to enter the surf line. It turned out to be the ocean
glowing with photo phosphorescent plankton. Occasionally our boat
would disturb the plankton and the ocean all around would start to
glow. About 1 am I had another scare as a whale sized object
appeared under the water on our starboard side on a collision
course. As I prepared for the impact the object split into 2 shapes
that curved off and around the boat jumping out of the water
occasionally. My adrenaline level had not yet calmed down when I
realized it was two dolphins come to play in the boat wake! A short
while later the fog began to lift and I could make out lights on
shore several miles away. We entered Morro Bay at 4 am and spent
the next day at the Morro Bay Yacht Club.
The next port of call was Port San Luis which was just a short
jaunt. The next morning we left at dawn. When I came on deck I saw
a Sea Otter floating just a few feet off the side of our boat. They
float so high in the water! We headed south to Point Conception,
the Cape Horn of North America! We started with a light headwind
from the south, not what I expected, but this El Nino year was full
of unusual weather. We sailed by Pt Arguello with the light
southerly wind and then it died. We motored by Pt. Conception; I
have video tape to prove it! We had planned to stop at Cojo
Anchorage, a mile past Pt. Conception, however with several hours
of light left and the wind now coming from behind and the warm
waters of the Santa Barbara Channel we decided to head for Santa
Barbara just forty miles to the east and with a well-lit harbor
entrance. This was one of our great sailing days as we sailed down
the Santa Barbara Channel. The water and air were warm, and from
here south we would not have the same worries about the weather.
We watched a beautiful sunset and as the sky darkened we sailed under
a crescent moon and the stars. An hour out of Santa Barbara the
wind died and we motored into a favorite harbor at 11:30 pm.
We spent six weeks in southern California waters before we headed
back north in late September. Here are some of the best events.
Best Beach: Albert's anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. The girls
combed the beach for shells and caught sand crabs.
Best Fishing: Bonnie caught 19 fish at Pelican Bay and Fry's
Harbor. She decided to use Banana bait for her first fish; a top
smelt. We could see the fish going crazy for the bait.
Best Snorkeling: At Pelican Bay I pushed the girls around on my
windsurfer. Jessica swam with me for a while with her arm on my
shoulder and my arm over her back. We also saw an octopus well
camouflaged in a rock.
Best Cave Exploration: We explored all the caves we could enter
in our dinghy from Fry's Harbor to Lady's Harbor. The deepest cave
was over 400 feet at Lady's Harbor. Jessica does not like it when
her daddy sings the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' theme song as we
Best Marina: My old stomping grounds, C-16 at Anacapa Isle
Marina, with a heated pool and jacuzzi.
Best ship to shore phone call: Calling Jamie's mom on the Palos
Verdes Peninsula as we sailed by on our way to Newport Harbor. She
looked out her window and saw our boat; we all waved!
Biggest wave to soak all of us: Less than a mile from entering
Channel Islands Harbor I looked to windward and yelled 'OH NO' as a
wall of water struck the port side of the boat. We were all soaked.
Best Lunch: For our last day in Santa Barbara, before heading
north, we took the electric tram into downtown Santa Barbara. At
noon we got a perfect sidewalk table and ate an excellent lunch
under the shade of a street tree; ah life is good!
Most sea otters: On our way back north just a few miles out of
Morro Bay we saw over fifty sea otters.
Furthest South Sea Otter: Cojo Anchorage
Best Sunset: On my birthday as we headed toward Santa Barbara
Harbor. The sky looked as if it was on fire.
Most Dolphins: A few hours after we passed Pt. Conception going
north, we kept running into groups of dolphins. We must have seen
over a hundred over a few hours. They played around the boat bow wave. The kids even saw one dolphin do some tail walking.
Best whale siting: This was, of course, the whales breaching in
The first leg of the trip north was to Cojo anchorage. As we
approached Cojo the weather radio said the wind was only 14 knots
at the Pt. Conception buoy, so I decided we would try to continue
on. It turned out the buoy was quite a way off Pt. Conception and
the wind at Pt. Conception was well over 30 knots with steep 8 foot
seas on the nose. After burying the bow of the boat into a few of
those waves on each tack, I turned tail and headed back to Cojo
anchorage. The seas were so turbulent that the outboard motor
propeller came out of the water and nicked the dinghy. I spent the
next day patching the dinghy as we waited for the wind to die down
so we could round Pt. Conception. The wind blew all night and all
day and then well into the next night. It finally calmed down and
we left in the pitch black morning at 5 am. As we rounded Pt.
Conception we could not even see the waves in the dark; we could
only feel the increasing roughness of the ocean as we cleared the
protection of Pt. Conception. As the sun rose red on the horizon
we entered the offshore fog bank. The wind is calmer in the fog,
however the visibility was only 50 feet at times. We passed near
enough to two of the three oil platforms in the area to see them
looming through the fog. The monotony of the fog was broken by
occasional groups of dolphins playing around the boat. Jamie stood
watch while I got some needed rest. In the early afternoon I came
on deck and the sun was shining brightly; the fog bank was several
miles behind us. We raced the sun to see if we could enter Morro
Bay before the sun sank below the horizon; we lost by just a few
minutes. However, it was a beautiful consolation prize to be on
the water to watch the sunset. I looked for the green flash but
did not see it this time.
The next four days we waited at the Morro Bay Yacht club
side-tied to a boat headed to Mexico for an indefinite time. The
forecast was bad for heading further north; too much wind and waves
too large. On the day we finally arranged to leave the boat in
Morro Bay the seas were forecast to be 14 to 16 feet with 20 to 30
knot winds! Large seas alone are not that much of a problem, however
the wind would assure that the waves would be breaking on the tops!
Three weeks later we had good weather to move the boat north. On
an overnight trip we moved the boat to Santa Cruz Harbor. I finally
saw Pt. Sur; the Pt. Sur light was visible for most of the night.
The next weekend I moved the boat from Santa Cruz to Princeton Harbor
at Half Moon Bay and the following day we cruised under the Golden
Gate Bridge with a turning tide that swept us home!
And so with that, Merry Christmas to all, from all of us, Ed,
Jamie, Bonnie & Jessica, and to all a good night!
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Changes last made on: Apr 24, 2000