It’s 6:30 PM and the sun has just about disappeared behind the horizon. Erin’s cooking a Pizza for dinner and Mishka is fast asleep on the aft cabin bed, after napping most of the day on the pass-through berth that has become her daily spot of choice. Our favorite playlist is playing on the iPod and we just came downstairs after enjoying a well earned drink. We spent all day working on boat chores (cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, water maker maintenance, etc.) catching up from our week on Catalina Island. Mostly just regular stuff you’d do at home. You might assume that we’re still tied up on F-dock in Seattle unless you popped your head outside to take a look around. In place of Golden Gardens, Bainbridge Island, and the Space Needle you’d see a long sandy beach, small islands studded with palm trees, and the Queen Mary. We’re currently anchored in Long Beach just outside of Los Angeles. Today it was 80F and mostly sunny!
We left Avalon Bay on Catalina just after noon yesterday and planned a route to Long Beach, a trip of about 25 miles. We motored out of the lee of Catalina, getting knocked around by the swells until there was enough breeze to sail. It’s amazing how much the motion of the boat improves when under sail. Delos heeled over to about 5 degrees in the light breeze and made an easy 6 knots on a comfortable beam reach. We sailed for a few hours able to hold our course for the entire time. Directly on our route is the convergence of the commercial shipping lanes for all traffic headed to either Los Angeles or Long Beach making for one of the busiest port areas in the world. The radar and AIS worked great to keep tabs on ships that were just over the horizon or hidden in the low bank of clouds that surrounded us.
When we first saw our new anchorage we had our doubts. The cruising guide directions said “You can find anchorage north of Island White in Long Beach Harbor. “ Island White is about 2 miles off the beach and covered with some sort of oil refinery camouflaged behind palm trees and art-deco sculptured walls. The area had a very industrial feel and we felt out of place. We’re in one of the most populated areas on the planet with something like 6,000 pleasure boats in the area and we were the only small boat mixed in with the super tankers, cargo ships, and working tugs. When we pulled to the backside of the island we saw one other sailboat so we decided to drop the hook about 200 feet north and go for it.
Island White can’t be more than a few hundred yards in diameter. The banks are manmade having been fortified with large slabs of stone. The center of the island has a large derrick standing about 100 ft tall. At all hours industrious noises of grinding and metal working spill out from behind the walls. At night a 30 foot section of one of the walls starts spilling water into the bay from a height of about 15 feet making a waterfall. Lights colored red, yellow, and green light up the whole works. Portions of the walls are over 50 feet high and curve outward looking like a wave about to break. It’s really quite a show at night and we’re sure it’s visible from the beach. We have front row seats of the spectacle. Just a few minutes ago one of those booze cruises went by with music blaring and cameras flashing. Apparently this display is popular with the locals too. There are 3 similar islands within a few miles of our position and visible during daylight. All are employed in oil drilling and share the same design that reminds us of an airport built in the 1970’s. It turns out that the islands are named after astronauts that died while on duty. The other names are Freeman, Chaffee, and Belmont.
This is our second night here and the place really is growing on us. There is a slight wind and very little swell. Our only neighbor left early this morning and besides the background noise of the machines on the island it’s peaceful and quiet. We’re in the midst of millions and millions of people yet feel like we have found a small piece of seclusion to ease our way back into a city after our week spent on Catalina Island. I remember a sign some people had in the entry of their homes. “Home is where you hang your hat” is one variation. For us home is where you drop your anchor.
Tomorrow morning we’re heading to the dock to meet with Erin’s parents who are driving in from Tucson. With any luck we’ll be able to tour the Queen Mary before they arrive. Erin’s brother Scott lives close by in Montclair so we’re all going to drive out to visit, watch Asher’s and Saige’s soccer game, and pick up our small mountain of packages. One of the things about cruising is that it’s very difficult to get things shipped to you. You’re always on the move and if you are in one place long enough to have something shipped there’s probably not an address that you can use. So we have 2 months of mail and an assortment of spare boat parts waiting for us in Montclair. Our other address challenged friends may have ordered a few things also.