Valentine’s Day trip: lovable sea lions

How many temperate climates can boast to winter-time sailing?

On February 12th, 2010, the Aldebaran set sail for Santa Cruz Island. The first 5 days of the trip had glorious weather on the north side of the island: anchoring at Fry’s Harbor and Pelican Harbor.

View from the beach at Fry’s

After the rough-and-tumble of the Channel’s “Windy Alley”, the incredible calm of Fry’s Harbor is a delight. The valley above Fry’s tends to funnel warm, dry air into the harbor, creating the illusion of summer in the middle of February. It is only a harbor in name; there are no facilities whatsoever, only a nice anchorage, crystal clear water, and a cobblestone beach.

Kelp forests make spectacular snorkeling and diving

My favorite place to do boat maintenance is on the Islands, vs. the marina. It is instant gratification: working on the boat that brought me to this gorgeous place. Work becomes fun.

This was even more the case when I donned SCUBA gear and dove to replace the zinc on the propeller: a sea lion turned me into a playmate. What happened was that after the new zinc was secured, I swam around looking for treasures on the sea floor, until a sea lion brushed my fins. I was startled, and then somewhat anxious when it returned and rubbed against my tank, but the lobo marino was just teasing. After some playful jabs I scratched its neck and it seemed rather pleased (the fact I had gloves made me a little more bold, I’ve heard sea lions can take little bites). The lovable lion (LL) kept nipping at my fins even while I was readying to climb the ship-ladder, “why are you leaving?” it seemed to say. Lacking the blubber, I shivered from cold, and had to sit thawing in the sun, sadly watching LL swim away. Who says love can’t happen underwater?

Anchored at Pelican Harbor