Guest Column – by Daniel Witte

After much searching my family purchased our new 53 Navigator named Tuesday. Since the boat was in Oxnard, it was quite a job planning trips back and forth to get it ready for the journey home. In total, we made five trips down to Oxnard between viewing, sea trial, surveys and repair runs. We spent New Years weekend on the boat obtaining information to complete the repairs as recommended by the surveyor including the after coolers and propellers. My dad and I are thankful that we were able to repair the after coolers ourselves since they are very expensive and a crucial part of the engine.

Bringing Tuesday Home

Upon release from the boat yard in late January with the propellers tuned up and bottom paint job complete, it was time to head up the coast to the Delta. Since the ocean has the potential to be rough, picking a weather window and planning possible stops are very important. While we needed a good weather window, we also had a bit of a time crunch since the yacht broker needed the boat off the sales dock by the end of February.

In preparation for the trip up the coast, I consulted my colleague Captain Pat Carson to obtain advice on picking a weather window. He stressed the importance of being very flexible, which we were, especially with the storms that came in recently. We originally planned to leave on February 6, but the weather came in and wasn’t going to lay down until later. Upon checking on February 5, we saw an open window and departed for Oxnard on the ninth. Since it was a big trip, my dad invited two other members of Sacramento Bayliner Club, Chuck Schoeller and Geoff Simcoe. Since both of them helped bring Geoff’s Bayliner 4788 down the coast from Washington some years ago, we thought it would be nice to get the group back together for another adventure.

Since I had worked a nightshift right before the trip, I gulped down a Red Bull before catching an Uber to the Oakland Jack London Square train station to meet the rest of the crew. Though I was a bit tired and overwhelmed, I was eager for the trip, especially since it was my first trip up the coast. The train trip to Oxnard was a lot of fun with many great stories and lots of food and drinks to keep us occupied. Besides the food we brought, the dining car food was pretty good too.

While on the train, we found out there was going to be a rocket launch that would take place at 4:30 p.m. at Vandenberg Airforce Base, just as the train was scheduled to pass through Lompoc. What luck! The view from the train was pretty incredible. Since the train would pass right by the launch site, they had to stop for safety reasons. We saw the rocket come over a hill nearby. Instead of landing back on land like I have heard of the rockets doing before, this one landed on a barge. The barge has no crew on board and is controlled entirely by computers. The computers pilot the barge out to the location where the rocket will land, hold it steady and pilot it back to port with the rocket on board.

Upon arrival at the boat, we received our Walmart order which was full of snacks and other essentials for the six-day trip. It was handy that the order was delivered straight to the dock since we didn’t have a car.

Dolphins on our bow.

With everything ready for an early morning departure, we headed to Channel Islands Yacht Club to celebrate the beginning of our trip. The bartender did a great job of serving everyone strong and tasty drinks. At the club, we met Past Commodore Lisa Marie Medlan. She was very impressed with how well I navigate boats without sight and was very nice to be around. I hope that one day I might make it back to the club and see her again. She even gave me a burgee from the yacht club.

On February 10, we all woke up early for departure to Santa Barbara. Before leaving, we returned several buckets to the yacht broker, which had been used to deter sealions from climbing on the swim platform. Though the Sealions could be somewhat of a nuisance for boaters, it was nice listening to them vocalize. During the final inspection of the boat, we found that the generator wasn’t pumping any water. After much examination, we determined that the impeller was bad. We looked around to see if we could get parts, but found we couldn’t. Since we would be in new port each night, we decided to go ahead as planned and go with no generator.

Upon leaving Oxnard, the water conditions appeared beautiful from the start with a wave prediction of 2 to 3 feet. However, as the day progressed the wind and swell began picking up. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely bigger than we expected based on predictions. While nobody got seasick, it was a little hard to stand up and move around the boat when the water was rough. The rougher water sure gave me an appreciation for the Delta. As the day drew to an end and we neared port, the water calmed down nicely. Our friends and family were tracking our voyage on

After docking at Santa Barbara Yacht club, we discovered that there was no 50-amp power. As a result, we had to move to a different dock. On the dock, we saw even more Sealions. I didn’t know until now, but apparently sealions can be somewhat aggressive. Unlike the sealions in Oxnard, these guys were very stubborn and unwilling to leave the dock when urged to. When my dad walked toward them and spoke loudly, one of the Sealions barked at him and charged. When the sealion charged, my dad walked backward quickly while trying to keep an eye on where he was going and the sealion. Finally, after the third try, the angry sealion jumped into the water. Some other boaters nearby saw the show and said that it was quite a sight. Did you know that Sealions can travel up to 6.7 meters per second on land?

Sea otters waving goodbye.

Since we had gone without showers for a couple of days, we all decided to go up to the bathrooms and get some nice hot showers. While showering, we heard some young children come in from the beach to get cleaned up. When we heard their mom come in, we politely told her that we thought that this was the men’s bathroom. She replied that we were in the women’s bathroom instead of the men’s but was very accepting of our apology. Looking back, it was very lucky that my dad and I were still in the enclosed dressing areas when they came in.

After our showers, we all headed to dinner at Brophy Brother’s seafood restaurant. Since I had been hankering for a burger for a while, that’s what I had. The food was delicious and it was very handy that the restaurant was nice and close to the boat so we didn’t have to walk very far.

The next day, we all woke up early so we could get around Point Conception before the weather came up. As we left Santa Barbara, the water conditions appeared beautiful with very little wind and not too much swell. With the autopilot working great, we were able to really relax a bit.

Later, I got to take my turn at the helm and drive the boat. It felt really good to drive this big of a boat out in the ocean. As we got closer to Point Conception, we saw dolphins swimming beside the bow. Many people say that seeing dolphins traveling with you is good luck. The swell between Point Arguello and Point Conception was predicted to be five to six feet which was a little worrisome. As we came around Point Conception, the water was nice and smooth with a long swell period of 12 seconds. Point Conception is sometimes referred to as Graveyard of the Pacific because it is a place where strong currents converge causing dangerous turbulence in a rocky area. Considering this, it was a relief to have it be nice. As I drove the boat around the point, I felt very proud of myself for having driven a boat through some of the most treacherous waters on the West Coast.

Chuck Schoeller, Geoff Simcoe and Daniel Witte underway.

After passing Point Arguello, the water got a bit rougher with a six or seven foot swell at 10-12 seconds. As the water roughened, I began to feel a bit seasick. As I felt sick, I wished I had gone with my gut and bought foods containing ginger for that purpose. Since I didn’t have any, I tried several measures to feel better. Once I got something to eat and went upstairs for fresh air, I felt much better. As we neared the end of the day, the water calmed which was a huge relief. Over all, we made the run from Santa Barbara to Morro Bay in about seven hours at 16 knots.

After docking at Morro Bay Yacht Club, we discovered that our plan for going with no generator was flawed. The docks had no power due to a problem and the club didn’t expect to have them fixed until the next day. While we had an inverter, we still had to be somewhat conservative on how much power we used. Thankfully, our inverter appeared to hold up pretty well for 48 hours.

We arrived just in time to watch the Super Bowl and intended to watch it at the yacht club bar, but there was nobody there. Instead, we went to Rosie’s Grill which was a little bit farther from the boat. The game was very exciting and we stayed until the very end.

On February 12, we headed for Monterey. After checking several weather prediction sources, including Windy, Point and Click and the U.S. Navy site, we found that one of them showed a much bigger swell than the others. This was a little bit worrisome, but like Captain Pat Carson said, sometimes weather sources don’t agree. As we made our way, the water was much calmer than the worst prediction. Aside from a few somewhat rough spots, this leg went better than expected.

Upon approaching Monterey, we saw another school of dolphins. Again, it was always nice seeing them. When we arrived at the docks we were all ready to relax after a good day’s work. As we approached Brickwater Cove Marina, we saw a USCG boat participating in a towing drill with another boat. They were practicing quickly tying the smaller boat on the hip (AKA the stern) corner and maneuvering in tight quarters.

The next day, we got up early once again and headed to San Francisco Bay. As we pulled out of Monterey, we saw some sea otters playing in the water. Sea otters are fun to watch. One of the otters even waved a flipper at us as we left. I took this as a “good luck and farewell.”

Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

While cruising, we passed several familiar locations including Pigeon Point and Pillar Point. When we passed Pillar Point, I felt as if I could see home approaching. During this leg, the water was smooth as can be, but got a little stacked up near the Golden Gate Bridge. Passing under the Golden Gate was especially exciting since I have never been under it on our own boat before.

After passing under the Golden Gate Bridge the water got smooth as glass, a sure sign we were out of the ocean and in the Bay. We headed towards Emeryville to get fuel. Initially, we planned to stop for the night in Berkeley, but later decided that Vallejo would be a better choice. On the way to Vallejo we passed the islands called the Brothers. I remember reading about the East Brother Lighthouse in the Bay and Delta Yachtsman.

After docking at Vallejo, we went to connect the power and found that the amperage wasn’t going to work for us. Since it was already late, we decided that our inverter could carry us one more night. Looking back, the generator would have been much easier than struggling to find docks with power. Since we don’t get to visit Vallejo that often, we went out to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, Zio Fraedo’s. They are located right at the top of the ramp from the docks at 23 Harbor Way. At dinner, my dad thanked all of us for our help bringing the boat home. It was a bit of an emotional moment since we had bonded a bit after being in one place together for several days.

I had to disembark the next morning to get back to work, and the rest of the crew headed up the river to Willow Berm Marina. The trip was a success and everyone made it home safely. It is nice that the boat made it back in time for its maiden raft out with SBC at Village West Yacht Club on February 16-18. With the boat home, we will soon be having the renaming ceremony and changing the name to Blue Skies.

My family will be moving their old boat down to Emeryville so I will be able to stay on it sometimes and have a shorter commute to work. In the near future, I hope to get liveaboard status to make it my new home. I look forward to attending events in the Bay such as Opening Day on the Bay, Fleet Week and many others. I will hang my new Channel Islands Yacht Club burgee in the cabin. It will be nice having two boats I enjoy going out on, one in the Bay and one in the Delta.