Written by Erica Lush
After some down time and administrative days in Los Angeles it was rejuvenating to share Maiden’s story again and connect with amazing communities on the west coast of America. We spent the last week on a whirlwind tour of Monterey and Santa Barbara.
It took 50 hours of upwind sailing to get to Monterey, CA. As we rounded Point Conception – “the Cape Horn of the Pacific” – the wind conspired with the shape of the shore to remain right on our nose. As I hooked up the inner forestay one morning Neptune had a laugh and sent a wave over our bow which washed me back to the shrouds. Always stay clipped in, folks! I crawled back to the foredeck with soggy boots to finish the task before getting off watch.
Despite the sea state it was a pleasure to be out sailing again. Our arrival in Monterey was well worth the effort! We were greeted by a welcome party that is one for the memory books: One boat had spray painted sheets into code flags which spelled “AHOY MAIDEN” along their lifelines. The local fire boat came out, spraying water three times the length of Maiden in greeting. Of the three fire”men” who came out, two were women! How fantastic to see.
To many of us Monterey felt a lot like home: Large rocks lining beaches and small fishing piers mimicked the New England coastline, and the landscaping and building style in town resembled that of Spain. The sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters however were completely new to me! The small-town feel was palpable as Jeff Canepa, our outgoing and generous host, led us to his favorite patisserie and around town to meet everyone who had helped to make our stop in Monterey successful.
PHOTOS (ABOVE) ©THE MAIDEN FACTOR/AMALIA INFANTE
One of our talks was at a British pub where two REAL Brits happened across us! They are from Southampton (the same as Maiden!) and one remembers talking to Tracy from his Kayak after her Whitbread race in 1990. We hope to see them again once we reach the UK next summer!
We rounded out the visit by stopping by a state-wide high school regatta. FJ’s on dollies lined the beach. We wandered through and chatted with teams as they prepared their boats for racing. Courtney and I were gifted honorary regatta shirts by Commodore Sharron Frey which we rocked on our way out of the harbor to show our support (see photo further down page).
PHOTOS (ABOVE) ©THE MAIDEN FACTOR/AMALIA INFANTE
The trip from Monterey to Santa Barbara was extremely calm. We actually had to put three reefs in the sail to keep it from shock loading the cars on the main track as we motored for 24 hours down the coast. Fortunately, the coastline was gorgeous! We saw the iconic Bixby Bridge, stretches of highway winding along cliffs, as well as dolphins and several whales. I loved watching their feeding behavior in the morning light. Whales slam their bodies into the water to stun the fish before they catch them, and dolphins work together to condense a bait ball for more efficient hunting.
We were lucky to have guest Jo Murray on board for this leg! An excellent watch partner, she told wild tales ranging from small abandoned businesses in the middle of the desert, to her own experience driving on a race track in Monterey where a corkscrew section drops 5 stories (she left her stomach at the top!).
We arrived in Santa Barbara just in time for three of us to hop onto local racing boats.
PHOTOS (LEFT) ©THE MAIDEN FACTOR/AMALIA INFANTE
How fitting that this week was the “Lady at the Helm” regatta. I joined a dedicated team on a C&C 115 named Eos, “goddess of the dawn.” Thanks to Steve and Lisanne for having me on. It was extremely light wind and Lisanne did a great job steering in one of the most tedious driving conditions possible! The crew were all trying out new roles on board which is so important for team building. The following day they came to visit us at our Open Boat and Catherine – who trimmed main – brought us an apple strudel! We are very spoiled.
The town of Santa Barbara is nestled in a valley. While sailing, the crew on Eos pointed out to me how half the mountains which cradle Santa Barbara are more brown than green due to forest fires in 2017. Those fires were followed by rain. Now you can see “scars” in those hills where the mudslides altered the terrain. Despite that tragedy the landscape is truly stunning.
After our talks and Open Boats we had a morning to see town before heading back to Los Angeles. Courtney and I checked out the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. We loved the virtual fishing exhibit, ENORMOUS lighthouse lens, and the old school diving costumes. What stands out even more is Irma, who greeted us at the door. As we explained what brought us to Santa Barbara, Irma’s excitement was palpable. She told us how she had wanted to be a pilot, but her father wouldn’t allow it. He pointed her instead towards a career that was “more appropriate for a woman.” “This was after Amelia Earhart!” she added. When we said we were from Maine and Rhode Island, she sighed and said how she always wanted to see that part of the country. We became overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities we have had in our lives. We have been able to see a lot of the world, not to mention the country, and we have been able to make our careers as sailors. We left the museum and Santa Barbara filled with appreciation for the progress our societies have made, and renewed realization of the privilege it is to sail on board Maiden.
Thanks to everyone who helped us. In Monterey a special thanks goes out to Mayor Clyde Roberson, Harbor Master John Haynes, Laurie Huelga, and Margie Gillaspy. I think everyone who knows Jeff Canepa will agree it is thanks to his tireless enthusiasm and creativity that our stay was so well executed. Joe Headley escorted us in to Monterey and made our presentation night a success along with Captain Jack and Commodore Sharron Frey, among others! Our volunteers in Monterey and Santa Barbara, Natalie and Lily and many fantastic others were a great help with Open Boats. In Santa Barbara we had more wonderful volunteers, Trish + Claire, as well as being so grateful to be hosted by SBYC.
And a final thank you to Team Bear Sailing/Barri Babow who snapped the above shots! Thanks for coming to Maiden’s Open Day and sharing your photos with us.