Tuesday, October 8, 2013

True North September 16 to September 19: Santa Barbara

After a week of poking around many beautiful coves and scenic hiking trails, it was time to leave the Channel Islands. We woke up to sun and sailed from Pelican Bay on Santa Cruz Island directly to Santa Barbara with 13-17 kts wind and 6-6.75 kts boat speed with a single reefed main and full jib. 
Our "neighbor" departs Pelican Bay
Entering Santa Barbara Harbor on a busy, sunny Sunday afternoon means threading your way through a maze of paddle boarders and kayakers criss-crossing every which way, oblivious to  big boats coming through the fairways. On arrival, we got a slip assignment at Marina 4. The dock was full of friendly people stopping by to introduce themselves and say hello, including our slip neighbor Paul to port on “Vesper”, a beautifully maintained older boat with pastel green accents, who offered to drive us into town as needed. 
Moonrise over Vesper
Tall palm trees lined the walkway at the head of the docks and surrounding the sandy beach, with the charming streets of Santa Barbara just on the other side. The large and busy Stearns Pier extends into the sea between the beach and the harbor, with shops, restaurants, and an aquarium.
Beach, anchorage, and Stearns Pier
After a day of soaking in the nearby marina sights and catching up on a few boat chores, we walked all over to explore the quaint downtown. Mission Santa Barbara was on our personal itinerary which we found after a short bus ride up to the top of a hill in a peaceful residential neighborhood. The interior walls of this mission were quite different from others we had seen. They were painted in colorful desert hues of sand, peach, and sky blue. On the way back through downtown, we stopped to check out the menu of an inviting outdoor Italian pizza patio and stayed. Nice!
Santa Barbara Mission
We had saved a visit to the waterfront Mariner's Museum for our last day in Santa Barbara only to find it closed on Wednesdays. Besides going to the museum, we had wanted to buy a couple of books about early life on the Channel Islands that had been recommended to us. There was a woman just inside the locked door of the museum who, after we knocked gently, kindly let us in to the museum store to buy the books, and then also inside the main area of the museum for a brief chance to see their recently acquired prized possession, a very large and splendid Fresnel lens. 
The Fresnel lens in the Museum
We really enjoyed Santa Barbara, and were impressed with how busy and vibrant the harbor was.  There were tour boats, boat, kayak, and paddle-board rentals, restaurants, the museum, and yes, even a West Marine store in which to deposit your savings.  And always - smiling, happy people out to mess around in boats!

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