Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Channel Islands Pilgrimage

We have just finished up six days exploring the four northernmost of the Channel Islands, twenty miles off the coast south of Santa Barbara. Although tonight we are sitting in a very civilized marina in Oxnard, we both feel as if we have been on a pilgrimage to a holy place, one that is wild, scenic, majestic, and challenging.
Almost all of these islands are now a National Park, although Santa Cruz Island is partly owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. For many years prior to park designation, they were ranch land. We anchored for several nights off of Smuggler’s Cove on Santa Cruz Island, where there was a beautiful grove of olive trees and an old ranch building.

The shorelines of all the islands are steep and rocky, the cliffs and peaks colored with rock that is yellow ochre, deep brown, reddish, and even blue. Some swell and surf surges along the shore in virtually all the anchorages, and we never did manage to land in a place where we could hike. This only whetted our appetites for a return trip.

Even if we didn't get to shore, we had days of wonderful sailing amongst the islands. We are still amazed that we can be sailing in a brisk breeze, and not be cold. As you can see from this photo of the mate, the sunshine and warmth are a delight. Our southerly travels along the California coast have been full of rewarding surprises. A few weeks ago, we knew nothing of the Channel Islands, and now we wonder if stumbling into a holy place can constitute a pilgrimage.


Anonymous Anonymous said...



October 22, 2008 8:26 AM  

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