Though we were only briefly in Ventura and Marina del Rey, we were overwhelmed by the gracious, generous hospitality we received from everyone we met along the way. We arrived in the West Ventura Marina mid-afternoon on Monday. There were plenty of spaces available, and within minutes our neighbors complimented Dominic on his helmsmanship and Helios on her sporty new canvas work. This marina also had the most luxurious facilities we've enjoyed; the women's clubhouse had an anteroom with full-size, illuminated mirrors adorning three walls and ten shower stalls, each looking brand new and foot fungus free.
We were also neighbors for the night with my cousins Mark and Molly Dufau. They live walking distance from the marina in the Ventura Keys, and despite having very little notice of our arrival, and it being a Monday night, and having jobs, two (fantastic) kids, and lives of their own, they prepared a delicious meal of tri-tip steak, salad, and grilled asparagus. My Aunt Bobbi and cousin Peter were also in town, so we had the pleasure of their company through the evening, as well.
The wine we enjoyed was a particular treat. Mark, along with is parents, Bobbi and Don Dufau, grow and produce their own label, Ojai Ridge. The highlight was a 2002 cabernet sauvignon from their very first vintage, the only vintage bearing the Dufau Vineyard label. We were lucky enough to be sent home with supplies to stock the Helios wine cellar. I'm most looking forward to the rosé; it's dry and crisp, my favorite thing to enjoy chilled while relaxing on a hot afternoon.
My family was also very concerned about scurvy! Peter and Uncle Don sent us off with ample fruit and citrus supplies to supplement our wine selection.
We spent Tuesday in Ventura doing chores, nourishing ourselves, and going to bed nice and early. We managed to squeeze in a lovely walk along the Ventura beach. The beach was empty and the breeze had picked up. There were some lingering storm clouds from the mini-monsoon we had the night before, all of which gave the coastline a dramatic air of windswept solitude.
We were up early on Wednesday for the eight hour cruise to Marina del Rey. The forecast had predicted good winds for sailing in the afternoon; instead, we had a flurry of wind up to 30 knots in the late morning that quickly died, and still, overcast calm for the rest of the afternoon. We were amused by two visitors on our journey. The first was dolphin more than willing to pose for pictures.
The second was a sighting of the brig Lady Washington with Anacapa, one of the Channel Islands, in the the distance.
We continue to be tantalized by whales! We nearly ran into one of our port bow, but all we saw was a spout, a spine crest, and still patch of water the size of a car after the whale dove. [As I write this, we just had two more spouts and a spine crest off our starboard stern. But no whale tail! No breeching! Things are beginning to feel a bit Ahab-esque around here...]
We arrived in Marina del Rey in the late afternoon. They had plenty of space available, despite housing the same mega-yacht, Tamsen, that usurped our position in the Santa Barbara harbor. Also in residency were Tamsen's older sister, Asahi, and her monstrous cousin, Invictus (that can be charted for a cool $500,000 per week).
Upon using the clubhouse, we did find that we had been spoiled slightly by the amenities in Ventura. The showers didn't seem so foot fungus free, and the lights were set on a motion sensor near the front door, about ten yards from the shower stall. The lights only stayed on for about five minutes. This arrangement required the user of the shower to jump out of the stall mid-wash in the dark, dash to main entrance, wave their arms wildly in the air until the lights came back on, and return to the stall to finish bathing in the next five minutes. I gave this shower five out of ten stars, and elected to shower on the boat going forward.
For dinner, our friends TJ and Meagan Ronacher stopped by to visit with two large, delicious, pizzas and even more beer and wine. It was great to have the opportunity to catch up with friends from college and hear about some very exciting career developments they have in the works. TJ is an aerospace engineer, and Meagan is an educator, and they both recently traveled to the Philippines to celebrate the wedding of a mutual friend that Dom and I were unable to attend, so we had much to discuss! To my delight, they even surprised us by bringing cannoli for dessert. Cannoli on a sailboat, what more could two Dolcis want?!?! It was heaven.
We spent Friday doing chores, made gloriously easy as TJ and Meagan lent us a car for the day. We went to the grocery store and restocked all our fresh provisions, made a large batch of chili to serve as lunch for the next few day passages, exercised, refilled the diesel, and couldn't believe how quickly the day passed. Then, as luck would have it, we were treated to another technicolor sunset.
This morning we are en route to Avalon, the port town on Santa Catalina Island, and looking forward to a weekend full of sunshine.