On Saturday we watched huge sets of waves barrel down Steamer Lane, three at a time, at eight or nine minute intervals. Stirred up by far off shore winter storms, these waves have traveled days and thousands of miles to reach Santa Cruz. There is no doubt about it, you have a to be one tough and brave surfer to take on these fast, powerful and unforgiving giants.
You also have to be fearless as Santa Cruz has one of the largest Great White shark populations on the planet. Thankfully even with a recent increase in White shark populations post fishing bans, very few surfers get bit, considering the numbers in the water every day.
I took this photo while walking past Monterey bay harbor on New Years eve. – It’s new years, a new year to celebrate. So I was surprised to see Ruruk, the blue 1966, 24ft Columbia sailboat looking well and somewhat cared for, mored in the harbor.
In the late 90’s I sailed on Ruruk for several San Francisco and Berkley Circle races. It was my first racing experience from high school and my first time on the SFBay and coastal Pacific waters. Why I will always love Ruruk is for all the thousands of ocean racing miles I have sailed in years from that time. My two closest “near sinking” events happened on just a few races while crewing on this boat. One involved a puncture (Olson 30 nose) in the starboard bow the size of a 25inch TV set – 1 inch above water line..the other was the boat took on so much water over the decks that she almost sank in the middle of the channel…. So I have to smile when I see her still out there living on.
On Wednesday afternoon, I sailed Calico, my Olson 25 sailboat north around Lighthouse Point and Steamer Lane. The seas were calm, but powerful sets of three to five, 12-14fters were rolling in from the deep sea in 5-8 minute intervals. I tried not to cut the corner too close and get t-boned by one against the rock. I love sailing in the ocean for how wild it its out there. You have to be pretty tough to surf these powerful ocean waves this far out. And be comfortable sharing the water with great white sharks.
With the announcement that San Francesco was awarded the 34th America’s Cup this week – I’m thinking about 70ft cats sailing down the coast to Santa Cruz over the next few years. I can only image how fast the newest wingrigged, multihull prototypes boats are going to be. I am available to crew if you happen to own one of these boats.
It took about twenty tacks to get around the point and but only three jibes to reach back to the harbor. The ocean, wind, waves and weather made for great sailing.
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