Sunday, October 16, 2011

Escaping Oxnard

When I was leaving Morro Bay and looking for my next destination I first considered Santa Barbara, but the marina there was starting to undergo construction and didn't have room for me.  Then I considered Ventura, but the marina that had space available seemed pricey.  My third option was Oxnard, but I didn't think that I would stay very long if I choose this harbor as it didn't seem that there was very much here.

When I arrived and walked up to the marina office, the conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, I'd like to stay in your marina for 3 or 4 days.
Them: That's like no problem! Welcome to Oxnard! You can definitely stay for 3 or 4 days, but you have to be gone within 30 days.
Me: 30 days! Woah. That's no problem, as I said, I'll be gone pretty quickly
Them: That's like awesome! Its just that you can't stay longer than 30 days. Have a great stay!
Me: 30 Days?!
Or something like that...  I was chuckling inside about the 30 day limit.  I just didn't see that there was very much to do here.  Tomorrow I'll have been here 14 days.  I had no idea I would have been here so long.

When arriving at a new harbor I try to find as much information about the area from different sources and plan my activities.  I quickly got access to wireless ($20/week, $30/month) and googled around for things to do here.  The swimming pool was far away, that was out. There was a small museum close by.  There were what sounded like a market down the road a little and a bunch of restaurants within walking distance.  There was a West Marine about a mile away.

So on day two, I walked to West Marine to buy some more zinc's and a few other things.  The walk to West Marine took me past the 'Market' and the restaurants I had read about.  The market was a food court with a general fish theme, a little run down.  The restaurants were mostly there, some were closed down.  It seemed quiet, not very much activity around.  Most of the retail building areas had chunks of closed down shops and 'For Lease' signs.  After day two, it seemed like my 3 or 4 day estimate was going to work out.

However, since there wasn't very much to visit or explore and the place seemed pleasant enough, I started to keep myself busy by working on my pending list of boat projects.  Luckness' hull hadn't been waxed since February and the topsides hadn't been waxed in much longer than that.  The non-skid decks had never really been waxed and I had a special wax-like product which was meant for non-skid decks.  There were also a bunch of other things that could use attention.  So I started into boat projects.

After a couple of windy days, the remaining days were beautiful.  Big blue skies, temperatures in the mid 70's or 80's.  Not very many insects flying around getting on your nerves (unlike some of my previous stays.)  I quickly fell into a pattern of getting up at the crack of dawn (9 am) and starting work at around 11am.  Then I would get out of the sun and surf the web for an hour around lunchtime, then get back to work. I would quit around 4:30 or 5pm so I could stroll over to a pub and have a couple of beers at happy hour.  I found two local restaurants that had decent beer and patio's so you could enjoy a bit of sun and watch the water for a while.  It was pretty nice.

The waxing was finished by Monday the 10th and had involved a few trips to West Marine to buy a new non-skid wax (Woody Wax) as the one I had ran out.  The Woody Wax seems to be a superior product, I started with Aurora Sure Step.  Anyway, with the waxing finished, I started a new pattern: pick a new boat project, stop in at the marina office and tell them that I would be leaving in two days, work on project, head over to pub for beer followed by dinner which pretty much was a wrap of the day.  I told the office I would be leaving by Tuesday the 11th.  Then by Thursday the 13th.  Then by Saturday the 15th.  I spoke with them yesterday saying I would be gone by Monday the 17th, tomorrow.  This time I might actually leave.  I've finished stowing the dingy on the deck, I have rerun all the sheets and have done what I hope is my final laundry and provisioning.  The other thing is that I finished all of my boat projects a few days ago.  I'll say that again.

I've finished all of my boat projects.  My boat project list is empty.  There are no known pending boat projects left.

For those of you who don't work on boats or around boats, never mind, carry on.  For everybody else: !! This 'empty project list' statement is true as of Sunday Oct 16th, 7:20pm.  I imagine this statement will have a short life.  But its true now and feels pretty good.  Since buying this boat there has always been a long list of things I wanted to do on her.  Things to install, modify, fix and maintain.  But no more.  I had doubts that it would ever be done!  This is not to say I couldn't find things to do, but there is nothing pressing.  For example, I'd like to add an AIS transceiver eventually, but not this year.  There are a few more things in that vein.

The things I worked on while I was here: had the zinc's replaced by a local diver, they both needed it; waxed hull, topsides and non-skid; re-attached the strong track which had slipped (*); applied sail-kote to strong track while climbing the mast and inspecting everything; replaced missing zip ties on anchor rode; replaced bow roller with a new one which may stop chain from twisting as its raised, this is an experiment; replaced most of the u-bolts on the boards I had attached to the stanchions to hold the gerry jugs on as they were rusting horribly, the new ones are definitely stainless steel; lubed various things that needed it; weighted my main propane tank (8lbs left from 20 in the main tank in addition to my secondary 10lb tank); clean out fridge as it had started to smell;  buy fuel and gas; fill water tank; go over engine; attach my nylon boarding ladder to port side; flush dingy engine with fresh water, trying to avoid salt buildup.  Nothing really major in that list.

The (*)'d item isn't really a permanent fix - the Strong Track has slipped before and the last time Terry (of YachtFitters fame) suggested that he drill/tap the mast and put a screw through the track to hold it in place.  That would have been a good idea.  However I thought re-attaching it would be ok and that's what I did.  After it slipped again on this trip, which was just before pulling into Oxnard, I thought I would drill/tap the mast but have again simply re-attached it.  It seems to be holding very securely this time...  If it slips again I'll do as Terry suggested, finally.

Looking back at my time here I'm having trouble summing up this place.  I loved Monterey.  Morro Bay was pretty interesting.  They are both real cities.  Oxnard is a little like the suburbs on water, or at least this is true of the parts I've seen - the parts you can get to easily from the marina.  Things are pretty spread out here, there is no real central hub that I can see.  But the thing here is pretty easy.  Once I stopped walking to the distant destinations and starting using my dingy as my car, my experience improved.  Scooting around by water at four and a half knots and going to the local grocery store, pizza places, West Marine or donut shop the place seemed more interesting.  Going somewhere by water is superior to arriving in any other way, it changes the experience for the better, in my humble opinion.

So while I can't pinpoint what's good about this area, it does seem pretty good.  There is a local beach which goes for miles and is beautiful sand.  There is a beach bar 10min from the marina which is pleasant enough.  The food and beer are ok.  There is easy enough access to a Von's (Safeway's) for provisioning.  I'm not sure that I would come back to Oxnard, but if you find yourself here its an easy enough place to live in.

Here are a few photos:

Channel Island Harbor.  Entrance on bottom, beach on left.  Its a marine version of the suburbs.
A view from the dingy down the main street.
A side 'street'
On the way to Von's
Luckness in her slip.  Lots of empty spaces around.

I've decided to not go back to Port Townsend for a seminar I had signed up for at the end of October.  With that cancelled, I have no schedule pressure at all.  The America's Cup World Series is in San Diego in mid November, and I may be around San Diego for that.  Aside from the possibility of watching the AC45's race, and a general idea that I'll spend time in the Channel Islands, I have no more detail for my plans.  I had originally thought that I would follow the Baja Ha Ha fleet down to Mexico, leaving just after they did.  However my thinking on that has changed - I'll probably head to Mexico in November, but I have no date in mind yet.  When I'm ready, I'll head down.


  1. Oxnard sounds like it's got a beckoning spell cast over its occupants. The fellow who said you couldn't stay longer that 30 days, must have had some experience with folks who wouldn't go away. Maybe when you get out into the fresh ocean breezes, you'll shake your head and say, "Where was I" but likely not. Still it's nice to have your to-do list empty. Hasn't happened to me in my lifetime! I can still dream. Hope the channel islands are interesting. Sail in safety.

  2. Dear Craig;
    It sounds like you are finally starting to relax. The list is done!
    Everybody reading this should get to the next blog post, It was really enjoyable to read about the luminescence . I've never read an account like that before. Some day someone will have a camera light sensitive enough to record that type of thing. WOW!
    Cousin Dean