Dan and Hannah Hike on Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands off Ventura, California (Part 1 of 2)

Just don’t eat anything the morning before you go or you’ll be sorry.  The ride is rough out to the islands but smooth as silk on the way back.  Such was the advice that a woman I met at the Carpinteria Writer’s group gave me about the fifteen-mile, one hour Island Packers boat ride to Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands.  Click here for information on Island Packers.


I immediately thought.  Come on.  It’s a 9A departure; don’t make me miss breakfast.  We all know that there is nothing better than early morning coffee with Hannah’s biscuits.  Follow that with a bowl of oatmeal with all the fixings any health nut would love (blueberries, raisins, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cinnamon, and walnuts).   Even with the possibility of barfing, I can’t pass up such a morning banquet.  I am weak.

SC 1 boat in harbor

Island Explorer in the Ventura Harbor

Throwing caution to the wind, I breakfast at our cottage before we leave on this Tuesday morning for an easy 35-minute drive south from Summerland to the Ventura Harbor; there the Island Explorer awaits to take us to the high seas.

Being the last ones on the vessel, Hannah and I choose to stand at the front of the boat where we’ll have the wind and sea spray in our face for the full nautical experience.  Anyway, most of the seats for the 140 passengers are taken, either in the stern, in the indoor café with booths, or rows of benches on the open second deck.

Our round-trip tickets cost $54 each as seniors (regular adult $59); for that we have passage to the island, which many Californians, we learn, have never visited.  Santa Cruz was once the home of the Chumash Indians as well as to sheep farmers early in the last century.

SC snow

Some of Nolan’s handiwork in our front yard on the way to our generator

As we stand in the bow of the ship, I get a call from our neighbor Marco on Chases Pond Road in York, Maine.  He tells me that our area got blasted with two feet of snow.  (Thankfully, our friend Nolan plows our 150’ undulating driveway and shovels a path to our generator.)

Marco then tells me the “bad news.”  The snow plow has taken out our mailbox and he has the remnants in his garage.  Relieved that that is all the “bad news” there is, I smile knowing that for those of us living on country roads – mailboxes come and mailboxes go.

SC snow plow

To show how naïve (I prefer to call it hopeful.) I can be, I later call the York Department of Public Works wondering what they do when the snowplows crush a mailbox.   I’m sure they were smiling at the other end of the line when they politely said that the town does not reimburse home owners in such a case.  I’m told that the snowplow drivers do the best they can, which I totally get having lived here for 35 years.  Anyway, I learn that mailboxes are on the town right of way.  This is a classic first world problem.

SC 1A heading out to sea

Leaving Ventura Harbor

Our clever friend Patty from Oregon texts in response to Hannah’s news that it’s a sunny day for our trip to Santa Cruz.  Patty texts, You’ll have some Vitamin D and some Vitamin Sea.   Did I mention she also graduated from the Harvard of the West – Arizona State University?

In an intimate setting with passengers standing shoulder to shoulder or filling the benches and café tables, Captain Luke, a handsome young man in his thirties with a British accent, says this should be a smooth trip.  That is good news for one whose oatmeal still churns below.

SC 1B life preserver

Bow of the Island Explorer with Santa Cruz in the distance

Those of us in the front of the vessel are advised by a crew member that there is no jumping during the passage to Santa Cruz or they will close the bow of the boat.  Jumping?  Why would anyone jump on the bow of the boat?  Any idea?

Only later by asking one of the crew do we learn that some (might they be teenagers or twenty-something guys!) like to jump up as the vessel bounces on the waves for a feeling of weightlessness.  The problem is that such people get hurt or lose teeth smashing on the metal railings.

Cruising out of the Ventura Harbor at 5 mph, I have no idea what motion sickness possibilities lie ahead; my stomach is fine but on alert.   Soon it’s full throttle as we rise and fall, bouncing rhythmically to the beat of the ocean waves.   With an hour on the high seas, I am suddenly less sure that Danny and his breakfast won’t soon be parted.

SC island packers asea

To that end after 15 minutes in the bouncing stern of the ship, I grab the railings and go hand over hand, carefully making my way to the back of the boat, where there is much less bouncing.

The possibility of upchucking remains on my mind.  When was the last time you barfed?  Years, I’m hoping.  Do you remember an episode on How I Met Your Mother where Ted Mosby proudly proclaimed that he was vomit-free since 1993?  I guess that’s an accomplishment if you drink and drink some more.  Click here for a link to the video explanation of that episode, referred to as the Pineapple Incident.

SC 2 cliffs of SC

Approaching Scorpion Harbor on Santa Cruz

Hoping only to get this boat ride over vomit-free myself and begin to hike, I wouldn’t mind if the studly Captain Luke would just slow down!  And then, out of the blue, he cuts the engines and we just roll with the waves.  It turns out that we are within fifteen feet of thirty to forty dolphins which are following the boat.  Check out this homemade video on the high seas.

SC dolphins

Channel dolphins

Pleased to see dolphins, I’m not so pleased to be going in circles miles between Ventura and Santa Cruz, when upchucking is still on my radar.  Previously, we have been advised by the crew that if you feel like vomiting, come down from the second deck and go to the back of the boat, and lean over. No one likes a thoughtless guest

Part 2 of 2 concludes with the end result of my oatmeal as well as about the amazing hiking on Santa Cruz.

One thought on “Dan and Hannah Hike on Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands off Ventura, California (Part 1 of 2)

  1. Pingback: Dan and Hannah Pickle, then Hike to Black Hill at Morro Bay State Park | over60hiker

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