SoCal Ta Ta 2017

Week 2 was the SoCal Ta Ta portion of the SoCal trip.

We bid farewell to our friends Matt and Alona in Santa Barbara on Sunday and later that evening we checked in at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club for the SoCal Ta Ta event. There was a beach party in front of the yacht club for the event where we enjoyed a feast of hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken and the expected accompaniments. Each of the boats and skippers were introduced by our host Richard Spindler of Latitude 38, skipper of the 63 foot catamaran Profligate. We met Jim from Silk Purse, a Baba 30 which is the same make but smaller version of Sonrisa. We learned that Jim had only wanted a Baba and he is obviously in love with his little Baba, Silk Purse. We also met several other people from boats from the SF Bay area. We met Robin and Katie on Agave Azul and John and Luanne on Grunion. After dinner and a few beers the weather started coming in at Santa Barbara. The sky grew dark and the wind piped up. Richard returned to the mike to let everyone know that there was a thunderstorm predicted for that night and the yacht club staff were going to take down the beach umbrellas. Earlier that day we heard the story from a yacht club member when just last week a micro-burst hit the waterfront in Santa Barbara and flung beach umbrellas through the windows of the restaurant overlooking the beach.

Intrepid crew of Sonrisa sporting their racing caps for the SoCal Ta Ta kickoff party.

We all decided to retire back to our boats early and John and Luanne invited us to join them and their friends from Agave Azul on their boat Grunion. Grunion is a new Catalina 427 that seems to have the interior space of a 47 foot boat. John and Luanne were obviously very excited about their new boat and loved the new design compared to their previous Catalina 42.

While we were aboard Grunion the thunderstorm started with pelting rain and lightning in the distance. The talk onboard turned to lightning protection and Luanne mentioned that she had put all of her electronics in the oven. During a lightning storm sailboats with their tall metal masts and rigging are particularly attractive to lightning strikes and if a strike does occur, it tends to follow anything metal through the boat, frying anything electronic whether or not it is plugged in. One cruiser’s trick to try to prevent damage is to use the boats oven as a faraday cage. Since the oven tends to be a fully enclosed double-walled stainless steel box, it can serve as protection from lightning strikes for anything you put inside as the electricity from a lightning strike travels over the surface of metal objects rather than though them.

After another glass of wine aboard Grunion, we noticed a break in the rain excused ourselves and retired back to Sonrisa. I opened the companionway hatch and looked around for rain leaks from any ports or hatches. Fortunately for us we had closed the overhead hatches and the side ports have just enough overhang to shed most of the rain. I closed the remaining ports on the windward side of the boat and we settled in to a good night’s sleep before the first sailing day from Santa Barbara to our first stop of the rally, Santa Cruz Island.

Day 1

Monday morning arrived and there was a buzz about the harbor as the Ta Ta fleet readied to depart. We were to check in via VHF radio at 10:00 and make our way outside of the harbor to start the rally at 11:00. Kristin and I debated whether we should go to the fuel dock and top up the tank before of after the check in. It was 9:30 and we probably had just enough time. We topped up the tank and as I was paying the attendant roll call started and I did our first checkin while we were at the fuel dock. It was probably best that we decided to fuel up then as other boats were starting to queue up for fuel and this was probably our best chance to get fuel until we return to the mainland from Catalina next week.

The SoCal Ta Ta rally starts in very light winds out of Santa Barbara

Rally vs. race. Since the Ta Ta is a cruising rally rather than a race, the start time and start line are very loosely defined and you can use your motor whenever the winds are not favorable. Still, as the adage goes, a race is defined as any two sailboats on the same body of water moving in the same direction. This first day of the rally the winds were very light. Most of the fleet started under power and motored off over the horizon while other stalwarts, Sonrisa included, did our darnedest to sail. The winds were very light on a close starboard reach. We started with ‘white sails’ meaning for us our full set of cutter-rig sails: mainsail, staysail and yankee. For those not familiar with a cutter rig, you might think of this as a mainsail and two smallish jibs.

The two Baba’s in the rally, Sonrisa and Silk Purse, seemed to the the only two boats determined to sail the entire way. I trimmed Sonrisa’s sails to be very full for a reach to maximize the draw of the sails. Without a vang, this means significantly easing the main and raising the traveler nearly all the way to re-center the boom. This places the boom where you would want it for a close reach but the angle of the mainsheet to get it there puts a lot of twist in the boom which allows the belly of the sail to deepen. I’ve found that in very light winds this can help keep Sonrisa moving upwind and indeed we were maintaining 3.5 to 4 knots at 50 degrees apparent with 5 knots of wind or less.

Silk Purse sailing in light airs

While the rest of the fleet motored away, Silk Purse and Sonrisa were duking it out for last place. Later we found out that Silk Purse was spying on our sail trim with their binoculars and once they saw our eased sheets, they did the same and kept pace with us.

After a couple of hours the wind lightened even more and our speed fell to under 4 knots. We decided to try the spinnaker to get some more speed up as we did want to arrive at the anchorage in time for the evening check-in. I dropped the staysail, furled the yankee and after much sorting out of spinnaker sheets I hoisted the spinnaker in it’s sock. Sonrisa’s spinnaker is a 1.5 ounce asymmetrical cruising spinnaker. An asymmetrical spinnaker is flown much like a jib, except the leading edge of the sail is not attached to the forestay. This makes the sail manageable without a spinnaker pole and also allows it to be used for upwind sailing at a close reach. The downside is that it’s difficult to keep the sail filled when sailing directly downwind. The sail when hoisted is contained in a long ‘sock’ which prevents the sail from filling until the sail is hoisted up the mast and the sock is lifted to release the sail. This makes it much more manageable for one or two people.

Greg sorting out the spinnaker sock while we fall further behind.

I hoisted the socked spinnaker and yelled “Ready?” to Kristin who was at the helm. “Ready!” she replied. I gave the sock cord a good tug and the sock rose maybe 5 feet and stopped. Another tug. Nothing. Another tug. Nothing. After pulling about 15 feet of cord, I realized that the pulley for the sock cord had come loose and instead of pulling the sock up, I was simply pulling the cord out of the sock. Unfortunately this required dropping the spinnaker again and re-threading the sock cord through the 52 feet of sleeve to re-attach it to the top of the spinnaker. Sigh.

Silk Purse in the distance showing us how it’s done.

Looking to the west we could see Silk Purse had followed our lead and hoisted her spinnaker and was flying along nicely. Sigh.

I dropped the spinnaker to the deck and told Kirstin it would be a while before we could get it hoisted, so we fired up the motor and motorsailed toward Santa Cruz Island while I sorted out the spinnaker sock issue.

While we were somewhat frustrated by the light winds, the dolphins came and entertained us.


While the itinerary originally called for the fleet to sail to Smugglers Cove on the very east end of the island, there was some discussion and a decision to go to Prisoner’s Harbor on the north side of the island instead. Unlike Smugglers, Prisoners has a dinghy dock which makes it much easier to go ashore and explore the island.

Looking east from Prisoner’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island

We arrived around 4 PM at Prisoner’s Harbor to find most of the fleet already settled in to the good anchoring spots in the cove. The cove is wide open to the north and with the prevailing westerlies the most protected spots would be at the west end of the cove. With a couple of dozen boats in the cove the west end seemed pretty congested, so we tucked inside of Sabbatical, a Valiant 40, on the east side. I figured both being 40 foot double-enders Sonrisa and Sabbatical would have a similar swing radius and we could anchor a bit closer and expect to stay parallel to each other. Our 25 kg Rocna Vulcan bit into the bottom hard on the first try (as it almost always does) and we were secure for the night. Less than an hour later Silk Purse arrived and anchored next to us, completing the collection of Bob Perry designed boats at the east end of the anchorage.

Dinner at anchor, Santa Cruz Island

We enjoyed dinner onboard and spent a relaxing evening watching the other boats swing at anchor. People from the first group of boats dinghied over to the big host catamaran Profligate for sundowner appetizers and drinks as we settled in for a good night’s rest.

Unfortunately as the night progressed, the light westerly wind completely died and a northwest swell developed and rolled into the anchorage. Without the wind to keep Sonrisa pointed into the direction of the swell, the waves bounced off the side of the hull and rocked the boat significantly all night long. It was just enough to be annoying but not enough to get up and do something about it. Kristin seemed to be sleeping through most of it so we just tried to roll with it.

SoCal Ta Ta fleet at (rolly) anchor at Prisoner’s Harbor

Day 2

Tuesday morning

We got a late start on Tuesday, in part due to the rolly night anchored at Prisoner’s Harbor, but mostly because it was September 12th and I wanted to watch the live stream of Apple’s new product announcements.  We found that while the iPad on T-Mobile had no coverage to speak of, we were getting 1 to 2 bars of LTE on our iPhones, which proved to be just enough to watch the entire live stream of the event. I felt a little guilty watching an Apple event from such a remote and beautiful location, but it’s my vacation and I can do what I want! Besides, I’ve been able to nearly completely ignore my work email to this point, so I can indulge in a fun couple of hours to share in the excitement emanating from Cupertino.

Rowing the boat ashore and adding ‘fix the outboard’ to the checklist.

After the event was over, I set to the task of assembling our dinghy for our trip ashore to explore and this evenings trip over to Profligate for our turn for drinks and appetizers aboard the host catamaran. Our dinghy is an older Avon 10 foot roll-up inflatable with a wood transom and hard plastic floorboards. It’s old and ugly, but it still holds air and the hypalon seems to still be in good shape. I figure this may work as urban camouflage when we leave her at the dinghy dock. As long as we park next to a nicer dinghy than ours are chances of getting ours stolen are reduced. It only takes maybe 10 minutes to unroll the dinghy on the foredeck and inflate it with the foot pump. Then we use the spinnaker halyard to winch the dinghy up over the side and and lower it into the water. Then we walk the dinghy to Sonrisa’s stern and use the pivoting dinghy davits to crane the 8 horsepower outboard down onto the dinghy’s transom. The whole process takes maybe 30 minutes and it’s very easy for the two of us to manage.

Once the dinghy was deployed Kristin and I motored over to the dinghy dock to do a little exploring ashore. By now the morning marine layer had burned off and the sun shone brightly on the anchorage and it was starting to get quite warm ashore. The little outboard started right up and we drove over to the dinghy dock at the foot of the pier. As I idled down to approach the dock, the outboard sputtered a bit and stalled. It had done this before when I was checking the outboard before the trip, but it always started right back up so I chose to ignore it for now.

It’s how far to the other side of the island?

We started hiking up the dirt road that runs down to the anchorage and pier. We passed by an old stone barn that is now used for conservancy maintenance vehicles and continued up the hill, stopping to enjoy the views overlooking the anchorage and the Santa Barbara Channel from the road. The road from Prisoner’s Harbor winds up along a steep-sided canyon that empties out just to the east of the anchorage. We had heard that some people were going to hike to the other side of the island, but with the afternoon temperatures rising and the satellite maps of the area showing several miles of steep roads to the other side, we decided to just enjoy the views from the cliffs above the anchorage and opt for a shorter walk instead. Besides, we had neglected to pack a daypack with water which we would have certainly wanted if we were going to venture that far.

Sonrisa crew selfie with Sonrisa in the distant background.

After a few photos and some relaxing moments taking in the views, we wandered back down to the pier where people were starting to gather in anticipation of the Island Packet tour boat to return to pick them up for the return trip to Santa Barbara. On the end of the pier was a large palette with something (equipment, refuse?) wrapped in canvas with US Navy labels and straps ready to be hoisted down onto the arriving ship.

We met some other Ta-Ta members on the beach who had just returned from their hike which they started early in the morning. They said that the hike was supposed to be 4 miles, but according to their pedometers it was more like 8 miles and it was steep and hot. We were glad we opted for a short walk instead.

View from the cliffs above Prisoner’s Harbor

Returning to the dinghy I found that unlike before, the outboard simply wouldn’t start. It seemed like it wasn’t getting any fuel, but there didn’t seem to be any reason why. The fuel tank was brand-new and as such has the latest EPA approved invention to capture fumes from the tank when not in use while guaranteeing that fuel will spew everywhere whenever you open the cap (the environmental logic in this fails me).

It was a long row back to Sonrisa (furthest boat out in the anchorage). Profligate shown in the foreground.

After a few tries I pulled out the oars an rowed the inflatable back across the anchorage to Sonrisa. Inflatable dinghies do not row well at all and it took some effort to get back to our boat. Later that afternoon I did some more troubleshooting on the outboard and I found that while the fuel hose clicked onto the fitting for the tank, unless it was held very tight against the fitting it did not have enough spring pressure in the fuel line side to open the check valve on the tank side. Cinching the two fittings together tightly with a scrap of string got the fuel flowing again and the outboard started right up. Meanwhile Kristin was doing her best to make a multilayer bean dip that turned into more of a bean salad. Poor Kristin was stressed out about preparing her appetizer but I knew that whatever she put together it would be great. Potlucks when cruising tend to be more of a pre-packaged cold cuts, chips and dip type of an affair and any homemade dish tends to be a hit in comparison.

That evening we has the 5 PM checkin on the VHF and other cruisers told their tale of their long, hot march on the island. One boat reported that they visited the painted cave which I’d heard of and would like to see. We noticed that the Baba 30 Silk Purse had raised anchor and sailed off to the south. During evening checkin he said he was going to Smugglers Cove as it was just too rolly where we were and he wanted to get a good night’s sleep. We thought about joining him, but we didn’t want to miss the chance to meet a bunch of people on Profligate that night.

An hour later Kristin and I were piling back into the dinghy for the ride back over to Profligate for our turn for sundowners. Kristin had made a bean salad and we brought a bottle of white wine to have and share. Richard was very specific that no red wine was allowed on Profligate as they had new light-colored upholstery and didn’t want it to get stained.

The outboard fired right up and still wasn’t idling well, but got us over to Profligate without issues. There we found the party was already in full swing. Pushing other dinghies aside we scooted our dinghy to the aft end of the starboard pontoon which is shaped as a stairs from the deck down to the waterline. Someone helped Kristin up the stairs as the swell was sloshing out from under the bridge deck and it was surprisingly rocky as we climbed aboard. Profligate is a somewhat famous catamaran, having been the host boat for dozens of Baja Ha Ha rallies and the subject of numerous articles in Latitude 38. At 63 feet in length and a 30 foot beam she’d hard to miss in any anchorage. As I climbed up to the aft deck I marveled at the huge fiberglass bimini that covers the entire aft end of the boat remembering the article in Latitude 38 describing it’s construction. I was surprised how spartan the accommodations seemed aboard. There was no cockpit lighting or any other kind of unnecessary decoration or convenience. Just simple benches, a couple of full-size chest freezers and acres of bare white fiberglass. Apparently the interior exhibits the same philosophy as there are no interior doors anywhere inside. Even the head has a simple privacy curtain instead of a door. Having witnessed an unattended door on Sonrisa violently slam itself shut in a seaway I can understand why someone might want to forgo doors. Still, I think having separate ‘rooms’ on our boat helps make it feel bigger than it is and more like home. Just remember to latch them either open or closed!

We met many of the other Ta Ta participants at the party and everyone talked about their respective boats, the trip to Santa Barbara, their home port, etc. I always enjoy comparing notes and hearing stories about challenges that other people encountered and how I might have dealt with it.

After a few drinks and some snacks, Richard started shooing people off Profligate. He wanted to make sure everyone got back to their respective boats before dark and the swell was picking up again making for a bumpy dinghy ride (and another uncomfortable night at anchor). The outboard still didn’t want to idle but got us back to Sonrisa without any trouble.

Day 3


Sometime in the middle of the night we realized Silk Purse had made the right choice to move down to Smugglers cove. It was another restless and rolly night at Prisoners Harbor for the rest of the fleet. After the morning checkin we set sail for our next destination – Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. This had us sailing due East across the Santa Barbara Channel back over to the mainland.

Running in light air under spinnaker

Winds were light but we were able to get the spinnaker up and had a nice relaxing sail with the rest of the fleet to Channel Islands Harbor. Our course took us very close to the offshore oil platform Gail. We headed up a bit to leave the platform safely to starboard but we could see that other boats in the fleet seemed to be getting much closer to the platform than we felt comfortable with.

SoCal Ta Ta fleet dodging oil platforms in Santa Barbara Channel

Once at Channel Islands Harbor, we found our assigned slip and decided to take care of some housekeeping before the dock party started at 6. Kristin took a load of laundry up to the marina laundry room and I make a trek via Lyft to West Marine to get a new fuel hose connector for the outboard and to the grocery store to stock up on beer and produce.

Later that evening we had a good time talking to other cruisers at the party. We even ran into Ladonna who we met at the Delta Doo Dah 5 years ago. She and her husband had moved to Southern California several years ago and were on their boat Gazelle in the marina. We also met Eric from Dances with Wind and his partner who are getting ready to cast off their landlocked responsibilities and head south with the Baja Ha Ha fleet and an open-ended plan. We also very much enjoyed meeting Patsy Verhoeven from Talion. Patsy is an accomplished single-handed sailor who pretty much every year takes on crew and sails her Gulfstar 50 down to Mexico with the Baja Ha Ha fleet. She is a full-time cruiser with no permanent ties to land and is an inspiration to people like me who long for an untethered lifestyle.

After much talking, chatting and drinking well into the night, the crews dispersed back to their respective boats and everyone got a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Day 4


Artichokes in the termal cooker.

We were scheduled to get a late start to Paradise Cove which is just off of Malibu, so Kristin decided to hike back up to the grocery store because I had forgotten to get kale the day before. She returned with the kale and also an artichoke which she wanted to try cooking in her thermal cooker. I got her the thermal cooker for Christmas a couple of years ago and it has become her favorite appliance. Basically it’s a stainless steel pot with an extra thick bottom which fits into a vacuum thermos to keep it warm. The idea is that you put your raw food in the pot and put it on the stove and bring it up to a rolling boil, then put it in the thermos and leave it for several hours and it continues to cook from the stored heat in the pot for several hours. This is perfect for the boat as we can use the propane stove for a short time to bring everything up to a boil, then set it in the thermos and set it aside for the rest of the day and that evening you have a hot meal ready. Kristin has used it for everything from soups to roasts and even simple things like rice. We figured it would do a great job slow-cooking an artichoke while we sail to Paradise Cove.

We departed Channel Islands Harbor with the rest of the fleet and motored until the wind started to fill in at which point we hoisted the spinnaker again and had a very lazy light-wind sail along the coast to Malibu and Paradise Cove. While the winds were light they tend to be consistent and once the sails are set and the autopilot is engaged, there isn’t much to do other than watch for other boats and enjoy the scenery.

We arrived in Paradise Cove around 4 and worked our way around the patches of kelp to find a nice sandy spot to drop the anchor. It isn’t a good place to try to dinghy ashore because of the steep beach, so we kicked back on deck and had dinner in the cockpit. The artichoke was fantastic!

After dinner we were excited to catch the season finale of the Return to Twin Peaks. We had good enough LTE signal to stream the episode to our TV, so it was movie night on Sonrisa complete with popcorn, melon slices and a bottle of wine!

Movie night on Sonrisa

Day 5


We woke Friday morning to glorious sunny skies and warm Southern California temperatures. On the radio net this morning Richard on Profligate mentioned that they were going to get a late start in the hopes of getting better wind in the afternoon for the passage to Catalina Island. I checked the Windy app and concurred. Winds were very light until noon, so we would wait until then and start late for Two Harbors. We watched as the rest of the fleet hurriedly motored away and continued our leisurely morning and finished breakfast. Around noon we could see crews of the remaining boats starting to make ready so we did the same. We hauled up the anchor and were heading to Two Harbors by noon. At first it appeared that it would be an upwind beat to Catalina, so we deployed all of our “white sails” which is our yankee, staysail and mainsail. Up ahead we saw the two cats we were following deploy their asymmetrical spinnakers and checking the wind gauge I could see that we probably had just enough wind angle to get away with running the spinnaker. We lost some time and distance from the big catamarans as we pulled down the headsails and deployed the spinnaker, but once it was up we were coasting along at 5 to 6 knots on a close reach – about 60 degrees apparent.

Once we get the sails set we typically engage the autopilot and let the boat steer itself. Our Simrad wheelpilot is connected to the boat instruments as is the iPad, so we can set the autopilot to either follow the apparent wind as read by the wind gauge, or steer to the course as provided by the iPad. For daysailing this works great for us, but I’ve wanted to use our Monitor windvane whenever I could to work with it and see if I can get the adjustments right.

I left the electric autopilot on while I set the pendulum rudder and wind vane. I found that it was pretty easy to use the electric autopilot to help set the windvane. As the electric autopilot continued to steer the boat I made small adjustments to the wind vane until the pendulum was nicely centered and balanced, then I quickly engaged the windvane clutch and disengaged the electric autopilot clutch on the wheel. The wind vane seamlessly took over the helm and maintained the course for the rest of day with only minor adjustments throughout the day.

Our sail from Paradise Cove to Two Harbors on Catalina Island was one of the finest sailing days we have ever experienced. Light but steady winds gently pulled us along on remarkably flat seas under warm sunny skies. Without the chatter from the motor of the electric autopilot, Sonrisa gracefully and silently sailed herself toward Catalina Island, allowing her crew to relax and enjoy the ride.

As we made our way to Catalina, I kept track of the big cats that were ahead of us on AIS. On the iPad I could touch the icon for the other vessels on the chart and get a report of their course over ground and speed over ground. Even in the light winds we maintained around 6 knots all day and while we were sailing about a knot slower than the cats, we were sailing closer to the wind and a more direct course to Two Harbors. At the end of the day, the big cats arrived at Two Harbors ahead of us, but not by much.

Two Harbors is the smaller of the two developed harbors on Catalina Island. Two Harbors itself is named after the pair of inlets on either side of Catalina Island separated by a narrow isthmus. The eastern inlet is the more developed side, with a small pier and an extensive mooring field that extends into the neighboring coves to the north of the main harbor.

Sonrisa was still sailing on the same tack under spinnaker and full main with the Monitor windvane steering as we sailed past the Cherry Cove and 4th of July Cove toward the main mooring field at Isthmus Cove. I doused the spinnaker as we approached Isthmus Cove and disengaged the wind vane and slowed as we approached the cove. The protocol when arriving is to call the harbormaster on the VHF radio and get instructions for obtaining a mooring ball. After taking Sonrisa’s information we were assigned a mooring ball next to Profligate on the outer edge of the mooring field. The mooring balls on Catalina Island have two lines, one for the bow and another attached to a painter for the stern. It took a moment for me to figure this out as there was not nearly enough room to swing on a single ball, but I noticed the yellow poly painter line trailing off the side of profligate, so after tying the bow to the ball I pulled up the weighted thin poly painter until I found the stern line and ran it back to the aft end of the boat. After we settled in the harbor patrol boat came around and collected payment for the mooring for the night.

The mooring was quite beautiful and we were happy that we were on the edge of the mooring field, To the northwest we could see boats in the neighboring coves and directly beside us was a tall rock wall that bordered the cove. After dinner we sat on deck in the warm evening air and marveled at the stars. Occasionally we saw dinghies from neighboring boats motor by on their way back to the neighboring coves or to the edge of the mooring field to catch a glimpse of the expanse of ocean outside of the cove at night.

I peered into the inky darkness of the water around us and as my eyes adjusted I started to see odd reflections in the water. Tiny dots of light here and there, almost indiscernible. After staring hard for a few minutes I could finally make out that these dots were not reflections, but tiny dots of light coming from hundreds of small translucent jellyfish surrounding Sonrisa. The tiny blue lights seemed to pulse and strobe as the jellies floated by.

Day 6 – Saturday

We awoke Saturday to beautifully warm sunny skies. Saturday was a lay-day in Two Harbors which meant breaking out the inflatable dinghy to go ashore and explore this end of the island. Even with the jury-rigged hose connector, the outboard still just wasn’t idling well, but nevertheless ran well enough for us to make it to the dinghy dock and go ashore to explore the island. At Two Harbors there is a restaurant and bar and a general store. The surrounding buildings are mostly residences for the employees who work at the resort. Kristin and I hiked along the dirt road that crosses the isthmus to the other harbor on the west side of the island. There we found another smaller mooring field, fewer boats and more space for those who choose to anchor. The harbor appeared to be well protected and several of the boats anchored appeared to be intending to stay for a while. Below the road we could see that the rocky shore provided a sort of a small lagoon where several people were swimming in chest-deep water.

We continued to hike as far as we could around to the end of the southern point of the cove and were rewarded with some majestic views of the barren island contrasted against the vastness of the Pacific ocean beyond. There were several stacked-rock sculptures erected on the beach, so we stayed for a moment and made out contribution to the collection.

That evening the SoCal Ta Ta fleet converged for the potluck dinner finale in the picnic area behind the Harbor Reef restaurant at Two Harbors. A large table was set out for salads and sides and each crew was on their own for grilling their own meat or veggies. The table-length barbecue pit was soon completely full of every kind of grill-able fare and everyone took turns trading hotspots for cooler spots on the grill as about 20 people tended to their individual items.

Once dinner was well underway Richard Spindler aka. Grand Poobah of the SoCal Ta Ta started the slideshow finale. As different boats appeared on the projector screen Richard would announce the boat name and say a few words about the crew or some memorable thing that happened. If Richard didn’t recognize the boat in the picture the crowd enthusiastically helped out by calling out the boat’s name. A little congratulatory cheer went out for each boat as they appeared.

Since the SoCal Ta Ta is a cruising rally rather than a race, the starts and finishes were not timed or monitored in any way, but there was an awards nonetheless. Since there were 21 different boats in the rally, each boat was announced as winning 1st place in their one-design class. So Sonrisa won 1st place in the Baba 40 class. With each announcement the crew the ‘winning’ boat stood and received their 1st place ribbon and posed for a picture with Doña de Mallorca from Profligate as the rest of the fleet cheered. Jacques from Jacquot-Bateau was very enthusiastic about making sure that everyone got their photo taken.

As the evening wound down some crew started to retire back to their boats while others descended on the Harbor Reef Bar where a DJ was spinning some dance tunes. The Ta Ta fleet soon took over the majority of the dance floor and enthusiastically dragged reluctant bystanders up to dance with us.

We spent quite some time kicking up our heels with the crew of Iguana until everyone was everyone had just enough energy left to make the dinghy trip back to our boats. We said our goodbyes and talked about where everyone was going next. Some, like us, from the San Francisco Bay area were turning to head home, others from SoCal were only a day or so from their homeport, while others were slowly making their way further south to start the Baja Ha Ha next month in San Diego.

I felt a bit envious of those who were continuing south, but at the same time I also felt a nice sense of accomplishment that we were able to manage ourselves and Sonrisa so well and had such a good time on this trip so far. I consoled myself that our overall cruise was really only half over and more adventures await us for the return trip home.

Returning to Sonrisa we settled in for the night and looked forward to the next chapter in our month-long cruise.