Re: Channel Islands in January?
This posting may be too late, but I did a trip to San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands in December 2011. I just started sailing a few years ago so I don't have a whole lot of experience, but I plan on doing some extensive cruising in a few years so I try to sail when ever I can.
I chartered a Catalina 36 from the Santa Barbara Sailing Center last December with two friends and headed out for 5 days. We left at the tail end of a early winter storm with unusual SW winds about 15-20 knts, so we made a beeline directly to Cuyler Harbor on a beam reach. It was rainy and windy as hell all night and the next day, but we were the only souls their. Went hiking on the Island and were the only ones there. It was fantastic. The wind shifted to the typical NW and we sailed around to Tyler Bight and stayed a night. 25-30 knt winds all night long and not a soul around. Hundreds of sea lions barking and causing a ruckus. It was beautiful. Then we sailed the south side of San Miguel and Santa Rosa toward Bechers Bay. We were running in 25 - 30 knts almost surfing down huge swells. It was a blast. When we got to the Santa Cruz channel, the wind died. We took the reef out and turned north to Bechers. As we entered the channel the wind exploded directly head on atabout 40+ knts. We dropped the sails and cranked up the motor, but the wind was howling so hard head on, we could only make headway about 1 knt. At that rate, I knew we wouldn't make Bechers before night fall, but there wasn't much else and I had a chart plotter with GPS, so we kept going. I don't think I ever saw it so dark in my life. We ended up motoring for about 2 hours and then anchoring in pitch black. My buddies did not have much sailing experience and were crying for their mommies. The next day we headed back to Santa Barbara. My friends said they would never sail with me again. I had the time of my life. I figured they were just pussies and so wouldn't want to sail with them anyway.
P.S. They soon got over it and sailed with me just last May to Catalina and Santa Barbara Island. That was a much more mellow trip, but still fun.