Please share a few descriptive words about your tour with us:
“We would (and have) highly recommend this tour to everyone! Its a great way to see wine country. This is my second time doing this tour. I was worried that I would see the same wineries but our guide, John, went above and beyond to suggest wineries my husband and I would love without me seeing the exact tour I did last time. He catered the tour to us and was so knowledgeable regarding everything California! We LOVE Captain Jacks!”
The first day of spring brought more flat, calm seas. Skies were overcast with a few scattered showers. Total sightings for today’s single, 12-noon trip included: 1 fin whale and 1 gray whale.
Captain and crew found all the action about 2 miles out from Santa Barbara Harbor. The first encounter was with a juvenile gray whale. This whale spent some nice time on the surface and everyone had good looks. The second whale was a huge fin whale. This species is the second-longest of all the whales and are second cousins to the giant blues. The fin whale sighting was also very good and a treat to see.
Eight gray whales were closely watched on today’s 12-noon excursion. Weather and sea conditions were fantastic…the ocean surface was like a lake.
About 3 miles offshore from Santa Barbara Harbor, Captain crew located a group of 5 whales. The group spent most of the time on the surface and the whales were “socializing,” which included a lot of rolling around. Pectoral fins and tail flukes were also evident at during the rolling.
After nice looks at the first 5 whales, a second group was located because one of the three whales in the group was very active. The whale breached multiple times including when the boat was well within visual range. What a sight!
…and now is the time to make reservations for our Award-Winning Wine Country Tour!
This tour has won the Santa Barbara News-Press Readers Choice Award for the best wine tour in Santa Barbara for 5 years running. Once you hop on-board and experience it for yourself you’ll understand why!
This wine country tour will escort your party out of Santa Barbara and through the Los Padres National Forest, offering amazing views of the ocean, mountains, lakes and sprawling hills. Spring is the time to see our beautiful wildflowers.
This tour will include stops in both of our popular AVAs, the Santa Rita Hills and the Santa Ynez Valley. You’ll also enjoy an olive oil tasting at a local olive farm, to many of our guests this is the highlight of their day. To further enhance your epicurean adventure we will make a lunch stop (not included in the price) at the Santa Ynez Valley’s Number 1 rated restaurant Trattoria Grappolo. (Mondays a different location will be chosen.)
The per person price includes door to door transportation, as well as all tasting fees. We start this tour between 9:00 & 9:30 and drop back off around 5:00 & 5:30. This is a one of a kind experience for those looking for that “special” day. Captain Jack guarantees it!
We have many partner vineyards, and the tour is designed to work with them. If you would like to go to wineries outside of our partners we can book a private/ custom tour. We can also adjust start and end times for the tour as well. If you are interested in putting together a private/ custom tour of the Santa Ynez Valley, just give us a call! We are happy to create a tour that can fit in any time constraints or special requests that you may have.
A single trip departed Santa Barbara Harbor at noon under thick cloudy skies, and with frequent heavy rain, but wonderful calm seas. Sightings totals included 4 gray whales and 40 long-beaked common dolphins.
As Captain Dave steered the boat west, following the migratory path of the gray whales, the rain was so heavy at times that visibility was restricted as if we were running in dense fog. These heavy downfalls were intermittent, and most of the time the rain was gentle and did not obscure the search for wildlife.
On the westerly path, and not far from the harbor entrance, the dolphins located the boat and kept us company for quite a while. Wonderful looks were had by all. Captain continued west as far as Goleta only to find very heavy rains. He turned around and ran back to the east, the rain tapered off a bit, and a pair of animated whales were found. The two were rolling around, tails up, pectoral fins showing and generally doing what we call socializing. I often wonder what’s going on below the surface and out of our view.
On the way back and close to the harbor entrance, another pair briefly showed themselves.
Santa Barbara’s history is tied to the sea, so it wasn’t surprising that we got this Curious Coast question from KCRW listener Bill Hall:
“Was there ever pirate activity in Santa Barbara?”
The answer is yes! But only one… and he looked more like a refined 19th century naval officer than a swashbuckling Blackbeard.
His name was Admiral Hippolyte Bouchard. He lived from 1780 -1837.
Bouchard was a disillusioned French revolutionary, who joined the Argentinian navy after Argentina declared independence from Spain in 1810.
He spent his career sailing the world and making life miserable for the Spanish, including carrying out several raids along the California coast, from Monterey down to San Diego.
On December 4, 1818, Bouchard landed at Refugio Bay (now Refugio State Beach) at the ranch of Spanish soldier and early Santa Barbara settler, Jose Francisco de Ortega. Bouchard intended to plunder the ranch, but his reputation preceded him. When he arrived, the buildings were empty and three of his men were captured and taken to the Presidio. Furious, Bouchard burned the buildings and slaughtered all the animals at the ranch.
Bouchard asked for his captured men back and left Santa Barbara, never to return.
Here are 5 more things to know about your only pirate:
1: Bouchard was more ‘corsair’ than pirate.
Argentina granted Bouchard the title of “corsair.” This meant he was allowed to attack any ship bearing an enemy flag, acting as a fully sanctioned private mercenary. Corsairs got to keep a part of whatever they pillaged, and the country had one less enemy ship to worry about. Now, if you decided to attack any and all ships and keep everything for you and your crew…then you were a straight up pirate.
2. Santa Barbara briefly belonged to Argentina
When Bouchard and his crew sacked Monterey, the Spanish flag was lowered and the Argentinian flag raised…at least until they left. The same thing happened in Santa Barbara. That is why, at Stearns Wharf, Argentina’s flag flies alongside the other 11 flags that have flown over Santa Barbara. It is number six, in between the Russian-American Company and the Mexican Empire.
3. He’s a national hero, just not here
Bouchard is considered a national hero in Argentina, where streets are named after him. Even Santa Barbara doffs its hat to the corsair: a camping area at Refugio Beach is named after Bouchard. And there is a painting on the second floor of the County Courthouse depicting his pillaging of the Refugio property.
4. He saw a lot of the world
Unfortunately, he was a plunderer, not an adventurer. But his travels included China, Hawaii, Madagascar, Java, Manila, and the coasts of South America. He was put in charge of the Peruvian navy by Argentina, after Peru gained independence from Spain in 1824.
5. He met an unexpected end
Bouchard started his career as a revolutionary, but ended as a sugar plantation owner in Peru, called “La Buena Suerte” (“The Good Luck”). Depressed, missing his wife and family, he would lash out at his workers in anger. One day it was too much. After striking a servant, violent protests broke out and his employees stabbed him to death.