Santa Barbara to Morro Bay - 118 NM, 22.5 hrs, 2.5 hrs sailing

So after much trepidation, many trips to the Coast Guard Office and hits to the NOAA website to check the weather, we finally got the guts up to leave Santa Barbara and make the much feared rounding of Point Conception and the leg up to Morro Bay.

We slipped our dock lines at 11:45 a.m. so we could check out of the Marina by noon. As we pulled backed out of the slip, which was the one closest to the quay, and I turned the back of the boat towards the quay, so as to angle the nose out towards the channel, all of sudden the rudder got stuck and I couldn't turn it. It took a second to realize that we had grounded the rudder in the mud next to the slip, but with a little pushing off of other boats we got the nose pointed in the right direction and a surge of the motor quickly got us moving.

We tied off at the cop dock, and walked up to the office to check out only to find out that we could have done it by radio as we had purchased the Marina card-key (for $7) and didn't need to stop in. After that, a quick stop at the fuel dock to fill up (16.4 gallons), and we were on our way.

Leaving Santa Barbara

On the Way to Morro Bay

The weather forecast had been for 5-7 ft seas and 15 knot winds from the North West (right on our nose), and after all the stories we had heard, we were too excited to do any kind of watch keeping so we both decided to stay up all night, together, in the cockpit, for the rounding of Point Conception. It was very foggy, but with the Radar and GPS we were able to avoid the numerous Oil Platforms and Weather Buoys inconveniently placed around this treacherous point. One would think that it was dangerous enough without putting a dozen or so military and weather buoys out there, sheesh!

After it got good and dark, well after Midnight, around 3:00 a.m., I took our high powered spotlight and shined it down in the water and played it in circles and whatnot. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a pod of dolphins swam up and started playing around the boat. They stayed with us for well over an hour playing hide-and seek (they would swim down 20 feet or so and then pop up as if to intentionally surprise us), and "chase-the-light', although understandably, they didn't like the light shined directly on them; nonetheless, they were curious about it, like if you've ever seen a cat chase a light. At one point, I counted eight of them streaming towards and under the boat simultaneously, so there must have been a dozen or so in the pod.

I was having great fun until I remembered the episode with the Pelican. What if a dolphin, lord forbid, should jump up in the boat. It would be disastrous for us as well as the dolphin, so despite the great fun, I stopped playing with them and the light and started paying more attention to the boat and the weather.

The seas never seemed to get above 6 feet, and so our fears turned out to be somewhat unfounded. And instead of the forecast NW Wind, the wind picked up to 15 knots from the South. But even with the fair winds, I decided it prudent to continue motoring, and so rigged up a preventer and played the reefed main out on a port tack. Once I did, the boat speed shot up from 6 knots to 8 knots and we were cooking along in the dark, motor sailing our way to Morro Bay.

Arriving in Morro Bay

Around 5:00 a.m. the horizon started becoming visible thru the fog, and at about 8:00 a.m. we made the turn to head in from the Ocean towards Morro Bay. About 3 miles from the bay, the ocean started calming, so I went forward and put the mainsail away, and we tidied up a bit for our arrival. At 10:30 a.m. or so, we were inside of Morro Bay, motoring slowly towards the Yacht Club.

Arriving Morro Bay

The Morro Bay Yacht Club is really nice, clean, and simple. As we pulled in, a sailing instructor came over and helped us tie off. We made a phone call to the acting YC captain and said we would check in after a nap. At 11:00 a.m. we finally crashed and got some sleep. About 4:00 p.m. someone came by and helped us to check in and explore the facilities. We went out for a nice dinner at The Outrigger, well recommended, and went to bed at about 8:00. Woke up on Friday, did a little work washing and preparing the boat for our next leg, on Saturday, to Santa Cruz, before setting out for a some more exploration of Morro Bay during the afternoon.

The people at the MBYC were really nice. Our hand-held foghorn had run out and one of the Yacht Club Members, Mr. Jim Orth, went out of his way to not only find a replacement for us, but actually drove me up Highway 1 a few miles to the Ace Hardware Store to get the replacement. We attended the nice Friday evening social that the commodore hosts each week and shared a few drinks and many stories with the members before we went to sleep early on Friday night.