Morro Bay to Monterey and Santa Cruz - 142 NM, 29.5 hrs, 2 hrs sailing
We woke at 5:30 a.m. in Morro Bay and made ready to depart.
After disconnecting the shore power, putting the canvas away,
bringing up the cushions and so on, it was 6:00 a.m. when
we slipped our lines and began making our way out of the bay.
We had planned on getting fuel on the way out, but
the fuel dock wasn't to open until 8:00 a.m., and I felt
that the timing
was important so that we could leave Morro and arrive Santa
Cruz at high tides, so with about 5/8's of a tank, which
I figured would just get us there, we directly set out on our
longest leg, about 130 miles to Santa Cruz.
It was fairly foggy, visibility limited to about 400 yards,
so we gave a few toots on our new fog horn as we made our
way out of the bay and into the Morro Bight. There wasn't
much of a breeze, but we raised the mainsail anyways, in
the optimistic hope of a few hours of sailing.
About 9:00 a.m. I suggested that the mate might like to
nap below while I took the helm. Motoring at about 5 knots,
I thought I detected a puff of breeze, and so, cut the motor
and unfurled the genoa to try a little sailing. Sailed
for about 2 hours at a dismal 3 knots or less before deciding
that was for the sea-birds, furled the genoa, started the
motor, brought it up to 2500 rpms, and continued at about
5 knots. Mate relieved skipper at the helm at about noon.
The water was glassy smooth and the fog lifted a little,
increasing visibility to about 1/2 mile. The winds
would remain in hiding for the entire trip, and the boat
felt more like a car on a smooth freeway than a vessel
on the ocean. I would estimate the larger swells at
about 6 inches at 14 second intervals which is smooth by
Along the way we saw quite a bit of sea-life. There were numerous
seals and sea-otters lounging around in the placid water,
and lots of dolphins came up to the boat to check us out.
In the afternoon, off of San Simeon, we saw two whales
astern the boat about 300 yards, beautiful as their large tail
fins clearly broke the water. Even over the motor, and at that
distance, one could clearly hear them as they spouted and breathed
at the surface.
Skipper napped in the afternoon and mate saw another whale on
her watch. Skipper woke and played a few tunes on the guitar
while yet another whale swam by lazily. Skipper must have
accidentally disengaged the auto-pilot as we noticed we were
headed south at one point. The connector is kind of
loose and can easily be jiggled when stepping to the helm and
will have to be repaired or replaced in the future.
Not much time was lost however, as we noticed our course
change only minutes after it occurred, but decided nonetheless,
to be more attentive to the auto pilot in the future.
Mate made a fine dinner that evening of angel
hair pasta with smoked oysters in a sun-dried tomato
and pesto sauce with ricotta and spinach stuffed shells
which the skipper enjoyed very much. We instituted
the evening music hour and listened to Big Al Carson:
Live from New Orleans as the sun set into the misty fog.
After dinner we slipped into our three hour watch rotation.
When I took the watch at 9 p.m., I had a most
wonderful and beautiful experience.
It had gotten dark and one could clearly see the bio-luminescence
behind the boat as Mandala left a trail of water churned up by the
propeller. As the dark set in, it wasn't long until I saw the
torpedo-like trail of light as a dolphin swam up to and under
the boat, so I decided to get the spot light out to play with
the dolphins as I had done while rounding Point Conception.
I played the light and as expected was soon visited by a
number of dolphins.
Then, not knowing what was going on, I was in fact alarmed
when, next to the boat, about 20 yards away, the sea appeared
to froth in a circle about 10 yards wide of glowing blue.
Having seen the dolphin tracks, I thought, due to the
size of the cirle, that a whale
was rising up next to the boat. One has to understand
that a whale could easily cause problems if it became
aggressive towards the boat. They are as big and heavy
as the boat itself, and there are stories of males getting
territorial and actually attacking and stoving in boats
by ramming them. So, alone at night, miles from anything
on the open ocean, I was alarmed at the possibility
of a whale taking an interest in the boat.
However, it turned out to not be a whale, lol, but a
school of sardines luminescing as they broke
the surface in their meanderings. Thereafter, every 10 minutes
or so, I would see a circle of blue light near the boat.
Sometimes it wasn't sardines but larger fish, perhaps
mackeral, with correspondingly more agitation and light.
Then I was treated to a vision that I will always remember.
Mandala must have cut right thru a large school of
mackeral, as a blue ring of light with flashing
diamonds completely circled the boat and expanded
outwards. Then in a flash, 6 or 8 dolphins came
streaming in from the starboard side of the boat,
as if to trap the fleeing mackerals against the boat.
Here was this ring of blue light expanding around Mandala,
with torpedo trails of dolphins lighting up,
shooting this way and that. The dolphins were
clearly smarter than the fish and had been following
Mandala waiting for just such an opportunity.
In a frenzy of eerie blue activity, there were fish
and dolphins everywhere, jumping in and
out of the water, shooting this way and that with blinding speed,
as the dolphins chased the mackeral and ate them
one after the other. It was all I could do to
watch in awe. I would say it lasted about
30 seconds, after which Mandala was once again streaming
thru the dark night alone.
Although I didn't see anything as intense again that evening,
there were many schools of sardines and I was
accompanied by dolphins for much of my three hour
watch. It is really hard to describe what it's like
to seem two or three of them stream up to the boat
leaving a blue trail of light and jumping up and
splashing in the water only 4 or 5 feet away.
About 5:30 a.m. Mandala's gas gauge was reading under
an eighth of a tank, so I decided to turn into Monterey
to get fuel rather than continue on to Santa Cruz.
Woke mate about 6:30 a.m., and we put the mainsail
away and came into Monterey Harbor and tied
up at the fuel dock around 7:00 a.m. Since
the fuel dock wasn't to open until 8:00 a.m.
we went for a small walk and had a quick
but delightful breakfast at a small restaurant
there on the dock.
While at the dock, After
taking on 27.5 gallons of fuel (which meant
that we had a reserve of about 5.5 gallons
when the needle reads empty), we left Monterey
harbor and motored across the bay to Santa Cruz.
Arriving Santa Cruz Harbor
I went below to nap until
about noon when the Santa Cruz lighthouse was
raised. We contacted the SC Harbor Patrol
on channel nine and they gave us a slip assignment.
Finally, about 1:00 p.m. or about 31 hours after
we left Morro Bay, we took our end tie on dock "E"
inside the Santa Cruz small craft harbor. A free
water taxi took us across to the harbor office
where we made it official by paying for 3 nights.
We grabbed a burrito and light drinks at a beachfront
restaurant, took a nice walk around the harbor,
and retired for the evening at about 8:00 p.m.,
tired, but safe and happy in Santa Cruz.
Arriving Santa Cruz Harbor