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 anyone's reckoning.

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.

Arriving Monterey

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