Monterey to Ventura - 255 NM, 60 hours, (6 hours sailing, 5 hours anchored)

We departed Monterey at 6:00 a.m. The forecast was for 10-15 knot winds and 5-7 ft seas from the N.W., so we were hoping to do some sailing along the way, but it didn't happen. Surprisingly, the wind was from the South East, light, and right on our nose the whole way, so we ended up motoring virtually all the way to Morro Bay.

It took us about 24 hours to get to Morro Bay. I sailed for about 2 hours, on my 3-6 am watch, thru the early morning fog, and was rewarded with the company of a lone dolphin for about 15 minutes in the early morning light.

Our original plan was to arrive in Morro Bay at 6:00 a.m., tie up at the Yacht Club, get fuel, and spend the night there, and then depart the next morning, but when we arrived, there was no berth available at the Yacht Club, so we dropped the anchor in the free anchorage for a short nap (from about 6:00 am until 9:00 a.m., got fuel, and then, because the weather window was still good, decided to depart directly and not spend the night there.

We departed Morro Bay after our short rest, and continued on our way south. The day was bright and clear, and after we turned south, we tried sailing for a bit, but the winds were too light to make any serious progress and so we ended up motoring again.

Then we heard on the VHF that the Eduards Air Force Base Missile Range was going to be having live fire excersizes in our area, and we had to consult the charts and alter our course off shore to avoid the areas in question. So we rounded Point Arguello and Point Conception about 8 miles off shore, and in deep fog, so never got to see the famous points.

It remained very foggy all night long, and the watches were less than completely pleasant as a result. wE had scary moments when boats appeared out of the fog, less than 100 yards away. In my case, the boat had not shown up on radar, and so came as a complete surprise. And since this stretch is very isolated, any kind of a mishap could have had serious consequences.

But everything turned out o.k., and with light winds, we made it into the Santa Barbara Channel in the early morning hours. Everyone says how treacherous Point Conception can be, and so we counted ourselves lucky to just have had to deal with fog (and light winds and 5-7 foot seas).

Our original plan was to go to Santa Barbara, but having been on these legs for nearly 50 hours already, we decided to go on to Ventura Isle Marina which would save us a day or two and allow us more time to explore the Channel Islands. A few quick cellphone calls (once we were in cellphone distance, off Santa Barbara) and it was arranged that we would spend 4 days in Ventura, and push back our reservation at the Channel Islands Marina a week.

With only a few miles left to go before Ventura, I put the sails up for a bit, and as I was ghosting along, barely making 2 knots, a adolescent grey whale swam up alongside Mandala and hung out for maybe 10 minutes. There's a movie below of his/her visit.

Finally, as we were pulling into Ventura Harbor, we heard about a vessel capsizing and three people in the water only a half mile from us, but before we could even alter course, there were several Coast Guard vessels on the spot and they announced on the radio that everything was o.k., so we put our sails away and headed into the harbor at about 4:00 p.m., or just about 60 hours after we had left Monterey. Whew!

We spent our first night in Ventura, as one might expect by now, eating and drinking ourselves into a stupor. The second day we took a nice walk and checked out the Channel Islands National Park Headquarters which is here, on the mainland.

As I'm writing this, it is Sunday, and we will spend the rest of the day getting more groceries (we have to make several trips to carry all the beer back by hand!). showering, filling the water tanks, and in general getting ready for our upcoming 5 days at the Channel Islands. There are no facilities of any kind on the islands, and they say that one must be very prepared before venturing to them.

In the Santa Barbara Channel