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Greetings from Morro Bay!

(update: make that Santa Barbara)
Since sailing under the Golden Gate, we have been to Half Moon Bay (where we first saw Serenity about one year ago), Santa Cruz, Moss Landing, Monterey, San Simeon Bay and now Morro Bay.
Half Moon Bay was cold, damp and foggy. We had a great time there, but we must have been in a state of shock that we had actually started off on our grand adventure: we didn't take any pictures.
The journey from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz was more of the same: cold, damp, and foggy with little to no wind. We had to motor the entire way, relying on radar, GPS positions and chart plotting to figure out where we were. About 5 miles outside of Santa Cruz, the fog lifted and we were in bright sunshine. It was most amazing to realize that we were just where the navigator (Debi) had expected us to be. Thank heavens for all those Power Squadron classes!
In Santa Cruz we were assigned a spot just under the Crow's Nest Restaurant. Although it looks pretty, the constant surge from the harbor entrance made this a very uncomfortable place to be:
Santa Cruz was memorable for the friends who came to visit. Bill and Julia came down from Martinez, treated us to a great breakfast and a totally awesome dinner at the Crow's Nest. They also helped us get the additional electronic wires and hookups we needed to get the GPS Chartplotter up and running and helped rearrange some of the hardware on the deck of the boat. Thank you very much!

Our next visiters were Jon, Laila, Jennifer, Carol & Jim. We had a great lunch and visit with them. Wonderful to see all of you and thank you, Bill and Jim, for the photos!

Santa Cruz was also where the pups had their first experiences with big ocean waves, and they had a ball!

At Moss Landing, we were guests of the Elkhorn Yacht Club. We were assigned a spot at the guest dock right next to a favorite resting spot for adult female and young sea lions (The large bull males stayed on the other side of the harbor.) Its debatable as to who barked more: the critters at our two boys or our Max at them.

We also disovered that sea otters are exceptionally curious. Each time the boys played in the water, we would see several otters poking their heads up some distance away. Slowly, but surely, those heads would dissapear under the water only to appear again 10-20 feet closer. At one point, we expected the otters to join the pups in playtime.

We took advantage of a few sunny days at Moss Landing to learn how to inflate our new dingy, get it from Serenity's bow into the water and then get the outboard motor from Serenity's stern on to the dingy. We were even able to get both dogs in the dingy for a ride around the harbor! We have christened the dingy "Senility."
The trip from Moss Landing to Monterey was our first great sail with winds averaging 12-15 knots. Once again, however, we were in heavy fog with very little visibility. But this time we had GPS WITH chart plotting, so navigation was much easier (thanks again Bill!). On this trip Debi did her first cooking (boiling water) while "at sea", although it was a bit disconcerting to have the stove and oven, which are gimbaled, be at a totally different angle than the rest of the boat.
When arriving at Monterey, the harbor master assigned us to the end tie at the "B" dock. Just a few years ago while at Montery for a wedding anniversary weekend, we had looked over from fisherman's wharf and seen a crusing boat from Washington tied at the end of "B" dock with a couple on board. One of us (and we still are debating which one) said "we can do that" and here we were just a two years later, sailing in on our own boat and assigned to the same space! We ended up staying two weeks in Monterey while waiting for weather to break further south. We had a wonderful visit with Kris and Julia, played with the pups, walked around town (found a great old roller skating rink), and worked on the boat waiting for the weather to clear.

At the first sign of clear weather further south, we headed out of Montery for our first all night sail. At times the sailing was wonderful, but the winds were SE rather than NW (which would be typical for this time of year), so we did a whole lot of tacking. We're probably the only boat that has had to beat downhill to Mexico. The winds were also pretty light. Finally at about 3AM when we realized that we were actually moving backward, we broke down and turned the engine on. But what a grand adventure to watch the sun set over the starboard side of the boat, to be visited by a school of porpoise who swam with us for a short while, to experience how much light a full moon can provide in the absence of other artificial lights around you (other than your own running lights and masthead light), to sail around Point Sur with its confused seas, to see how much light a lighthouse sends out and what a comfort it provides in helping you idenify where you are and where you want to be, and then to watch the sun rise over the port side of the boat.

We pulled in to San Simeon Bay about 11:30am on Friday. Set our first anchor (only took three trys to get it where we wanted it) and tried to catch up on some sleep. At this point we were also concerned about the pups who had now been on the boat for 24 hours and still holding it all in. But we couldn't (wouldn't) take them ashore for some relief. We knew we had to wait them out until they had to give in once and for all, so every few hours we would take them for "walkies" around the deck encouraging them to do their "piddles & poops". Finally, Saturday morning, Myer broke down. Shortly thereafter Max followed suit. They had held out for an amazing 45 hours, so you can imagine the relief!
We shared the bay with only two other boats, one of them being a couple who had been living in the same marina we were at (Ballena Bay) and who had left Alameda the same day we had! They're the other boat in the second photo, you can see Hearst Castle at the top of the hill above them.
The sail from San Simeon Bay to Morro Bay was the most glorious day of sailing yet with winds averaging 8-12 knots, smooth seas all around and a warm sun shining down on us. We reveled in every moment. But when we were about 2 miles outside of Morro Bay the wind kicked up to over 20 knots! We have never worked so well together (meaning we only yelled twice at each other) to get the sails down as quickly as we did that day. With the wind gusting higher and the waves crashing up on us, it was a rolly polly entrance into the Bay. I swear that entrance looked about as small as the eye of a needle when we were trying to come in under those conditions. Nothing like what it looks like on a calm day when seen from the other side!

There's gale force wind warnings out at the moment, so we are enjoying Morro Bay. We plan to be here until Tuesday (election day). Our next major challenge will be to get around Point Conception (which we understand is a much bigger and more dramatic version of the confused seas and high winds we met at Point Sur) -- they call it the Cape Hatteras of the West Coast. So we are still trying to decide whether we will go for another all nighter to the Channel Islands or for a short jaunt to Port San Luis. In the meantime, we are enjoying the sites of Morro Bay, docked up at the Moro Bay Yacht Club
Santa Barbara Update:
We saw a weather opportunity to get further south and decided to grab it. As a result we were unable to get to the Morro Bay internet café we discovered. Here’s an update from Santa Barbara.

We left Morro Bay at about 2:00PM Tuesday, November 2nd. We were able to sail the first few hours, but then the winds died entirely and we had to motor for about 3 hours. Shortly after 11PM the winds picked up and we set sails again – but with double reefs in both the main and the mizzen in anticipation of what might be up ahead. We sailed around Pt Arguello in 8.5 knots of wind with Debi at the helm (she gets the easy stuff). Paul took us around Pt Conception at about 2:30AM with winds at 12 knots, gusting to 18 and us doing 6.7 knots. Seas were confused but the swells were not that high and the wind was managable so conditions were not as bad as we had expected (feared).

Most amazing experiences on this our second all night sail: First, a school of dolphins running with you at night look just like underwater missiles charging the boat. They would swim along side of us for a while and then quickly dart in and charge straight at the boat, diving under at what appeared to be the last second. To Paul, it was very disconcerting. He kept expecting to feel a big jolt and hear a loud crunch. To Debi, it was magical. Second, it is amazing how many oil rigs there are off the coast down this way and how lit up they are at night. You can see them further than you can a lighthouse! Passing one, Paul saw a burn off that went up about 300 feet in the air and made it seem like the middle of the day for a few moments. Too bad the resident photographer was off watch and sleeping at the time, so the only oil rig photos we got were at morning twilight. And the pups missed it all as well: they have learned to just cuddle up in blankets at the bottom of the cockpit and sleep through the night.

We had been told to expect the winds to die entirely once we rounded Pt Conception and entered the Santa Barbara Channel, but at 5AM we encountered our strongest winds of the day at 13 knots with frequent gusts to 19 knots. With the main and mizzen still reefed, however, it was no problem. Shortly thereafter, the sun rose and another all night sail was behind us. We arrived off Isla Vista about 8AM (that's UCSB's Stork Tower in the photo below) and encountered our very best sailing to date: 10-12 knots wind with a warm sun shining and not another boat around. Glorious!

Copyright © 2004 Shaimas. All rights reserved. Posted 10/04