Had a good evening last night running up the coast from Santa Barbara, out and around Point Conception and Point Arguello (home to Vandenberg Air Force Base), past Point Sal and San Luis Obispo, around Point Buchon and zoom into Morro Bay and the Big Rock. It’s now 6PM Monday night and both Lindi and I have got in our naps to make up for last night’s limited sleep.
Morro Bay is a fine place to be, a bit grey and much colder than Santa Barbara – we are no longer in Southern California, and instead get the wind in directly from the Pacific Ocean with no filtering, heating, or mixing over the land. It’s even downright chilly at the moment! Time for jackets and wool caps. Beetle is tied up at the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock, a single pier that runs parallel to the tidal channel, with a Whitby 43 now rafted up outside us. Based on displacements (we’re nominally 21,500 and they are similarly 25,000) and the large number of fenders both of us have out, Beetle should be just fine, in fact even snug as a bug.
The run up was Santa Barbara was fun, we got going just about sunset and by 10pm were running along in calm conditions past the oil rigs. For this 105 mile hop I was working with a weather system coming in – it’s unusual for the USCG to put a call out a weather-related Securite call, and they are doing it every four hours or so telling everyone the National Weather Service is calling for widespread and strong gale force winds Tuesday and Wednesday and therefore to get into port before the wind shows up. Based on the weather forecast we wanted to be off the water no later than late Monday night. Given the relatively short hop and the narrow weather window I ran the motor up to 2150 RPM and kept it there – we are less efficient at burning fuel but are loping along at 7 knots and have a lot more power for punching into chop and don’t slow down that much on each little bump.
We hit Point Conception about 1AM and turned from the relative flatness of the Santa Barbara Channel into the chop and 12-14 knots wind from straight ahead as we powered up towards Point Arguello. We ran about 1.5 miles off the coast, it was quite dark, and used the radar and a prior track on the chart plotter to make sure we didn’t get set in towards the rocks on the shore. And we started to go BONG! off the chop, throwing huge sheets of water sideways as the bow section of the hull belly-flopped onto the chop. It’s a lot of fun to watch that happen in the half-glow of the red/green bow nav light, up until the first time the mast makes a big bang as well. I tightened up the backstay and runners (we had the 3rd reef up on the main to act as a steadying sail), and I went to sleep as Lindi took over the watch. It was somewhere during her watch that Beetle stuffed a wave, resulting in a lot of water running over the pulpit, down the deck and up over the top of the dodger. Lindi said the dodger worked great, she was under it and stayed dry, I managed somehow to sleep through all this so I missed it.
3AM we were around Arguello, turned northwards and found the swell to be large at 12-14′ but conveniently well off to port, so we stopped slamming so hard, and then the wind backed off to very light. It was neat to see Vandenberg AFB in the dark from that close, lots of lights, and later on the moon came up and helped out. The swell stayed way up for the rest of the run to Morro. And some idiot sets crab pots out in 400′ of water! – nobody needs 400′ deep crabs, particularly when it calls for three-float trap lines strung about in front of us. I spent my entire watch in the dark standing behind the dodger playing dodge-em crab pot. The closest call was having one pot line hook up on the rudder while swerving to avoid the floats, and fortunately the floats did not get caught up in the propeller.
Lindi took over again at 7:30 Monday morning (this morning) and took us up to the entry at Morro Bay, we popped into the channel which only had mild 5-6′ swell despite the very large swell offshore, dropped the main, and motored along the channel to the Yacht Club. Tied up, powered up, connected to the club’s WiFi, got a nap in, and now it’s evening ’round these parts. A very satisfying run up the coast and we did not get caught up in any bad weather. Turns out Lindi grew up in this area and may be able to visit with some friends during the time we are here waiting for the weather to improve.
Santa Barbara itself was a fun town to visit, dinner on the wharf at the marina, walking around to look at boats, Kristen and I spent a morning at the Natural History Museum, which I thought was a well-done smaller museum that included minerals in displays that hi-lighted the differences in how rock responds to light wavelengths, plus displays of local insects, mammals, and birds. At $12 eaches to go, I would highly recommend spending several hours there! Kristen also wanted to visit the wineries in a section of town coined the ‘Funk Zone’, we stopped at two and she found several bottles of vino she quite liked.
Now it’s time to pause here in Morro Bay and wait out the weather coming in. Looks like the next weather window is opening up Thursday evening – we shall see!
An amazing glass wall display at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, displaying insects local to the area. I’ve not seen a display like this before, it’s a 1/2″ thick sheet of acrylic, with pinned specimens set into the plastic from both sides, so at first it looks like you’re looking at a mirror to see the underside of the specimen until you realize you’re looking through the acrylic to see the underside of a specimen on the opposite side of the display. Very well done, the note on the case said 4,000 specimens were in the display!
The museum went to great effort to be not just a display of things, but also to bring in relationships between animals and weather and people, so there is a lot to read and a lot to learn as you move through the rooms. This is a case study of fire resistant chaparral, and also brings in the animals that repopulate and area that has burned out. It’s a terrific museum!
Inside the bee colony room in the museum, looking up. There’s a mirror on the top of the hexagonal bee hive cell, so it feels like you’re in the middle of a bee’s honeycomb. I’m not sure that bees carry iphone cameras and samsung cameras, but those two bees have them.
Nibs, aka Black Cat, did make the journey to Santa Barbara. He made the journey down in Kristen’s car, and then spent the weekend carefully exploring Beetle to see if anything had changed. He also slept a great deal, generally speaking directly next to Kristen’s shoulder, if not actually on top of her. He wasn’t too sure what to make about the seal that hauled out on the dock, and the heron that was bigger than him did not make him want to chase birds – quite the opposite!
It got chilly as the sun set in the Santa Barbara Channel after we departed the marina. It’s 40 miles to Point Conception and is generally a mild run through relatively flat waters. There’s a lot of naturally occurring tar in the water, seeping up from the oil bearing floor of the ocean. There’s enough tar to smell it for miles, and when I was here as a kid we’d find gooey black blobs of it on the rocks – much fun to play with, and darned hard to get the brown stains off your fingers.
Morro Bay has a gigantic rock, which is the first thing you see when rounding point and turning in towards the harbor. I talked with the USCG via VHF at 4AM to ask if there were any issues with harbor entry closures, as there was a rather large swell running – generated by a Low pressure system way up to the north. The USCG came back and said no bar closures were anticipated for the next 8 hours, and to check with the harbor patrol when I got within range.
The dock at Morro Bay Yacht club is really quite pleasantly wood, after all the concrete docks in the other places I’ve been stopping at. Somehow the wood is more pleasant under foot. Morro is a narrow strip estuary with a large sand bank to the west between the boats and the ocean, and there’s a commercial marina up near the entrance. When I asked the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol about berthing they said they send sailboats over to the yacht club, which doesn’t require reciprocal privileges – you just tie up and make sure to sign in. I signed in and have a key to the heads, showers, and laundry facilities, plus we’re welcome to stay here as long as needed – provided we don’t move in permanently! The boat outside of Beetle is also headed to the Pacific Northwest, they are going to Port Townsend – just north of Seattle.