It is getting close to another departure day. The seas are finally taking a rest from the gale force winds that have dominated over the last couple days. Four cruising boats, us included, hope to head south Saturday and two will be headed north - back home. Yesterday the gale winds filled the bay, pushing and pulling Steadfast from the MB Yacht club dock. By early afternoon the strong winds were not ceasing so we added a few more fenders and dock lines to ease the on going stress the wind and chop was causing. On a slightly freaky side, our neighbor saw a 40 foot power boat blowing down the channel after it broke from its mooring ball. Luckily she ALSO saw the Harbor Patrol boat close on its heels and no harm was done.
The picture above is what evenings here usually look like to the west.... a silhouette of sailboats, sand dunes and Morro Rock, which stands 581 feet. Warning, warning - Geology/Spanish lesson ... A morro is a rocky outcrop in the shallow waters of a harbor, often round in shape and sometimes very high. They are commonly made of hard granite or quartz. The word is taken from the Spanish word morro, which has several meanings, including a rounded headland or bluff. A couple other famous morros include Moro Rock (245 ft) in Sequoia National Park and Sugarloaf Mt. (1299 ft) in Rio de Janeiro. O.K., lesson over! Whew!
Above Picture - The little guys and I saw this congregation of Pelicans on an old barge while toodling down the bay in the dinghy this morning.
Steadfast's windlass deck foot-switch has been on the "blink" over the last few weeks...aka stopped working due to the entire switch corroding into one solid piece of rust. Today I finally pulled the switch out of the deck, cut, cleaned and epoxied the hole, finally bedding the new switch in with SS screws and 5200 adhesive sealant. Now, I hope, pulling up the anchor won't require my aching back anymore...just my big toe! Thanks Keiley for bringing down your dad's power drill. That was one less thing I had to buy and hike back from the hardware store across town. Boy, between the grocery store and the hardware store, I think I racked up 15 miles running, literally, around this week.
After enjoying the morning exploring the beaches and caves around San Simeon Bay, we weighed anchor about 1:30 pm and set off for our next destination....
We've sailed "26 miles across the sea" a few times, but it wasn't to Catalina this turn. The distance from San Simeon to Morro Bay works out to be about 26 nautical miles which translated to about a four hour sail. The Nor'westerlies resumed and we gybed down the coast passing Cambria and Cayucos along the way. The forecast along our route called for 15 - 20 knots so Erika and I tucked a reef in our new mainsail and rolled out our new headsail on our new Schaffer 3100 furling system....yeah baby! Presently Steadfast is resting along the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock for the week. Check it out live at http://www.mbyc.net/webcam1/ with their cool webcam, updated every 60 seconds.
Friday, Sept. 20th....EJ turns One.....Decade! Leaving mom and mace asleep aboard Steadfast, the little guys and I sneaked away for an early birthday breakfast. We didn't have to walk far. Maybe 200 or 300 feet from our dock gate was the popular Lou-Lou's on the Wharf. We ordered french toast and a pancake the size of a hubcap (NO JOKE), ate, then walked back to the boat with a little more ballast in our bellies.
Saturday the 21st Steadfast motored out of Monterey Marina at 0800 headed for San Simeon about 84 nautical miles south. The NWS issued a marine forecast of light southerlies in the morning backing to light westerlies by late afternoon. 25-30 knots had been playing out of the NW for the past few days and more windy advisories were expected for Sunday and beyond. We decided to take a light breeze on the nose instead of the the previous and forecasted wild rides for our trip along the remote coastline between Monterey and Morro Bay. Plus a weekend trip is always appropriate when Erika has to work during the weekdays. By 0930 we were on the weather side of Point Pinos and the light morning breeze had grown into a stiff 15 knots dead ahead. With the motor on and the mainsail raised we clawed along the Carmel coastline. Fortunately just beyond the point the wind died down to the expected 5 knot southerly. Plus the seas were relatively flat making for a pleasant motor sail down the exposed mountainous region called Big Sur ("Point Sur" pictured above).
As Erika mentioned in her blog we witnessed a few types of marine mammals during this leg south. I was most impressed to see the two Orcas off our port beam also heading south (at the time). Elliot and I were treated with a quick show of a dolphin riding the bow while we watched from the bow sprit above (Pictured: Elliot and Ren on the sprit). At one point Erika and I were sure we spotted a shark with its classic dorsal fin breaching the surface.
By about 5pm the fog began to form, thickening as Steadfast charged past Cape San Martin. I asked Erika to switch on the navigation lights. We continued to hold our course parallel to the coast, closing in on a GPS waypoint off Point Piedras Blancas to indicate a safe turn left for San Simeon cove. Our plan was to anchor for the night and leave for Morro Bay the following afternoon. At this point the "sun had set" and we should have seen Piedras Blancas light flashing every 10 seconds. Our approach into San Simeon would be electronic dependent with our ears on full alert. Luckily the boys had been entertaining themselves quietly down below so Erika and I could focus on getting the boat thru the fog safely.
Fourteen sailing hours and 8 anchored hours later ... Below, if you look real close you'll see Steadfast anchored in what many believe is a true example of California Gold!
Sunday Sept. 15th. WNW winds 10-12 knots, seas 1-3 ft, sky clear, temp warm. Departed Santa Criuz Harbor about 11am and arriving in Monterey Marina by 5pm made for probably the longest time logged across the Bay for me but, wow, it really felt like the shortest due to the ideal "cruising" conditions. You'll notice our track on the chart there is a loop into the wind. That is where we doused the mainsail. Erika would have liked to drop the sails a bit earlier but I really was enjoying myself too much. Just outside the jetty Erika radioed in our request for a slip and was warned we might have to standby on account the weekend guests hadn't departed but...the harbor master remembered a 60 foot charter boat was to be away for a few weeks and radioed back immediately to let us know we had a spot.
Upon docking, our soon to be neighbor, Marty shouted out a greeting and an offer to help us dock. I declined but thanked him. In no time we caught up with Marty and his little mascot Morgan (pictured) for some good ol' fashion dock chat.
A day or two later our neighbor Carla came by to introduce herself. She,her husband Casey and.their three kids are cruising south from Seattle, WA aboard their sailboat Dawn Treader. Wow, right out of the gate we find another big cruising family. For the next few days all the kids are hitting the beach (5 minutes away), or playing games and watching videos aboard Steadfast. They are headed out tomorrow, during the next weather window, (it was blowing 30 knots the last couple of days) but we hope to see them again.
A trip to Monterey wouldn't be complete without stopping by to see Catalina Mary and Baja Joe, and their three kids. Mary invited us up to their place (10 minute walk from the marinia...cool) for fish tacos (double cool). Thanks Mary, that was the best meal...Mahi Mahi and Anchor Steam!! Later Mary and her boys walked down to Steadfast to deliver a freshly made treat. Ren had so much fun at Mary's he was hoping for an invitation to move in with her boys. Thanks for the white boards too! Today we walk to the Aquarium. Another Monterey treasure :)
A UCSC graduate in Marine Biology, Keith holds a 100 ton USCG Capt. License and is an ASA/US sailing certified instructor.