Hey Everyone! We made it to Morro Bay unscathed! What an awesome passage! 180 nautical miles in 31 hours. We pulled anchor in Half Moon Bay at noon and were tied to the mooring ball in Morro Bay right at sunset the next day…
The sea gave us a wild ride but we took care of Ellie and she took great care of us! We sailed 90% of the passage, only using the engine for three hours when the wind died down below 8 knots. This is monumental because the last time I came south on my previous boat, I was singlehanded, scared and less experienced so I dropped sail WAY too early and motored south on the rhumb line straight to Morro Bay. That was a bad call and the motion was extremely severe. Not this time! We jibed all the way down the coast and actually SAILED here! We are anchored inside the Morro Bay estuary getting tossed about in 30 knot winds but our anchor is holding solid! We have the generator going and are hiding in the cabin with the heaters on. We went for a dink ride over to s/v Follow You Follow Me (Alyssa’s parents boat. They are sailing on the same itinerary south to Catalina Island) and in the process we saved a power yacht from grounding on the rocks! We saw it drifting and radioed the coast guard and the harbor patrol zipped over and towed the yacht off the shore just before she was bashed against the rocks! Anyway that was our morning … so here’s the story of the passage….
We left Half Moon Bay at noon under clear skies and in relatively gorgeous conditions. The winds were right in the sweet spot – 13-15 knots from the NNW with a 5-7 foot long period swell and 1-3 foot wind waves. We raised full sail and were cruising along at 6.5 knots. The monitor windvane was steering a rock solid course and Ellie was in her zone. We enjoyed every minute of it because we knew these conditions would not last. The marine forecast was calling for 20-30 knots with gusts to 35 off Point Sur…
The wind started to pick up off Point Ano Nuevo so we tucked in a first reef on the mainsail…..then a second shortly thereafter. When the wind picked up above 20 knots we rolled the jib in most of the way but Ellie was still hitting her hull speed. We decided to heave to and drop the main. Now for those of you who are sailors, you know to heave to on the side that puts the bow mostly into the swell….well hindsight is 20/20….and we didn’t. Ellie was bucking like a bronco trying to keep her mast from taking a dive into the icy waters of Monterey Bay, and the Mermaid was on the foredeck holding on for dear life. After about 8 frantic minutes we had dropped the main and tucked it away in the stack pack (sail cover on the boom). We fell off from our hove to position and were sailing along nicely at 6 knots under a half furled jib. The monitor liked sailing under jib alone so all hands were content and under control. We pushed on.
We were cruising along nicely at 6 knots so I decided to put out the fishing gear. We picked up some Salmon and Tuna lures while we were in Half Moon Bay. We were still in less than 400 feet of water so I put out the salmon rig. A couple hours later we were crossing the Monterey Canyon – a huge underwater canyon with very deep depths to about 2,000+ feet – so I brought in the salmon rig and out went the tuna lures! Wish I could report the massive bluefin we brought in…but alas we didn’t hook any.
What we did see while sailing across the Monterey Canyon was better! A huge school of hundreds of dolphins!!! It was incredible! They would swarm the boat and play in Ellie’s stern and bow wakes and then jump from the water! So awesome! The water was relatively crystal clear and we could see them to about 10-15 feet of depth. They followed us for about 45 minutes. It was an amazing moment and I will not forget it anytime soon.
[dolphin video to come once we get a wifi signal!]
After the dolphins went on to wherever it is they were going, we hit fog and the winds started to increase. By this time we were about 30 miles offshore and smack dab in the shipping lanes. I spotted a ship on the radar about 16 miles to our stern so I decided to jibe towards Point Pinos (Carmel). After we jibed I was looking out of the cockpit on the starboard side and saw a huge whale breach and blow less than 40 feet from us!! I yelled to Alyssa to turn off the depth sounder and threw the wheel over to port. We didn’t see the behemoth again but it was sure scary and awesome! See, whales can sink yachts. It’s true. And the popular sailors myth holds that whales are attracted to the echo-location sound that a depth sounder emits. So better safe than sorry.. After 10 minutes and no whales in sight we turned the navigation instruments back on.
Alyssa took the first night watch and I went down below to take a nap. I told her to wake me if she saw anything on the radar or if we deviated course. A couple hours later I took over and she went down below for a nap. The winds thankfully died down off Point Sur and we turned the motor on for a few hours to get south past what in the past has been a nasty stretch of the CA coast! Once just south of Point Sur I took over and Alyssa went down below for a nap. The winds built back to the usual 20-25 knots and we killed the engine and continued to jibe down the Big Sur coast.
About 20 miles south of Point Sur we were rockin’ n’ rollin!! The winds picked up to 30 knots and the seas were about 16 – 20 feet! There was an 18 foot long period west swell with 5-8 foot wind waves over it. It made for a wild ride south under a tiny handkerchief of jib while sailing 6-7 knots! Every once in a while we would get tossed down the face of a wave but Ellie always kept her composure and sprayed her bow wave at the passing swell as if she was splashing a kid in a pool and saying “take that swell! Is that all ya got?!?” haha. The boisterous conditions became less scary and more fun and we sat in the cockpit in awe as the huge rollers overtook us. What an incredible feeling to be out in those conditions yet in control. I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the way that Ellie and Alyssa handled those seas.
We reached the entrance to Morro Bay just before sunset and were glad to be in calm water. We slept like rocks until 10am. Shortly after making tea we had to slip our lines from the mooring ball because the ball the yacht club assigned us was apparently designed for a 20 foot boat. Once the winds kicked up to 20 knots the ball was pulled enough to put our stern into the channel marker! So we decided instead of smashing our beloved monitor windvane into the marker we would go anchor out. We are getting tossed about but our trusty spade anchor hasn’t moved a foot! We love that thing! Oh, and we are anchored right next to s/v Fire Water! We caught up to them! As you’ll remember we met them in Sausalito. We brought them some fresh zucchini bread that Alyssa cooked. I’m sure we will find time to catch up with them once the weather abates…
If time allows, I’ll update the blog with our Half Moon Bay adventures and our failed attempt of lying to the para anchor in rough seas!!
Hope everyone is having a good week. Please feel free to let us know how much we are missing out on in the office / school / real life