On Monday, August 18 we bid Moss Landing one last cold and gloomy farewell.
Van and Susan showed up to send us off with warm wishing and a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate with later. In one final surprise give-away, Van showed an interest in our dock steps. We hope he is able to use them with Windwalker. [As an aside, Cap’n Van was our first informal teacher – he took us out and showed us the ropes on his beautiful Islander 28, Windwalker about 5 or 6 years ago and we’ve enjoyed our friendship with him and Susan ever since].
My parents (and Mom’s bridge club) were watching our departure on the OtterCam and Van and Susan waved as we passed out the harbor mouth. Unfortunately no one was there mooning us (JB was busy bottling his latest Pinot, otherwise I’m sure he’d have shown his face, and his ass).
Last Moss Rabbit Ears
It felt a little anticlimactic, sailing off into the gloom as we have many times before. The south wind was such that we had to motor the entire way to Stillwater cove. And that old familiar cold and seasick feeling wrecked me toward the end. We anchored just in time – in Stillwater Cove, being looked down upon by the Pebble Beach golf course. We’d been to Stillwater before, so it was nothing new or special (and to be honest, didn’t like it much the first time we were there…). Somehow we spent 3 nights there. It was a little bit rolly, but not too bad. We had a few patches of sun, but not too much. It was very nice to sleep and get comfortable with the new boat life habits.
I have been checking in on a few Ham radio nets. Still a lot to learn but talking to a bunch of friendly folks. Still looking for some nets where conversation goes to more than just what antenna you are using and how good you sound… I heard a few people calling longpath to South Africa (longpath means the signal is going all the way around the world in the opposite from shortest direction). But again, all that was discussed was how it sounded.
We listen to the NOAA weather on our VHF every day – which is partly why we stayed in Stillwater for 3 days. We were waiting for the wind and swell to change. An unusual south wind has been blowing up the coast. It turned a little bit Southwest on Thursday and we decided to make a break for it.
Sailing from Stillwater to San Simeon was our plan. 85 miles, about 16 hours of travel time. While we really wanted to see the entire coast, there was just no way to split it up without having to leave Stillwater in the dark (I was game, but the Cap’n said no) or arriving in San Simeon in the dark (Laura Laura said no!). So, we left mid afternoon and planned to go all night. Our first all-nighter! It was exciting and I was a little nervous. We got to see some of Big Sur, the Bixby Bridge, etc. before the sun went down through the offshore fog. I tried to get a little nap in, but I was too curious to see what happened when it got dark! I just couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like. Pitch dark where you can’t see anything? No, it wasn’t like that at all. Firstly, our steaming light at the top of the mast lit up the wind indicator, which always makes me feel a bit more secure (I know, I should be able to just KNOW which way the wind is coming from…someday). The chartplotter (in which we plotted our course and just had follow the line – too easy!) was all lit up in night mode – and still way too bright (we ended up throwing a towel over it for most of the time). But the most amazing thing of all was the bio-luminescence. Looking over the stern it was like we were a sparkling galactic glowing machine zooming through the water. The waves coming off our bow were all glowing and shining. I could’ve watched it all night. Wait, I almost did. I got a couple hours of sleep when I couldn’t keep my eyes open after 2:30am. During that time Jonny said he was standing at the bow and saw several glowing torpedoes shooting towards the boat. Dolphins! Clearly outlined in bio-glow, riding our bow! It sounded amazing – Life of Pi-like.
The south wind meant we had to motor most of the way again. We managed to get a couple hours of sailing in. The water was glassy and there was hardly any swell (save for the small south swell- also the wrong direction for this time of year and for the direction we are heading). Given what conditions usually can be like on that part of the coast, I think we were lucky to have it so calm and peaceful for our first overnight. We only saw about 4 -5 other ships off in the distances. The morning was really dense fog and we couldn’t see much as we rounded Piedras Blancas, just around the corner from San Simeon. We relied on that line on the chartplotter to get us into San Simeon bay.
A very tired little shore bird lighted on our spreaders and caught a ride back to land on our final approach and a dragonfly stopped by for a visit as we neared shore.
Shortly after anchoring, the sun came out. San Simeon looks and feels remote and peaceful. Beautiful change and we were very happy to be there. I felt GREAT on the whole night and that next day – seasickness no more! Aside from blindingly tired (we will get the shift sleeping thing dialed in – we were just too wired to get much sleep – save for a few hours each). Luckily I’ve had lots of practice in sleep deprivation the past several months, so I was feeling wonderful on our first day anchored in San Simeon. Jonny…not so much. He spent the entire day trying to wake up and continually napping.
A few other boats came and went during the 3 nights we stayed, but it was quiet and gorgeous the entire time
On the 2nd day we decided to deploy the dinghy and venture ashore. There was a harsh shore break (south swell, and this bay is pretty open to the south—had the wind been more south we wouldn’t have been able to anchor there). We opted to paddle ashore, leaving the motor on the stern of Summer. We saw the potential for getting swamped with waves and possible rolled, so we didn’t want to risk ruining the motor on the first day out. It wasn’t the worst landing ever… but Jonny did get thrown from the dinghy and ended up underneath it and we broke a paddle. Somehow I managed to stay in the bow (looking around wondering where Jonny had gone…he was under for about 30 seconds too long!). But we landed, wet , alive and uninjured.
Except for the paddle…they are made to come apart and the paddle end which snaps onto the longer bar cracked and broke. No way to paddle back to Summer!!
So, our mission being ashore became “Find duct tape!” and Lesson Learned became “Make bag of supplies for dinghy – which includes duct tape!”. We walked to the populated end of the beach. The guy who ran Sea for Yourself kayak rentals tried to help with tape or glue – but unfortunately had neither (as he pointed out, using duct tape on his equipment might diminish the confidence of his customers!). Up at the Discovery Center a nice docent named Rick found some ‘blue tape’ (the paper kind you use to mask off when painting). It would have to do! As Rick said, “use as much as you need, afterall, your tax dollars paid for it! This is a State Park!”)
Your Tax Dollars At Work
It seemed everyone was looking as us strangely as we walked the beach and out on the pier. After wandering a bit away from each other and looking back at Jonny, I realized how crazy he looked…wearing a big back pack, badly in need of a haircut (“maybe tomorrow?!”), barefoot – forgot his flip flops, and carrying ONE oar.
We got pretty wet launching back out through the surf but we made it back to Summer in one piece and the paddle held together. We were going to epoxy it, but it’s still holding with the duct tape we added. Maybe tomorrow. We decided to celebrate our first all-night sail and first shore landing with the champagne that Van and Susan had given us. I finally had some room in the fridge to chill it…(our fridge, btw, is AWESOME…Cool Blue system is rocking on the solar power. All the vacuum sealed meat I froze was STILL frozen and the ice tea I made turned to ice…we finally turned the thing down from 3.5 to 2.5. VERY happy with it).
Things started getting pretty rolly in the little bay. South swell picking up a lot. We decided to leave on Sunday after a particularly rolly night. But then the sun came out and we said “maybe tomorrow”. We opted for shore leave again. This time Jonny told me to jump out of the boat (my weight in the front is probably what made it dive and throw him out). Unfortunately when I jumped out the water was up to my chest…but it was a smoother landing this time. We rested on the beach to dry off a bit. There’s a hiking trail that goes around the rim of the point – we decided to climb up and see the views from that side. Such a gorgeous blue green bay! We walked all the way to the end of the point. Got some great views of our little boat anchored down below. Oh and whales! Did I mention so many whales?! All around in that bay, got lots of close up whale time in there. We got to chatting with folks at the point – everyone was excited to see the whales. Roy and Debbie from Las Vegas were enjoying their coastal trip and we’ll be scoping out a little bungalow for them in Mexico so they can sell everything and move down there soon 😉 (hi guys!).
We enjoyed one last evening at our rolly anchorage (it was so rolly that night I felt like I was almost vertical in bed a few times…). I kept thinking of that Bugs Bunny cartoon where they were sharing a bowl of soup on a rolly boat and the soup just slid back and forth on the table and they each ate from it before it slid back to the other. Yeah, it’s like that.
We decided to try to stow the dinghy on the bow without deflating it and taking it apart (which is a big pain in the ass). We hoisted it up with a halyard and got it on deck and flipped over and lashed down. We could sort of see over it from the cockpit.
When we pulled up our anchor we discovered that the rode was coming apart where it connected to the chain. This is not a good thing…to have your anchor rope break and lose all your chain and anchor and possibly wind up on shore. This is bad. We decided to swap it out for the other rode we had (luckily we had another). That took a little more time, but we swapped it out so we would be ready to safely anchor in Morro Bay when we arrived. We will have to try to get that fixed – it’s a brand new line!
We said goodbye to San Simeon without any other incident and headed off South. It was sunny and gorgeous and I was in a tank top. Happy happy. The wind was still too South to sail, so we motored for quite a while. Just over halfway there we were able to shut the motor off and sail for a bit. It was just gorgeous and although we were going awfully slowly (about 3.5 knots) it was nice to have the motor off.
As we approached Morro Bay there were dozens of whales everywhere! Just amazing. So much tail! It was incredible. Poor Jonny almost had a meltdown (we’re working on his whaleophobia). We worked our way into Morro Bay and found the anchorage spot (thanks to the info I got when I called the harbor earlier). Morro Bay has stacks so it’s like being in Moss Landing, but now with 33% more stack! It’s actually just beautiful here. The harbor guys showed up as we were preparing to launch our dinghy. They were super nice and just had us fill out a card with our info. We get to anchor for free for 5 days and then we will pay a nominal fee. And we might be here for that long or longer if that south swell doesn’t calm down. There’s a super hurricane down in Baja and it’s sending up swell and this is the last place to hide from it
Luckily there’s lots here to keep us occupied. Laundromat (very excited for that), Coin-op showers (disgusting, but the best $1.25 I’ve spend in ages. So nice to get clean last night!). Looking forward to finding Sunshine Natural Foods, too…we’re running out of veggies and stuff.
So, here we are. Safe and sound for a bit. Unseasonably hot and sunny and I’m loving it.White Pelicans this morning!