Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay

As I mentioned in the last post, we took off from Drakes Bay on Friday morning – into the fog.  We had dense fog all day, but the sea and wind were very calm.  Of course, we couldn’t see much in terms of sea life to report, but there are a lot of common Murres in this area.  They remind me of a cross between a duck and a penguin and they are not skittish, so they are fun to watch.

There was another sailboat (the Andante, we learned), who was following close behind us and we were in communication with throughout the day.  We met the captain, Dennis, who is single-handing, here at Bodega Bay after we both docked.  He is on his way to Oregon from Mexico, where he spent several years.  He is retired from the coast guard, and doesn’t like the fog either – makes me feel like less of a wimp.

We arrived at Bodega Bay at around 4 pm – when we approached the harbor entrance the fog lifted a little so it was easier to navigate the entrance.  Entering a new harbor always makes us a little nervous.  There is usually a lot of activity around entrances and it is unknown territory, but so far every harbor has been really well marked and clear.

We are in Spud Point Marina, which is reportedly 80% fishing boats.  It has all the usual amenities – hot showers, laundry facilities, etc.  On Friday evening, my cousin Andy and his family came over and we all went to get fish and chips locally – it was really great food, and seeing our family was lovely.  We took a drive up the coast and the coastline here is breathtaking.  Andy also delivered my new GoPro camera, and I have plans to add a weekly video to the blog once I get the thing figured out!

Yesterday my step-sister Carolyn and her family picked us up and we drove to the Armstrong Redwoods and had a picnic lunch. The trees are always so awesome and majestic.  We loved it.  We also squeezed in some shopping and had an all around good time. Today our family is coming back and we’re going to have a BBQ aboard.  Life is good!

Our next stop up the coast is the Noyo River/Fort Bragg.  It’s 85nm from here, which translates into about 18 hours predicted travel time, our longest day so far. We are looking for a good weather window for this leg especially, because it is so long.  Right now the forecast shows the winds decreasing early Tuesday for several hours, but the waves and swells are still forecast to be large, which would mean a lot of fighting against them and/or uncomfortable rolling and slower progress.  We may be here a while!

 

Beautiful coast

Beautiful coast

Cousins!

Cousins!

Foggy but calm

Foggy but calm

Andante coming out of the fog

Andante coming out of the fog

Andy, Britt, Dorian and Evie

Dorian, Andy, Britt and Evie

Us

Us

Our clan at bullfrog pond

Our clan at bullfrog pond

Murres

Murres

 

 

 

 

Drakes Bay

Drakes Bay

We had a very pleasant time in Half Moon Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We were invited to the HMB Yacht Club for a drink, where we were warmly welcomed, and then we went to the grand opening of a Tapas bar in town.  A fun night! Apparently the fishing hasn’t been that good in the area, there weren’t a lot of fish sales happening.

We headed out of HMB at about 6 am on Thursday.  There was a lot of fog, but it was our understanding that it was patchy and would burn off later in the day – this was not to be.  The visibility during the day as we crossed San Francisco Bay was as low as 300 feet at times.  Luckily for us, we have a very reliable radar and chart plotter and we gained some good experience with trusting the set up.  The good part was that we had gentle southwest winds, and we were able to sail for several hours.  It was really lovely – and I saw jellyfish of various sizes and colors; no other wildlife sighting to report.

We did have some excitement, though.  Ralph was on the foredeck and I was at the helm.  We both heard the sound of engine noise that was very swiftly approaching us.  Ralph ran back and asked if I saw anything on the radar.  I hadn’t before, but I saw something closing in on us. We had a moment of fright before we both realized it was a low flying airplane!  I can imagine some pilot getting his kicks scaring boaters.

We decided to stay at Drakes Bay rather than go all the way to Bodega Bay.  Traveling in the fog is fairly stressful, and we needed a break.  As we got close to the bay, the fog lifted!  It was a fantastic feeling and I thanked the powers that be for our patch of sunshine.  There were no other boats in the anchorage and it was very beautiful, with practically no waves and only a little wind.  It was so peaceful and quiet, we relished it and had a great night’s sleep.  After a hearty breakfast, we started to pull up the anchor at about 9:30.  This was a tough job as the chain was covered with sea grass that we (i.e. Ralph) had to pull off by the strand.  The windlass (a motorized device attached to the deck that helps pull up the anchor) was straining to get the anchor up.  Once it was up we saw that there was a big clump of mud attached.  After that, we were on our way in the fog again!  To be continued…..

P.S. You may be surprised that the internet is not accessible everywhere!  So, this post is a little late.

 

Finally got the anchor up!

Finally got the anchor up!

Fog in the distance

Fog in the distance

Sea grass on the anchor chain

Sea grass on the anchor chain

Hi Ralph!

Hi Ralph!

Drakes Bay

Drakes Bay

Looking back at the fog

Looking back at the fog

Fog clearing as we enter Drakes Bay

Fog clearing as we enter Drakes Bay

Sun going down in Drakes Bay

Sun going down in Drakes Bay

Sailing in the fog - eerie

Sailing in the fog – eerie

Half Moon Bay

Our time in Santa Cruz was restorative; being with loving family members who took great care of us was truly special. We spent the last night in Santa Cruz in the anchorage area, which is next to the wharf in front of the boardwalk. It was calm and peaceful, as long as you don’t mind the amusement park sounds!

We left the anchorage at 4:30 a.m. The conditions were just what we were looking for, very light wind and small swells with no wind waves, for the first few hours. We spotted a couple of pods of Rizzo’s dolphins, which are more introverted than their relations. They’re beautiful to see, though. The headwinds picked up and had some hazy sunshine until around noontime, when it got colder and low clouds/light fog moved in. We had a couple of hours of good rolling time before we arrived at Half Moon Bay at around 3 p.m. After we were docked, the weather got worse, with heavier winds and wet air. There has been a heavy mist since then, and we are happy to be in port today, relaxing. We slept for 12 hours last night!

We are tied up to the dock at Pillar Point Marina, which has quite a few fishing boats in residence. Each dock has boats the sell fresh fish daily, there are white boards that tell you what’s for sale. We missed our chance yesterday, but maybe today we can score something for dinner.

This afternoon we plan to walk around town and visit the Half Moon Bay yacht club for a drink. There is a light weather window predicted for tomorrow, so our plan is to head to Bodega Bay, bypassing Drake’s Bay, to take advantage of the conditions.

Just FYI, I can’t seem to be able to put the photos in the order I’d like, so I’m sorry if it gets confusing.

Ahhhh, sunrise

Sunset at Santa Cruz wharf

Beer in Monterey. Forgot this in the earlier post!

Outside of Santa Cruz. Not quite sunrise.

Cool moon, just leaving Santa Cruz

Wet and cold outside, dry and warm inside

Approaching Half Moon Bay in the mist.

Approaching Half Moon Bay, glad to see the red buoy

Mid morning sun, fairly calm conditions

Funny boat names

Home for a little while

Santa Cruz

I feel like I start every post saying something like this, but Monterey was really nice.  Everyone at the marina was really friendly, we had clam chowder and local beer at fisherman’s wharf (delicious), bought fresh seafood from the local fisherman, rode our bikes on the bike path and throughout the town and enjoyed the marine life.  There are a lot of really large sea lions, harbor seals and otters living in the harbor and the marina.  Otters are particularly attractive (in my opinion) because they have little hands, they use tools and are very expressive.  They are also quiet, as compared with the Sea Lions (lots of loud barking).

Our trip across Monterey Bay to Santa Cruz was interesting yesterday.  The weather reports that we used under-reported the wind strength by a lot, so we had a lot of wind across the bay and had a brisk sail.  We pulled into Santa Cruz small boat marina at about 4 pm and got assigned an end-tie on the main channel.  My wonderful cousin Danna and Aunt Annette, who live in Santa Cruz, came to meet us at the harbor and treated us to a Chinese dinner that was fantastic.  What a treat!  We’ve spent today catching up on laundry at Danna’s and doing a lot of grocery shopping.  Things are great.

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Cousins!

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Entering San Cruz marina

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Lovely bike path in Monterey

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My new pal

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A race was happening as we approached Santa Cruz harbor – those are spinnakers in the distance

 

Monterey

San Simeon was really pleasant.  The anchorage was calm and there was so much going on there! So many birds, otters and dolphins enjoying their seafood buffet.  On Tuesday morning we took the dinghy to the beach and walked around for a while – this is part of the Hearst San Simeon State Park and near the southern boundary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Hearst Castle is perched up on the hillside and is lit up at night.  Just lovely.

We left San Simeon at around 2:30 a.m. yesterday morning.  I admit to being a morning person, but I don’t think this qualifies as morning! If you were a fly on the sail around 4 a.m. you would have seen us sharing oatmeal out of the pan, trying to eat it fast enough that it was still warm.  It was a cold (so, so cold), wet time of day and we were very glad to see the sunrise.  I am not going to sign up for any arctic adventures, the California coast is cold enough for me. On the positive side, the moon was making a pretty sheen on the water, Venus was very bright, we could see so many stars and there was even some phosphorescence in the water.

The travel up the coast is pretty much straight into the wind and swells, so I could get repetitive in describing that.  I will say that the wind was light, which was good.  There were a lot of swells and we bounced and rolled all day long, probably the most we’ve ever rolled (30 degrees at times).  Our stowage of items was surely tested – things were crashing around down below all day.  Amazingly, nothing was broken, but we will have to do better in the future.

While it was still dark we both noticed an odor a few times that I will describe as like a dumpster of rotting fish.  Although we didn’t see or hear them at that time, this was probably the smell of whale’s exhalations.  I hope whale’s find each others breath appealing for their sakes.  Later in the day we had a few whale sightings.  We saw (and smelled!) a pair of Grey whales surfacing right in front of us and we changed course to avoid them.  We also saw a Humback whale slapping the water with it’s fin, and many whale spouts.  There were also a few dolphins along the way, which is always fun.  I wish I had better photos of the whales.  They are really hard to capture, but I keep trying.

We arrived in Monterey around 6:30 p.m. and tied up at the municipal docks.  It was a long, tiring day, but once we are tied up to the dock and we have our celebratory beer in hand, life is great!

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Monterey’s red buoy with the traditional greeters, Sea Lions

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Ralph tying on fenders and lines, getting ready for docking

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Toga at anchor in San Simeon

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Thar she blows! Can you see them?

San Simeon

We had a really nice stay in Morro Bay. The Yacht club dock was very comfortable and we were able to walk to the supermarket, etc.  Amy came to pick up Jacob to take him home for the summer and we spent Father’s Day together; that was really nice.  We took off this morning at about 8 a.m., trying to get in front of some heavier weather and we were partly successful, but it was a rockin’ and rollin’ day.  No sailing was possible, but we tried.  We arrived and anchored in San Simeon at about 2 p.m.  There is one other boat anchored here, but we haven’t seen anyone aboard.

I almost forgot to report the first official sea otter sighting was this morning leaving Morro Bay! Who also caught a glimpse of one here in the harbor. They are so darn cute.  I will try to get some photos to share with you.

Our next port of call is Monterrey, which is 85 nautical miles from here. The weather calms down after tomorrow, so we’re planning an early morning departure on Wednesday.

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Morro Bay

After departing from Santa Barbara around noon we anchored at Cojo anchorage, just south of Point Conception, around 8 pm.  We’d been watching the weather for several days and decided that the early morning hours would be a good time to round Point Conception (aka “The Cape Horn of the Pacific”) and Point Arguello (aka “The graveyard of ships”).  We headed out of the anchorage at 4 am with a bright moon shining down us to light the way.  Giving the land lots of room, we rounded both points uneventfully, flat seas and almost no wind – the picture of calm.  Whew!

It is normal operating procedure to have the VHF radio set to channel 16 to listen for US Coast Guard notices or other vessels hailing you.  We heard a partial safety announcement about an incident in our area at around 6 am and then noticed something strange about a mile east of us, so we went to check it out.  I’m really sorry that I don’t have a photo, but it turned out to be an almost totally submerged 260′ barge with just the stern end sticking up out of the water about 10′.  A really strange sight.

Some people have asked me what we do all day aboard.  When we are underway we are keeping an eye out constantly for any obstructions, etc and watching our course.  If we are sailing, there are usually small adjustments to be made frequently.  We listen to music and talk.  So far we don’t do much reading while we are underway, but as the travel days get longer between ports I think we’ll try it.  We are also always looking for marine life to watch.  Yesterday we didn’t see any dolphins but we were entertained by many sea lions and seals as well as seabirds.  When we got around Port San Luis we saw several whale spouts off of both sides of the boat.  I’m pretty sure one set of spouts belonged to a mother California Gray and her calf, heading north.  The others, further offshore, were very large spouts, so perhaps blue whales or another of the larger kinds.

We were able to get a few hours of good sailing as we got closer to Morro Bay and that was wonderful.  The sun even came out for us!  We arrived at the harbor and tied up to the Morro Bay Yacht Club’s dock at around 6 pm.  Our son Jacob and his dog Charlie came over from San Luis Obispo, where he attends Cal Poly, and we made a simple dinner with some Rockfish given to us by a neighbor on the dock here.

We’re planning to hang out here for a few days and enjoy Morro Bay.

Sunrise after rounding Point Conception

Sunrise after rounding Point Conception

This is the way Sea Lion's rest at sea, with their fins sticking up

This is the way Sea Lion’s rest at sea, with their fins sticking up

Sailing in the sunshine!

Sailing in the sunshine!

Hello Morro!

Hello Morro!

So happy to see our boy!

So happy to see our boy!

Jacob and Charlie visit - both love the boat

Jacob and Charlie visit – both love the boat