Wednesday, 12 October 2011

sometimes you're just glad it's over

Big Sur
On our way out of Monterey Bay, we were accompanied by dolphins, sea lions, and birds, many  many birds. Things were looking good. We had 110 nautical miles to cover. We had following seas, and it looked like it would be a nice downwind run. Eventually, Big Sur appeared out of the fog. And wow! The coast was dramatic. (Yet the sun set before we saw most of it...)

Wendy (our windvane) was not very happy though. The wind over the windvane sail is subtracted by the boat speed when you sail downwind. This means when there isn't a whole lot of wind, the windvane can struggle to keep a course. On our passage from San Francisco to Monterey, we used a reefed main that we sheeted out with a preventer, and it worked well. On this trip, we had to take the mainsail down and unfurl the genoa, because twice we rounded up into the wind and were unable to steer back downwind. (We think the swell caused the boat to round, and then the mainsail pushed the stern downwind which made it very hard to get back on course.) So we set the genoa in order to move our center of effort forward. That seemed to work. Yet, the swell was still a challenge. It  forced the boat to veer enough that the foresail got back-winded before Wendy could compensate.  We decided to give Wendy a break and switched to Beaker. (That's our tiller-pilot, which we have connected to the windvane tiller to reduce the load as well as the power draw on it.) 

A couple of hours later, the wind became, let's say, more lively. At first, Beaker did well. And then... Beaker had a temper tantrum. On my midnight to 04:00 watch, of course. I ended up waking Rick up to help and learned a few tricks to deal with the troublemaker. Rick went back to bed. Later, I decided to sneak down and get something to eat. That's when Beaker started beeping insistently. Again. I ran back on deck, attempting all the steps to get it back on track. No luck. Rick got up, again. We decided to put Wendy back to work - I got her on course, while Rick stumbled back to bed. He was exhausted. By then, I knew more. Sometimes I feel frustrated with the many holes in my knowledge. Ah, to be a student of the seas. That's what I am. So is Rick. That learning curve is a hard climb sometimes.

Things settled down, I got off-watch, glad to pass off the responsibility of the boat for the next 4 hours. Then it was my turn again. It was daytime. And there was fog. Thick fog. And very little wind. Yet, I chose to continue sailing. Our engine would have made it hard to hear another boat's engine, My hearing becomes my eyes. We have a "fog horn" on our VHF. I turned it on. A five-second blast, and then  two short blasts, every two minutes. Others now knew we were sailing in the fog.

The fog lifted a little, lifting some of the tension off my shoulders. That's when I noticed a young sea lion following in my wake. At first her head and neck jutted out, she looked at me, breathed heavily and dove  under. This happened numerous times. I tried to take a photo. To no avail. So I set down the camera and began talking to her, leaning over the edge of the boat. (Yes, that's exactly what I did.) She became more playful. I'm not kidding. She began to jump out of the water, waving her flipper, pushing her rear flippers out of the water, she then came up and looked at me. She repeatedly dove under the boat to come up on the other side, until I leaned over to that side. I tried not to be too distracted. She made me smile after a night of mishaps. I totally fell for her. Eventually, she left.

Rick woke up, we could see a faint outline of Morro Rock. We were nearing the entrance of the harbour. After talking to the harbour master on the radio, we found a nice little spot to anchor, across the piers, lined with fishing boats and colourful buidlings. We went ashore for fish tacos. It was Thanksgiving after all.

Morro Bay Pier from our anchorage
At last, we breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing really bad happened. But sometimes, enough challenges occur to make you grumpy, tired, and wanting it to be over. It was over.

Hello Morro Bay!


  1. Wow! this stretch is one of my favorite drives in the world (not just me, of course) - done it a couple of times. I just google-mapped you guys after reading up on Morro Bay, seeing where you were. What a trip to see pictures from out at sea! Thinking of you guys!! Happy Sailing to So Cal!

  2. Glad to see you getting closer! We enjoyed Morro Bay too. Daragh and Cathryn

  3. Hey Jer, I can see why you'd like the drive, it is quite beautiful there! We're ever so slowly getting closer C&D, taking our time to visit my sister and her family, but soon, we'll be in Mexico!



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