Monday, September 29, 2014

Morro Bay

Rapture, Abby Normal, and Andante happily left San Simeon first thing the next morning. Good bye to yet another violent anchorage! Next stop, Morro Bay.

Morro Bay is a nice little tourist town in central California. It is called a bay, but it is more like a river than a bay. It doesn't flow like a river (the only current is the tidal current) but it is a long narrow waterway like a river. The thing about Morro Bay is the bar you have to cross to get into the tiny opening of the harbor. It is so hazardous that the harbor patrol will come out and walk you through the entrance standing by in case you need to be rescued from your crushed vessel on the rocks (gives a real warm and fuzzy feeling doesn't it).

When we arrived Abby Normal was in the lead so he made the call to the harbor patrol. They asked if we would like them to come out and help us get in. Brad said he didn't think we would need help and was just calling for a bar condition report. The harbor patrol responded "captain, please be aware that you are solely responsible for the safety of your vessel and everyone on board" (I think he is trying to tell you something). So we all got to talking on the radio and decided to put our manly pride aside and take them up on their offer. Glad we did!

We cruised all day in 8' to 10' swell. It was not breaking on the bar, but it was intimidating none the less. The harbor master came out in a little speed boat and came up to each of our boats to give us the skinny on how to safely get across the bar. It is a bit unnerving to have ocean swell crashing on the rocks on both sides of your boat as you try to navigate a narrow, shallow channel, but obviously we made it in okay..

As you approach Morro Bay the first thing you see are 3 tall smoke stacks and a HUGE rock (Morro rock oddly enough).

Morro Rock
The moment you cross behind the breakwater everything goes flat calm. Finally the constant motion has stopped. We have been dealing with large swell for 3 days and 2 nights - we were exhausted and just wanted the boat to stop rocking. The bay is a long narrow passage. On one side is the town and on the other side is the mooring field and the breakwater keeping the ocean out. The vast majority of the bay is mooring balls with boats tied to them. On one end there is open anchorage.

Abby Normal was heading for the yacht club dock hoping to get reciprocal moorage. They were lucky enough to find an open spot and tied up. We had talked with Kat the night before and decided that she would get off the boat in Morro Bay. Unfortunately the arrangement was not working out for either of us. So Brad offered to let us raft up on Abby Normal so Kat could go ashore. After we got tied up Brad went up to the office and found out that we could stay rafted up at the yacht club dock for $25. We figured it would make it easy for us to explore the town and do some grocery shopping, then move out to the anchorage the next day, so we took the offer!

Morro Bay was a fun little tourist town. It is basically one street that follows the bay with housing up on the hill. It was nice to go to a supermarket for the first time in quite a long time! We couldn't resist a shot of this tour boat as it came by.

We planned to spend a few days in Morro Bay relaxing. But later that night I got a text from Brad on Abby Normal saying they were leaving in the morning and anyone that wanted to come along was welcome. Not good news since I had promised Jan that we would take a few days off in Morro Bay. But I started looking at the weather that Brad had been seeing and realized that if we left in the morning we would be getting out one day in front of the weather. And if we delayed we would likely be stuck in Morro Bay for a week. So much for hanging out.. but we were able to get in a day of seeing the town (which is about all we needed - it is a very small town).

Our plan was to leave at slack water in the afternoon when the bar would be the calmest and head for San Luis Obispo. It would only be a 4 hour trip so we would still be able to make it before dark. But mother nature doesn't understand schedules.. about an hour before we were planning to leave the fog rolled in. Not just any fog, thick fog! So we got the boat ready to go and waited. 30 minutes past our preferred departure time the fog thinned a bit so we all got together and took a vote. As usual, I was the cautious one and voted to stay put while Jan, Brad, and Gay said "let's go". Even though I voted to stay, I knew it was not black and white and it was a manageable risk. So off we went.. We headed around the corner of the breakwater where we could see the entrance and the bar and the fog was even thinner. So we went for it! To my surprise the bar conditions were very light and the fog cleared as soon as we got out. So it was off to San Luis!

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