Thursday, October 15, 2015

Morro Bay to Cojo Anchorage

We're sitting here at anchor in the Cojo Anchorage which is located a few miles east of the south end of Point Concepcion, about 40 miles west of Santa Barbara. It's beautiful, the sun is shining and the water is beautifully blue. It's windy but the anchorage is quite calm, with a gentle swell that breaks on the sandy beach a few hundred yards away from the boat. A railroad track follows the coast here and Amtrak trains have been passing by us every couple hours or so. It must be a nice view from the train windows, Intermezzo bobbing at anchor in the company of a sizable commercial fishing boat and a smaller sport fisherman.

We’ve spent today resting after our overnight passage from Morro Bay and getting some easy chores done. I finally plumbed the feed line from the watermaker to the water tank so that we don’t have to run the pipe through open hatches anymore and can make water while underway. We’ve been steadily stowing gear and cleaning the boat and it is finally starting to look decent. We’ll actually have Jeanne’s cabin spruced up and ready for her, with room for her stuff, when she joins us as crew in San Diego for the Ha-Ha.

Our overnight sail from Morro Bay went just as planned, except for the thunderstorms. I checked the marine text forecast before we left and it said “chance of thunderstorms”, which didn’t sound bad. I received an email from my friend Rick who was worried about the weather reports he was hearing for Southern California, but I figured it must be Weather Channel media hype that got him concerned. However, as we were heading out from the Morro Bay sea buoy at 7 p.m., there was a lot of lightning flashing on land and a few bolts hitting the ocean at a distance, so I decided to listen to the VHF radio weather channel. NOAA was issuing a “weather statement”, which is when they have something serious to talk about. The electronic voice warned of “high winds, poor visibility and dangerous lightning”. Not media hype, but clearly oriented towards getting pleasure boaters to stay in harbor.

The sky was clear above us, the wind and sea were calm and and all the dramatic lightning was all occurring in the hills on land, so I decided it was safe to continue, figuring we would monitor the radar at long range and alter course to dodge any thunderstorm cells. That strategy worked well, as only the edge of one cell caught us. We got rained on, the wind picked up and there were flashes of lightning around us for about 20 minutes. We used the oven as a Faraday cage to protect the IridiumGo! and the other essential portable electronics if we got struck by lightning. We probably were more at risk from accidentally cooking them than any chance lightning strike!

We motored until we got to Point Arguello at 3 a.m. where the wind picked up and we unrolled the jib and loped along nicely at 5-6 knots the rest of the night.  We rounded Point Concepcion, the “Cape Horn of the Pacific,” with no drama at all and made our approach into Cojo Anchorage as the sun was rising. We dropped anchor and took a nap which we followed with a hearty breakfast, using up some of our precious fresh eggs from Brigitte’s chickens.

We kayaked around Morro Bay yesterday before we left in the evening. It is a really beautiful place, as you can see from the pictures from our jaunt below. While I’ve often questioned the rationality and science behind environmental regulations in specific circumstances, I truly appreciate their overall effect on the quality of marine environment in California. I’m sure things aren’t like they should or could be environmentally, but the water quality and abundance of wildlife in such a densely populated coast is impressive.

Tomorrow we head to Santa Cruz, one of the Channel Islands.