Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Farewell to Luther

Pacific Ocean, Near Point Buchon

Farewell to Luther, too early in the morning for the sea lion sleeping on the dock

Yesterday's passage from the Cojo Anchorage to Port San Louis (San Louis Obispo) began with kelp dodging. During the night, the wind had backed from the northwest to the southeast and kelp fronds that drifting out of our way coming into the anchorage were now drifting into our path. Dodging the nasty weeds woke us up from a night of less-than-perfect sleep due to rocking at anchor as the wind shifted and the swell did not.

Rounding Point Conception and Point Arguello, "The Cape Horn of California", was a bit uncomfortable as we headed directly into a strong 6-7ft swell. Along the way, I noticed a "fragrance" that I perceived as herbal, like cut vegetation. I asked Luther to take a sniff and he said, "Petrochemical". Sure enough, we saw globs of oil and patches of sheen on the water. I will be careful about what I choose for aftershave from now on, seeking a second opinion.

The patches of oil were frequent enough and oil platforms were close to us, so I contacted the Coast Guard to report the conditions. The Coast Guard took down quite a bit of information over the radio and informed me that they would file a report with the National Response Center on my behalf and I should expect to be contacted by them. I probably gave half a dozen government people something to do and annoyed as many oil platform managers.

Once we rounded the Cape Horn of California and patted ourselves on the back for our skillful seamanship, the seas began to calm to a more gentle 4-6ft swell off our port bow. As we passed by Point Pedernales and "Destroyer Rock",  I gave a nod of respect for those lost during the largest peacetime loss of US Navy ships, the Honda Point Disaster. Seven destroyers crashed into the rocks there in 1923 due to a navigational blunder in heavy fog, five were lost, two managed to pull themselves off. Twenty-three sailors died in the incident.

Our passage to Port San Louis was cold and grey, motoring under either overcast skies or in a fog bank. Luther and I were wearing long underwear, down jackets and foul weather gear and feeling chilly, while the rest of California baked in a heat wave.

We took a public mooring ball in Port San Louis at 3:45pm yesterday afternoon, then took the dinghy to the pier to explore shoreside. On the way we enjoyed watching sea otters playing with each other in the water. They are very cute animals. We saw lots of sea lions and seals, most of them lounging on a platform just off the pier and barking at each other.

Getting onto the pier involves tying the dinghy's stern to a mooring ball, its bow to a ladder and then climbing up the ladder 10ft to get to the top of the pier and through a little gate onto its walkway. You have to squeeze your dinghy between the other two or three dinghies tied up to the same points. Not too difficult when arriving, as your are on the outside. But when you return, you can be in the middle and have to yank on the various dinghy lines while hanging from the ladder to get yours within stepping distance. I felt younger than my years doing those gymnastics.

We took a short walk, then stopped in at Merseas restaurant on the pier for bowls of clam chowder and beer. When we returned to Intermezzo, the mooring ball had found its way between the hulls like they often due and I had to start the engines and back away to get it out. The metal ring on the top of the buoy left a decent scratch on the underside of the bridge deck. Bah. Mooring balls are a pain in the ass for catamarans. Fortunately, the wind, current and boat cooperated to avoid it from happening again during the night.

Early this morning I dropped Luther off at floating drop-off dock at the base of the pier and he caught a bus back to San Jose. I am sorry to see him go. I enjoyed his company and appreciate his help in getting Intermezzo another 166nm closer to San Francisco Bay.

I went back to the boat and slept for the rest of the morning in preparation for the overnight passage to Monterey. We slipped the mooring lines at 1pm and headed out to sea. It's a 118nm trip along the coast, calm conditions but fog all the way. I expect to arrive in Monterey Harbor around 9am on July 4th. I'm told by the harbormaster that they will find a slip for me, just let them know when I'm an hour out. I hope that information is accurate

We've sailed 1,805nm since leaving Puerto Peñasco on May 9th, 220nm left to go.  I'm feeling the time and the distance, a bit weary, but also glad to be getting close to the end.