Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rounding the Cape of the West Coast

Endless sand
All the guide books call Point Conception the “Cape Horn” of the west coast with tales of woe and disaster.  Given we’d just had our roughest passage of the whole trip, we decided to spend a few days in Morro Bay, watch the weather and make sure Point Conception wasn’t memorable.
This turned out to not be a bad thing, after a couple of early to bed late to rise days we recovered nicely from our trauma getting to Morro Bay and ventured out into the town and surrounding sand dunes.  Morro Bay is a classic coastal tourist trap for those driving Highway 1 north or south.  Quaint shops selling sea shell fridge magnets and mugs line both sides of the well kept main drag.  Given the number of “Quaint” shops, we felt fortunate that it wasn’t tourist time and had the place mostly to ourselves. 
Across the small bay is a long peninsula of sand dunes protecting the town from the ravages of the Pacific.  We took a number of long walks over the dunes to play on the beach.  Charlotte was most appreciative to be off the constantly moving boat and get to play in the sand.  Like a small child she darted left, right, up and down, not knowing where to run next.  She slept well every night.

Sand Dunes of Morro Bay
Tell-tale Morro Rock
How do I get from the ladder to the dinghy?

When the weather started to look good for our next big hurdle we continued on to Port San Luis in order to be positioned as close as possible for our rounding of the cape.  In the early 1860’s a far sighted business man built a long pier on the north end of the bay in an attempt to steal ship traffic away from Morro bay ports further south.  Shortly after that the railway went in and the pier prospered.  Although the major commercial ship traffic is long gone the pier still stands today and is now used for small sport boat fishing.  We anchored just off the pier and used it to get Charlotte to shore for a wander.  There is a small platform to drop off passengers/gear but the boat must be secured elsewhere.  This necessitated me finding one of the ladders to tie up to and time the surge properly to make death defying leap.  Walking on shore we discovered a small boat breakwater with a boat launch and used that afterwards.
Leaving early the next morning we motored around Point Conception in flat calm seas and anchored just at dusk on the south side of the point.  Yup, there’s nothing more to say about that.  Despite the anchorage being a bit rolly that night we had rounded the cape and were now officially into calmer waters.
Rounding Point Conception in flat calm seas
The next day we motored yet again to Santa Barbara where we secured one of the last empty slips before a big predicted storm passed through in the early evening.  Happy in the knowledge that the hard cruising was over for at least a little while we relaxed with other friends who had succeeded just like us.
Its all down hill from here.

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