Go, Stop, Restart, Fix it, Restart Again !!


Morro Bay, California

Now I know why you keep extra boat bucks* on board.  So you can do boat repair in exotic places – like Morro Bay (California that is for all you foreigners).  We left on Sunday, May 1, after spending time with Whitney and Sabina as well as Emily and Braeden. We enjoyed being with the grandkids and watching the cousins play together.  On Sunday, around midafternoon, we waved an anxious good bye to Emily, Bobby and Braeden and headed over to Paradise Cove to do one last minute safety check for the stuff below and get one last night of solid sleep.   *Boat bucks = $1000 per boat buck.

There was a gentle breeze Monday morning and after a sinful breakfast of sausage and eggs, we motored out the Gate and put up the sails. The wind was perfect, we had near following seas, and averaged 5.5 knots. We spent the day stretched out in the cockpit marveling at the weather conditions and remarked on how nice everything was working including the autopilot.  We played with the hydrovane, got it set, turned off the mechanical autopilot and resumed our lounging positions again propped up by pillows and an occasional beer.  Should have known that was too good to hold true for very long!

Just as dark fell the winds kicked up and continued to increase. I noticed the clouds billowing off the starboard bow growing dark and moving fast but thought it was the fog rolling in. We should have trimmed the staysail and reefed the main at that point and at the very least before nightfall. ( A standard procedure we will follow from now on!) The winds continued to increase to a steady 30 knots with some gusts to 35 or more and the seas were quite rambunctious and disorganized.  We were bounced around like rodeo bull riders and fought the bloody storm until daybreak.  At which point I said, ” I”VE HAD ENOUGH!  Head for shore!.”  This was all too reminiscent of every sailing trip I have been on to date.

At this point, the closest landfall was San Simeon and it took downing meclazine at regular intervals and continuing our uphill slog until nightfall Monday to reach the bay and tuck in for the night. I made a hasty dinner out of a box of chunky tomato soup before we crawled into bed and called it a night.   As a side note, it doesn’t take long to get over eating trail mix, no matter how good it looked in the grocery store.

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday recovering at San Simeon and cleaning up the boat.  Thank goodness for duct tape! The fallout from bouncing around the ocean like a roller coaster was fairly minimal.  Before we head out again, I’ll be adding more duct tape to the boat’s supply!  Whenever you think you have an adequate supply of duct tape, add 4 more rolls!

San Simeon is a beautiful bay nestled just below Hearst Castle.  The anchorage is protected from wind although the mouth of the bay is open to the ocean and we learned the first night that the swells keep you rocking side to side about 10 degrees which felt like the rails on each side of the boat were hitting the water as I lay there trying to sleep too tired to care.  After coffee on Wednesday, we tucked in a bit closer to the sandy beach and slept about 12 hours Wednesday night.  We were enjoying our stay here until Darrell discovered that the alternator was no longer charging the batteries.

Darrell worked on the alternator as much as he could while we were anchored in San Simeon and discovered that he needed help and possibly a new alternator. While he was busy knocking the skin off the back of his hands, getting grease embedded in everything else, I made banana nut bread out of the bananas that took a beating during the storm.

Thursday, we made the trip to Morro Bay.  The trip was about 4 hours and practically windless so we motored. We met up with a school of dolphins and were delighted to have their company for a few minutes. These were our first sightings of anything but seals, birds, and water.

We used Charlie’s Charts to get into the Bay which is quite tricky. The bay is very narrow and has as much boat traffic as a Sunday afternoon parade.  Mooring balls line the middle of the bay and have boats of varying degrees of decay attached to them. The fishing industry is happening and little electric tour boats buzz around all over.  If you come to Morro Bay using Charlie’s, there have been some changes.  First, Shell is the only gas station.  The book mentions Beacon’s, but it is no longer here.  The Bay is very shallow but there is a narrow channel dredged so that we barely made it in to boat yard. The boat yard was a whole new experience.

We lucked into a dock space that would be available for a few days and met the owner (Joe) of the Morro Bay Boat Yard who proved to know everyone in the local boat business. Joe is quite the story teller.  He came to the US via boat from Germany when he was 17 or so, knowing very little English.   He collects some kind of little Pontiac sports car and still has the first car he ever bought.  We sat in the sun and over some beers, we figured out who to call in for assistance with the alternator issue.  Ed came down, took the alternator out for tests, I confirmed the wiring issues and by the time he got back with the good news that the alternator was fine, we had the wiring corrected.

We found some problems with the mounting of the alternator, the belts and brackets but all things that were handled there.  I’ll make some changes to all this down the road but for now the electrical system, after being scarred with some my skinned knuckles, is ready for business.

We expected to leave today (Sunday) but it looks like a cold front is pushing through tonight and tomorrow bringing with it ‘substantial waves’ and high winds, so we’ll delay the restart of our venture until Tuesday. The boat is teaching us new lessons and thankfully our experience level is improving.  We now prefer to spend a stormy night tied to a firm dock rather than bouncing around the ocean.  Go figure.

So we’re tourists today, in a Morro Bay coffee shop getting a latte, bringing the blog up to speed.  Turns out there was a major car show here yesterday and today so there were hundreds of custom hot rods to admire.

That’s about all for now, there may be updates before we push off.


-Darrell & Gayle





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