Friday, August 21, 2009

Morro Bay to Santa Barbara (Avila Beach, Cuyler Harbor)

We left Morro Bay Wednesday for a short, uneventful trip to Avila Beach. We passed just offshore Diablo Valley nuclear power plant. We wish we had much more nuclear (and solar and wind and hydro) and much less dependence on foreign oil – but we did wonder about the yellowish slick in the water just offshore the plant (see foreground of picture). We anchored just off Avila Beach near the pier for the night. We wanted to get a little closer start for the trip around Point Conception.

Thursday the winds were calm and seas flat as we motored down the coast past Point Arguello. The winds picked up a little, enough for us to sail, and we decided to just sail straight on out to San Miguel Island (westernmost of the channel islands). As we passed Prince Island (picture) into Cuyler Harbor, the winds had picked up to 15 kts, and soon after we anchored at about 6pm, they increased to 20-25 knots. We had hoped for a quiet anchorage with hardly anyone else around, but there were 5 other boats anchored within a quarter mile and soon two fishing boats also came into the area. The wind was blowing so hard we were concerned about dragging our anchor, so Doug stayed up to watch a movie, and kept a watch on the radar screen, where he could easily see the location of shore and blips for the other 7 boats to make sure our position stayed relatively constant. Finally feeling somewhat reassured we would not drag, he went to bed as well , and Cathy got up to stand a watch– thinking the wind should subside soon after midnight. But it keep blowing 20-25 kts ALL night long. The rigging would pump and shake, and we heard some grinding as the anchor chain pulled the snubber from side to side. After a fairly sleepless night, we decided to just move on instead of going ashore and spending a second night as we had originally thought.

We sailed over to our next targeted stop – Becher Bay on the east end of Santa Rosa Island. As we approached the anchorage, the wind continued to blow close to 20 kts as we got closer to the shore. It looked like the pier was under construction, with a big crane moored at the approach to the anchorage. Doug suggested we might not want to spend another night of 20 kt winds at anchor and that we might just go into Santa Barbara, and Cathy whole heartedly agreed –we could still make the 5 hour trip. Cathy, at the helm, immediately did a 180 and off to Santa Barbara we sailed.

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