Posted by: Zen | December 22, 2012

The Pacific Eco Passage – Monterey to Morro Bay

The weather, the sun, the temp was nearly perfect ( for most, but cool for me) as we left the fueling dock in Monterey. The wind was on the light side, but…We dealt with it. We had extra fuel and I was expecting to motor the whole distance anyway. I had heard from a friend who had left before us, he had to motor/sail due to lack of wind.

A short distance from the harbor our buddy boat was having issues with his jib lines. We hung out and waited. Once that was sorted out we took off  Southwest. After a while we had picked up enough wind to really sail, it was great. However it did not take long before they pulled way ahead of us and I needed to motor to catch up. At that point they shortened their sails so we could stay somewhat even. They were flying next to nothing for a jib, where as I had mine fully open. Team Wind Charmer was a bigger boat than us, a 38 foot sail boat. Even though we sailed a CAT it was loaded to the Max. Therefore slow, since we had what was left of our life that was not shipped to Japan onboard. Also I had my main reefed, but so did they. Anyway, they were faster.

Photo Dec 14, 3 35 34 AM

We found a happy medium and continued on into the evening as it grew progressively  colder. The winds had died off after about an hour of sailing, so we motored on, dodging the minefields of crab pots. Again the Wind-Charmer crew adjusted down their speed for us. Motoring is our weakest point of travel. I could have pushed our little 25 HP honda outboard, but we had a long ways to go, and it was a long night ahead.

Photo Dec 14, 5 52 45 AM

Sunset was beatiful , I caught up with them and passed just enough to take some pictures of them under sail, as they did of us. I got a few good ones of them, and also got one or two back from them.











Photo Dec 12, 8 17 33 PM


Photo Dec 23, 9 20 44 PM


We sailed on, the water banging on the bottom of the CAT was disconcerting, but I got used to it after a while. I did find out later when the water splashed in to the cockpit from the waves hitting the bottom side and shot up through the drain holes, there was also one inside the cabin doing the same. When we docked much much later  we had wet items on the floor to deal with. This hole I sealed closed when we docked.

The sun set, the wind died, the cold grew, still we motored sailed on. Now things got interesting. We wanted to stay reasonably near to their boat, however with the fall of darkness a new challenge came. We had to follow this small stern light. which moved about, sometime on the left, then the right, then way up where you would not expect it to be , then way down. Also as the darkness fell, the waves/surge picked up. It was really a act of Zen Sailing to steer with the heightening waves, not seeing them and still follow the only visual we had, their small bobbing and ever-changing small light, which would flash on and off, move left , right, up , and down. The evening dragged on. This was our first overnighter. It could have been a lot worse, still it was not fun. Hungry, cold, tired we sailed on…yosh.

LZ and I had planned on taking 3 hour shifts, but it turned out to be more like 1 hour shifts. She was worried about my blood pressure, I was worried about her overall. Mechanically things were working, so thank God that was not an issue. Still the night dragged on. I found myself wishing more and more for day break, and watching the clock, yet trying not to. Several times on my nap breaks I would dream it was near dawn and starting to get light, only to wake to no signs of daybreak. It was only a dream. Hours of darkness were still a head. It may not have been so intense had we had the autopilot installed, and not had to follow the bouncing light but it was us hand steering the whole night, the long winter night. I gained much respect for LZ that evening sticking to the helm. She said that she enjoyed the action and wanted the practice, when I tried to cut her shift short at times.

Finally finally finally, the sky in the distance hinted at changing. Slowly with a soft touch like a gentle lover it grew light. For a while we even had some wind and a pleasant gentle sail… for a while. Then the winds changed to on our nose, the motors came back on, and we fought slowly for headway. Instead of being near the mouth of Morro Bay in the early morning, we had the rest of the day ahead of us.

Photo Dec 14, 11 32 25 PM

There was some coolness to behold once the day light was on us. like the pod of whales that passed by fairly close. Not close enough to worry , but enough to wonder. Why do they call them pods? We saw a lot of water spouts, and backs but no breaches.

About late afternoon, our buddy boat radioed that they were going to blow out carbon from their engine some and go on ahead, they would wait for us at the enterance and they were off. We plowed on, wave by wave, splash by splash, all the while on the lookout for crab pots. I did not want a repeat of running over another like we did on the first leg out of S.F.

We recieved a call from the WindCharmer crew on where they were, and what heading we should take… we continued. Some time later, another call saying they were gong into Morro Harbor, to check things out. The enterance, the Yacht club and a place for us to dock. They would come back out to meet us. This turned out to be a very good thing! The Morro Bay entrance can be a death trap under the wrong conditions. There was not the death surge happening today, however there was a strong outgoing tide, we were told. somewhere in the 5 knot range and past the narrow entrance were whirl pools and shallow water…great I thought. I was asked if my motor could handle the counter current of 4-5 knots. I can get at least 6 kts I said. Stay in the center, stay alert, and follow me in, I was told. I cranked up the motor enough to reach 7 + knots and followed.

Photo Dec 14, 4 11 15 PM

At first it was not to uncomfortable and did not feel any risk. That changed quickly as the current kicked in and we slowed to 3-4 knots, yet still moved slowly ahead, then I could feel the pull of the side drafts, and the shallows came into view. I held her steady, the motored droned on…over the mike I said; let me know when I can breathe. Not too much more was the come back.

Photo Dec 17, 10 44 35 AM

A few long moments later we were free and in the home fairway. Yatta!

Photo Dec 14, 4 25 39 PM

I was told I would be right on the dock, space was tight but there was room for me being small. The Windcharmer crew would raft up with another boat at the dock. We made it!!! I am grateful they were there. The guidance into the harbor was a life saver, the arrangement for docking would have been a challenge as there were no signs to indicate the Yacht Club.

Photo Dec 18, 3 04 53 AM

We docked easily with aid from the Yacht Club manager and tied off the lines. We made it…Yatta!

The Force was certainly with us on this leg on many levels.


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  1. I’m so glad to hear you are finally underway! It took me some time to catch up but it looks like you’re living the dream the way it’s meant to be lived. I must say, you really should get some kind of auto helm system before you head off shore for the long haul, believe me, it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to those long overnight watches. Please be safe and take care of each other…
    James Lane
    S/V S.N Itinerant
    New London, Ct.

  2. Good to hear from you! I am working on installing the autopilot this week as we are waiting in Morro Bay for the weather to settle. So far it is storm after storm. I am taking it as a sign from the Universe to take care of some items at dock. It is good to be underway finally also scary at the same time, but that is live eh! Fair winds to you.

  3. Wow… this is much more intense than I imagined. New respect from over here at the destination.

    • Thanks for stopping by.


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