Beyond Conception

We were going to stay Morro Bay through the weekend, but the Yacht Club dock that we were tied to was closed due to races. Todd suggested we just head down to Port San Luis, about 24 miles to the south. “What about the gale warnings?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” slurred Capn Boozy, “Those warnings expired last night.” Hmmm, right after the yacht club’s happy hour ended…

So we were off! There was a bit of a swell, so the boat pitched quite a bit as we headed out. Todd was hesitant to go forward and raise the sails, but I gave his thong a snap and soon we were on a beam reach under staysail and double-reefed main. It was a beautiful sail!

We anchored off of Avila Beach, and got to spend more time with our new buddies Barrie and Sandra of Passat II. Talk about a rolly anchorage though! The first night wasn’t so bad, but on the second I got seasick making dinner, and we all had a hard time sleeping.

Monday afternoon, we were glad to be heading out to sea, where things were much smoother! The sea was almost glassy. We raised all sails, but the wind soon died down. Then, to starboard I saw some spouts. “Koiya!” yelled Todd, “To the bow!” Koiya hesitated, because usually we don’t let her go up on the bowsprit when we’re under sail; but once I gave the OK, she lost no time in carrying out the captain’s orders.

We could see an area up ahead that was a bevy of activity. Gulls and other marine birds swooped and cried; sea lions barked and leapt from the water. Then… POOF!!! A humpback whale exploded into the crowd, its head coming clear out of the water!

We think the pod of humpbacks might have been bubble net fishing; click here to see a video of humpbacks using this technique. I’d guess we saw between 10 and 20 whales, some as much as a mile away, others much closer. We probably watched them for about 45 minutes, but we were so enthralled, it is hard to say how long it was. We were awed by the sounds of their breathing; often we heard their thunderous exhalations before we saw them. As we slipped off to the south, the sun began to set, and we were content. I felt: This is why we are out here!

Did you know that sea lions will rest in the ocean, with their flippers up in the air? I’m guessing they are warming themselves in the sun. We’d seen a few here and there in this odd position, but this time we came upon a group of about 30, all in a circle! The picture doesn’t really do it justice.

We motored along, and Todd pulled me aside. “I’m worried about Conception,” he confessed. “Hah!” I snorted. “You haven’t bathed for three days, big boy. You’ll be lucky if I so much as kiss you good night!” For some reason, that didn’t deter him. “No,” he continued, “Point Conception. It’s the ‘Cape Horn of California’. The wind can really howl and scream.”

Capn Horny said he’d stay on watch while I got some sleep, “but I want you up here with me later for Conception.” Man, the guy was persistent! Really, I was more interested in sleeping, but it seemed so important to him, so I feigned interest. Around 11:30pm, I went back up to the cockpit. Todd was fumbling around with his instruments in the dark. “Uh oh,” I thought, “This could take a while!” I grabbed some pappadums from the snack bag; might as well have something to do!

“There it is!” he cried, “Conception!” Frankly, I was disappointed. All that anticipation and build up, for what? Carefully, I ventured, “Are you sure? I thought there was supposed to be howling and screaming.” Todd was too busy making an entry in his log book. Then came the inevitable, “Well, good night!” and he was off to sleep. I was left there alone, the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders. Ah, Point Conception; aptly named, indeed!

The wind never picked up, so we ended up motoring all the way to Santa Barbara. We arrived early Tuesday, grabbed showers and a huge breakfast, toured the Maritime Museum, and treated ourselves to a sushi dinner. Wednesday, we slept in, and Todd did some repairs to the electrical wiring for the engine’s thermostat (the gauge said the engine was running cooler) and replaced a valve in the line that delivers water to our refrigeration system. This afternoon we toured the County Courthouse and Mission Santa Barbara, had dinner downtown, and went grocery shopping.

Because of the wildfires burning in San Diego, the moon glows red when it rises, and everything is really dusty. Apparently there was ash coming down a couple days ago, so this is an improvement… but man, you should have seen Koiya’s feet when we got back tonight! Absolutely filthy! I made her shower. What a trouper; we walked for miles and got back after her bedtime, and she was so tired. When I told her she had done a good job, and that a lot of kids would have complained, she said, “How could I complain? You guys were carrying the groceries. I just had to walk.”

Today we’re off to Santa Cruz, one of the Channel Islands. The visitor’s center says the Channel Islands are the ‘Galapagos of the North’. I’ve decided that these Southern Californians are on to something, with this style of comparison. Now, when I’m on watch, I’m ‘the Ellen McArthur of Sugata’. When I’m cooking, I’m ‘the Alice Waters of the galley’. And when I put on a bikini, I’ll be ‘the Pamela Anderson of the foredeck’!

9 Responses to “Beyond Conception”

  1. Ross says:

    The moon glows red??? Seriously???

  2. Susan McCool says:

    Wow! I’ve enjoyed so much reading your fascinating blog about life at sea! For a while I tried to keep track of all the amusing “Cap’n” names you assigned to Todd, but the number and wit is off the charts, and I’ve given up.
    I’m glad that I’ll be able to track Eric’s progress when he finally arrives and joins you. I assume he’s told you he’s flying into San Diego instead of taking the bus. He is glad! Except something tells me the airport is further from the docks than the Greyhound bus depot . . . !! Thanks for sharing the cool photos and links–I’m learning all kinds of things! Best wishes and prayers for your safety and good times!
    Love ya,

  3. Susan McCool says:

    Maybe you should give yourself the additional title of “The Maureen Dowd of the Sugata.”

  4. Buster says:

    Pamela Anderson? You got implants? Southern Cal is the place to get them I guess.

  5. Rebecca (Kat's mom) Anderson says:

    I’m enjoying your blog so much, guys. Thank you. Loved the picture of Susan strapped in for some shuteye.

  6. Katie McCall says:

    I’ve been so inspired by your trip that I rented a documentary about ocean life called “The Deep Blue.” I was a little freaked out by the part when Killer Whales took down a baby Hump Back, but mostly I watched with awe. And three cheers to Sequoia for being such a trooper!

  7. Marcus Anderson ex-Restless says:

    Actually the San Diego airport is very close to the San Diego harbor. Most of the marinas are nearby.

  8. chrispix says:

    Imagine my surprise when my weekly search for Pamela Anderson turned up this page…

  9. Edward says:

    More people should sail under staysail and a reefed main rather than motor. Much smoother and you’re SAILING! Way to go, I love that I re-found this blog.