Long Days at Sea
Diablo Canyon the earthquake fault sited nuclear power plant was off our port side. All the world along the west coast while running south is off to the east. Further south is Port San Luis Harbor. The harbormaster offered a mooring ball. Our evenings stopover tethered us to the furthermost southern and western point of the anchorage. No matter. Exhausted we ate and were soon on our bunks. My wife Eileen joined us in Morro Bay.
In the morning we took more fuel on and motored south into fog. Visibility was less than a mile but more than just past our nose. More sea lions and more whales were breaking the surface of a becalmed Pacific.
Flirting with the Girls
Pismo Beach, Vandenberg, Point Arguello and Point Conception were all to our east. Pastel shoreline, hillsides and cliffs were airbrushed in transparencies of gray and veiled white mists. Until near Point Conception there was not much sea surface swell or wind. Even as we made safe transit southward the ocean was well down from what is common. Not one mile further is Cojo Anchorage. We put our plow hook down in 35 feet of water. As the wind kicked up using the windlass plenty of scope was spun out. I took compass bearings then for an hour checked our location to make certain the anchor wasn’t dragging. We would sleep on the hook but with the wind more than fresh I rested with one eye open. Throughout the night I was up to check we were safe. Somewhere between four and five-thirty while I had fallen hard on my pillow the pleasure yacht and fishing boat we shared Cojo with had both departed. I’d heard nothing.
Cojo Anchorage Sunrise
I made coffee. We pulled our anchor and were underway within 30 minutes at exactly oh-six-hundred-hours. Over the VHF radio we were warned that weather was coming. We’d make for Ventura Harbor and by our calculations just ahead of the devil. We could eat while underway.
Predictably we got tangled in kelp while making our way to deeper water. The mess got wrapped around the fin keel, rudder and prop shaft. Six to seven knots now was four point five to five knots. The devil does have a fated way of messing with you. We’d make safe refuge to Ventura two hours later than had been calculated.
By late afternoon the VHF radio was abuzz with one mariner or another visited by grief. The surface state of the ocean was more of a problem than the wind velocity. Short and steep can be hell on a small craft and crew. We were running with the building seas. Richard on the helm was tossed off by one violent flick of a rogue wave that had twitched our stern. I’d been going over the entrance to the harbor on my charts. We’d have to come broadside to the waves to get into the channel at the entrance. As we made our final mile into Ventura the waves settled some, they almost ceased to misbehave. Our raucous and roaring waters began lying down. Once in the secure embrace behind the jetty the grip of nature released and our minds could wander from more than wind, wave, hull and sail.
Point Conception as Hearthrob and Obstacle
Two days out of Morro Bay. We had arrived in a port in the southland. The passage down the coast, the three hundred and fifty miles we’d traveled would be made good. The page would turn. Richard would fly from Burbank tomorrow. A new chapter was dead ahead. For the moment rest, food and restoration of our inner reserves was the order of the day.