OK - it's really just the 'Cape Horn of California', but we are finally around Point Conception and into the balmy waters of Southern California. From Monterey we cruised south to San Simeon, location of the famous Hearst Castle. The surf on the beach prevented a dry landing, so we headed south the next day to Morro Bay. This is a charming small fishing/tourist town located on an estuary full of anhored yachts. It has a huge rock (Morro rock, of course) marking its entrance and a massive Electric generating plant - large enough to feel like a geological feature on its own. We saw none of this when we entered the narrow channel at night and in a thick fog. Fortunately we had a good waypoint for the entrance and a fairly recent (1993) photocopy of the detailed chart. The channel is buoyed as well and without those buoys we probably would have had a hell of a time getting in (the channel is narrow and winds between sand-banks.
We spent 2 days in Morro Bay, and celebrated Rani's birthday at a decent Italian restaurant. I coerced the waitress into bringing us a cake slice with candle but she would only hum Happy Birthday (she suffered a trauma as a child involving a lot of people singing at her in a crowded place).
From Morro Bay we sailed overnight past Point Arguello and Point Conception. These points are famous for their wind funnelling and it can be quite pleasant weather on either side of this stretch of coast. Sure enough as we reached it around 3am, the winds picked up and a big sea pushed us along. Banshee (our autopilot) chose this time to shed her belt yet again, so we hand-steered for 3 hours reaching speeds on our GPS of 10.8 knots and several peaks of 9.5 knots. Exciting sailing but still manageable. The winds died out in the early dawn and we began to pass oil rigs and patches of methane bubbles and natural oil slicks bubbling up from the seabed. Oddly enough this all takes place just off the Channel Islands national park and marine sanctuary!
We arrived in Santa Barbara around supper time and took a berth in the marina the next morning. We have been here for 5 days now. Rani visited her cousin and family while I painted L'il Bugger and renewed its fenders with shiny new pipe insulation and top quality Gorilla duct tape.
We have met some really nice people here including a couple (Jim and Jane) who are just back from 6 years in Mexico and another couple on a Baba 35 (Sarka and Eric) who are sailing south, too and have a great blog at www.mariposalog.com. We leave today for the Channel Islands. Pictures to follow...