Morro Bay, CA
After a short sail from San Simeon, Nightide and Mayaluga arrived in Morro Bay on Tuesday, September 27th. Located south of San Francisco and north of Los Angeles, the economy of Morro Bay is a combination of fishing fleet and tourism. A PG&E plant, recognizable from miles away with its 3 tall stacks, stands idle now. At one time it was a major employer in the town. There is some discussion of reinvigorating the plant with wind power which would seem to make sense given its location right along the Pacific coast. I suppose that will depend, at least in part, on who wins the next Presidential election here in the USA. The town is walkable although a bit hilly with many inns and motels. All amenities are easily available including grocery, laundry, library, post office and boat supply shops. The waterfront is very touristy with the typical restaurants and trinket shops. Public Wi-Fi is in short supply with the library (closed Sundays) being one of the very few accessible locations. I spent some time at the library during our stay here and have already located a library in San Diego. Its become a favourite place, oddly enough!
Anchorage is in short supply as are mooring bouys. As we were searching for a spot to drop the hook, the locals were helpful (or maybe being protective over their turf) letting us know where we could not drop our anchor. After radioing the Harbour Master, we discovered that free anchorage is only available for 5 days from the town and mooring bouys are provided by the town and the marina for a fee. We decided to take a mooring buoy which worked out well for us because the time we spent in Morro Bay was extremely windy and the bay has very strong currents. Often times throughout the week we were here, Mayaluga was facing away from the wind with her flag flying from stern to bow. A very funny site, in deed! Free pump out and water are easily available here, a common and very much appreciated luxury in the California.
The San Salvador sailed, or more accurately, powered into Morro Bay through the mist and fog on Thursday, September 29, 2016 at about 11 am – kicking off the Morro Bay Festival. This newly built replica was completed earlier this year in San Diego. The original San Salvador, built in El Salvador in the early 1500’s, was the flagship of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. She was a 100-foot full rigged galleon with a 10’ draft and a capacity of 200 tons. Cabrillo was the first European to explore the present day California coast. Unlike square riggers, this ship was rigged with triangular sails supported by swept booms which allowed them to access and explore harbours more easily. Cabrillo discovered San Diego on September 28, 1542 and claimed it for Spain. The San Salvador replica is a project of the Maritime Museum of San Diego and was completed in September 2016. She is now underway on a coastal tour of California, making a stop in Morro Bay to provide a fundraising Ofor the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.
Black Hill, part of the Nine Sisters, a string of volcanic peaks stretching from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay, provides a visually spectacular hiking opportunity. Helen and I decided to hike to the top. With an elevation gain of 600 feet and about a 1 mile to the top, Black Hill is easily accessible by foot from the town of Morro Bay, located at the Morro Bay State Park campground, near the only golf course in town. From the top, we experienced a 360 degree panorama with views of the Pacific Ocean, the Morro Bay Estuary, Morro Rock, the town of Morro Bay, and acres of dry land heading to inland California. It was a great way to spend part of a day in Morro Bay!
Morro Rock, the last of the Nine Sisters after Black Hill, provides sanctuary to Peregrine Falcon and, alongside the three stacks, marks the entrance to Morro Bay from the sea. It provided some of the rocks that make up the Morro Bay Harbour breakwater, the remainder were shipped in from the Channel Islands. Clean, sandy beaches spread north and south from Morro Rock providing beachcombing and surfing opportunities. Sandpipers, Swallows and Turkey Vultures are prevalent. Although we saw some Sea Otters earlier in our trip, Morro Bay is home to a significant number as are Stellar and California Sea Lions – our noisy neighbours! Pelicans abound and the white Terns, that were so prevalent in Sausalito, have become quite scarce here in Morro Bay.
We have been stuck here in Morro Bay for longer than we had planned due to ongoing strong winds and ugly sea conditions. I can better appreciate now why the Blue Water Cruising “doners” advised frequently not to plan on being any place in particular, any day in particular! The weather forecast is looking promising for a departure in a couple of days (Thursday, October 6) and we will be heading to San Luis Obispo for a short visit, then onwards south around Point Conception, destination unknown at this point. Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands are two likely possible stops. Our plan is to reach San Diego by mid month – lets hope the weather holds up for us!