Monday, October 18, 2010

Morro Bay and memories of Monterey

We left Monterey about 9am on Saturday morning and arrived at Morro Bay at sunrise the following morning.

Baby Sea Lion - Is this the transom you want?

The passage was uneventful, with very little wind and relatively calm seas.

Point Pinos Lighthouse - quite a different story from the 30+ winds we saw here two days before!

The only fog we encountered was just as we approached the entrance to the Morro Bay harbor, though mist and low lying cloud prevailed throughout the passage - just enough to partially obscure the desolate mainland. Our mainsail kept Ka’sala fairly stable throughout the trip, but we missed the quiet of a peaceful sail. Listening to the thumping of the trusty Yanmar for 24 hours takes its toll. We saw very little wildlife, though we had been told that whales were in the vicinity. Just as we arrived at Morro Bay a playful sea lion started chasing our stern, leaping out of the water and barking as if to say: Welcome! (though I think he may have thought we were fisherman coming in with goodies.) The Canadian yacht, Shaman, was in the harbor, as well as the Norwegian, 26ft Contessa, Bikas, though they left for points further south soon after we arrived. Silas Crosby arrived later in the afternoon.
Ka'sala at Morro Bay

You can’t mistake this anchorage. Huge Morro Rock dominates the entire scene. It was apparently named by a Spaniard who thought it looked like a Moor’s turban. Today, this rocky outcropping is out-of-bounds as it is considered sacred by the local natives.

Morro Rock

The entrance to the harbor is on the south side of it and a great long beach stretches out on the other side which is popular with surfers. The town has a beachfront of bars, restaurants and tourist shops. Motels and hotels line the blocks behind, giving away to the main highway with its services and the local housing. Three very high towers in front of a power plant dominate the north side of the harbor front. It is a relatively small town, with a small fishing fleet. Boats are moored in the bay and others are on small docks along the waterfront. The sandbar, which protects it, is supposed to be a great place for collecting shells.

Distinctive power plant on Morro Bay waterfront

I did get to the Aquarium in Monterey before we left Monterey. It is housed in a former cannery and I found it very interesting to read the history of the sardine industry documented there with exhibits, pictures and explanations. As I read, I had Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and Tortilla Flats in the back of my mind. Some of the characters lived in old boilers and worked in the canneries. These displays, as well as the town of Monterey, brought the books to life for me.

Entrance to the Aquarium

Boilers on display at the Aquarium.  Sardines were either boiled or fried, then pressure cooked. Some interesting characters from Tortilla Flats lived in the disused ones.

Tide Pools at the Aquarium

The Aquarium really is a fabulous place to take kids (and there were many of them while I was there). Every exhibit had kid-friendly explanations and manipulatives. About a quarter of the place was entirely devoted to children and they were all very engaged.

Meeting the diver

Big wave - oh,oh!

Hey, this is kind of cool after all!

On display were sea otters, flamingos (yes, flamingos!), seahorses, penguins, octopus and jellyfish.

Jellyfish - we later saw millions of these in Monterey Bay - even our engine decided to eat one causing a bit of concern for the crew of Ka'sala

You should see these guys swim!!

Look closely - this is a seahorse!

There are numerous tanks throughout and two huge tanks – one devoted to life found in kelp beds and the other a giant collection of sea creatures. There are sharks, rays, eels, reef fish of all sorts, predators like salmon and barracuda, fish humans like to eat such as halibut, seabass, salmon and so on. Looking at the giant aquariums reminded me of all the diving I had done in the past and brought back great memories. Everything at the Aquarium is in top-notch condition, clean and colourful. The cost to maintain it must be staggering and, although I originally balked at the entrance fee of $30.00, in the end I think it was well worth it.
Quotations from Steinbeck's books are all over town - this one really captures Monterey

Cannery Row

That evening the showered and tidied crews of Silas Crosby and Ka’sala went into town to enjoy an Indian feast at Ambrosia. It was a little pricy, but the ambiance was gorgeous, service excellent and the food spicy divine. Having white linens at the table was a luxury that brought a certain nostalgia to this particular crewmember.

Not a great shot - still learning how to use my new camera

Tomorrow we plan to leave Morro Bay early in the morning and head to the Channel Islands. Depending on the weather, we will either stop at Cojo Anchorage (just around the corner from Point Conception), or continue on to San Miguel - that means a 12 or 18 hour passage. We will continue to sail with Silas Crosby. According to the guidebooks, once you pass Point Conception, you pack away your wet weather gear and get out your bathing suits. Well, we’ll see. During the passage from Monterey to Morro Bay I had on my wet weather gear and three layers of sweaters underneath. That means a pretty dramatic change – we’ll look forward to it!

1 comment:

  1. We have been watching your journey closely, reliving parts as you shared them with us. We wish we were buddy boating with you! B.C. marine weather has settled into the predictable fall mess - dark, wet and windy! We can imagine the sunshine you are heading for. Hopefully you are in it already.
    Farrell and Christine