Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dispatch 3.5 Morro Bay

October 6-13, 2005
For some reason, Morro Bay was forgotten until now (written April 7, 2006) and we loved it so much, it does deserve its own little dispatch. When we left Stillwater Cove, we traveled in the company of another boat for an overnight passage around Big Sur and ended up in Morro Bay. Big Sur is stunning and we had 25 knot winds for the afternoon and evening which made for some rowdy sailing, but, by that point, we were up to it. By early AM, the wind had died and we motored arriving at Morro Bay around mid-day.

Morro Bay entrance is marked by a huge rock, a lava plug, one of 7 in the area, but the most distinctive due to its location right outside the harbor. The entrance can be tricky; testimonial to this is seen in the pictures in the Harbormaster’s office of George C. Scott’s yacht being completely flipped by a huge breaking wave at the harbor entrance as it tried to exit the harbor. We found conditions benign on our entry fortunately. The harbor is referred to as a “mini San Diego”. On a much smaller scale the entrance follows the same curve around a barrier peninsula into an inner harbor which results in the harbor being very secure from waves; it was calm but had amazing currents ripping through as the tide changed.

We took a mooring buoy outside the Morro Bay Yacht Club and proceeded to spend 6 wonderful days in this tiny town. We watched sea otters bask in the kelp hanging off unoccupied mooring buoys, saw sea lions and tons of birds, especially on our walk around the barrier peninsula. We went to the weekly farmer’s market. We were enchanted by a local museum describing the estuary that is Morro Bay and the flora/fauna that abound. We were especially impressed with the sea otter pelt there for the petting; for once we understood the near decimation of this darling sea mammal for the pelt is exceptionally soft and thick. Morro Bay is a tourist town in the height of summer but we were there later than the tourist season so things were quiet.

Why did we spend 6 days there you might wonder? Well, we were having alternator problems. The day we left Neah Bay with our friend Bob aboard, the first thing that happened on the boat, even before we left the bay, was that the alternator belt shredded. Well, we can only imagine what our friend thought on his first experience on our boat in the first couple hours when something went awry. But he was a trooper and only commented that he was thrilled it wasn’t his problem to fix (i.e., not his boat) and Richard promptly put on a new alternator belt and away we went. When we were in Stillwater Cove charging our batteries by running the engine, again, the alternator belt shredded and, rather than being the pretty used one we started our trip with, this one was pretty new, having recently been changed. Something was definitely not right with Qayaq and, worse, we only had one more spare belt.

We waited in Morro Bay for the diesel mechanic to become available to help diagnose our alternator problem (yes, ONE diesel mechanic in town). Meanwhile, we ordered and received several more spare belts just in case and felt better about that. When Nick came to look at the boat, he decided that our alternator pulley was not large enough for a new alternator Richard had installed (but retained the old pulley as recommended by a mechanic in a Seattle store). So Nick went back to his shop, found a pulley that was right, came to the boat and he and Richard installed the new pulley together. This procedure took a couple days and a few hours each day mainly due to Nick’s tendency to like to talk—now we understood why he was so backlogged on his jobs. However, when all was said and done, he charged us $50 for the job, no charge for the part and we left with much greater peace of mind than we arrived. To date (this is written April, 2006), the alternator belt of that day is still intact.

Regardless of the reason we stayed for almost a week, we highly recommend a stop in Morro Bay as we were charmed by the place.