Our sail from Santa Barbara to Ventura was one of our best. It was only 24 miles and with 10-15 knots of wind on our stern, we sailed all the way. It was such a nice sail that even Sam came out and joined us in the cockpit!

We were warmly greeted by neighboring boats upon arrival at Ventura West Marina.  After registering at the Harbor Office, we were informed about the parade of lights – taken very seriously here – followed by fireworks. We were very lucky as the fireworks were so close to our boat!

We’ve enjoyed our time here in Ventura. Everything from incredibly friendly people at Ventura West Marina, their wonderful guest amenities, and delivery from Topper’s pizza which has the best jalapeño poppers we’ve ever had!

After a Christmas break in Miami, we’re back on the boat and heading to San Diego.

Santa Barbara

After much weather stalking (my new term for Scott’s obsessive checking of various weather sites to try to get a good picture of what’s being forecasted), and googling about other people’s experiences rounding Point Conception, and reaching out to locals for info, we found the right weather conditions and decided on our route.

We both were surprised by how much we liked Morro Bay and how much there’s to do in this little town. As we sailed out, Scott and I remarked on how much our stay exceeded our expectations.


Leaving Morro Bay

We managed to sail for a bit with winds around 9 knots. While we shook out the second reef we had in from our sail down from Santa Cruz to Morro Bay, we did decide to keep one in since we had no idea what kinds of wind to expect when we reached Point Arguello and later, Point Conception.

Route from Morro Bay to Santa Barbara

As expected, our winds died and we turned on the motor. The winds and seas were calm for a very long time as we rounded Point Conception. The area notorious for wind didn’t even offer up a breeze! We ended up motoring the rest of the way to Santa Barbara.

It was a pleasure pulling into sunny and warm Santa Barbara!  Even Sam the cat, typically seasick out of his mind, climbed out of the cabin while underway to seek the sunshine. We easily side-tied to the guest dock and both of us headed to the Harbor Office and got our assigned slip.

Everything was great until we tried pulling into our slip.

Here’s the thing: I do all the close quarters maneuvering. When it’s time to pull into a harbor, a slip, or a fuel dock, I’m at the helm. It’s kind of stressful for me and every time I have to pull in or out of a slip I’m sweating it, but more often than not, it’s uneventful, but it’s hard to remember that when it goes sideways. Sometimes literally sideways.

As I motored into the fairway and turned towards our assigned slip, a strong wind blew the boat – whooosh – right past it. A standing turn in response resulted in us being blown sideways towards boats. Scott’s quick thinking saved our boat and another’s from damage by grabbing a fender and shoving it in front of the bowsprit right where the two were going to meet. Meanwhile, I’m almost panicking and every maneuver I’m making to stop us from plowing into boats is unsuccessful. Unable to properly maneuver as we were at the end of the fairway, I took advantage of our sideways motion, reversed, and stopped the boat at the dead end of the fairway, sideways. This wasn’t a proper berth at all, much less a place we were even supposed to be in, but we would be able to tie up the boat and keep her here safely until the winds died down.


A fairway at Santa Barbara Harbor

We ended up staying at this makeshift berth overnight, with the blessing of the Harbor Patrol, who came by, saw our predicament, experienced the wind in the fairway also blowing their boat sideways, and told us to stay put until the winds died down. Good thing, because I had no idea how to get out of our situation and needed time to research what to do. I felt really embarrassed about the whole thing and kept churning over the day’s events all afternoon and into the night.

Early the next morning, Scott and I walked around the boat at the dock, talking through our strategy. We’ll use a spring line to direct the bow away from the dock and into the fairway. After positioning fenders at our stern, we successfully and safely left our makeshift berth and entered our assigned slip without incident.


Now that we were in our proper slip. We relaxed and… got down to work! Yup! for our first four days in beautiful Santa Barbara, I waxed the deck, polished the chrome, and touched up the varnish.

We did other things of course. Spent a ridiculous amount of time at Brophy’s, had a wonderful breakfast at D’Angelo’s Bakery, enjoyed many margaritas and snacks at Cielito, toured the lovely courthouse and stopped by Mission Santa Barbara. We even stopped by the Reagan Ranch Center which was super interesting if you grew up in the ’80s like we did.

We’ve been in Santa Barbara for over a week now. Initially, it was because we spent a lot of time doing boat work, and wanted to relax and enjoy the town, but as the week wore on, it was because of nasty weather making it’s way down to us from Alaska (our PNW and SF friends know what we’re talking about). We’ve spent many a day thinking we were going to leave but instead, called the Harbor Office and requested another night. They started to recognize Scott’s voice! Keep your fingers crossed that we actually set sail for Ventura tomorrow!

Morro Bay

I pulled the boat out of our guest slip and two standing turns later (thanks to channel traffic) we side-tied next to the fuel and pump-out dock in Santa Cruz. “Do you want to top off the tank?” I asked Scott.

“Nah,” he replied.

Sailing from Santa Cruz to Morro Bay takes about 21 hours. This means Scott and I would need to sail overnight. If you would have asked me whether I was worried about doing an overnight sail, which involves “watches” where one sleeps for three hours and the other keeps an eye out for other boats, checks sail trim, makes sure we’re on route, and then switches off, I would have said “YES” very loudly. But when it was actually time to do an overnight sail, I surprisingly felt pretty indifferent about it.

While it was cold, it was pleasant and we had wind for quite a long time. As day turned to night, I went down below for a nap while Scott stayed in the cockpit keeping watch.


Sunset at sea

When it was my turn alone, I watched the moon rise, saw the milky way, and marveled at how quiet everything was. I kept expecting to get spooked, or for something bad to happen. But, it was nice. I actually enjoyed it.

At around 8am the next morning, the winds picked up and we had to reef the mainsail. A comfortable sail turned uncomfortable as the wind started coming right on our nose and we bashed up wind. It’s cold, so it’s no fun when you’re standing at the helm and getting sprayed.

As the hours went on, the wind was high, the water was choppy, and we were double reefed. We were a little worried about getting into Morro Bay under these conditions, and actually debated skipping it altogether and heading straight to Santa Barbara instead. Scott went down below to check charts and noticed that we were running on empty! We totally should have filled the tank while at the gas dock in Santa Cruz! I got on the phone with Morro Bay’s Harbor Master to ask about harbor conditions. Everything was good there, so pulling into Morro Bay made sense.

And we’re sure glad we did. The weather in the harbor was calm and lovely (we would later learn from a local that Morro Bay’s reputation as a dangerous harbor only holds true roughly four times a year). As soon as we tied up to Morro Bay Yacht Club’s dock, people were on the dock saying hello and welcoming us.


Tied up at MBYC.

Morro Bay is an active commercial fishing harbor and their fuel dock is meant for commercial vessels. It’s not a dock even but a tall pier. The fuel pumps are way at the top and there’s a ladder for you to climb up from your vessel. There’s no protection to prevent your vessel from bumping along the pilings. Scott and I took a look at that as we came in and pretty much nixed pulling alongside it. What that meant was four roundtrips to the fuel dock by foot with our 5 gallon jerry can.

It was tedious, but it gave me an opportunity to have several conversations with Sandy, the fuel attendant, and learn about slime eels – aka hagfish – that he takes care of for the fish market that owns the fuel dock. Of course, after I’m done, I learn from Port Captain that there was a fenderboard available (a board that ties up in front of your fenders to protect your boat from rubbing against pilings) for all visitors to use.

While on my diesel run, the Lady Washington was at the fuel dock drawing a crowd. It took a while for them to fuel up. I lost count at 500 gallons of diesel (we carry 110).


Lady Washingon pulling away from the fuel dock.

While we’re enjoying Morro Bay, we’re thinking about Santa Barbara, which promises to be even warmer. However, to get there, one has to round Point Conception, commonly called “The Cape Horn of the West.” We’re taking our time to find the right weather window (you want to go at night, and have calm enough conditions that you have to motor). In the meantime, we’re enjoying hanging out in Morro Bay.