After eleven wonderful days in Monterey, it was time for the Bloom crew to head on. We had a great weather window of 3 pretty calm-looking days in a row, so decided to do the jump to Santa Barbara with a stop in between in San Luis Obispo.
We left Monterey at about 8:30am on Sunday, Sept 25th for a 128 nautical mile sail to Port San Luis. We saw many humpbacks, a sea turtle, minke whales, a fin whale and a huge group of sea lions leaping through the water like a pod of dolphins. We had no idea they even did that!
We arrived around 10:30am the next morning (about 26 hours) after a wonderful night sail. This was our very first night sail without any extra crew, so Jason and I worked out a system. Two hours on and 2 hours off at the helm and during the ‘off’ hours, we slept in the cockpit on the bench cushions with a sleeping bag so that we’d always be close to each other in case of an emergency or if the watchman needed help. Our dog Ruby was such a good girl too- she doesn’t like being inside when we are underway, so she snuggled up with the night watch person under a few blankets. It was nice to have the company in the cockpit, that is for sure! It was lovely night sailing with only one jacket needed (as opposed to FOUR off the coast of Washington and Oregon!) and we had dolphins swim all around us, triggering the bioluminescence to sparkle all around us in long streaks. Amazing!
Pulling in to Port San Luis, we grabbed one of their 6 guest mooring buoys. They were $16 a night and included a free water taxi to and from your boat. Since we have to inflate our dinghy to go to shore, this was really appealing as it allowed us to go to shore without the hassle of inflating it to venture to land. Turned out to be a record-breaking heat wave while we visited and it was 105 F/ 40 C when we got to shore to explore. Port San Luis is a beautiful little town- actually the harbour is in Avalon. Lots of fishing with a quaint village that was very tempting to explore, however, in the extreme heat and the fact that it was a 45 minute walk, we decided against going all the way into the town there. It is supposed to be really great though- so said Doug, the water taxi driver.
Up and at ’em the next day, we left at about 10:00am to head towards Santa Barbara. It is 100 nautical miles from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, which would take us around 21 hours. We had to round Point Arguello as well as Point Conception, which is known to sailors as the ‘Cape Horn of the Pacific’ with its extreme winds and waves on a regular basis. We had to try to time this one perfectly to be as calm as possible- even it it meant motoring!
The winds built to about 18 knots coming up to Arguello and the seas got bigger and very confused- making for a bit of a lumpy ride. However, our wish was granted as we rounded Arguello as well as Point Conception. We had calm, flat seas and about 5 knots of wind. It was a calm, smooth night of motoring. Jason and I each had dolphins all around the boat making sparkles again during our watches. They visited once an hour and it was really cool to have some company following along with us on our journey! The oil rigs in Santa Barbara Channel are quite a sight to be seen. From afar, they look like lit-up hotels and from close-up they look like massive Vegas casinos! Thousands of lights, many of which are blinking light up the night sky and even the cock pit as we motor sailed past one. Approaching the Santa Barbara Harbour, the sun began to rise, giving the ocean a beautiful golden hue complimented by a soft pink sky. As we began to tie on the dock lines and fenders, we were again surrounded by a dozen dolphins jumping and leaping all around Bloom. It was a wonderful welcoming into Santa B! Carson had the best timing ever and just woke up as we were approaching the marina- he had slept peacefully through the entire night downstairs with the lee cloth in the dinette.
Santa Barbara Harbour is absolutely wonderful. Surrounded by sandy beaches, palm trees, and tons of shops and restaurants, we feel that it is a port not to be missed. The marina is massive, holding about 1100 boats with dozens of charters, sailing lessons, kayakers and paddle boarders hustling and busting about the entry channel. It is $1.00/foot/night with free shower facilities that are fantastic and conveniently located throughout the marina. There is no ‘free’ WiFi, but at the time we are writing this blog post, it is $39.95 for a 7-day WiFi pass with high-speed access that worked great!
We also stopped in at the ‘Blue Water Hunter’ dive shop that is located right at the marina and got set up with fins, masks and snorkels for the whole family. Andy is the owner there and gave us a great deal and great service! We are looking forward to going snorkeling with our new gear when we go to Santa Catalina Island next week. Be sure to walk to the 1,000 steps beach for a quiet beach with big waves if you visit Santa Barbara!