Log #61u Towards Los Angeles

December 17, 2016 in Logs by Series, Series 61, The Logs

Log #61u Towards Los Angeles

La Paz, BCS, Mexico

Dec. 26, 2016

Hi Folks,

I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas. We enjoyed a turkey Christmas dinner at the Marina restaurant with a group of other cruisers, plus several “pot luck” meals and social get-togethers over the past few days. Unfortunately all our Christmas decorations were left in the trailer, and we had no lights or Christmas tree this year. Judy bought a garland that we decorated with a few plastic poinsettas. Santa was good to both of us.

The abbreviation BCS for the “province” or “state” in which La Paz is situated refers to Baja California Sur, meaning Lower (Baja) California South (Sur). This part of Mexico is also called California, not the US state of California. BCS is on the license plates down here.

This log gets us out of San Francisco Bay down towards Los Angeles, in six legs for a total of 282.2 nautical miles as indicated in the chartlet below.


All the way down the west coast we have been able to coastal sail, with most passages day trips less than ten hours in length combined with a few two or three day longer passages. The trip was not as difficult as we expected, and has been enjoyable, stopping in the many anchorages along the way.

In some of the replies I noticed that the covering letters did not have the pictures embedded, as they were in the original letter I sent out. If you did not get a picture of the chartlet in this covering letter, please let me know. It may have something to do with the formatting I use, or the program you are using when you receive my logs. I will try to keep the formatting as simple as possible in the covering letter. Perhaps the word wrap formatting is problematic in downloading the letter.

The weather is windy for the next few days, and so we will stay here until Dec. 30 when we hope to be out at anchor for New Year’s Eve. We’ll see.

All the best,



Log #61u Towards Los Angeles

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Dec. 17, 2016


We sailed out beneath the Golden Gate Bridge at 0955, Oct. 19, and headed 25 miles south, motor sailing under light NE breezes just down to anchor in Pillar Point Harbour for the night. This harbour is totally enclosed by a large breakwater at the northern end of Half Moon Bay, providing a very secure quiet anchorage. Off at 0630 next morning, we motored and motor sailed 47 miles down to anchor in Santa Cruz Harbour, just east of the long pier and south of the large entertainment area, roller coasters and other carnival attractions, most of them closed down. However we were able to get free WiFi from the boat at our anchorage. Happiness is WiFi on the boat!


Also during this passage we were able to motor sail wing on wing, as we hope to be doing more as we head south. The predominant winds are northerly or northwesterly, and we will be heading a bit east of south, so we will have the wind off our stern or quarter much of the time. We keep our mainsail double reefed all the time as it is more difficult to reef down, whereas our genoa is on a roller furling system that allows us to reef it in or fully furl quite easily. By the way, our genoa is larger than our full main and has a lot of drawing power, especially when wung out, held out by the whisker pole. Our division of labour at sea is that I go forward to set the whisker pole, and Judy goes out to set the preventer (a block and tackle system that attaches to the boom and is tacked down to the toe rail to prevent the main from accidentally gybing in a wind shift). An accidental gybe where the wind catches the main on the wrong side will violently swing the main and boom to the opposite side of the boat, and can cause great damage to the system.


After enjoying the internet for a couple of hours in the morning (We send and download E-mail, and check the news in Canadian papers and the CBC) we set off at 1000 for a 27 mile passage to the famed Carmel Bay, where we anchored at Pebble Beach (36 33.788N, 121 56.922W). During the transit we started in a light fog that by noon hour became so thick we put on our radar. Before the thick fog set in we saw the blow of a whale as it surfaced, then its tail high in the air as it took a deep dive. This was the first whale we have seen for quite a while.


We enjoy watching sea life whether it be porpoises and dolphins, whales, sea otters, seals and sealions, and the occasional flying fish, or bird life such as pelicans, cormorants, shearwaters, storm petrels, terns, the high flying graceful frigate birds and the occasional albatross, its wings wide spread. I am always impressed by the agility of the shearwaters and storm petrels as they manouver between the heavy waves, gliding through the troughs and skimming above the crests. I am often frustrated by the ease with which they navigate so smoothly over the tumultuous seas while we are struggling onboard with the pounding and trying to keep the sails under control.


The pelicans are a different breed. They can glide just above the water on calm seas, using a cushion of air beneath their wings to keep them aloft on their long glides, but in heavy seas they fly high. They are relatively graceful when gliding like a Romulan warbird, but when they go after a fish, they plummet with the grace of a sack of flour, crashing into the sea to gulp their prey. The terns on the other hand plunge into the water with the smoothness of an olympic diver, their wings folded in to make a missile-like entry to secure their catch. Watching sea life is one of the many joys of cruising.


It was a rolly night off Carmel’s Pebble Beach, as the swells curled around the point into the cove. The landscaped lawns of the golf course and luxury homes ashore were an envious stability from our uncomfortable bouncy anchorage. We couldn’t leave early in the morning as we had to calculate the time of departure to arrive at our next destination 96 miles away in daylight hours. It would be a 20 to 24 hour passge depending upon or average speed. At four knots, it would take us 24 hours, and at five knots, only 20 hours. Therefore if we left around 1000 and made five knots, we would arrive at 0600, in the dark, before sunrise at 0716. We did not want to make a night entry into Morro Bay. As it was, we left at 1017, and completed the 96 miles in 23 hours to anchor in Morro Bay (35° 22.117’N, 120° 51.432′ W) at 0746.


On the passage, we motor sailed the first three hours then were able to shut of the engine and quietly sail wing on wing for five hours in the afternoon of the first day. We saw a half dozen Pacific Whitesided Dolphins around noon hour, but they were feeding or in transit and did not come over to play in our bow wave. However late that afternoon we saw a fantastic display of dolphins and whales in what might have been a feeding frenzy about 50 yards off to our port. The whales were giving a great display of lobtailing in which they surfaced and waved their tails in the air before splashing back into the sea, then doing it again and again for several minutes. I don’t know if such behavior is part of their feeding, mating, or defensive or aggressive patterns, but it was interesting to observe.


Morro Bay


Veleda IV at anchor in Morro Bay


We visited Morro Bay a couple of years ago with the trailer, and enjoyed a whale watching trip, seeing whales, a great display of hundreds of dolphins cavorting near the entrance, sea otters lounging around, swimming on their backs, some with pups on their stomachs, and the harbour raft covered with smelly sea lions barking aggressively.


Seals and Sea Lions on harbour raft


Boats are allowed to anchor free of charge for five days in a designated anchorage area, after which there is a nominal $5.00 a day for up to two weeks. We stayed there at anchor for eight days, enjoying the town, accessing the internet at the local library, replenishing our groceries, and doing an oil change, including a radiator flush, replacing the fuel filter, and checking the belts. We were able to dispose of our used oil at the Harbour Office.


The town is very accommodating to anchored cruisers in that there are several dinghy docks available free of charge along the shoreline docks. The Morro Bay Yacht Club was open to reciprocal members for showers and WiFi, but charged a nominal $25.00 a night to go alongside their dock if space allowed. We enjoyed a Friday night Happy Hour in the club, with a delicious buffet of Hors d’ Ouvres. We dinghied down the bay to the shallows at the end, bird watching. Unfortunately there was no available dinghy dock down there to land and hike the state park wetlands. However we had hiked through the area when we were down there a few years ago.


The large bay is dominated by Morro Rock at the entrance, a major landmark seen from the bay and the town streets.

Morro Rock


Fortunately we were anchored a couple hundred metres to windward of the raft with all the sea lions, so we avoided the smell, but frequently could hear their barking. Theoretically, boats could tie up to the raft, but it is so dominated by the sea lions that no one does.


Our anchorage was across from the fuel dock, where we saw an interesting USN experimental stealth boat refueling. There were a couple of these craft in and out of the harbour doing sea trials, and using the Coast Guard docks periodically.


USN experimental stealth boat


Oct. 31st we left mid morning for a 23 mile motor passage to anchor down in San Luis Obisbo Bay for the night. Next day we left early at 0700 for the 54 mile passage to Cojo anchorage (34° 26.687′ N, 120° 26.323′ W) just around Cape Conception on the mainland, and just before the Channel Islands north of Los Angeles. Our pilot book indicates that Cape Conception could blow up and is sometimes described as the “Cape Horn of California”. We had no problems, and I think comparing it to Cape Horn is definitely an exaggeration. However, this is an important anchorage for boats heading north or south, as anchorages north are 50 to 100 miles apart. We saw a couple of whales and a dolphin on our way down, plus Irene, the first of many oil platforms we were to see as we passed the Los Angles area.


More about the Channel Islands and the anchorages as we passed through the Los Angeles area in my next log.