Friday, December 7, 2007

Morro Bay Seabirds, a Cat & a Meltdown

A walk along the waterfront here in Morro Bay never fails to provide good photo opps. This Great Blue Heron kept one eye on us but we didn't seem to worry him much; he was too busy waiting for his breakfast to swim unknowingly by. What a beauty! What first caught my eye, though, were these two white pelicans (below). We see a lot of the brown pelicans but these were the first white ones we've seen on our trip. In our neck of the woods, northern california, I've often seen these guys in the marshlands off Highway 37 between Vallejo and the coast but this is the first time I've had a chance to photograph any.Also on our walk we came across this grey-and-black Tabby cat. His nametag told us his name is Tony. He was very friendly and clearly wanted some attention which I was glad to give!He's also kind of a camera hog! As you know, the weather has not been too good. Thursday, which was yesterday, actually looked like a small window of opportunity to get out and on our way. Mike went out early to look at the sandbar (at the entrance to the harbor) and came back to report that it looked ok. I was concerned that he hadn't gotten a "second opinion" from someone like the harbor patrol or the coast guard. He was confident, though so despite my misgivings we made ready to go.
As we were motoring toward the harbor entrance I got more and more unsettled. I was down below, bouncing from window to window, and trying to gage the weather with my landlubber's eye. True, in the harbor the water was calm (see above photos) but that was not a good indication of what was going on out on the open water. I couldn't see out there, I only knew that the weather reports were indicating much higher winds and swells than I'm comfortable with. Up on deck Mike had on his cold-weather gear and life-jacket. I had just started to put on my own life-jacket when I glanced out a window and saw spray coming up over the rock jetty that we were approaching.

Well, that was the last straw -- I could NOT go out there! I slipped into a full-fledged panic attack. I opened the hatch and told Mike to drop me off at the nearest pier, that I would take a bus home! (I may even had said I'd jump overboard, I can't remember for sure!) He threw the boat into a u-turn and started motoring back, then turned back to the harbor entrance again and told me to come up and look, that the entrance was not bad at all, I'd see, and there was even a boat ahead of us on their way out, but I wouldn't even go up, I'd made up my mind. Mike was angry, but he drove the boat back to the dock and tied it up. By that time I had my bags packed and was ready to walk to the nearest motel to check in until I could figure out where to catch a bus or Amtrak.

Mike didn't like the economics of that (Paul, you understand!) and convinced me it would be better for us to stay on the boat, at only $20 per night, until I was ready to head home and at that point he'd take me to the bus station. As I have calmed down over the last 12 hours or so I've realized I really would like to finish this trip on the boat, if at all possible. Mike has agreed to wait out this bad weather, which looks like it may last through the weekend, and we've figured out that we still have time to make it home by the 15th even if we didn't leave until Monday.

At this point, our plan is to make a short run to San Simeon on Sunday - the weather will be calming though still a smidge over my ultimate comfort level but it would be only for a short day -- stay the night there, and continue on to Monterey Bay on Monday after the storm has fully passed. After a night there we'd then decide whether to make the run home to Alameda (about 100 miles) all at once, which would entail sailing overnight, or perhaps make a stop in Half Moon Bay.

And, what do you know? The weather deteriorated greatly last night -- the wind roared and rain hammered -- and today the wind is howling through the rigging and even here in this normally calm and placid harbor (check it out in the photos above), the water is choppy. I took the photo below about an hour ago of the boats near us that are tied to mooring buoys and they are surrounded by whitecaps!It's pretty clear that Mike and I have different tolerance levels for dangerous ocean conditions which is understandable since his skills at sailing are far greater than mine. Mike thought I was questioning his judgement about whether or not it was safe to go out yesterday, and that made him angry. The reality of it is that I simply reached the limit of how scared I can stand to be! It doesn't even matter whether my fear is rational or not; it is what it is.

So we are here for at least two more nights. You can't beat the accommodations, and we've been invited to attend a get-togther this evening at the yacht club. Mike has gone off (in the wind and cold) to hike to the grocery store for a few things, and I'm wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket enjoying the free internet access! The sun peeks out now and then but the wind is still howling and I'm quite happy inside our snug little boat.

(by the way, I have no idea why some of these paragraphs are single-spaced and some double -- the blogger tools seems to make decisions like that for me!)

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