Point Conception–“Cape Horn of the Pacific”

They call Point Conception the Cape Horn of the Pacific because of the heavy NW gales that frequent the area.  That may be a little over blown.  But, it certainly is a huge climatic change to round Conceptiion from the cold, rough waters of the central coast to the warm waters in the lee of the southern California.  The water temp. jumped from 65 to 75 and turned a deep blue.  The waves were gentler and before arriving at Santa Barbara, we just had to stop the boat and do a wet suit-less open water swim in the open ocean.  Truly outstanding. (no sharks, right?)

Earlier, when we left Morro Bay Carmanah was able to sail around Pt Buchon to San Luis Obispo Bay in 25 plus knots of wind.  But the bay, a huge bite in the coast, was totally calm.  As we were cracking our first round of cold ones after dropping the hook, the harbor patrol came by.  We had to move.  No good reason except they’ve designated a different area.  Every harbor on the California coast seems to be run by super zealous Harbor Patrol authorities that sometimes seem over the top with rules/regs and enforcement–at least to us Northwest boaters.  But, it’s probably necessary.  There are just so many more people down here.  It could be chaos in these harbors without some rules.  Though it’s culture shock for us after cruising in BC all summer where you come and go as you like with little or no hassle.  In many California harbors you enter, the Harbor Patrol boards your boat to flush dye tablets down your head to confirm that you aren’t “leaking” anything overboard.

We did finally anchor legally at Port San Luis-at the wavy-er end of the bay–in time to run Lucy ashore through 2 ft surf.  Another wet one for all concerned.  We’re learning though.  Only 4″ of water in the boat.

Bob bought fish gear back in Morro Bay and we trolled for tuna on the way down.  “Gear” amounts to simply 200 lb test line tied to the back of the boat with a lure at one end and a bungee cord at the other.  We sail at normal speed and if we get a fish on, just keep on sailing and pull it in hand over hand.  We caught a big bonito right off the bat on the way to Port San Luis.  Very exciting except that they taste like crap and are very stringy and tough.  Bob ate a bite (one).  Nobody else had the guts. Hopefully we’ll hook onto something tastier down the road.

When we left Port San Luis for Santa Barbara via Pt Conception–Cape Horn of the Pacific–we  had a forecast for light 5-15 knot winds but sure enough as we neared the Point, the wind steadily increased to 25 gusting to 30 with very steep waves.  Great downwind sailing, we had a blast,  but we were also glad the forecast wasn’t predicting 15-25 knots if doubling is the norm.  We anchored at the Coho anchorage in the lee of Point Conception.  Just a small bite a mile SE of the Point.  You would think that would be a really windy place.  And, you’d be right.  Absolutely beautiful in a stark, surface-of-Mars kind of way.  But it was blowing a steady 25.  No shore leave for Lucy.  But we did try out the new Rocker Stopper for the first time.  It’s a hinged piece of metal suspended into the water from the spinnaker pole that resists the boat’s tendency to roll in the swells.  And, it worked!  I actually slept.  No internal organs sloshing back & forth.  Should have brought this out long ago.

It didn’t take long for the wind to die down the next day as we put some distance between us & Pt Conception.  By the time we pulled into Santa Barbara it was 85 degrees with light winds.  We’re HERE!  Warm water. Lucy held it for 42 hours–a new personal best. However the excitement of me jumping off the boat caused her to snap out of her zen-like state. The eagle landed so to speak.
We’ll try to get the reciprocal moorage spot at the Yacht Club and Bob has a ticket home on Amtrak (31 hours–yikes).  We’ve got several weeks to find our way down to San Diego to meet everyone for the start of the Baja Ha Ha.  We’re thinking Channel Islands, Catalina, Dana Point, Oceanside on the way.  Who knows.  It’s pretty darn nice right here in SB.

A selfie with possibly the worst tasting fish in the sea.

A selfie with possibly the worst tasting fish in the sea.

Point Conception.

Point Conception–starkly beautiful

After rounding Conception, big jump in ocean temp. Almost as warm as Desolation Sound 1000 miles to the north.

After rounding Conception, big jump in ocean temp. Almost as warm as Desolation Sound 1000 miles to the north.

Cojo Anchorage, our "rocker stopper" suspended from the pole. (no it isn't bent, just a shaky hand swinging the camera in pano mode)

Cojo Anchorage, our “rocker stopper” suspended from the pole.
(no it isn’t bent, just a shaky hand swinging the camera in pano mode)

We passed these oil rigs every couple of miles. Not that scenic.

We passed these oil rigs every couple of miles. Not all that scenic.

4 thoughts on “Point Conception–“Cape Horn of the Pacific”

  1. Jenny Smolen

    I am loving your posts you guys! I am in routine now of checking every day – excited to learn what is happening. It definitely sounds like you are having the trip of a life time. So happy for you! Miss you both. – JennyBear


  2. Jeff Ozimek

    Definitely go to Emerald Bay at Catalina! Indian Rock has incredible snorkeling there and if you explore the beach, there’s a small trail leading to an old amethyst mine. You can still find amethyst there if you search hard enough.


      1. Jeff Ozimek

        Boy, E and I have been talking about flying down to join you all. Will need to wait until next year though for vacation time. The summer voyage with you and Donna in Desolation Sound still has us glowing.


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