Port San Luis to San Simeon

June 29, 2000

Departing our anchorage at Port San Luis our intent was to get the relatively short distance (40nm) to San Simeon anchorage. The reasoning behind this was that after San Simeon the first stop available was north of the Big Sur, some 90nm away. That was too far for us to travel in one day given our self-imposed restriction of daylight cruising only. Besides, we kind of enjoyed anchoring.

So off we go, around Point San Luis and into mildly choppy seas. Not too uncomfortable, but choppy nonetheless. We were told at the gas dock that Point Buchon would be the area we would experience the worst conditions, but that wouldn't hold true. Point Buchon was actually pretty decent, it's after we passed Point Estero that things started getting rough.

We saw a bunch of fishermen out fishing as we passed through the area of Cambria — they had out stabilizers, we didn't. We were getting our asses kicked! We moved the boat closer to shore in order to search for a calmer ride. We found it a bit calmer, but nothing to write home about. So we struggled through 5-6 foot seas with an awesome wind chop for an hour or two. Things began to calm down as we approached San Simeon.

Seeing the Hearst Castle was a very welcome sight, we knew we were getting closer to our destination. As we came up to the San Simeon anchorage we saw that there were about four other boats there. We made our way up next to the Coast Guard mooring buoy, abeam a nice looking catamaran, and dropped anchor. Upon playing out the scope of the rode, we found ourselves too close to the Coast Guard buoy. So we reeled in the anchor, moved forward a few feet, and dropper 'er again in about 20' of water. The GPS anchor alarm seemed to indicate some movement (about 5 feet per hour), but relative to the other boats we were looking good. So we left the anchor where it was at, with the caveat that we checked the position often.

Shortly after we had arrived at San Simeon, the fishing fleet we had seen earlier soon arrived for the night. It got pretty crowded there that night.

Now it was Captain's turn. No amount of coaxing could get him to go/ on the aft deck (the poop deck), so it was necessary Captain, the old sea dog! to load him in the dinghy and take him ashore. Sure, sounds easy enough, eh? Well let me tell you, San Simeon is not a real well protected anchorage — the swells make it all the way to shore.

So off into the dinghy we go. I row us toward shore, keeping an eye out toward the swells as we make our progress to the potty. Suddenly I see a monster swell heading our way. I try my damnedest to get the inflatable turned into the swell before it breaks, but I'm totally unsuccessful. It turned us ass over tea kettle. Gathering the oars, the dinghy, and the dog, we wade up onshore and Captain eventually does his business.

Debbie witnesses the whole fiasco and I can just hear her laughing her ass off while I stand there in the sand an wringing my shirt out. Yeah, it's funny — to her.

Now I've got to coax Captain back into the dinghy. When that wave came toward us, his eyes turned the size of silver dollars. He wasn't about to get back in a boat that was pointed toward more swells. Fortunately, he trained well enough that he will follow commands, if they're given firmly enough. I had to be pretty firm to get him back into that dinghy.

Somebody told me once that every seventh wave is a big one. I don't know if this is true or not, but I figured that two big ones wouldn't come back to back. So I stood there, knee deep in the water waiting for the next big swell to break. I'd order Captain to stay, but I could just feel him there wondering what kind of an idiot I was to head back out into that stuff. The big one broke and I pulled the boat out into the water, jumped in and rowed my ass off before another one came. It worked, we were on our way back to the boat.

Back on the boat we settled in for the night. There was still the issue of the anchor drift (as witnessed by the GPS), but we remained relative to the other boats. It was something to watch though.

About 12:30am, after having fallen asleep for a couple of hours, I was jarred awake by everything being knocked over in the boat. I'm jumped up, in a total daze as only a partially awake person can understand, wondering what the hell we hit! I checked the GPS alarm, we'd moved about 190' and then looked out the window looking for the catamaran. I couldn't tell where I was. I could hear the beach, but it was so damn dark that I couldn't see anything else. Then I saw all the lights coming on on all the other boats anchored there — they'd been hit by the same freak swell that I had and were checking their condition.

I didn't get the best nights sleep that night, I had to check the anchor position often.

Dawn broke early and by six AM we were following the fishing fleet out of the anchorage. Tired, but on our way to Moss Landing in Monterey Bay.