The weather was much nicer today. Bright and sunshiny, albeit a little chilly when I got up at 7:30. But it eventually warmed up. With no big crises to deal with, we decided we should dinghy over to the other public pier and see what was shakin' over there. We loaded the dinghy with our backpack (containing the handheld VHF radio and some rope for hauling stuff up to the dock if this was another ladder landing (it was)), a couple bags of garbage, a couple bags of recycling and our lifejackets and climbed aboard.
Now that the Nissan is burning new fuel, it started on the first pull of the rope. Kept running too. We set our course and headed off under the Cal Poly pier and through the permanent (as opposed to transient) mooring field. As we neared the other side we came on several extensive kelp beds. One of them had at least 6 or more southern sea otters hanging around it. We kept our distance but they still dove under on our approach. Then, as we got closer, they popped back up, one-by-one, to watch us pass. The way they popped up to take a look was very reminiscent of prairie dogs
The Avila Pier, where we went ashore Saturday, has a ladder about 1/3 of the way along its length. It's a nice wide stainless steel ladder that dinghy riders use to climb up to the pier since we're not allowed to land on the beach. The other pier, which I think was called the Franklin Pier, has a narrow plain steel ladder on almost every piling. There were a few places where several dinghies were tied to the same piling but there were a lot of pilings completely unoccupied. We chose one of those to tie up to. I climbed up first and lowered a line. Lulu got to practice her bowline-tying skills by tying the line to the garbage bags so I could hoist them up.
Once we were both up on the pier we found receptacles for both garbage and recyclables. Then we went off to see what all was here.
Down at the seaward end of the pier were two seafood restaurants, one fancy-ish and the other not. There were also some fresh seafood outlets. As we turned around and headed toward shore we passed a hoist where little fishing boats are lowered and retrieved since there isn't a launch ramp. Boatowners just back their trailers out under the hoist and the operator lifts the boat off the trailer and lowers it down to the water, maybe 15-20' depending on the state of the tide. Seems sort of weird but I guess it works.
We passed a boatyard where we spied a Westsail 32, and talked to the owner for a little bit. He was pretty disgruntled as he'd been here for over a year and had only stopped in originally for a few weeks while he waited for a new tiller to be built. Apparently, the harbormaster assigned him to a mooring ball that was too close to the beach in spite of his protests and he went aground, doing a fair amount of damage to his boat due to the water he took on. Ended up having to replace his engine and numerous other things in the boat. Then, when they were pulling him off, a chain got caught on his prop, bending it and bending his propshaft as well. He was not a happy man. He's all fixed up now and just waiting to be put back in the water. Apparently there's a long waiting list for the travelift. If you happen to read Latitude 38, watch for an upcoming article by him with a working title of "The $38,000 Tiller". He's got it all written but isn't going to submit it for publication until after he's back in the water and on his way out of here.
We continued walking and found another restaurant (FatCats) and then we found the motherlode: PUBLIC SHOWERS!!!!! Hot damn! It's still too cold to shower in the cockpit so, when we're anchored we're never quite sure where we'll get our next shower. It's been a few days since we left Half Moon Bay and we were both kind of thinking that we'd have to put up with dirty hair and such for at least another couple of days. But NOOOOO. We headed back to the dinghy so we could go back to the boat and get our gear.
On the way, the local Harbor Patrol stopped us but seemed pretty pleased once he noticed that we were both wearing life jackets. He asked about the registration numbers on the boat (apparently California registrations have 4 numbers and Oregon only has 3) and that was about it.
We got back to the boat, got our shower stuff and headed back. This time, Lulu drove. She decided that she needs to learn to run the dinghy and I couldn't agree more. I'd like to be able to go into a long funny story about how bad she did but I can't. She did just fine.
Once we were tied up to our chosen piling, we climbed up and beat feet to the showers. They were probably the nicest showers we've seen so far. Well, the ones at Half Moon Bay were pretty darn nice but these were a close second. There were three of them and each was its own little room with a lock on the door, a bench, clothes hooks, a shower stall, a mirror, and a coin box. Took 4 quarters and it must have run at least 6 minutes. I had plenty of time to let the water heat up, take a full-fledged, no-holds-barred shower and still step out to start drying off before the water quit running. Usually, if I have time left when I'm done showering, I just stand under the warm water until it shuts off. Today, although I started to do that, I actually got bored before the water quit flowing.
Now that we were all clean and smelling sweet once again, we decided to have lunch and a beer at the not-fancy restaurant on the pier. And speaking of piers, are they a California phenomenon or what? Seems like when I was a kid and we went to Santa Cruz or Monterey or any other California beach town, there was always a pier going way out into the water, straight out from the beach. Just for people to walk on or fish from or go to a restaurant on the end of. I don't think I ever saw such a thing on any Oregon beaches. Once in awhile there'd be a little short fishing pier or something but nothing like these. Hmm. Anyway, we went to Pete's Seafood (I think that's what it was called) and ordered fish and chips and a couple of beers.
Lulu drove the dinghy back home where we hoisted it aboard and folded it back up since we're likely headed out of here tomorrow. This afternoon I plotted our course around Points Arguello and Conception to Santa Barbara harbor. It's right at 100 miles so it will take 20-24 hours, depending on our speed. Since we don't want to get there in the dark or way early, we're not leaving until 1:00 PM. This will have us rounding THE CAPE in the dark but that's when it's likely to be calmest so it works out fine. Be a shame not to be able to see it but, since it's 7 to 8 hours from the cape to Santa Barbara, we'd have to round it not long after sunrise in order to still get to SB during the daylight hours and before the marina offices close. Besides, with our luck it'll be foggy anyway.
Oh yeah, I fired up the diesel again this afternoon partly to satisfy Lulu that yesterday's start wasn't a fluke and partly to convince myself. It started up just fine using only the starting battery again. Didn't see any oil spraying in the engine compartment either so I think we're good to go.