Tharrrr she blows!

Aye matey’s, raise th' anchor, clean th' decks, we’re goin' whalin'!
Oh well, whale sightseein' then.

A short sail from Santa Maria t' Santa Barbara brought us t' th' Condor Express, a twin engine hydro propelled catamaran operated entirely fer th' whale watchin' business. It a 75 foot long vessel equipped fer th' scientific and touristic spottin' o' all kinds o' whales visitin' th' channel betwixt th' California Channel Islands and th' mainland.

Usually, th' boat sees Humpback whales, th' occasional Blue whale, Sperm whales, Killer whales, Grey whales, all kinds o' dolphins, California sea lions, and regular seals. And a lot o' birds as well; o' which Pelican are th' most interestin' fer us.

We set out t' sail th' Channel aroun' 10, and with a warnin' from Tue Cap'n that we were likely not goin' towards th' Islands, th' chances o' runnin' into a Blue whale were really slim. We were far more likely t' see Humpback whales, so we’d have t' settle fer those.

So we did. Shiver me timbers! And t' not only our, but also th' captains amazement we ran almost immediately into a mother calf pair o' Blue whales, with th' calf showin' an remarkable amount o' interest in th' boat. And hoist the mainsail! Remember, th' boat is 75 foot long, th' baby Blue whale about 35 and mom about 80 feet. That is huge!

BTW: when th' Cap'n and his crew get really excited about what ye are seein', ye know ye are part o' somethin' special.
We saw th' calf playin' with th' boat, by swimmin' underneath it and tryin' t' get it t' play by swimmin' upside down alongside it! It were bein' great!

We did not see any Humpback whales though, so that were bein' unfortunate, but all in all th' sightin' o' th' majestic Blue whale and even a calf were bein' just awesome! We’d do it again tomorrow if possible…

The long drive south

Right after our spectacular day in San Francisco, we were forced t' leave town t' head towards Los Angeles.
We have been plannin' on doin' so via th' renowned Highway 1. This is said t' be th' most beautiful sea in th' entire United States.

It turned out t' be th' best sea e'er, albeit curvy, steep and really slow, by Blackbeard's sword. For th' 90 miles o' Interstate, there’s about 200 miles Highway 1 and it takes ye at least 6 hours t' sail. Not because ye have t' sail very carefully, but because there is hardly and room t' pass slower traffic, and ye’re sailin' as slow as th' first in th' strin' o' boats ye happen t' be in.

We started our day with sailin' t' Año Nuevo State Park where we were told we could find Elephant Seals. These weird lookin' creatures can be found there fer 3 periods per year, we happened t' be in th' period where there are only males present and they are there fer 4 t' 6 consecutive weeks t' molt. They shed their auld hair which comes off in small patches, after which they migrate back north t' feed again. Fire the cannons! The seals are fastin' durin' th' time they are ashore and live entirely off o' their blubber.

The State Park were bein' well equipped, and with a 2.5 mile walk t' th' seals with two strategically placed volunteers t' answer any questions, were bein' a fun place t' be, by Davy Jones' locker. As th' walk turned out t' be pretty long due t' steep sanddunes and a lot o' wildlife t' see, we were runnin' out o' time! While we still wanted t' sail th' 17 mile sail at Monterey and reach our hotel th' same day, we started t' get a move on. Luckily, it were bein' still early in th' day, so we hare time.

So we thought, and a bucket o' chum. When we arrived at Monterey, we were strongly discouraged from sailin' th' famous and really scenic 17 Mile Drive as it alone took 2 hours, and as it already were bein' 4 pm and with another 4 hours t' sail t' Santa Maria where th' hotel were bein' located, we decided t' skip th' d-tour and go straight fer Santa Maria.

Right in th' very last leg o' our journey that day, we saw a big crowd at one o' th' Vista Points that were created alongside th' Highway 1. So we stopped, and t' our amazement found a whole lot more Elephant Seals! These were even closer than th' ones we saw at Año Nuevo SP, so we stood there in awe fer some time t' gaze at th' marvellous weirdness o' th' creatures.

When we arrived at th' hotel, th' Historic Santa Maria Inn, it were bein' already half past 8 which meant that we could not fully enjoy th' hotel itself. It is great! Built entirely in “ye olde” style, it offer a good view into th' American hotels o' th' 40’s and before. Wonderful!