If you are Canadian and you mention The Rock, most would associate that to the province of Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada.
If you are American, living on the west coast of California and you mention The Rock, then Morro Bay would come to mind. The entrance way has a gigantic rock and one that can be seen from a long distance.
We had sailed from Santa Cruz to San Simeon Bay and had arrived at three in the morning, we were tired. The next day we set out from San Simeon Bay and headed towards Santa Barbara, another overnight trip. We had no intention of stopping at Morro Bay and as it all unfolded, we are very happy we were forced to!
We had been motoring and had a sail up (motor sailing). I was tired and had laid down in the V berth for a while when suddenly it felt as though the boat hit something as I heard a quick bang and what felt like something grinding, then it stopped. Well I was out of bed in a flash and on deck yelling – what is happening, what is happening! Captain did not know at first and then said, “this is the problem!” He was holding a severed rope. He then voiced (along with many other words) concern that the line (rope) may still be around the prop.
How did the line become severed?
While I was getting a few minutes shut eye, Captain had been setting up another sail with lines. He had the Genoa set up on the starboard side and decided he would rig up another sail on the port side. With two sails, one up on either side it looks like bird’s wings and is referred to as wing on wing. The engine was still going while he was putting up the second sail.
A funny thing about lines on a boat, they are sneaky. Wrapping themselves around a foot, getting caught on things, tying themselves into knots where a knot should not be and the worst of the worst, slipping ever so quickly and quietly into the water. A line without fail will work its way to the propeller and wrap around the propeller shaft.
Since the engine sounded fine and still had forward speed (we thought, remember we still had a sail up) we assumed that luck was with us and that the propeller did not have a line wrapped around it. We continued with the one sail up and the engine still running. Merrily we went along.
We were a couple of hours from Morro Bay at this point and Captain looked at the V drive to see if there was some sort of damage due to the loud bang I had heard. Damage there was! The V drive on the boat is supported with fiberglass footings to hold the V drive in place, these footings were ripped off the floor PLUS the propeller shaft had disconnected. Since we had the sail up we were actually sailing, the engine was going but that was it, no forward speed, just making a lot of sound.
Now we knew why there was a bang and the sound of grinding but how did the line cause such damage, what was the mechanism? Eventually Captain worked out how it all occurred once he could dive under the boat at Morro Bay. He contacted Morro Bay Harbor and the Harbor patrol said they would be waiting to tow us in once we reached the entrance.
So, there we were, an engine that could run but no speed to be had, propeller not propelling and a V drive with no support. Captain begins to work on supporting the V drive. There are pieces of board duck taped together, ropes slashing things together and all sorts of other components rigged up here and there. Then he started to re-connect the propeller shaft. He finally had it to the point where there was just a sliver more to go but it would not connect.
Meanwhile I am at the helm. There is one sail up, the wind is decreasing, waves are crashing against Morro Rock in the distance, Captain is speaking very strongly to the propeller shaft and he yells up to me “head for the Rock”.
HEAD FOR THE ROCK?? Are you crazy? Your head has been down in the bilge too long! (using my inside voice). I ignored what he said, kept way right of the Rock and steered as much as possible to the wind to keep the sail full. It never was full and it was minute by minute before the wind died completely.
Captain finally had to give in, the propeller shaft would not re-connect, something was holding it, most likely some of the severed line.
Harbor patrol was contacted and they met us within minutes of calling. We were so very fortunate to have them tow us safely in. They took us to the Morro Bay yacht club as there was an open space for us. There is an agreement between the Harbor Patrol and the yacht club that they supply transient moorage. A big thank you to Dana (hope that is spelled correctly) and Matt of the Harbor Patrol who towed us in. We attempted to pay them but they said they were not allowed to accept any payment.
The next day Captain went over the side and returned with about a foot of rope twisted to about 6 inches in length. What he surmised was that this small piece of rope ended up wrapping so tight around the shaft and it then pushed against the haul opening where the shaft goes through the boat; the force of that disconnected the shaft. What could possibly go wrong, did.
Morro Bay is beautiful to enter by boat or be towed into. A long inlet once inside the breakwater and gorgeous sand beach and dunes to enjoy. The tourist street is along the harbor with the main town a few blocks away. We had our bikes and enjoyed cycling for our morning coffee and sweet.
We spoke with a couple who were down at the dock and lived locally. They said it use to be mostly a fishing town when they were kids, now it is tourist driven. That is ok, the town is thriving. Whether by land or by sea, Morro Bay is a good place to stop and enjoy. We would have stayed longer but thought it best to continue on to Santa Barbara.