My buddy and I were partners on a Nacra 5.2 cat. 2 crazy surfers that had a penchant for big waves looking for something exciting to do when the wind picked up. We had borrowed beach cats for the Wet Wendsday evening cat races in Morro Bay several times and were undefeated, usually the field was 3-6 boats, all in it for the fun.
Sailing inside the bay was plenty exciting. Usually 15-25 knot winds, a nasty current of 2-4 knots mid-tide in the spring & fall, and a bay full of moored boats and mud banks to try to avoid. We'd flipped the cats plenty of times and were comfortable in a lot of wind and with the boat upside down.
One beautiful fall afternoon after a storm there was some good 20-25 knot post-frontal wind as we guessed it and a nice round 6-8 foot swell and we decided to gear up and head outside the bay.
The harbor entrance to Morro Bay is dominated by a very large rock, called "The Rock"
. It's really called Morro Rock, Morro is rock in Spanish, so translated it's rock rock. You can see why we call it the rock.
The Rock is almost 400 feet high and probably 600-800 feet in diameter IIRC and immediately adjacent to the channel so it has a dramatic affect on the wind. You can go from a 2-3 knot wind in it's shadow to 30 or more in an instant. We got knocked down by one of those on our way out of the harbor, SOP.
We blew past the entrance buoy at a good clip and trapeezed out, flying a hull close hauled. We wanted to head upwind at first to ensure an easy downwind leg (drift?) if something bad happened. The wind was clean and strong and the swell was big and rolly. We tacked upwind several times not too far from the beach feeling like we would be more comfortable swimming through 8-10 foot waves than we were far out in the ocean. After we had bombed uphill for a couple miles we tried a broad reach. OH MY! We were really flying. I mean fast. We hadn't been out in waves but a couple of times in small 3-4 foot stuff but this was different. Our boat was throwing a rooster tail off of the back of the lee hull and we were getting the boat completely out of the water off of the top of the waves from time to time. After we launched off of a wave the bows would pierce the top of the next wave and the trampoline would be completely awash. One time we bashed through the top of the second wave and a 2' albacore washed across the top of the trampoline, it's tail vibrating and about a billion times a second.
As we buried the bows or even the whole boat in an approaching wave sometimes the impact would be violent enough to just about stop the boat, sending us flying around like tether balls. Once I was thrown completely off in front of the boat and as the boat raced over the top of me I saw that my friend was on his back scrambling around trying to get a hold of something and not succeeding. I saw the mainsheet coming past me in the water and I grabbed it as it went by. The boat was going fast and my friend was falling off so I held on to the mainsheet. I didn't want to swim a 1/4 mile to the boat. He fell off and I held on, the main sheeted in and the boat flipped. We swam over to it and got it upright quickly, the water is always cold enough to motivate you around here.
We tacked upwind some more, almost to the next town up the beach and then we decided to head back. On another broad reach we were really moving and Morgan checked the GPS (the only thing onboard besides us) and it said that we were going 31.1 MPH. WOW! That's fast. We were heading almost the same direction as the waves and we were mostly rolling slowly in relation to them. They were high enough that there was quite a bit less wind between them than on top of them.
As we crested one wave, trapeezed out and flying a hull, a small seal broached out of the water and towards the boat. It hit us amidships and the starboard shroud caught it right in the neck. It got stuck on the boat for a second or two and we could see that it was dead, broken neck. That pretty much killed the mood for us and we headed back in to the harbor.
We looked at the GPS after we put the boat away, we traveled almost 20 miles in 55 minutes and our top speed was 32.5 MPH. Sorry, no knots on that GPS.