Recreational Safety Home


Life Guards, Hypothermia. Personal Flotation Devices


Seas and Swells, Wave Size, Anecdotes, Tide Pools, Playing in the Spray, Russian Roulette - Morro Bay Style


Boating in the Bay
Boating in the Ocean
Morro Bay’s Rough Bar


Falls, Falling Objects, Stinging Nettle, Poison-Oak, Mountain Lions, Ticks, Rattlesnakes, Poison-Hemlock


How Far Can Waves Reach, Mortality Statistics, Off The Road Vehicles, Mountain Biking, Miscellany



Boating in the Bay resembles boating in a lake.
Boating in the ocean is a whole different thing!

Boating in the Bay
As of 2008 in Morro Bay there were among other things rental electric boats, canoes, kayaks; and boat ramps and beaches where you can put your own boat in the water. Boats are rented with the understanding in writing that you will stay south of Buoy #8. For safety reasons you would do well to confine your initial excursions to that same area even if you have your own boat; Beyond Buoy #8 outgoing tides can rapidly sweep you into the harbor’s mouth. Also the area beyond #8 is in the lee of the Rock, where sometimes suddenly the wind becomes strong enough to “flatten” sail boats and roll beached boats into the water.

Carry a cell phone. If you have any questions the Harbor Patrol is who to call: 772-6254.

It is useful to know the times of high and low tide, and the wind forecast. The local newspaper, the Tribune, carries that information. The Bay is shallow, and the tidal variation is 7 feet. At the lowest tides 1,000 acres of the bay becomes mud flats! If you get stuck in the mud that isn’t a serious situation - but you may have to wait for the water to return.
Tidal currents develop as the water comes and goes from the bay. Peak flows of 4 mph occur off the end of the Tidelands boat ramp. Wind waves generally don’t get over 3 feet high in the bay.

Boating in the Ocean
To get to the ocean one has first to negotiate the harbor mouth. Returning to port one has to negotiate the mouth again. This is significant because the outlet of Morro Bay is the SECOND MOST DANGEROUS HARBOR MOUTH in California!

I don’t want to exaggerate; there are two or three days a year when the Pacific Ocean is like a mill pond, and some of the remaining days the waves aren’t terrible. However, most days the waves steepen as they reach the end of the north jetty. And sometimes they break right there, the dreaded “rough bar”. What with the 5 mph tidal currents, rocks, shifting sand bars, and unpredictable winds at the mouth, that is one of the worst places to swamp or lose power!

So please, if you want to sail or fish the ocean from Morro Bay, MAKE YOUR FIRST TRIPS WITH PROS! For example, Morro Bay Yaught Club runs races in the ocean; you may be able to get aboard as “crew”. Or, you could go fishing on one of Verge’s trips.


Continue to Boating, Page 2

All content copyright Dr. Curt Beebe. Please do not use without permission.