Moving Forward: October Is Morro Bay Maritime Month

Written by Judy Salamacha

October 6, 2023

Tognazini’s Dockside runs the BBQ at the Maritime Family Fun Day. Photo submitted

Indeed, life’s most positive experiences can be repeated especially when you have an entire community actively working together for mutual outcomes. And frankly, the second time around can be even better!  

For example, both in 2016 and 2023 Maritime Museum San Diego sailed Cabrillo’s San Salvador to help the Morro Bay Maritime Museum build its 20-year dream. Both years over 10,000 locals and visitors from all over California and beyond headed to Morro Bay’s waterfront for an interactive California history lesson. More than 75 community volunteers stepped up both years to train as docents during the onboard tours.  A supportive Visit Morro Bay was a proud sponsor!  

However, visitors and even SLO county visitors received even more with their tour ticket in 2023. All 10,000-plus visitors had only to walk across the street from where the San Salvador was docked to see the DSRV Avalon, newly refurbished by a grant from the Ludwick Foundation. Additionally, a MBMM museum building open Thursdays through Mondays free-of charge is jam-packed with maritime artifacts. Museum volunteers shared stories and visuals demonstrating the Central Coast’s World War II involvement, including the sinking of the Montebello off the coast of Cambria and Morro Bay’s Abalone fishing heyday, plus early days of the Salinan Native American’s culture.  

The Best Blueberry Muffin trophy created by Paula Radke.
Photo submitted

Many visitors stated they had visited during the grand opening in 2018 and were amazed at what had been accomplished since 2020. Outdoor exhibits included a larger fleet of iconic vessels with their stories available on QR code, walkways filled with interesting tributes to family and friends on memorial bricks, historical panels of Morro Bay’s Commercial Fishing industry, a presentation/gathering patio sponsored by the Bill Steele Family, a Kids Cove maritime activity center created with a grant from the City of Morro Bay and a museum store filled with maritime books, apparel and take-home maritime souvenirs, especially for the children.  

With barely an instant to catch a breath after hosting Cabrillo’s San Salvador, MBMM received the City of Morro Bay’s encouragement and expectation to expand at 1210 Embarcadero. Planning is now officially in the brainstorming phases to determine the museum’s next future development phase. At the September 12, City Council meeting, appreciation was archived thanking MBMM’s past-president, Scott Mather, Morro Bay’s Planning Director Scot Graham, and consultant Cathy Novak for many hours served to finalize a multi-year lease on the property.   

Moving forward the City of Morro Bay had designated October as Morro Bay Maritime Month in 2016. MBMM has two celebrations planned – a chance to support the museum’s future growth at an adult celebration hosted by the Morro Bay Yacht Club and a free Maritime Family Fun Day at the museum.  

The best way to meet a shark was at last year’s Maritime Family Fun Day at the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. Photo submitted

On Wednesday October 11, the MBYC will open its clubhouse for supporters of MBMM to celebrate the 2nd Annual Rock the Waterfront. Captain Annie of the Chablis will provide her over-the-top maritime delicacies and SLO’s classic rock dance band, Riff Tide, will offer their popular surf-rock-funk-soul sounds. Tickets are limited and available if purchase by September 30 from board members or at MBMM for a donation of $115 or the discounted member price of $100. Unique silent auction items have been donated by community businesses and nonprofits. For example, bid on a MBYC scholarship for a youth sailing session in 2024, an e-boat rental from Estero Adventures, a ride to or from school in a MBFD firetruck, or join MBPD Chief Amy Watkins on a ride-along. Explore weather conditions in 2024 over brunch with meteorologist John Lindsay hosted by this columnist and so much more.     

Then on Saturday October 14 the 2nd Annual Morro Bay Maritime Family Fun Day is a free event hosted by and at MBMM from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The original concept was to look back at the origins of the now retired Morro Bay Harbor Festival. MBMM’s Jeremiah O’Brien told the committee it started with several fishing industry families going out to Morro Rock, popping up their car trunks for a day at the beach picnicking and family entertainment.  

Why not an old-style carnival celebrating Morro Bay’s fishing village ambiance? Community businesses, nonprofits and restaurants are stepping up again in 2023 to create, set-up, operate, and fund a maritime-themed game, activity, information booth, or photo op on MBMM’s back lot. Only collaboration to help create this annual event is MBMM’s request instead of space payment. The public has been invited to enjoy free, fun and entertainment – alcohol-free. Morro Bay Rock Radio’s DJ, Dead-Air Dave will MC and we know he is always fun! Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ray Riordan and his Savory Pallett Players will entertain all day. Restaurants and nonprofits will offer maritime food offerings at family affordable pricing. In fact, this year Tognazini’s Dockside offers free lunch for the kids.  

MBMM’s committee is appreciative of how many local businesses and groups stepped up again to create this annual event. Morro Bay Rotary Club’s Annual Ducky Derby is again scheduled on the same day and this year after the yellow Duckys are dumped into Morro Bay to compete, someone will be awarded either $1000, $750, or $500 at 10:30 on the patio stage at the Maritime Family Fun Day. ( For a $10 donation watch the Duckys’ start their competitive swim at 8 a.m. right in front of Hofbrau and the Galley restaurants.  

At noon Meteorologist John Lindsay launches a weather balloon from the front entrance of MBMM. He will explain its purpose to collect valuable information on the temperature, humidity, pressure, and winds and why that is important for mariners. MBYC’s Past Commodore Dana McClish recalled making sail boats in his youth. When rainfall filled street gutters, he and friends would race paper sailboats. He has crafted a gutter sailboat racing track for kids to make and compete their own paper sailboat. It was endearing and comical to watch the kids labor to climb into the hard-hat abalone dive suit for a photo-op last year. The Good Flea brought out their colorful big-mouth shark for kids to toss a bean bag for prizes. Salinan Native Americans demonstrate craft-making, Morro Bay Women for Fisheries’ help make fish prints and new this year is several teachers at Del Mar Elementary will help kids understand and make nautical flags.     

At 11 a.m., community leaders will serve free tastes of blueberry muffins in a “best of” contest offered by several local coffee shops or bakeries. It’s all for bragging rights and the right to display Paula Radke’s perpetual trophy. Who will win in 2023? At 2 p.m. representative first responders will serve free chowder tastes to see if Dutchman Seafood Restaurant will have to give up last year’s perpetual trophy created by Ugly Mug Ceramics. 

Indeed, it was a magical family-oriented day in 2022 when so many Morro Bay businesses, nonprofits and restaurants came together to entertain the locals and visitors who support them all year. Want to join in? MBMM invites others to create a magical activity and prove Morro Bay knows how to come together all in the name of an October Maritime Family Fun Day each year. Chairman Julie Kleckner would love to hear your great ideas. Call 805.400-0242. Of course, check out or for more questions, call 805.225-5044.

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