Friday, September 12, 2014

Leaving San Francisco

I have to tell you, we were all smiles when we sailed in under the Golden Gate and we were all smiles when we sailed out under the Golden Gate. Jan and I have no love lost for San Francisco. As far as we are concerned, it is not a great boating destination. The wind blows way too hard all the time, every day. And the water  is shallow. And they don't have very many good anchorages. And they police their anchorages (you have to to get permits to anchor places). And.... well, I think you are getting the picture. Anyway, we are really glad to be on our way south again.

We went to the crew list party for the Baja Haha in Alameda at the Encinal Yacht Club looking for some crew to help out with the boat on the trip down. We were looking to add a couple to the boat hoping to get some help while on passage and maybe make some new friends. We had signed up on the crew list web site earlier and had already found crew, but needed to go to the party to get our Haha packet and to rub some elbows. So we did.. We met a lot of really nice people there and a few that we feel we would be comfortable with on the boat.

We picked up Kat (our crew) at the party Wednesday night. She had flown in earlier in the day from Vancouver, BC (where she lives). It was a fun time, and being a boat captain wearing a name tag saying I was looking for crew made me a really popular guy. But in all honesty, it was a lot of fun meeting and chatting with people.

We all left the party and headed back to the boat. We wanted to get a good night's sleep because it was going to be an early departure in the morning. 6:00AM came and it was time to get the ball (boat) rolling. Everyone was up and excited to get the day underway. We left San Francisco early in the morning and in the fog, what a surprise (not!). I have to give San Francisco this - it is a beautiful city.

Downtown San Fancisco - is that fog? No way.
Golden Gate, yes, in the fog as well.

Alcatraz "the rock"

We left following Abby Normal - an Island Packet SP Cruiser that we met in Brookings, OR. It is owned by Brad and Gay - a wonderful couple that we really enjoy hanging out with. We were headed for Half Moon Bay. It is about 25 miles south of the Golden Gate. Disappointment would be a tame word for our feelings when we arrived. We really couldn't see much of any beauty in the place, and the smell from the bird sh@$@#$ was.... shall we say "out of this world". Seriously, there were a lot of birds there and the breakwater was totally white, and it wasn't from dried on salt, if you know what I mean. If the smell wasn't bad enough, there were enough flies there to haul you off the boat and drop you 10 miles inland. We bought our boat new in 2008 (she is a 2009 model year) and have never put the screens in the windows until now! To our surprise, this is one of the boating destinations for people who boat in San Francisco. It was really a dreadful place. If we lived in San Francisco and owned a boat, we would sell it and buy an RV (wait, did I just say "buy an RV"? Jan - what are you doing with that straightjacket!?). We did get one shot of a pelican that is worth sharing (we LOVE the pelicans!).

We fueled and then anchored in the harbor. We planned to leave for Monterey at 3:00AM so we would arrive by 2:00PM. I got up at 2:30 AM to have a look around and thought better of hauling the anchor. I could see the rotating beacon at the entrance to the harbor through the fog, but just barely. So I set the alarm for another hour and went back to bed. At 4:00 I got up and had another look - pretty much the same. So I made some coffee which woke the rest of the crew. We sat and drank coffee and chatted for a couple of hours waiting until we got a bit of twilight. Then as I was heading out to haul the anchor I saw Abby Normal motoring out past us - what timing!

Winds were light for the first 3/4 of the trip, then it started to pick up. We were getting between 10 and 15 on our stern. If we had 15 to 20 I would have put the sails up, but I knew the wind was just tempting me trying to get me up off my duff to do some work. I resisted the temptation and was glad that I had because very shortly thereafter it dropped to about 8 on our stern. Unfortunately for Brad on Abby Normal, he couldn't help himself. So he quickly dropped back and we beat them into the harbor by a half hour or so.

I have to say, I have figured out how to get a whale sighting - just send Jan down for a nap! It seems that every time she leaves the cockpit we have a whale sighting. And today was the best of all!!! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures (but this again is one of those "had to be there" moments) because it only happened once. But I saw a whale leap completely out of the water (yes, tail completely out of the water!) and them come splashing back down. My gosh, it was the most amazing sight I have ever seen! It was beyond cool. It was HUGE! I have seen a lot of whales on the trip so far, but this was really amazing. Unlike Jan, I am not "totally" excited about seeing them. I know the damage they can do to the boat. So when I see them crossing in front of the boat I take evasive action immediately. This is one of the many things that make Jan and I such a good couple - she always sees the greatness in a situation and I always see the dangers. Now if we can just find a way for Jan to not feel like I am raining on her parade when I say "but Honey, we might want to move forward a bit slower...".

Monterey Bay is teaming with ocean mammal life. I saw numerous whales as we cruised across the bay. Then as we got close to the town of Monterey we came across a bunch of dolphins. They were playing all around the boat. One that was about 50 yards away was way too excited. He kept jumping out of the water over and over. Not sure why, but it was sure fun to watch.

We arrived in Monterey at 4:00PM and headed to our slip. We called ahead and got a slip for us and Abby Normal just a couple of doors down. When we came around the breakwater we were greeted with an all too familiar smell... only this time it was from seals! The breakwater is covered with seals and their droppings. Oh my gosh, they are loud and smelly! It was kind of nerve racking trying to find our way through the mooring field with all of the barking going on. As I type this, Jan is out in the cockpit playing her piano. Either the seals love her playing or they really want her to stop because they are really getting loud! And when she stops, they stop. And when she starts again, they start again. I am a little concerned they are going to be boarding the boat looking for an autograph any minute! There are 5 of them on the pier right next to the boat.

The rest of the Coho Hoho fleet is a day behind us so we are going to hang out here in Monterey and wait for them to catch up. Then head out for Moro Bay on Sunday, weather permitting of course. I will be back later with pictures from Monterey.


  1. Hi Mike and Jan! D and I are really sorry to hear you didn't like Half Moon Bay. We spent 45 days anchored there on our way up in 2008 waiting for parts to arrive from New Zealand (thank you, US Customs). The beach on the Pacific side of the bay is stunning and there are some fantastic trails that lead to a haunted restaurant and light house. And then, of course, we spent many hours sitting by the fire pits at the local brew house (excellent beer). In all fairness though, we got pretty tired of hearing the fog horn blast every morning. We hope you liked Monterey better. We actually got to tie up for a couple of nights at Fisherman's Wharf (a very cool experience) so we didn't have to deal with the barking sea lions in the marina, just the tourists. Hope you got the chance to enjoy the aquarium and Cannery Row before you move down to Morro Bay, which is Cambria's neck of the woods -- she was named (in part) after the small town there. David and I took a road trip along Highway 101 to San Francisco and that's basically the area where we first saw the ocean together. Take care and enjoy the rest of your trip!

  2. Hey Stephanie - great to hear from you!!! I think Half Moon Bay was more of a big let down than a total disappointment. We were really looking forward to going there, but then the smell, fog horn, and the billions of flies were a real turn off. We did spend a few days in Monterey and liked that a lot when we finally figured out how to keep the barking sea lions off the pier next to our boat (blog update to come). And we noticed the town of Cambria - thank you for the connection! We were wondering if they were connected at all. Say "hi" to everyone in Kingston for us when you get back for the winter (we are definitely going to miss all of you, but we sure won't miss the winter!).