Anchors Aweigh!

Passage SF – Monterey 

At 12:09pm on Monday May 4th we left.  Cameron and I were pretty excited to be leaving and our adrenaline was up.  A friend recently asked what it was like… It was a whole lot of things.  There were lots of preparations that needed to be made before hand and there were many things on our minds as we passed under the gate.  It certainly wasn’t like the songs.  It was a bit more nerve racking than that.  But we also had a great sense of accomplishment that we were finally heading off shore and south – We just hoped that we had thought of everything.

The Golden Gate... from the west.  Leaving the Bay Area behind.
The Golden Gate… from the west. Leaving the Bay Area behind.

It was an uphill slog getting out the gate.  We had to time it with the currents in order to have good conditions and get across the bar safely.  The bar is an area of fairly shallow water that sits in a huge semi circle from one side of the inlet to the other.  In the middle there is a larger dredged channel where ships navigate in and out.  We kept our ear to the VHF listening for any tanker traffic as we didn’t want to meet any of those big boys in the fairly narrow channel.

A happy Captain
A happy Captain

The channel starts almost 6 nautical miles from the Golden Gate Bridge and is a little over two nautical miles long.  We had to sneak through there before the currents changed to create rougher water and before turning left (south) to head down the coast.

Popping up to see the under side of the Bay Bridge
Popping up to see the under side of the Golden Gate Bridge

We remained at least 8 – 10 miles off shore.  You see, to a boat, the land is the enemy and with a west wind, it was our lee shore, meaning that if our engine or sails or steering gave out, that is where Banyan would end up…not good…  So we want at least 10 miles to figure out and hopefully fix any problems.  At 10 miles we can see the land, but on these grey days it’s pretty far away and hazy.

A wave breaks near us just off the coast of California
A wave breaks near us just off the coast of California

We had a great passage in general.  The girls were so exhausted from working to be upright that they put themselves to bed and slept through the night.  No one was seasick (yea!! – Thank you Bonine).  We had 6 to 8ft swells coming from the north west that was hitting us on our starboard aft quarter (the back right side of the boat).  This created a bit of a rolling passage and it took some time to get used to.  Cameron and I took turns in the night staying up with the boat, watching the conditions, watching for other vessels, watching to make sure we stayed on track.  We had about 10 – 15 knots of wind to start which calmed way down in the early morning.  We actually started to motor after a while since the winds were so mellow, this helped to stabilize the motion.

I was a bit surprised at how much we rolled around.  Doing dishes was especially funny.  I had to wash, dry and put away one dish at a time.  You just couldn’t put anything down in these seas.  Cameron said that it will not always be so active.  I look forward to that!  All my off shore experience has been in catamarans which are much more stable and I realize now how spoilt I was.

We had lots of wildlife.  Cameron spotted a whale just out the gate, we saw seals, dolphins and tons of sea birds.  I saw a whale surface about 5 ft off our bow.  I called down to Cameron as I was shocked and a bit worried.  He popped his head up just in time to see the huge tale (at least 6 foot across if not more) come out of the water as the thing dove just off the side of the boat….We just stared at each other for a few moments wide eyed absorbing what we had just seen.  We saw signs of at least 8 -10 whales on the passage.  It was very cool.

Our own personal wildlife…the girls, mainly staid snuggly below as it was a bit chilly.  Adelaide ventured up a few times.  Isa is much less adventurous when it comes to the sailing bit.  She likes to keep her head down.  I make her a comfy nest in the back of our bed where the ride is the easiest and where she can basically be surrounded by pillows and blankets.

After an uneventful sail, we arrived in Monterey in the morning just before breakfast.  As we curled around to pull into our slip I saw three big seals sun bathing right where I was supposed to hop off and tie up the boat.  Whoa!  I threw the rope to the mid ships cleat and stayed on board!  It took two savvy live-a-boards to get one of the grumpy guys off the docks.

Hello seal!
Hello seal!


We stayed at the Municipal Marina and they could not have been nicer and more helpful.  They had great bathrooms, showers and adequate laundry facilities.  We planned to stay two nights and we stayed five.  It was lovely to be out of the constant wind of the SF Bay area and we even had a few slivers of sunlight which were glorious.  We spent all of one day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium which was absolutely amazing.  What a fabulous organization with a focused mission and excellent communication about the current fishing and ocean challenges as well as astounding ocean research underway.  I especially liked learning about the easy ways I can make sure I eat ocean friendly fish when dining out.

Isa was enthralled with the sting rays
The amazing jelly fish exhibit at The Monterey Bay Aquarium was psychedelic.
Tired girls at the end of a long day of exploration!


While there, we also met up with some dear friends who ferried us around to get some errands and provisioning done.  They are major foodies so we ate and drank extremely well with them and also played on the beach at Carmel with their lovely daughter.  It was a really fun time.

Three lovely ladies
Three lovely ladies
Geology lesson!  The girls learned about the three main classes of rocks... and got to pound a few on the docks.
Geology lesson! The girls learned about the three main classes of rocks… and got to pound a few on the docks.
Playing at the beach in Carmel
Playing at the beach in Carmel

Monterey to Morro Bay

Onward and southward… slowly is our plan.  We took off from Monterey on Sunday after a lovely Mother’s Day (I got breakfast in bed).  We left in the afternoon, much more confident now pulling away from the dock and… maybe too confident because Poseidon will make sure you know who’s the boss.  Smack-down…we all got seasick.

The waves and wind were a bit bigger than the forecast and we had to motor straight into big swells, burying the bow over and over as we worked to get clear of the bay.  I had to go below to work on the bathroom cabinet which kept flying open and that did me in.  After a while I just duck taped it shut and went above decks to look at the horizon and feel green.  Cameron, who looked and acted totally normal, rushed around getting things done but took breaks to toss his cookies downwind very regularly.  Isa appeared at the companion way… she never comes above decks, and she looked like a cartoon version of a sick person.  She just sat there for a while looking miserable, finally got sick, recovered and then was totally fine the rest of the trip.

Feeling fine!  Unlike the rest of us...
Feeling fine! Unlike the rest of us…

Adelaide seemed to tolerate it the best, but seeing us all sick made her cuddle up next to me and need Mamma time, which I was totally fine with as it gave me a job that I could do and a warm body to snuggle with.  We had a nice stiff sail as the night progressed.  The gusts were so strong that we paired down to just a severely reefed (shortened) jib (front sail).  Even with a severely reefed jib (just 3’ out at one stage) we were cooking along at a good pace.  It calmed down a bit in the morning, we had a nice breakfast at sea and got into Morro bay in the afternoon.


Big wave coming up behind them
Big wave coming up behind them
Whoa.. tipping to the starboard side…


Whoa... tipping to the port side
Whoa… tipping to the port side

Morro Bay

We are anchored in the small bay here and enjoying this sweet little working town.  I have been baking, working and teaching the girls while Cameron has been going ashore and had a meeting with Rich Boren to help us recharge our refrigeration system (the main reason for stopping here).  It seems to be a town full of good hearted people.  Cameron came back beaming about how lovely everyone was while he and Isa were on a trek to find supplies.

Our daily bread
Our daily bread
Challah back baby
Challah back baby
Cooking...just like at home!
Cooking…just like at home!
My helper
My helper

We plan to take our time down the coast and enjoy California.  Plans are slowly developing but we are enjoying the freedom of change and uncertainty.  I have a few business trips that have come up in June and July so we are going to play on the coast here and not push our way to the Sea of Cortez until the fall.  With so much to see and so many friends and family to connect with it will be a nice start to our journey to take our time and really see this amazing state we call home.

Cheers!  Where to next?
Cheers! Where to next?


  1. Laurence & Veronica says:

    Hi the Vawter family,
    Congratulations on your departure…..albeit with a few big waves and little sea sickness. Really enjoying your adventure from the safety of the shore. Do have fun on your South bound journey our prayers go with you.
    Cheers- Laurence & Veronica

  2. Stacey Emerson says:

    Awe inspiring! You have talked about doing this for so long now and I haven’t seen you all in forever. Godspeed my friends. I will enjoy reading about your adventures. If you are still in Morro Bay there is a nice little cafe not far from the marina called The Bay Side Cafe… A favorite of mine in college. Much love to you all! Stacey

    • Anne Vawter says:

      So good to hear from you Stacey! Seems so long ago when we were having dinner at your house in Sonoma before kids! Good times. Much love and thanks for your good wishes.

  3. Kathy Lord says:

    I am absolutely loving every detail about your adventures! I am in awe of the journey you are sharing as a family. Can’t wait to hear more! Safe travels to you. Explore. Dream. Discover!! xox Kathy

  4. Jacqueline Yoakum says:

    Anne, what a great log of your journey!!! It is so rich in detail and so fun to read! My jaw dropped when you described the whale creating by the boat. What an amazing adventure! Looking forward to reading more. Love to you all. Safe travels.

  5. Phil Burton says:

    Having grown up on sailboats and gunkholed around the coast of California, what you’re doing is a dream that I never realized. Godspeed and I hope to follow your adventures.

  6. Ari says:

    Really fun and exciting to read your posts! Excites me to think about the amazing experiences and family bonding that still await you. Can’t wait to see you in 2018! I decided that you guys need to join me for Harvest 2018 in Israel. We have lots of great grapes that are waiting for your talented hands 🙂

  7. Deanie Gotch says:

    OK, first thoughts after reading this blog. I feel a bit sea sick and nervous. Cameron’s teeth have never been so white…no red wine?! Annie looks so beautiful even when wearing a beanie almost every day! I’m with Isa on staying below, head down and cozy. Adelaide has this figured out and still dresses like a rock star!! This adventure and story is going to just get better and better. Woo Hoo!!!

  8. Deanie Gotch says:

    Ok…my first thoughts after I read this blog….
    I feel a bit sea sick and nervous. Cameron’s teeth are pearly white…not enough red wine these days?! Annie manages to still look beautiful despite beanie hats…no bad hair days for this girl! I agree with Isa….lay low, stay cozy with your head down! Adelaide has this figured out and remains a rock star dresser! LOVE reading your blogs and can’t wait for the next one! I’ll take a chill pill before I start the next blog! Oh…and the bread? That makes the boat a home for sure! xoxo

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