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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.