Santa Cruz to Monterey

Saturday began with clear skies, plenty of sunshine, and a leisurely breakfast as we were docked in the Santa Cruz marina and had only a three hour motor ahead (we'd been underway for about six hours at a time the previous two days). Spirits were high. Our good friends Jen and Kevin Holz stopped by Friday night; they're expecting their first child, and we're heading out on our big adventure, so celebratory beverages were enjoyed in good cheer. We were freshly showered, well fed and the anticipation of sailing with more dolphin was very exciting in and of itself.

And we weren't disappointed! Two otter were sunbathing in the kelp beds, riding the swell toward the beach, as we departed. A pod of dolphin came to play as we had lunch. We saw a few tantalizing whale spouts to port over the course of the afternoon. I only sighted one whale spine, but we have befriended a woman on our dock who guides marine adventure tours, and she said there has been a pod of humpbacks feeding in that part of the bay for the past few weeks. This woman, by the way, seems pretty fierce. She is the skipper and sole crew aboard a black, 20 foot rigid bottom inflatable with two 250 horsepower motors. 

But back to the cruise, we had abundant sunshine and calm winds. A soft breeze followed us as we left Santa Cruz, but after raising our sails and losing two knots we decided to keep motoring. Our entrance into the marina was very easy. Dominic maneuvered around the breakwater, through boat, kayak and otter traffic, to the diesel dock, and around to our side tie with ease.

However, let the record reflect, this isn't 100 percent magical fun and games. As we refueled, my job was to hang my upper body over the stern to catch any fuel that might leak out of the vent with an oil cloth. I spent a moment admiring the bright pink of the diesel drops, but as I lifted my gaze I found myself not three feet away from a bird carcass lying belly up in the water. I was doing a good job of suppressing my retching and meditating on the circle of life, until the deck attendant told me that bird corpses (there were in fact four or five scattered nearby) are prone to bursting when agitated. It was a horrifying image, and I'm grateful to have missed that experience.

We have taken today off as we have our first night sail scheduled to begin at 1 am Monday morning, and it should take us about 14 hours to get from Monterey to the anchorage in San Simeon. I did yoga on the bluff overlooking tide pools and the marina, and then took a long walk through Monterey with my dad to stock fresh provisions. Dominic spent some quality time with Helios, testing the AIS antennae, installing lee clothes and preparing the boat for our evening sail. 

There has been some excitement in the marina as I write this! First, a 18 foot sloop that was way overpowered tried to dock under sail. They came much too close to Helios for comfort, and then tried to side tie against the end of their slip (roughly the equivalent of parallel parking in front of a perpendicular spot). After the crew jumped on the dock, they weren't able to stop their boat, and they careened into the bow of the boat in the adjacent slip. Yikes! 

Then a different boat planning to enter the marina ran aground on the breakwater! The Monterey Fire Department arrived with their sirens blaring, but the Coast Guard beat them to the rescue. Thankfully, there seem to be no injuries, but my blood pressure is rising. Always a good reminder that we're living in something of a parking lot, and not everyone is always driving responsibly. 

Anyhow, it's time for an early dinner, earlier bedtime, and then a little night cruising. Ciao!