Santa Cruz, California
We left Sausalito on Monday around noon, motoring out under the Golden Gate Bridge on the tail end of a flood tide. Clearing Point Lobos we sailed on light westerlies down the coast. After crossing the Columbia River Bar, it struck me that leaving the Golden Gate was the last time I will need to deal with strong currents and big tides for a long time.
An unfortunate incident occurred nearby: a small sailboat ran aground on the beach at Ocean Shores, at the western end of Golden Gate Park. We heard later via marine radio that no one was hurt. We had a nice sail on light southwest winds and a flat sea, sailing close hauled most of the day heading south. By late afternoon we arrived in Half Moon Bay. The harbor is protected by two sets of jetties, the inner jetties surrounding the marina. We chose to anchor in the calm outer harbor, within the first set of jetties, for the night. It was an easy anchorage in about 20 feet of water.
One of the things that makes an anchorage secure is a bottom that holds onto the anchor really well. In Half Moon Bay, the bottom is sticky mud. Good holding, but raising the anchor brought up plenty of that good, sticky mud: We had it on the anchor, on the chain, and all over the foredeck. But it’s easy to clean off later. As we were leaving, just outside the outer jetty, in waters protected by the point of land that creates Half Moon Bay, we saw a few whales that were feeding on the bottom. Surfacing occasionally, then rolling back under for quite few minutes, maybe three or four circled in the same area of the bay as we motored past.
Tuesday we raised anchor and left early, heading for Santa Cruz in Monterey Bay. The trip to Santa Cruz was a calm motor-sail. We began with a very light south wind and set the main sail to steady the boat roll. That died to nothing mid-day and a light north wind filled in behind us. It got strong enough to sail just as we reached Santa Cruz, so we decided to keep motoring for the last 40 minutes. The harbormaster very kindly gave us a berth at the end of the same dock as our friends Steve and Nikki on their 44’ powerboat “Mission.”
The harbor is small and dedicated to sailboats and smaller commercial fishing boats. No freighters here. Santa Cruz harbor is narrow and long, with an opening protected by a pair of short jetties but opening directly onto Monterey Bay. On the end of the starboard jetty stands a white lighthouse tower that seems to be popular with tourists walking out on the jetty.
Wednesday night we watched the local sailors take their boats out for the weekly evening yacht races. Monterey Bay would be a pretty nice place for sailboat racing. While we’ve been here we’ve observed light winds strengthening in the late afternoon but never so strong as to kick up much wave action on the Bay, so small boats, kayaks and even standup paddle boarders feel safe going out into the open water. Our friends who grew up here tell us that this end of the Bay is almost always clear and sunny, while the south end, where the city of Monterey and the famous aquarium are located, gets all the fog.
Our first few days in Santa Cruz were pretty full of social activities, all very enjoyable. We’ve met up with and shared fun times and meals with friends and family. Thursday, we had a good “stretch of the legs” walk on Año Nuevo State Park with Randy’s cousins Rod and Rena, to view an elephant seal rookery.
This is not the time of year when the seals are crowding the beach to molt and calve, so most of them had gone back to sea but there were few dozen young males hanging around. Even the young males, not yet their full weight and size, are impressive to watch as they play fight and tussle in the surf.
Friday (today) is a quiet day. We’ll get a few things done, but mostly we’ll relax and begin to really slow down.