It finally feels like autumn in Monterey. The evenings are cool and the days still sunny but not too warm. We’ve been nearly three weeks here, since Monday October 19, and we both are getting itchy feet. It’s time to move on.
We elected to stay in Monterey this long so that we could easily travel back to San Francisco. We want to apply for long-stay visas for French Polynesia and we needed to do that in person at the French Consulate in San Francisco. And that appointment was set for 10:00 am Thursday, November 5. Sailors with US passports can visit French Polynesia for up to three months on just their passport, simply by showing up. However, French Polynesia is a large and beautiful place, consisting of five distinct island groups covering more than 1,200 square miles. With a long-stay visa in our passports, we could stay as long as one year. The application process seemed successful: They took our application forms and fees. It will be one to two months before we learn whether or not our application is approved and visas will be issued.
A side benefit of staying in Monterey and driving to San Francisco was another opportunity to visit with family. Randy’s father, Max, was able to come down from Portland and visit with us and his brother’s family (Randy’s uncle).
Santa Cruz Boat Yard
On the way to San Francisco we stopped by Santa Cruz to visit our friends, Steve and Nikki. Their wood 44′ motor yacht needed a paint job and they tied into it themselves. They’ve been working hard for more than two weeks, and we provided an excuse for a break. The fairing and primer looks great. Final paint should be outstanding.
Richard has been helping out, stripping all the bright work and preparing for new varnish. In doing that he found some dry rot in the bulwarks that needs repair.
In the same Santa Cruz boatyard we found “Merlin.” Yes, that “Merlin,” the original “Fast is Fun” ultralight sailboat built to win the TransPac (Trans Pacific Yacht Race from LA to Honolulu), which it did in 1977, breaking the race record. This was the past brought forward for Randy. He was in Honolulu that year, getting ready to bring another boat, Nimble, back to Portland after it had participated in the same race. After recent years racing on Lake Michigan out of Milwaukee, WI, Merlin is back home. While we were admiring the boat up close, a friendly fellow appeared on the deck and invited us aboard for a look inside. Introducing himself as “Bill,” he gave us a tour and we had a pleasant chat, getting an update on his plans for the boat. It turned out that he was the original builder of Merlin and the founder of Santa Cruz Yachts, Bill Lee.
We considered sailing on south to Los Angeles. Marina Del Rey has places for visiting yachts and is close to LAX. From there, it’s just a short commuter flight to SFO, to make our appointments at the French consulate. But airports and airplanes all look the same after a while, and there’s not much to see while in flight. By staying in Monterey, we were able to rent a car and drive up to San Francisco. Driving up Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay and then across the mountains to Palo Alto, we saw a part of California that we have not seen before. After meeting the staff in the consulate, we walked the waterfront from the Ferry Terminal to Fisherman’s Wharf. The renovation of certain wharves and plenty of activity was impressive. Also impressive were the number of wharves being used as parking lots, on some of the most valuable waterfront in the world.
In the meantime we’ve experienced a full moon and the attendant spring tides here in the harbor. For non-sailors, these are very high and very low tides due to the pull of the moon’s gravity on the ocean. There is a tidal effect in Portland, too, especially in late summer and early fall when river flows are low. But the effect is diminished and the timing is altered because Portland is about 110 statute miles upriver from the ocean. Here on the bay, the effect is very direct.
We’ve enjoyed meeting other sailors while staying in Monterey. Yesterday we had dinner on board Velic with Heidi and Kirk from “Due West,” a Passport 40 from Seattle. They’re also on the way south, planning for the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. We hope see them again before we head west and they head further south.
We plan to depart Monterey tomorrow or Tuesday. Our planned next stop is Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. The weather is changing. It’s less stable and a pattern of fronts separated by shorter windows of good weather is becoming apparent. A cold front will come through later today, bringing rain and possibly southwest winds. The forecast has it passing through in 24 to 36 hours, and our departure depends on how fast that front moves through the area.