Of Misty Shores, Sea Elephants and Lone Gulls atop Buoy
Sailing is exhausting. I was in my bunk within an hour of our arrival in Monterey, immediately after squaring my registration with the harbormaster’s office early that afternoon. I woke up long enough to eat. I went back to my bunk. I was out until the next morning. Weather ahead was unsettled. We would remain in port Tuesday. Conditions turned to our advantage on Wednesday.
A short walk from our slip first thing before our departure we perched on stools and ate breakfast. LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle a waterfront favorite was on Municipal Wharf #2.
Our short order cook put to rest any concern that a high fat diet was anything to fear. Not the seated customers, not the line of people waiting, indeed not one person appeared the least bit concerned. Life is short and eating at LouLou’s makes life shorter.
Sighting a Mermaid
We topped off our fuel tank. The fuel dock clerk grew up in Salinas, moved to Pacific Grove abandoned his car and walked to work now. He’d lucked into an affordable room. That’s a lot of good fortune in the land of sky high rent. This is life on the West Coast. Californian’s want to get rid of their lousy commute, live someplace we can afford so we may devote our free time to staring at our beguiling smartphones.
A pod of killer whales ,we counted six, congregated a hundred and fifty yards south of the harbor entrance buoy. We throttled up. Crossing Monterey Bay would take three hours. Sky was slate gray, the ocean darker, forbidden charcoal. Steaming at speed out of the haze appeared a fishing vessel, first one and then another, there was more boat traffic than we’d seen since Morro Bay. Fishermen were headed westbound.
Our spirits ran high. Two days sleep had restored our spirits. Seas were modest, not steep, the motion of the boat was comfortable. Soon we were off the northernmost headlands of Santa Cruz. Not long after we could see Davenport. Once Ana Nuevo was on our beam we had the temerity to imagine Half Moon Bay as being not much further north. Pigeon Point put the lie to that foolishness. Forging ahead at six knots asked for patience. Once in sight of Pillar Point we deluded ourselves that we would have her on our stern in short order. Four hours later we had only then passed the Pillar Point Safe Water Buoy. We had been underway for eleven hours.
Strapped In for the Long Ride
Half Moon Bay’s fishing fleet was out in the overcast night running their powerful deck lights. Fishermen further out to sea over the horizon gave away their positions as lights bounced off low clouds gathered just above where they toiled. The night was aglow, dotted here and there were islands of white-lighted radiance. Compared to the Big Sur coast the bustling fishing fleet was to our welcomed advantage. Anxious to arrive at home port, we would cling to anything to distract us. By now I was aiming four miles ahead to the Colorado Reef Lighted Buoy. On a northwest course we tracked the thirty fathom line. Fourteen miles further we would intersect with the Main Ship Channel Buoys that marked the entrance to the San Francisco Bay.
Ten miles off the coastline as we approached the mix of northern swell colliding with what would be a monster ebb kicked up, the sea state was in transition. I had been so fixated on weather I had not spent any time consulting the Tide and Current Tables. We would be passing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge while the ebbing current was running against us. The precision of our running against the torrent was a classic ditzy-brained sailing blunder. Whatever the word is for the opposite of luck that’s what I have. When it comes to approaching San Francisco Bay’s entrance I am preternaturally disposed to nail my arrival at maximum ebb. This is a sure bet and mortal lock. I am fated to suffer going against the grain. It is coded into my monumental stubbornness.
Inbound Beneath the Gated Wonder
We would crawl into the bay. We had been underway for sixteen hours. If conditions had been in our favor we would pull into our slip in just over an hour. A more languid processional arrival was ordered by the forces aligned in my cerebral cortex and synchronized with tide and current.
In voyaging down and back up the coast the prudent mariner has a great many rules to abide, much as the Dude abides, so too shall the dudes arriving in the early morning hours of the morning of September 6, 2018 give their full attention to living in harmony with all the astronomical forces unleashed by the tensions gripping earth and moon. The City’s skyline was a luminous eye quenching martini, a feast of spangled skyscrapers, an urbanized shadow puppet, a yarn, a plotted twist, a grand welcome home.
Jeweled Home Port
Plunging ahead near Blossom Rock Buoy there were two promises within one hour of my grasp. There were a great more many rules, a vast number of skills, there was unsolicited advice, deeply disturbing testimonials, but mixed with all of those myriad of other matters buffeting my attention there were two more existential promises I had wanted more than anything else to make good on. First and most important was, don’t get killed. And if I did survive the first promise would I please second of all, not sink the ship.
For the final three nautical miles I kept close eye out, vigilance is a sailor’s best defense. And just to be that much more sure I’d make good on the twin pillared promises I hustled below and turned the switch to my bilge pump to the on position. After fifty-two days outbound we put into Emery Cove. The time was zero-four-hundred hours. My summer of sailing off the coast of California was now a thousand glorious sea miles off my stern.