Sailing out of San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, was a much more relaxed experience than coming into the Bay in the fog and dark. We had sunshine, no ship traffic, and a lovely light breeze – just enough for us to cut the engine and truly sail through this famous waterway.
For some reason, our departure from San Francisco felt like a milestone for both of us. It could have been because the Golden Gate is such an iconic strait in nautical history – it actually acquired its moniker prior to the California gold rush, because the strait was a departure (and return) point for the lucrative trade with Asia – or because so many sailors have begun and ended big voyages there. Or it could have been because we were headed – for the first time with CELESTE, though not the first time for us – to warm climes. For the first time since we’ve owned CELESTE, we were leaving behind the harsh weather and empty wildernesses of the high latitudes and were setting off on a new and different adventure to the tropics. Whatever the reason, though, sailing out to the Pacific from the Golden Gate felt like the beginning of a new voyage.
We were, however, only making an overnight trip to Monterey Bay, less than 100 miles away. We’d timed our departure from San Francisco for late afternoon so that we would arrive in Monterey in the morning of the next day. It was an easy – even boring – passage, just motoring through the calm. A couple of hours after sunrise, the barks of California sea lions were welcoming us to Monterey.
Monterey is best known for its large, excellent, and comprehensive aquarium, one of only two in the world with a kelp forest (the other is in Cape Town), and one of the few (the only other one I know of is in Miami) with a deep sea tank, large enough to encompass a huge sardine bait ball and several open ocean species – mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and pelagic rays.
The aquarium is there, of course, because Monterey Bay itself is teeming with marine life. The bay and the waters around it are an enormous marine reserve, so Seth and I took advantage of the sunny weather to scuba dive in the kelp forests of the bay. We even saw a sea lion while underwater!
Topside we saw a ton of marine life, too. Our favorite animals to watch were the sea otters as they banged open shellfish to eat and took care of their fluffy babies:
Monterey is at the northern end of the famous Big Sur coast, with its stunning cliffs, roaring surf, and undeveloped hills. While there, we rented a car to see some of it and to go hiking in this beautiful area.
All too soon, however, it was time to leave CELESTE in the care of the very thoughtful OCC Port Officers we’d been in touch with. The Ocean Cruising Club has a fantastic network of volunteer sailors around the world who, as Port Officers, help out fellow OCC members passing through their region. Grant and Amelia were a wonderful couple to meet and get to know and we felt confident leaving CELESTE in their care while we flew to the East Coast to visit family and to work – Seth was to present one of his economics papers at the Federal Reserve in St Louis!