Our prolonged stay at the tranquility of Marina Bay Yacht Harbor eventually came to an end. After almost a month, we cast our dock lines and made it to the sea again. Monterey, CA was our new destination, 95 miles away.
It’s funny how things are. Twice we tried to depart from San Francisco Bay, and sudden turns of events kept us in. This time it was the opposite – we were all set to stay another 10 days or so when a business trip for Adriana got cancelled at the last minute. At the same time there was an unusually nice weather window opening up. And Pesto’s mainsail, which was at the sail loft for some adjustments, was ready. Stars aligned. It was time to go.
Immediately a long to-do list was created to transform Pesto from the stationary floating house that it had become to the ocean-going vessel she is meant to be.
And less than 48 hours later, exactly when the sun was starting to hide behind the hills of Point Reyes National Seashore, and a few minutes after the tide turned from ebb to flood, we left the still waters of the marina.
From Richmond to under the Golden Gate Bridge took us some 45 minutes. The Bay was unusually calm, due to a stationary high pressure system which sucked most of the regular wind out. It was the most beautiful view we had of the bay in the last month. We were all excited, and celebrated with the season’s first Panettone. It was a moment of joy.
As soon as we passed under the GG bridge, we were into the San Francisco Bay Bar and things changed rapidly. Even though the swell was not large (5-7 ft), at the bar it gets steep, with a very short period. For approximately one hour Pesto hobby-horsed and punched through the vicious waves. The wind also grew, on the nose, first 10 knots, going up to 20 knots as we approached the traffic separation zone.
Just after passing the fourth channel marker, we turned Pesto’s bow SSW toward Monterey, CA. The wind was now on the quarter, I was setting the mainsail and weeez … the wind filled the sail, which pushed the boom, and the end of the mainsheet slipped through the stopper. Things got chaotic for a while: Pesto’s huge sail flapping wildly with the wind, the swell rocking us sideways, and two large container ships passing by. There was a lot of choice words on deck – from me to myself – remembering that good seamanship requires that leading ends of all sheets have a knot to prevent them from slipping through their stoppers. As it turns out, the sea doesn’t take long to expose a sailor’s weaknesses. As a consequence I found myself in the middle of the SF Bar’s traffic separation zone sewing a leader line to the mainsheet to pass it back through the stopper.
Within 20 minutes or so the mainsail was under control again, I was (deservedly) drenched in salt water, both sails were set, and Pesto pushed forward toward Monterey. With the 20 knot wind at her quarters, she was averaging 8-8.5 knots. We sailed like that for the rest of the night, and the early hours of Friday as we made it into Monterey Bay.
We arrived at Monterey’s Municipal Marina approximately 10AM. We were tired (by We I mean the two adults on board – the children, on the other hand, had just woken up fresh. Since we sailed all night, there was no engine noise in the cabin and they had a perfect night o’sleep). As soon as we tied Pesto to the dock and fulfilled the basic check-in formalities, Adriana and I crashed on our bed to recharge.
The kids woke us up just after noon. They were excited. The marina here is quite different from Richmond. It is busy, and full with wildlife – sea lions swim between the boats, sea otters come eat their catch a few feet away from where we are. Birds of all kinds fly low. And the city’s attractions are all within walking distance from our dock – it looks like we will have a great time here.
Boy, it is good to be on the move again !