Goodbye, San Francisco! You were very good to us and we won't forget you. On our last day we explored the Golden Gate Bridge. Below is a view from a walkway underneath it. Construction crews are retrofitting it to withstand seismic events.
We climbed to the top of the hill overlooking the bridge, the bay, and the ocean. Breathtaking!
Now it's onward with the migration south. The day we left was beeyootiful, sunny and warm; there was just a little wisp of fog, like below. No biggie, we can see through that.
But little wisps on itty bitty kitty feet become walls of lumbering mashed potatoes with attitude very quickly around here. These photos were taken only a few minutes apart.
Hmm. Do we want to continue, or go back? Let's check the AIS magic black box again. It still says no ships to seaward within five miles. Good. We can see there's not much fog on the south side of the bridge, and our route hugs that shore, well outside ship channels. There's always some fog in San Francisco's entrance, right? Let's keep going, and see how things look on the other side. Best to cross the shipping channel at right angles before we get into all that fog. Suddenly: BOOOOOOOOOOOP! OMG, we're right in dead center of the channel! Karen imagines a giant ship's bow slicing out of the wall of fog at twenty knots. But it can't be a ship, there aren't any showing up on either the AIS or Vessel Traffic Control. Gotta be the bridge. Oh, let it be the bridge. Yep, it's the bridge. Whew. The bridge has its own fog signal that sounds just like a big ship. We sailed under the Golden Gate bridge, feeling grateful, but also a twinge about this likely being the last time we'll see it for awhile. Then San Francisco gave us this last gorgeous view.
The passage to Half Moon Bay was only 30 miles, and again we saw not one bit of coastline due to fog. But we did see this fogbow.
Karen also saw a 3-foot wide mola-mola (ocean sunfish) moving slowly at the water's surface. This is a photo she took of one that lives in the Monterey Aquarium, which we visited later. They get huge--up to 4,000 lbs. The one out at sea was about a meter wide.
At Half Moon Bay we enjoyed a visit with Karen's cousin Kate and her husband John. Here they are at the dock seeing us off in our dinghy, wondering if we'll make it back to the boat in all that dense fog.
We motor-sailed to Santa Cruz in light wind and "patchy" fog. Not long after we arrived, the swell from a big storm in the Gulf of Alaska began to break right across the channel entrance, so we enjoyed Santa Cruz for a couple of days until the swell calmed again.
Santa Cruz is a cool town--it's so laid-back that even the seagulls yawn when you photograph them.
But the tsunami that hit here hard was taken very seriously, and now these reinforcements are on most of the docks until they can make more permanent repairs.
This is a cool way to make a statement using organic materials. That's kelp.
There's a seaside amusement park with rides and all the funky carnival food you could want, including fried Twinkies. Seriously, does anyone really eat fried Twinkies? But this 100 year-old carousel still has a brass ring pull. That's the roller coaster track reflected in the window.
There's a huge pier full of restaurants and shops, but it's what's underneath the pier that's interesting: dozens of huge sea lions. Here are a few big bruisers sunbathing. This one probably weighs close to a thousand pounds.
This one playing in the water has two nasty bites on its back. We figured out they're probably shark bites. There are a LOT of big sharks in the area.
On to Monterey, in more fog.
But it thinned out enough to keep a less strenuous deck watch, and we especially enjoyed crossing over Monterey Canyon, which in places is two miles deep. Here's our GPS showing the part of the canyon we crossed; depths are in feet. It's a pretty steep plunge, and the surface waters teemed with life. Imagine flying over the Grand Canyon, but a canyon covered in uncounted millions of species of marine life, large and small, weird and wonderful, known and unknown. The idea of "flying" under sail over such a canyon boggles the mind.
We saw two sharks, one a great white about 8 feet long, and the other a smaller unknown species. Here's a photo of a great white shark in the Monterey Aquarium. It was much smaller than the one we saw offshore.
Monterey has been amazing. We rented bicycles and pedaled 30 miles one day, along the famous 17 Mile Drive with all its breathtaking seaside splendor. Every bend in the road revealed a new gasp-worthy sight.
At the end of the road was the Pebble Beach Golf Course, legendary host of professional golf tournaments for the hoi polloi. One night's stay in the cheapest room is $700. A round of golf is over $500. Yeesh, we thought, tiptoeing over the manicured lawn toward the famous 18th hole. Karen practiced a round of air putts until the real players teed up.
Shhhh, you can't make any noise here, said Jim. Okay, said Karen. A foursome approached the 18th hole.
We watched the first golfer get ready. It was a tricky shot; the freshly combed sand trap yawned wide. A hushed silence came over the small crowd watching an impeccably-dressed anonymous golfer in a red cap attempt to place the ball on the green. He swung; the ball moved, swerved, wobbled; the golfer groaned; then the courageous little ball shuddered, regained momentum, and rolled triumphantly onto the green. And we just couldn't help it; we broke into applause. Not everyday applause, mind you, but golf applause, the kind made with hands cupped just so, the cadence firm, restrained, approving but not insistent. Unfortunately, no one else was applauding. In fact, the crowd scattered so quickly that we were left standing there, déclassé t-shirts and hiking shoes betraying our ignominy. Karen was unable to control her giggling, and the golfer tipped his hat, exactly the way Jack Nicklaus would have done, saying, "Everyone's a comedian!"
A few minutes later, we asked a staff person for directions, and she offered us a ride in her golf cart. As we set off merrily across the entire resort, we passed some of the crowd who'd scattered in mortification at our outburst. A couple of them did double-takes as we rolled by. While some of the customers might be a bit standoffish, the staff at Pebble Beach was exceptionally helpful and friendly.
You can see the elaborate edge of the 18th hole here, and the man on the rocks beneath it got our attention.
It turns out he's a golf ball retriever. And here's the real reason it's called Pebble Beach:
In Monterey we finally caught up with our friend Craig McPheeters aboard Luckness, a Pacific Seacraft 37. After a fine couple of evenings together, we snapped this shot of him leaving for San Simeon.
But Monterey wasn't ready to release the Sockdolagerians yet. We rented a car and drove down to Big Sur, stopping to gasp at the views and dine at Jim's favorite restaurant in the world, Nepenthe. Here's the view from our table, 800 feet above the Pacific.
The Pacific was in a playful mood. This is Point Lobos.
Here's Pfeiffer Beach, a hidden gem.
We sat on the rocks and gazed at the surf for hours.
Big Sur is one of those places where photos can't do it justice.
The other must-do thing was a day spent at the Monterey Aquarium. Don't miss it if you ever get the chance. The creativity and beauty of the exhibits and the animals they lovingly present to visitors is unequaled. Here's a gentle Sea Dragon, which is a type of sea horse.
Although we saw many huge jellyfish while sailing, seeing them in slow motion in a simple tank is mesmerizing.
This is how close they let you get to the penguins.
And when the diver comes into the 28-foot deep live kelp garden, he has a microphone in his mask and can talk to the audience and answer their questions. Jim high-fived him.
Some sailors put a lot of distance under their keels mighty fast, while others move at a more sedate pace. Our speed down the California coast could best be compared to that of a wounded snail. Or perhaps a snail in full party-on-dude mode. This slowness has surprised us. We could literally spend weeks in each place we stop! But we can't. So we're going to pick up the pace soon, and by this weekend plan to be enroute direct to the Channel Islands. It's about 180 miles, and should take a couple of days. The islands we plan to visit are mostly uninhabited, so the next blog post will probably be in a couple of weeks, from Santa Barbara or Santa Monica.