If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. Loren Eiseley
That’s one of the quotes from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and sums up our experience there yesterday. It’s possible to wander for hours, almost overwhelmed by the beauty contained in the 28-foot high kelp forest teeming with fish, the new Jellies Experience, which really is a psychedelic tour of these ephemeral, wildly-colored ancient creatures, and the movies and talks in the auditorium, especially the Mysteries of the Deep, which has video taken by the submersible going down into the 12,000 foot deep canyon in Monterey Bay and recording the startling animals seen far below. As we journey by motor and sail on the surface of the ocean I often imagine the teeming life going on under our boat as we pass over, unseen by us unless it surfaces for brief moments.
This segment of the trip started last Thursday in San Francisco, with rain greeting us right after anchoring in Aquatic Park and paddling ashore in the kayaks. The lure of chocolate was strong, since we were right below Ghirardelli Square, so off we went to sample and purchase way more chocolate than was good for us. Restraint over the past week means we still have some chocolate bars left to nibble on while on the next leg of the journey. Part of the reason we have chocolate left is due to the amazing meals we’ve enjoyed. Here is a brief summary: red snapper with butter/caper sauce, saffron rice, broccoli and sourdough bread at Nick’s Lighthouse Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf; Pan Asian Singaporean food at Straits, near Powell & Market, delicious vegetable curry, seafood risotto, shrimp and mussel pad thai; pumpkin curry soup, penne pasta with walnut pesto sauce, mahi mahi with garlic mashed potatoes and fried kale at Flavors in Half Moon Bay; crepes with caramelized onions, spinach, mushrooms and brie at Crepes of Brittany in Monterey at the marina; smoked salmon panini with tomatoes and fresh greens, and a salad of greens, caramelized walnuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette at Paluca Trattoria again at the Monterey marina where we’re berthed. I have cooked some meals too, but nothing that compares to the gastronomic delights mentioned above. Even though dining out gets expensive, it supports local restaurants, uses mostly local ingredients, treats us, and let’s me give readers ideas for meals. Since I have no mortgage, no car, no utility payments, and very few other expenses except marina berthing, I can treat us to meals with no regrets. And we got to visit with my cousin Pat and her daughter Beth, who works finding homes for the homeless in San Francisco, when we dined at Straits, and do more visiting with Marian and Jan (my former mother-in-law and sister-in-law) at Flavors.
Nikk and I spent all afternoon Friday traipsing around downtown San Francisco; walking up to the top of Lombard from Fisherman’s Wharf, down the “world’s most curvy street”, continuing on Lombard up to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill with it’s 1930’s murals of workers, down, down the concrete and wooden steps, past lovely gardens, on into the industrial area near the Embarcadero, where we found Sue Bierman Park on the waterfront and also found about 100 Amazonian Parrots, the remnants of the flock documented in the book and movie “The Parrots of Telegraph Hill”. Their noisy squawking made it easy to spot them in some bedraggled trees. Another 100 more are said to be in San Bruno now. I was thrilled to find them! The day ended with two cable car rides up and down the very steep hills of San Francisco.
Sailing out of the Bay was made more interesting by the presence of about 150 swimmers in the Bay, in a race at 8am from the St. Francis Yacht Club to Aquatic Park. I can’t even imagine how cold that water feels, since it was about 57 degrees according to our water sensor on the boat.
Unlike the two gray days in SF, the weather was sunny and crisp for the six-hour sail to Half Moon Bay, and no big ships to dodge, either. Sailing/motoring to Monterey Bay on Sunday was another matter entirely. The forecast said “patchy fog”, so off we went at 7 am, into the fog with our eyes glued on the radar. The sun kept trying to break through, creating mysterious, scintillating patterns of light.
It wasn’t until afternoon when we had almost reached Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay at about 1pm, that Sol shone full on us, and then the NW winds began, tossing the boat on 6-8 foot seas. Sailing over the 12,000 foot deep trench in Monterey Bay made the waves even more ferocious, which is counter to sailing reasoning, perhaps it was the strengthening winds. We had to hand steer the last few hours, but finally made it past Point Pinos and the lighthouse/rocks, and into the relative calm of the Monterey marina just at sunset. The loud barking and moaning of the sea lions perched on the pilings nearby kept us company all night long.
Today was laundry day, and also repairing the low oil pressure sensor (with time off for the delicious lunch), blog writing and finally at 4pm it’s time to explore low tide in the kelp beds with our kayaks. The high pressure system has parked itself for another day, creating high winds for tomorrow, so we will not leave until Thursday. We’ve found another boat to sail with us to Morro Bay. With every marina we get closer to Mexico.