Night cruising: San Francisco to Monterey

After five nights beneath the glimmer of Ghirardelli Square, we weighed anchor and departed the Aquatic Park at 8 pm. As we motored west toward the Golden Gate Bridge, we watched our first major port of call fade under the glitter of an unexpected fireworks display. Since we knew not the cause for the celebration, we imagined it was for us. We had enjoyed our time in the city by the bay.

After waiting several days for a weather window to leave San Francisco, we seized a brief opportunity to move south. Unfortunately, the interlude between two low pressure systems was marked by high-pressure calms, and we expected to motor the entire way to Monterey.

The glow of San Francisco faded behind us, and a thick blanket of fog settled over the stars. The black sky felt heavy, making the night feel as it might go on forever. The air was thick and damp, and my stomach grew woozy as the rhythm of the sea swell built slightly. I crawled behind the lee cloth, eager to close my eyes and grateful that Neil was willing to take the first night watch. Unfortunately, an 8 o’clock bedtime made for a restless few hours of sleep. At half past midnight, my stomach had mostly settled. It was my turn to take watch. By the end of my shift, I felt chilled, and my foulies were damp from the dew.Monterey_DolphinWith the dawn came gray whales and dolphins…and an unexpected issue with our fuel system. We could see Monterey in the distance, the colorful buildings of its famous pier and Cannery Row taking form, when our engine RPMs slowed markedly. I quickly shutdown our diesel engine, and Neil clambered into our bilge to investigate. Our primary fuel filter had clogged for the second time in just over a week, an ailment we attributed to gnarly fuel we’d purchased Neah Bay, WA. Neil drained the fuel filter, cleaned and tightened the drain plugs, and swapped the Racor filter with ease. Within minutes, Yanni the Yanmar was roaring once more.Monterey_On mooring ballsKnowing that large swells were expected to hit Monterey in the coming days, we bypassed the unprotected anchorage and hailed the Municipal Marina to request a slip. We made our way through a mine field of boats—fishing tugs, sailing boats, and decrepit vessels on the verge of sinking to their grave—tethered to mooring balls throughout the harbor. To a concert of howling sea lions, our eyes consumed our new city as we made our way down the fairway. Then, like a dame who somehow manages to shimmy into a Friday night cocktail dress that is almost too small and is inappropriately short, Cap’n Neil pulled our beamy, 44-foot boat into a 40-foot slip. HELLO, MONTEREY!Monterey_Sea lion serenadeMonterey_Pelican poopPassage perks
Point of departure: San Francisco, CA – 10/18/14
Point of arrival: Monterey, CA – 10/19/14
Distance traveled: 94 nautical miles
Total time: 14.5 hours
Engine roaring: 14.5 hours
Sails soaring: 0 hours
Average speed: 5.8 knots
Max speed: 7.7 knots
Jessie’s musings: Until arriving in California, we’d never seen single-boat slips. Despite notifying the harbormaster in Monterey that we have a 14-foot beam, we were assigned a slip that was just 15-feet wide. Thank goodness the finger piers were lined with rub rails, because we didn’t even have space to keep fenders down! A not-so-sexy fit to say the least!
Neil’s reflections: Whale flukes at dawn and hundreds of sea lions, whose bark could heard over a mile away, were the highlights for me.

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8 thoughts on “Night cruising: San Francisco to Monterey

    • Thanks a lot, Jeff. We hear that things are getting bitter cold up in Seattle this week. We are definitely feeling grateful for the warm temperatures here in Southern California…though we did meet Santa Ana (gnarly SoCal winds), and we’re not crazy about her! ~Jessie

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  1. Glad the lady was able to fit in her little black dress for the night. Love Learning new terms–Lee cloth. Smooth sailing.
    Barb and John.

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  2. We’re in the middle of sorting out the same problem and just emptied our diesel tanks and are polishing them ourselves. I’ll be blogging about it one of these days but if you’re interested in what products we’re using, give me a shout.

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  3. Pingback: A thousand miles to the American Riviera | s/v The Red Thread

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