All and all the passage down the coast was good with only a few squalls of rain, fresh breeze and fair weather. As we sailed the northern California coastline we experienced confused seas – just par for such an adventure. Most of our passage south of Mendocino, CA offered northerly winds as we sailed wing and wing dead downwind.
Approaching the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA, we were greeted with a grey whale and bottle nose dolphins. We were fortunate to enter the San Francisco Bay in clear afternoon daylight with the sails up. Our trusty crew made this passage possible and was patiently supportive during Peggy’s many bouts of seasickness. We extend our gratitude to our crew for a great experience and exceptional teamwork.
Once we settled into the routine of San Francisco we were able to explore the region extensively using transportation modes including bicycle, ferry boat, Uber car, MUNI bus, trolley car and a lot of walking. We hiked up to Coit Tower to take in the spectacular views and are sad to report the wild parrot population is no longer existent. We spent a day exploring the California Academy of Sciences http://www.calacademy.org/ and highly recommend a visit to this exceptional aquarium/planetarium/natural history musuem. After making an attempt to bike up to the Golden Gate Park we resorted to having Uber shuttle us up. Once we arrived we unfolded our bikes and were off to explore the sights.
Anchoring in Richardson Bay in Sausalito, CA was challenging and too shallow for Flyer. We took advantage of the moorage reciprocity and hospitality of the Sausalito Yacht Clubs mooring balls; which allowed us the opportunity to enjoy a day excursion hiking the trails of The Muir Woods National Monument http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm and take in the beauty of California’s forests and interior.
We were able to watch the trials of the Rolex race from the infamous St. Francis Yacht Club and the Golden Gate Yacht Club; both of which were exceptionally accommodating and hospitable. After almost three weeks in San Francisco and the surrounding area we set sail to Half Moon Bay, then onto Monterrey Bay, CA.
As we traversed the coast we were greeted by a large pod of humpback whales off the shores of Moss Landing, CA. The whales were so close to the boat we could smell the stench of rotten fish. Aside from the smell, it was an incredible experience for both of us. We spent a few days exploring Monterey, CA local museums and of course the infamous Monterey Bay Aquarium http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/. A visit to Monterey Bay really deserves a day trip to the aquarium. The Monterey Bay local farmers market offered great entertainment, fresh food and an opportunity to discover the downtown area.
After an overnight passage from Monterey Bay to Morro Bay, CA we arrived into the Morro Bay harbor with the sunrise and Morro Rock greeting us. Another local festival offered us a unique perspective of this small town. We discovered the community is in the process of establishing a maritime museum that is home to one of only two Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles in the world. This artifact offered fascinating history and will undoubtedly be an anchor exhibit to this upcoming exceptional museum.
Continuing southbound our visit to Santa Cruz, Redondo Beach, Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands all offered a unique perspective and the communities history as well as the reciprocity of fellow yacht clubs. Everyone was exceptionally friendly, informative and hospitable. We are very grateful for the warm welcome and helpful information all the clubs and their members offered us.
We took a detour to Catalina Island, dropping the hook on the west side of the island in Cat Harbor. The desolation and peace was heavenly, the water was crystal clear. A long time member of the Isthmus Yacht Club gave us an exclusive tour of the yacht club . IYC has a fascinating history and was initially a military and U.S. Coast Guard barracks until the close of WWII. As we worked our way back to the mainland we sailed southern Catalina Island and moored in Avalon for a few days.
The Avalon Casino was the backdrop of our view in Avalon Harbor. The handpainted murals and Page Organ in the Casino’s movie theater are a reminder of the unique flare and history of the area. Although we never felt the ghostly presence of Marilyn Monroe, the island offered a lot of history about her as well as the wild escapades of several other celebrities. We forgot to mention our quest to find the BEST pizza… and we found it at Antonio’s Pizzeria and Cabaret in Avalon, Catalina Island, CA.
Arriving in Newport Harbor offered unique and varied anchorages allowing us to see several areas of the harbor, watch the kids in the community sailing programs, all while exploring the community via bicycle. Watching the surfers at the Wedge beach on the far end of Newport Beach was just as entertaining as tooling around the channels with the dinghy sightseeing. An afternoon trip to Sherman Library and Gardens http://www.slgardens.org/ showcased the regions foliage and fascinating garden design.
Spending just over a a month in San Diego taking care of business, provisioning and spending time on the hook in the community anchorages, we ramped up to cross the Mexican border. Considering the length of our stay in San Diego, a few must visit destinations include Point Loma Seafood offering both an exceptional fish market and a great place to eat lunch or dinner. We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with a potluck hosted by the friendly members of the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island. Dinner was delicious and the members were friendly and informative as they offered us advice regarding Mexico and our upcoming passage.
Crossing the border: We motor sailed to Ensenada, BCN, Mexico and saw a few whales about 3 miles outside of the Ensenada harbor. Unfortunately the winds didn’t pick up until we arrived in the Ensenada Harbor which made tying up to the dock more challenging than necessary. Ensenada is the gateway to Mexico and a necessary port for boaters to clear customs, acquire fishing licenses and numerous other permits making us and Flyer legal to travel throughout Mexico. Our stay at the Baja Naval Marina in Ensenada was very hospitable and accommodating. Once we wrapped up our customs paperwork in Ensenada, we had a 40 hour passage to Turtle Bay; offering two days of rest before continuing our passage southbound. A stop in Abrejos Bay was supposed to offer a restful night to break up the passage onto Magdalena Bay. Instead the rough anchorage motivated us to continue onto Mag Bay taking turns napping. The weather allowed us to anchor in Santa Maria Cove just outside the Mag Bay harbor. This was a convenience by not adding on additional time entering the harbor and checking in with the port captain. Our last two day passage from Mag Bay to San Jose del Cabo offered beautiful scenery, more whales, magnificent meteor showers, calm seas and light breezes. Our overnight passage from San Jose del Cabo to LaPaz, Mexico was exciting as Steve caught a beautiful 36″ yellowtail tuna. Steve had it on the hook, gaffed, on-board and cleaned within the hour. Now that we are in LaPaz, Mexico we are working on a few projects, cleaning up Flyer and formulating our upcoming passages, anchorages and site seeing destinations. We joined some friendly boaters for an evening out to enjoy dinner and a Christmas concert at the Instituto Sudcaliforniano de Cultura. The pianist composer created two original pieces and wrote them to incorporate the two violinists and cellists… in a word – spectacular.
That sums up our past four months. We’ll attempt to post updates more frequently as WiFi and time permits. Until then… ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo! (Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year) – Peggy & Steve