Welcome. This is the place where pictures and a narrative of the ongoing voyages of Minerva will show up, whenever I get internet access and of course, when I have something new and hopefully exciting to share. Hope you enjoy yourself here, and don't be shy, please comment if you have something to share or say!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Santa Cruz to Monterey

After a long and chilly two day voyage from San Francisco and the dip in the cold waters landing dinghy, dog, and crew on the beach, the morning coffee tasted exceptionally fine as dawn broke sunny and warm over the range of mountains to the southeast of the semi-protected waters of Santa Cruz anchorage.  After a short breakfast, I weighed anchor around 1230 HRS. With only a light breeze, as we had experienced the entire voyage so far, I raised sails once again in the hopes of getting some wind for the twenty two mile crossing of Monterey Bay to the town of the same name and the historical harbor there.  Because it was only a short distance, I elected to leave the dinghy in the water and tow it.  Visibility was around 10 miles, so our destination was apparent only to our trusty compass, with the sandy coastline wandering off to port.  A large sailboat had sailed just ahead of me out of the anchorage and had steered left, so I simply followed their course for a few minutes until I determined that they weren’t headed for Monterey or were staying in sight of shore, and so adjusted our heading to the course I had worked out the night before. We chugged along under motor for only a short time until the breeze finally filled in enough to shut down the engine and sail along at 3 - 4 knots.  An hour or two into the crossing, the wind was blowing steadily at around 15 knots just aft of the beam giving us the best sail yet encountered since leaving San Francisco, with Minerva happily settled in making 5 -7 knots.  The seas were a gentle 4 – 6 feet rolling easily along giving a welcome change from the flat, glossy, nearly nonexistent seas encountered the two days prior.  The sun had been covered by a light cloud cover encouraging me to put on some warmer clothing, but the exhilaration of a good wind and the promise of an easy passage kept a smile on my face the whole trip.  We made the outer harbor buoy on the mark, turned to windward and secured the sails at 1630 HRS, only a 4 hour sail.  I had read the cruising guide and had studied the local chart to help find the anchorage into which we motored.  There were several small fishing boats anchored just inside the fishing wharf and opposite the inner harbor channel from the mooring field, but it didn’t seem too crowded, so I got the hook ready to set and started searching for a likely place to hang out for a while.  I was on my third pass through the anchorage looking for just the right spot when a Harbor Patrol boat showed up to advise me that this was not the anchorage but was located on the opposite side of the fishing wharf.  I thanked him for catching me before I dropped the hook, as the anchor windlass wasn’t working properly and I was hauling up the 45 lb CQR with 3/8” chain by hand.  That isn’t a job to be taken lightly!  As it turned out, I would have likely lost my anchor and chain had I set it in the inner harbor which was extremely foul, according to the Harbor Patrolmen.  Anyway, we got settled without further ado about 500 feet off of the wharf, just in front of a second mooring field standing off the beach and outside the breakwater.  The sun had returned, albeit a bit low in the sky by this time, the boat was sitting comfortably at anchor, and we had just completed the best sailing day, out of sight of land, that I have had in much too long a time.  I was ecstatic!  I prepared a fine dinner and was sitting back with a cocktail looking at the lights of the city and harbor when I heard a very deep breathing just off my stern.  Now I’ve heard seals, sea lions, and porpoises grabbing air as they swim by but this was much deeper and of longer duration than any I’ve heard before.  Looking toward the sound, there was just enough light from the wharf to illuminate a small “bow wave” moving across my stern toward the wharf.  Reason told me that it had to be a whale, but we were anchored in just 30 feet of water and only 1000 feet from the beach!  The bow wave disappeared for several minutes as I waited for either the wharf to collapse from the collision of the brute or some other indication of the whale’s progress.  The pier didn’t move and I heard another “blow” giving evidence of what I fancied as a young bull whale moving off from the pier toward open waters.  What a finale to a fine day and a splendid welcome to Monterey!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Out the Gate and Left!

Finally, after all of the preparations, installations, provisioning, and several bon voyage parties, the crew assembled and we slipped the dock lines to head for the unknown.  My daughter Jennifer, who had recently graduated UC Santa Cruz, which was one of the pivotal factors in my decision to venture forth, joined the crew for the first leg out of the Gate to the town of Santa Cruz.  A friend from the docks where I had been living and had owned, loved, and sailed a woodie (a wooden boat) too, Steve Block, also joined us for the voyage.  The final member rounding out our motley crew was Stoney, Steve’s dog, a big boy that didn’t complain the entire trip.
The weather forecast called for moderate winds for the day, so without fanfare, we set sail at 1230 HRS and sailed out and under the Golden Gate for my final time. 

Jennifer was aware enough to grab the camera and get this shot.
With 10 – 15 knots of wind, we sailed most of the day taking turns at the wheel while others adjusted sails, prepared food, or rested easy.  Jennifer had a somewhat sour look most of the journey and finally told us of her seasickness.  After eating some ginger snacks and taking a Dramamine, she still looked pretty sour!
But she was a sport, didn’t complain, and spent quite a bit of time at the wheel.
One of our options was to sail straight on to Santa Cruz with no stops through the night.  However, as this journey is supposed to be pleasant and easy going, we elected to stop over in Half Moon Bay for the night.  It was already dark two hours before reaching harbor and with Steve below napping, Jennifer was at the wheel while I navigated and dropped the sails.  It took a while to find the small blinking lights with all of the traffic lights, street lights, advertising lights, etc.in the background , but Jen and I finally identified the lighted buoys marking the channel around a shoal, and inside the protection of the breakwaters, which quickly calmed the waters around us.  Many boats were anchored in this calm bay but we found a likely spot and nestled between them and out of the main channel at 2200 HRS.  It is always a great feeling to sit comfortably at anchor in calm waters after rocking and rolling all day long.  Drinks all around!  I prepared a good hearty breakfast (even if it was dinnertime) as a reward to all, particularly my brave crew, and we sat around afterwards congratulating ourselves for only a short time, all very tired and wanting to get some sleep for the even longer voyage on the morrow.
At 0830 HRS the anchor was up and we were on our way once more toward SC, although we were motoring with no wind to drive the sails.  Just before noon, and one mile before Pigeon Point, a breeze sprang up enough to again turn the motor off and sail at 5 knots in the peaceful rolling quiet that only sailors know.   This respite from the constant chugging of a diesel motor was short lived however and we were forced once again to fire up the “iron jenny” (jenny is slang for genoa, a large foresail).

We had a casualty at this point; Jennifer, only wanting to relax, mis-judged the swinging of the staysail boom and bent over to sit down on the foredeck just as the boom swung back (due to lack of wind) where it clobbered her right across the bridge of her nose. I was below doing something when I felt my presence needed on deck.  I found her, just squatting on the side deck, holding her nose and slightly dazed, but she's a tough cookie and all was well once we stopped the bleeding.  She had two black eyes for weeks afterwards, and some tall tales I'll bet!

We made Santa Cruz around 1700 HRS and dropped the hook just west of the pier.

Soon after arriving, we spotted my Jeep that a friend from Berkeley had driven down to pick up the crew and was flashing the car’s headlights from the wharf.  We lowered the dinghy into the water, loaded the gear and Jennifer aboard and headed to a ladder that extended from the deck of the pier to the water, where we were able to unload this boatload.  Stoney was going to be another problem, because he couldn’t climb ladders so, with Steve, Stoney, and me aboard, we drove for the beach.  I timed the swells rolling in to keep from swamping the dink and, at just the right moment, gunned the outboard to drive us up the beach.  Well, I thought it was the right moment, but two seconds later, with the boat nearly stopped, the boat’s side swung high enough to roll Steve and me both right into the surf!  Stoney jumped clear without getting but his feet wet, but Steve and I were soaked through and through.  I didn’t think it was all that funny, but Jennifer and Cynthia were in hysterics!  The roll in the surf hurt my ego a bit but wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits, however Steve had a two hour car ride home, wet and sandy, although he was able to put some dry clothes on before departing.  I on the other hand, was able to have a warm bath and a change of clothes before cooking up a celebratory dinner.  We had just completed the first of many legs on our voyage to paradise.

Thanks to Jennifer and Steve for the help and for being such great sports!

Moored in Berkeley


Cree very kindly allowed me to hang out on an end tie for a couple of weeks while I took care of final preparations to leave.

As you will see in later posts, I really enjoy night shots of the surrounding lights; Berkeley being only the first being posted.  Below is from Minerva in Berkeley looking toward San Francisco Bay Bridge with the City behind. 

The same perspective only a light fog has rolled in.


I can't come up with many more good excuses, so it seems to be time to leave. A few more details to take care of early next week and try to push off toward the end of the week. Those who have expressed a desire to crew, should figure out the days you are available and let me know asap to coordinate. First stop will be either Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz, depending on weather and crew's time schedules.