Friday, October 14, 2016

Santa Cruz

[Kyle]Our departure from Pillar Point harbor at Half Moon Bay was much like it was on the trip down from San Francisco. We motored until about nine o’clock (am), when the wind gradually filled in, allowing us to switch to much quieter sails for propulsion.

By the time we rounded the corner at Santa Cruz, we needed a couple of reefs in the jib so the upwind turn wouldn't leave us over canvassed.

The anchorage at Santa Cruz is an open roadstead exposed to the open Monterey Bay to the south. Protection from the northwesterly swell is found by tucking as far in as possible behind the big public pier. As we approached what looked like a good spot, we had a look at the pier through the binoculars to try to locate the dinghy landing. We found them both, but they had each been completely taken over by sea lions. On to plan B.

The Wharf did not appear to be a sensible place to park the dinghy!
We later discovered instructions that suggested we just 'nudge' the sea lions aside.. Hmm, not happening!

We headed away from the protection of the pier over to near the harbor entrance, figuring we would just have to deal with the longer dinghy ride into the harbor. The anchorage was a little deeper than we liked and there were big patches of kelp everywhere. At the first spot we selected, the anchor held until we used a lot of reverse to test it was in. Then it started skipping backwards across the bottom.

We went a little further away into even deeper water and found another kelp-free patch where we tried again. This time the anchor pulled out and then reset. We tested it again with more reverse than we usually use and it held fast. Conditions were forecast to be calm during our stay, so it was probably unnecessary, but we wanted to not have to worry if we left the boat. {Maryanne: Especially since we could readily hear the surf breaking on the nearby beach!}

Even though it was a long dinghy ride into the harbor and there was a bit of left over swell, our anchorage amongst the kelp turned out to be very entertaining. Since kelp provides shelter for sea life, Begonia was pretty much surrounded by animals hunting and foraging for food. There were lots of sea lions poking their heads up to see what we were. Even cuter were the sea otters. They range all up and down the coast, but these were the first we have seen. What a life they seem to have. Since food is so abundant, they spend most of their time playing. Occasionally, when they get a little hungry, they will swim down and get something to eat to recharge for some more play time. There were always a few floating around, eating something off of their chests.

Sea Otters eating

And Sea Otters just cruising around (with snacks) - they are all around us at anchor

We arrived in time to see the sunset over the wharf

There were lots of people sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding by and more still enjoying the view from the beach - plenty of world so sit and watch go by.

The following day we deployed the dinghy and headed to the pier for a better look at the sea lions. There was definitely no way we would have been comfortable landing there. As we were pulling away from the pier, an otter surfaced right in front of us clutching a crab that was half as big as he was. He couldn't possibly eat the whole thing, so he munched away at the choice bits and left tidbits for a gull who showed up as soon as the otter started tossing away the rest.

Sea Lions at the Wharf - we didn't seriously think we could land on the public dinghy docks there

On the way to the harbor, we were also joined by three dolphins, who loped along, just out of reach. Cool.

We tied up to the dinghy dock, went to the harbor master's office to see if there was anything else we needed to know or do - there wasn't, and then called my brother Darren. He lives and works here and was just about to get off work, so we joined Darren for a nice meal at a local pub where we could organize our plans for the rest of our stay.

Saturday, Darren came out to spend the day on the boat with us at anchor. After a partial day at work, he drove to the harbor, where I picked him up for the long dinghy ride to Begonia. Before that, though, I took him for a repeat of the harbor tour Maryanne and had taken the day before. Our route took us so far away from Begonia that Darren was beginning to doubt his memory of what our boat looked like, since it seemed to him that was where I should be heading. When he realized he was just getting our version of what other people were shelling out good kayak rental money for, he calmed down. The wind started to pick up just as we arrived at the boat, making it a little choppy. Poor Darren. He almost survived with a settled stomach.

Into the Harbor with the dinghy, to fetch Darren

Once aboard the bigger boat, even though there was a bit of swell running, he was fine and we spent the rest of the day cooking and eating and catching up.

Sunday, Darren picked us up and took us back to his place (and to the grocery store) where he cooked for us, and we continued to hang out, catch up and relax.

Leaving Begonia and the Sea otters (this one with a baby) behind and Hanging out at Darren's cottage in the redwood forest

Monday during the day we set about a tour of Santa Cruz via the hardware stores(!), and in the evening we met up with fellow sailors from Jack London Square that happen to live in Santa Cruz. They have a boat and are in the planning stages to set off into a cruising life - it was fun to remember when we were in that very stage ourselves.

Santa Cruz - Walton Lighthouse and Seabright Beach

Santa Cruz - The 1906 Boardwalk is the oldest beachfront amusement park on the west coast, with a 1911 Looff carousel - both being historic landmarks.

Tuesday we dedicated to seeing more of the fun parts of Santa Cruz. We walked to Walton lighthouse (where we were doused by a wave), we visited the tiny natural history museum, and walked along the beach and the boardwalk (amusement park and arcades). We took our time along the pier/wharf (more sea lions) and finally out to see the surfers at Lighthouse point. Just beyond the surf museum we continued to see the sea arch - and were treated on the way to the entertainment of watching the local fire department doing sea rescue drills.

Surfers - Santa Cruz was the first place in the USA to see surfing! (brought there by Hawaiian princes)

Santa Cruz Surfing museum and coastline beyond

Unfortunately, it slipped our mind, we didn’t walk quite far enough and we missed reaching Natural Bridges State Park and the chance of seeing any early arriving monarchs on the butterfly trail.

Kyle and Darren at Darren's workplace

Tuesday evening we again met up with Darren (along with a tour of his work place; Darren builds and repairs guitars for a living and is pretty good at it, it was especially nice to see him so at home in his workshop). We ate out again, and said our farewells until next time.

But mostly - we just loved enjoying the otters at play

1 comment:

Mommy dearest said...

So fun to share this visit with my "boys." Those otters are the cutest little critters ever. When do you move south?