During our last week of crazy busy cruising preparation, our walking friend Anna shared with us that there was a planetary alignment we could view at 4:30 each morning through our departure date. I woke up early two mornings in a row to view the sight alone, barefoot on the deck that was wet with condensation. I let the teens aboard know of the event and they were happy to join me to witness the moon aligning with the planets on the best viewing day, June 24th, but were soon back in their cabins again slumbering. It was clear that the “stars” were aligning for our departure.
We Say Goodbye to Friends
We shared bagels and connections with friends who stopped by to bid us farewell at our marina the next day. It was fantastic to see everyone and share information about our new lifestyle as well as to connect another time. Ethan’s girlfriend Grace was already in crew mode, fitting right into the routine we were just building, as she had years of cruising experience before joining us for the month.
I was at the helm as we left the dock for the last time in Emeryville, as friends watched and cheered. Our broker and friend Wayne was our fifth crew member on this leg of the journey. He shared the wisdom of his years of experience related to the local conditions, what to expect from other boats (I am prone to assume they can never be trusted), and how to use our radar in foggy and gray conditions.
We Motor Against the Current & Wind
Our trip out the San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge was slower than planned due to a miscalculation relating to the current timing. Usually the wind along the California coast is from the northwest, which would mean that we could bring out the sails to go south, but today it was from the southwest so we motored down the whole way. That was the case the last time we went to Half Moon Bay as well, so we weren’t too surprised.
Wildlife Sends Regards
We jumped up to photograph whales at least four times, one of which included over 10 minutes of rolling backs, flukes, and sprays from about 3 whales in close proximity. We slowed down to observe longer, but were still faster than them at 4 knots.
Several dolphins graced us with their presence, a large shark (we never saw its back but its fin was huge above the water) swam erratically nearby, and when we arrived at Half Moon Bay we saw and heard sea lions, and saw and smelled pelicans.
We Anchor with Ease
Using the remote control, I lowered the anchor and chain watching the new colored length indicators that Ethan and Grace installed a couple days before. James set the anchor then Ethan attached the bridle to take the load off the windlass, the machine that raises and lowers the anchor. Grace gave us high marks for our first anchoring as cruisers and we packed into the dinghy to go to shore to meet up with Wayne’s wife Harriet.
I Drop My Phone in the Ocean
Soon after stepping onto the dinghy dock, I accidentally dropped my phone into the water next to the dingy. I yelled, “Noooo!” and was awash with emotion as my camera, encyclopedia, family tracker, friend-connector, phone, and constant companion dropped out of sight.
We talked to the harbormaster and store employees nearby but none knew anyone who could dive down to search for the phone. Harriet suggested one of us go in after it, but we didn’t have a mask that would allow us to see to identify it, especially down ten feet. Then Wayne realized he knew the owner of a store there, called him, and he recommended a local diver. It took a bit of convincing, but Wayne was able to get the diver to go back to work Saturday night after an exhausting day. An hour after the phone sunk, it was recovered and still worked! I rinsed it off with fresh water and we finally were able to enjoy our seafood dinner at Ketch Joanne.
I Thank My Lucky Stars
One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Jefferson: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” Taking this to heart, I plan to research methods to connect my phone to my body to prevent a repeat performance that may not have such a happy ending.
As I put my head on my pillow amid the cacophony of sea lion barking and fog horn notes in Half Moon Bay, I reflect on the day. I expect that our first day as cruisers was a good representation of things to come: lots of highs, a few lows, and ending each day on a high note after much work and more time spent than expected on seemingly simple things.