We left Monterrey on Monday the 18th after finally meeting another sailor. Steve, the owner of Boomer (the Cal 40 that we berthed next to) was a wealth of information and a friendly guy to boot. He offered to sail us out and we had a great time taking pictures of each other under sail. The trip back to Santa Cruz was ideal. The winds were solid but moderate and the seas were generally quartering or astern.We reached most of the way back and were on the hook as the sun was setting.
We spent the night near the wharf rather than the harbor as a consolation for having to skip Stillwater Cove (due to safety concerns). The anchorage is very lightly protected from the SW wind and swell that we were getting, and it was a pretty bouncy night. Both Vick and I woke up to check the anchor, but we stayed put.
The next morning, after enjoying a leisurely breakfast and waving at the Team O’Neil catamaran and its crew of school kids, we pulled up our anchor and headed for the dock. We had to charge up for the trip home and get some groceries. We sailed all the way and Victoria joked that we would probably have to motor half way back to the anchorage just to tie the sails back down (she was almost dead on). We spent Tuesday night at the fuel dock. If I ever have the chance again, I’ll take the bobbing anchorage over the public access dock.
Wednesday morning at 9am we departed Santa Cruz and sailed north to Half Moon Bay. We didn’t get the S wind that we had been promised, but the W wind and corresponding swell were easy on us and the whale encounter more than made up for the weather. We started seeing whale spouts somewhere past Point Santa Cruz, but they were well off in the distance. By Davenport we were seeing regular surfacing but it was still too far away to make a good picture. But somewhere between Point Año Nuevo and Pigeon Point we had a brush so close that it sent our pulses racing and we went into full emergency mode. The first sighting was of a huge whale back about 10-30′ off of our port. The creature was clearly getting a good look at us and Victoria and I were both suspended for a moment between the overwhelming awe that such a magnificent body demands, and the terror of it getting any closer. Moments later I got my wits back and yelled to the kids to come up. Almost immediately another whale surfaced right in front of us, again 10-30′ away. I yanked the tiller pilot out and hand steered hard to port (the whale was traveling port -> starboard across our bow), praying that the other one had either dived or veered away after getting a good look.
Within five minutes everything was back to normal. The whales were a safe distance away, and our adrenaline was fading. The last I saw of that pod was a tale fin waving goodbye far off our starboard quarter. That day we saw at least a dozen dolphins, legion jellies, sea otters and seals leaping playfully alongside, but they all seemed pedestrian compared to the giant whales. After some research Victoria is fairly certain that it was a pod of blue whales that surfaced by our boat, and some humpback whales that we saw in the distance.
We arrived in Half Moon Bay around 8pm and anchored in the dark. Shallow depth and poor anchor lighting contributed to a slightly longer than expected routine, but we got a solid set and slept well in the well protected harbor.