Home Find Us Our Weather Central America 2005 Mexico 2004 Van. Is. 2002 Alaska 2000 All Videos Kids Corner Our Boat Wisdom Plastic Guest Book Mailing List Contact Us About Us Favorite Links Southbounders


Monterey Bay, Carmel-By-The-Sea, San Simeon, Port San Luis and Santa Barbara

We departed San Francisco early Monday morning on September 20th, 2004 for Monterey Bay, where we spent a wonderful 3 days exploring, bike riding and of course, visiting the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and their newly captive baby Great White Shark.   Trinity left the same day and we planned to stay together for the next few weeks, buddy boating down to San Diego.  We're usually the anchor-out kind, but there was so much to see here that we put the boat on the dock to maximize our efficiency.  It also let Eric or Mel get an occasional early morning run in on the beautiful shore-side trails before school without having to fire up the dingy.

Monterey Bay, both the town and the bay itself is teaming with wildlife.  We saw what we think were blue whales on our way into the marina.  Sea Otters, Seal Lions, Harbor Seals, Brown Pelicans, Great White Egrets and myriads of other sea birds completely own the rocks which lie just off shore of the surrounding beaches.  Running along the beach is difficult at best as stopping to watch the Cormorants and Pelicans diving for fish or to listen to the Sea Lions argue over females and pecking order provide ample distractions.

On Thursday, September 23rd, we nipped around the corner the short 15 miles to Stillwater Cove near Carmel-by-the-Sea where the kelp-filled anchorage is right off of Pebble Beach (yes, that Pebble Beach).  The initial plan was simply to cut a few miles off the long run to San Simeon the following day, but the beach was so inviting and Carmel-By-The-Sea so close, that we decided to stay an extra day and ventured along the golf course pathes into town the following morning.  Shopping ensued, but restraint was displayed and the boat's waterline survived the day. 

Like Monterey, Stillwater Cove is full of life.  Brown Pelicans diving for dinner, harbor seals watching you move about the cockpit from a few feet away, sea otters using their tummies as tables, eating crabs and urchins.  When you go below, the boat is filled with a crackling noise from the kelp crabs and shrimp on the kelp beneath the hull.  The beach sand in the cove and the surrounding area is truly amazing - very fine and almost white.  A local woman we met walking on the beach told us there used to be miles of sand dunes here before the golf course industry descended and all the sand was shipped off to fill sand traps and bunkers far and wide.  Today, there is only the beach left with little but perfectly groomed greens beyond - beautiful and sterile.

On Saturday, we had a lovely sail to San Simeon, a small natural harbor with a fine beach, but no town to speak of nearby.  It is however,  very near the famous Hearst Castle and Roma and Steve on Trinity had kindly offered to watch the kids for the day so we could go ashore to take the tour.   Getting ashore here through the surf however, has its difficulties.  A ladder leading down to the water from the nearby wharf looked promising, but although it reached the water, it unfortunately didn't go all the way up.  A hesitant beach landing was attempted and botched and to make a long story short, we got wet.  Very wet.  Lesson 1:  When going ashore in a surf, either go ashore or don't go ashore.  Dawdling in the surf line trying to decide how to land is a sure way to get you knocked over in a hurry.  Lesson 2:  If there is even the slightest possibility of getting your wallet, the camera, the cell phone or the 2-way radio wet, put them in a dry bag, even if you think you'll be climbing a ladder up to nice, dry, wharf. 

So anyway, there we were on the beach in the fog, soaking wet , salty, with sand in places sand shouldn't be and tickets to tour the castle in 30 minutes.   Mel of course, waded right back into the surf and did her best to get the sand out of her nose and ears.  After all, first things first.  A sprint up the beach to the park area furnished a fresh water shower, which left us less salty, but no less wet and no less chilled in the early morning fog.   Luckily, we climbed out of the fog into a bright, sunny morning as we hurried up to the castle entry buildings.  An appeal by a dripping Melissa to the ticket lady easily bought us a later tour and another hour to lay in the sun and dry off.  The looks we received from the tourists as we  aid out the contents of our wallets and backpack and drip-dried in the bright sunshine on the benches outside the ticket office were priceless.  "Watch out for the log ride."  Eric said.  "It's a killer."

Hearst Castle is something to behold.  All I'll say here is that it is worth a tour and shows what tremendous wealth combined with tremendous passion and tremendous drive can accomplish.

Monday found us motoring the entire way through the calm to Port San Luis where we anchored off of beautiful Avila beach, home of the only shark attack fatality on the West Coast since 1995.  The signs on the beach warned of a shark attack last year (complete with graphic) and said to swim at our own risk (we didn't).  We read later that a 18ft Great White had killed a swimmer here  in August 2003.  We stayed two days, playing on the beach in the afternoons after school in the mornings.  It was cold,  with an afternoon wind chill that bit hard, as it had been cold since we left San Francisco.  Cold enough that Steve from Trinity, not having brought a jacket ashore, wore his life jacket around on the beach instead one afternoon to keep warm.  We were very much looking forward to rounding Point Conception and officially entering Southern California, which we did on Wednesday the 29th as we headed towards Eric's old stomping ground, Santa Barbara.

Our three days in the marina in Santa Barbara were spent in large part with school and laundry, grocery shopping, re-fueling and other assorted boat projects but we also got a date night out (thanks Trinity!) as well as out to a movie with the kids (Shark Tales) and a bike ride up to the Santa Barbara Mission and (excellent) nearby Natural History Museum. 

Sunday, October 3rd we plan to leave for a few nights in the Channel Islands before heading South to Catalina Island and San Diego.

As always, click on the photos for larger sizes.  We had more, but the flash card in Mel's camera didn't survive San Simeon either.


Harbor Seal on a rock in Monterey Bay.

Brown Pelcian in Monterey Bay.

California Sea Lion breaking the rules and sunning himself on the marina docks in Monterey.

Monterey Bay marina breakwater coverred with sea lions.

Monterey Bay Aquarium from just offshore.

Harbor Seals are everywhere, even on the bouys outside Monterey Bay.

Pebble beach gold course, near Stillwater Cove.

This tree, just off the 7th green, is supposedly well known amoung golfers. Not being members of that club, we'll take their word for it.

Another view of the Pebbel Beach Golf Course as seen from our anchorage in Stilllwater Cove.

Sea Otters abound in Stillwater Cove.

Sea Otter having breakfast in Stillwater Cove.

Trinity pulls up just a little kelp on their anchor in Stillwater Cove. Salid anyone?

Brown Pelican, Stillwater Cove.

Damaged goods. Causalities of the San Simeon beach landing.

Passing Trinity enroute to Port San Luis. When motoring, there is no substitute for waterline....

Diablo Canyan power plant. Don't get within the 1 mile exclusion zone or a nasty lady will call and slap your wrists over the VHF.

Avila Beach, Port San Luis.

Moonrise over the Avila Beach Wharf, Port San Luis.

Jeepers! Is that a toungue, or did you swallow a gooeyduck? Nice shirt by the way. Got a story to go with that?

"Mommy, there's a stange man in a life preserver over there."

"All I need is a coke and seal to rest my weary feet upon."

"Hey, that tide can move fast. I just like to be prepared, you know?"

Sunfish, seen on passage to Santa Barbara.

Waiting for the train to pass on State Street, Santa Barbara.

The Old Santa Barbara Mission.

Taking a break after biking up the hill to the mission.

Blue Whale skelaton outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Very nicely done place complete with planetarium.

I kid you not, this is a Yellow-Bellied Marmit. On display at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Two Mels, both founded in 1963. Pub off State Street in Santa Barbara.

Previous Photos       Mexico Page    Next Photos