Saturday, 8 October 2011

critters, surfing dinghies, and clam chowder

On our way to Monterey, we saw tall ships, met a stray bird and sailed into a sunset, and then a sunrise…

Fleet Week was commencing in San Francisco, just as we were leaving. Jets were screaming by, a plethora of police boats were zipping around the bay awaiting the arrival of many ships. We were looking for something a little quieter, and so we waved goodbye. It was good to be on the water again. 

Puffy, chillin' out California-style
We sailed between 5 and 10 nautical miles from shore. You can imagine our surprise when we picked up a hitch-hiker along the way. How did such a little bird make it all the way out here we wondered? He looked like he was about to fall over, he was so tired. Rick tried to feed him crumbs, but Puffy was not interested. I remembered reading on Bella Star's blog about their encounter with one such bird, and told Rick in no uncertain terms – this bird needs flies, and a nap. We found him a couple, but we seemed to have a fly shortage on the boat. (Not that I'm complaining!) Puffy became Puffy the Fly-Slayer. Befitting his new name, he became more and more bold as he regained his energy. He was determined to go into the cabin, it was like playing Red Rover with the little guy. He won. Every time.  He was not shy. He especially liked climbing all over Rick, eventually he warmed up to me too. For three hours, he made us laugh and giggle. This was pure entertainment. Who needs TV I ask? And then, he disappeared. Just like that.

We settled into our overnight sail, standing our usual watches, listening to audio books, identifying constellations… I sailed us into a sunrise over Monterey Bay. It was lovely. The boisterous honk of sea lions welcomed us, and we found our way to a mooring field outside the breakwater. Monterey, the town of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, is now a cute touristy town, with a renowned Aquarium.

Fisherman's Wharf
We rowed to shore, while I was nervously eyeing the surf… Phew, we managed to land the dinghy without embarrassing ourselves. (This time.) We’re still working on our technique, we figure we need to leave our pride on the boat and learn to tackle the wave just so, we don’t want to get swamped, obviously. It’s an art. I can’t wait to master it. (For now, I bring an extra pair of shorts in a dry bag for those unfortunate times things don't go according to plan. Please, someone tell me you have the same challenge? We hear it gets particularly interesting to beach a dinghy in Mexico. We’ll be going ashore in our bathing suits me thinks.

Sea Nettles
We wandered around the town, and did indeed go to the Aquarium. We nearly choked at the cost, but we’d heard positive things about the place. I struggle with these kinds of enclosed spaces. I much prefer seeing animals in the wild, but this particular aquarium is very conservation positive and into rehabilitation; that made me feel a little better. It was very educational as well. We did see some pretty amazing creatures while we visited the centre.

Our bellies full of clam chowder, we made our way back to the boat. By then, things were pretty rolly aboard Nyon. I’m not a fan, it’s hard to sleep when the boat rolls back and forth, pitching? No problem. So we set out a stern anchor to point the boat into the swell. Much better. Now we're ready for bed. Tomorrow, it's off to Morro Bay.


  1. Awwww thats so cute! ^_^ it looks like you guys made a little friend eh? ;)

    Is it very common for birds of that size and species to wander that far from land?

    Sounds like you guys had a great day :)

  2. Not only have we been pooped three times since we arrived in California, on our last one we lost our kayak paddle somewhere we couldn't retrieve it (it floated into an area of rocks and breaking surf).

    I've been soaked twice head to toe (once in a jean skirt) and Carol once.

  3. Livia, I'm so glad it's not just us, I swear, we always seem to screw up when there's an audience - our smooth "landings" always seem to happen when the beach is deserted... sigh. Oh well, it's all part of the learning curve...

    D. having read other blogs about these little birds - it appears to happen quite often!

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you both! Love the pictures!

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, from all your family, sitting around the table wondering how we should ship the leftover brussel sprouts to you Rick.

  6. We had a scary dinghy landing in Monterey as well, in fact one of the worst. Mexico was actually mostly fine, though we fully flipped the dinghy in Tenacatita. A change of shorts would be utterly insufficient - I lost my glasses on that one.

  7. Hey thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes!Ian, I read that Irene had his portion, haha We missed you guys! Thanks J., hope you guys had fun in Alberta!
    Darusha, that's uhm, scary? I feel lucky now. So, what you're saying is, the bathing suit idea might actually be a good one! Cheers

  8. Hello luvs!

    Living vicariously through you is proving to be quite the ride! Thank you, thank you for bringing us along with you.

    xo Kelly, John, Emily, and Kap

  9. Kelly!! :)
    We'll try to keep it just exciting enough... (but not TOO exciting!) Love to you guys! xo



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