Posted by John
It looks like we’ve been hanging out in Half Moon Bay for more than four weeks so it’s probably time to say something about it. We used up all of our paid internet access, and we’re too far from the free marina Wi-Fi to get a reliable connection, otherwise this post might’ve been made sooner.
As a destination, Half Moon Bay is not much for us to write home about. It was just an easy place to get off the ocean without a lot of screwing around. Simply steering around the rocks near Maverick’s Beach, famous for its annual surfing competition, and then entering Pillar Point Harbor through an opening in the breakwater, and we were suddenly inside a completely protected and uniformly shallow bay within the bay. Behind another breakwater within the harbor is the Pillar Point Marina. In the time we’ve been here, we’ve met people on several other boats heading south from Puget Sound and B.C. At one time, there were at least six boats from the Seattle area all anchored around us in the harbor. We met some in a bar watching the Seahawks on TV, which has kind of become what we do on Sunday afternoons.
We will remember Half Moon Bay as the place where, for the first time in years, we found ourselves without anything we really needed to get up for and do. We’d wake in the morning and lie in bed trying to think what the agenda of the day was, but we wouldn’t be able to come up with much. There was no commute to get up for, no job to go to, no plans to be worked out, no financial details to discuss (how, again, are we going to do this?), no rooms to clean out, flooring to install, tile to lay, animals to feed, possessions to sort, cars to get fixed or items to donate or try to sell. Everything on which we had worked so hard for so long had led up to us getting on our boat and sailing away. And now, some 700 miles later, we realized all those things were behind us. We had, perhaps, achieved the escape that we had previously only wondered if was even possible. When the big event of the day was eating half moon cookies under a half moon in Half Moon Bay (“Hey, look at this!”), we knew life was different.
We are here because we needed to be south of Cape Mendocino before the Seattle summer ended, when the jet stream moves south and starts steering storm systems directly at the Washington and Oregon coasts. We missed it last year, so we made sure to leave early this year. But we can’t go too far south until the hurricane season in Mexico ends in November. So we end up with this dwell time in between to just sort of hang out and try to not get in anybody’s way.
We couldn’t get a temporary slip in the marina, but we were able to rent a mooring buoy in the harbor for a couple of weeks. That got us a key to the marina laundry room and showers, two things we still find easier with actual plumbing. But when we tried to rent the mooring for a month we were told we’d have to apply to the harbor patrol for live-aboard status, and then pay several hundred dollars in live-aboard fees. So we paid for the mooring on a day-to-day basis for a couple of weeks and then moved back to where we’d been anchored by Slainte and dropped the anchor again. We’ll give the key back when we leave.
When we arrived, the place was crazy with birds. Elegant terns (?), frantic little squeaky white things, take high speed plunges straight down into the water, then immediately pop back up into the air with a tiny fish. Meanwhile, whole squadrons of pelicans return to the bay in the evenings, coming in low and looking cool and confident skimming the surface. They glide more and flap less than the terns, only losing their coolness when they spot a fish and get all gangly with their feet sticking out and wings at an awkward angle; rolling, diving and crashing into the water with a noisy splash. There are still a lot of birds here, but the numbers seem to be less the last few weeks.
Downtown Half Moon Bay is about a ten minute drive south on the highway. It has a Safeway, a hardware store, banks and other businesses. It would be more convenient if they were within walking distance of the marina, but a regular transit bus runs all day. We rented a car so we could drive to Alameda for a seminar put on by the Baja Ha Ha about cruising in Mexico. The next day we drove around and did some serious shopping, including picking up some parts for our wind generator project from a Silicon Valley electronics store that I used to mail order electronic parts from decades ago. The thought was nostalgic, but the experience really wasn’t.
We can feel homeless and broke one day and back to normal the next. But either way, realizing that we have to get our grocery cart full of food onto a public transit bus (why did we buy so much?), or a rental car trunk-load from Costco into a tiny dinghy (why did we buy so much?), we are constantly being reminded that the logistics of life are different now.
All is not lying around and watching the birds and taking occasional shore excursions, however. Nature abhors a void and will fill it with things for you to do. Since we left home and had to replace an engine impeller while underway on the first day, followed by repairing a broken latch on the bow hatch the next, so many things have broken or otherwise been in need of repair or replacement that I started keeping a list. As of today, we are up to nineteen individual items that needed unplanned attention. That’s about one new problem every other day. It’s been everything from broken sail slides on the mizzen, to a clogged carburetor jet on the outboard. The one thing we haven’t fixed yet is a wind-up ship’s clock that was part of the boat when we bought it. We had it cleaned about ten years ago, but didn’t think to have it cleaned again before we left. It suddenly stopped working a few days ago. I won’t be taking it apart myself to see what I can do, but we can’t imagine going the rest of the trip without it, either. Maybe we’ll meet a friendly watchmaker along the way.
Little to do except handle the daily breakdowns. That’s how Half Moon Bay will be remembered.