We’re anchored in the flat, calm waters of Half Moon Bay, about 20 miles south of San Francisco bay. We’d planned to spend only one night here — last night — but the thought of navigating the foggy coastline for miles is less than enticing. Today the fog was so thick we couldn’t see boats anchored 100 feet from us. The plan is to leave tomorrow morning and sail the 65 miles to Monterey Harbor, but the fog is predicted to stick around for a while so we might too.
Today, on the month anniversary of our wedding day, we stayed inside. We listened to foghorns and sea lions in the distance, watched Pelicans dive-bomb fish in the harbor, counted dew drops as they dripped dripped dripped onto the boat, and treated ourselves to breakfast in bed while watching Coming to America (a classic by any standard).
Half Moon Bay is the perfect anchorage to just lounge around in. The town by the water is small
enough to see in an hour, which we did yesterday after we arrived, and a breakwater protects the anchorage so it’s calm enough to feel as if we’re tied to a dock — or on a river, which we were a few days ago when we sailed to Napa.
Sailed, I suppose, is the wrong term for what we did — we motored up the Napa River because the channel is pretty narrow and shallow. A less than diligent navigator could end up in the mud flats on either side of the waterway. And, from the looks of it, there were more than a few shoddy navigators on that river — overturned and grounded boats line its banks.
We anchored about seven miles from the entrance of the river, beside a row of Eucalyptus trees and a pasture full of bulls. We opted to also tie a line to shore from the back of the boat so we wouldn’t get swept into the channel by the current. Brian attached the line to our boat, rowed the dinghy to shore, and tied the line to a tree while being stared down, quite burningly, by what I assume to be the Lead Bull. Fortunately Brian held his ground pretty well and the bull quickly lost interest once Brian was back in the dinghy.
The next afternoon we took the dinghy farther up the river to explore the town of Napa. We traveled for at least four miles looking for the city dock that is mentioned in our guidebook. Instead, we found increasingly non-navigable waters and no way to go ashore. The riverbank is densely lined with Eucalyptus trees, shrubbery, marsh grasses, and rocky slopes. After hitting two logs submerged in the murky water, we turned around to head back to the most city-like area we’d passed. With no dock to tie up to, we beached the dinghy underneath a roadway bridge and hopped a fence to walk into a town that was undergoing some of the heaviest gentrification I’d seen: where once the small town of Napa stood with its general store and mill, there were condo complexes, high-rise hotels, and 5-star restaurants with prices to match. The city dock had been torn down and replaced by a 15-foot tall breakwater (on a river?) that kept river dwellers out and city dwellers in. It was disappointing — no wine tasting… not even any grapevines.
The next day we left the river and sailed to Angel Island, a state owned island in the middle of the Bay Area, with nothing but great hiking trails and a welcoming visitor center. We stayed for two nights enjoying the idyllic anchorage — if a bit rolly — with views of the Tiburon Peninsula and its million dollar homes, as well as seals, sea lions and pelicans that snacked all day just feet from our boat.
We enjoyed the Bay Area and the two weeks we spent there, but it was time to move on. I’m reminded of the baby spiders’ call to set forth at the end of Charlotte’s Web. When Wilbur asks where they are headed, they reply, “Wherever the wind takes us. High, low. Near, far. East, west. North, south. We take to the breeze, we go where we please.”
Maybe tomorrow we’ll take to the breeze. Maybe not.