When you come to our office on Old Fisherman’s Wharf, you are already in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, with sea otters, harbor seals and sea lions regularly swimming under our office, and around the dock where we board. So to answer the question in a general sense, we sail in in the largest national marine sanctuary in continental United States.
Home to whales, dolphins, seals, sea otters, sea lions, sea birds, countless species of fish and gorgeous forests of giant kelp. More importantly for us sailors though, Monterey Bay has wind; and it blows almost every day of the year. Sailing is an eco-friendly way so see a protected sanctuary. We burn fuel only to get ourselves in and out of the harbor.
Rounding the breakwater on a clear, crisp morning with a steady northwest breeze, the boat sailing on a close reach, all you will hear is the wind in the rigging, the water running past the boat, the barking of the sea lions and calls of the sea birds.
This is one of the magical things about sailing, something non-sailors often have trouble believing, that we can sail upwind, within 45 degrees of the direction of the true wind.
For us, sailing to weather on such a day, sailing into the wind, takes us on a northerly course, angling offshore, with Santa Cruz about 25+ miles away, fine on the bow, and the coast of Pacific Grove falling slowly away to port. If conditions are right, we may get far enough out to see the Point Pinos lighthouse off to port, where the coastline of the Monterey Peninsula turns south toward Point Joe, Cypress Point and Carmel.
On the return trip, on a beam reach, the boat is at her best, sailing fast across the wind with the seas and swell astern.
During the warm southerlies, the wind comes over Monterey and Carmel, and the mountains and valleys of the peninsula create gusty bands of offshore winds, interspersed with wind shadows of relative calm. Such conditions make the sailor work hard, watching the water and anticipating the hammer blows of wind. On those days a sailing cruise can be like “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”
On the MMad Catter, our catamaran, the flat seas and gusty winds of the southerlies can make for exhilarating sailing, as the boat accelerates rapidly in the gusts, and heels less than our mono-hulls.
If while we are out sailing we are lucky enough to see whales, we will often change course to try and stay close enough for our passengers to get a good look, hear the explosive sound of a whale blow, and see the flukes as the whales sound (dive). We like to think the whales enjoy our company because our sailing creates no noise. Engine noise can travel far through the water, but the wind in the sails is quiet for both our passengers and our sea friends. This speak more to the eco-friendly nature of sailing.
As to the question, “Were do our cruises go?” we can honestly say that every cruise is different, a new experience both for our passengers and us. Every day we see new things, sometimes we see migratory birds travelling through the bay in huge flocks, see otters feeding offshore, see whales or dolphins, see seals and sea lions, see the “wine-dark sea” when the red tide is running, see the jellyfish and the mola-mola.
The only constant is the constantly changing mood of the sea, the changing light, the changing winds and waves and currents. Each eco- friendly trip is different. Our captains will share that, and make sure you are safe while being inspired and refreshed by the beauty and vastness of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. Come aboard, adventure with us.