Monterey Trip – Part 2
We spent threes nights at our berth in Santa Cruz, taking the time to go to the beach, eat at the adjacent Crow’s Nest restaurant, and, of course, go to the Boardwalk! It’s funny how different your time at a place is when you don’t have a car to zip around in. We limited our attractions to ‘things within walking distance’, but luckily were in the center of it all anyway. Our first morning there, we set out for the walk to the Boardwalk. After the fact, I can report that we would definitely have made this trek differently if we had known the half of it. First, our end-tie spot was on the opposite side of the harbor as the Boardwalk – not a big obstacle, but one requiring a walk up one side of the harbor, across the bridge that crosses it, then back down the other side. No problem: we were fresh and excited. What we should have done after crossing the bridge was keep walking along the streets to the Boardwalk. But we didn’t do that. We had been told by a harbor employee that you could get there also by walking along the beach, and wouldn’t that be much more fun??
Uh, yeah. Except for the river and point of land that intersect the beach halfway to the Boardwalk, our plan might have worked! But, as it turned out, there was this imposing spit of land that we could see as we neared it, thinking to ourselves “now how is this going to work?”. The land jutted out just enough to end in the surf zone, so passing around it would require a quick run through the shallow surf water. No biggy, we supposed. So Christian and Anna went first, darting around and out of sight with what seemed like no problem. Lydi and I started to go for it, but Lydi’s just so short! She started getting wet up to her knees before we even got close. So we went back and regrouped. Just then Christian called me on my cell phone. Turns out that concealed from our view on the other side of that spit was nothing less than a river! A shallow one, yes, but a river nonetheless. “Go around.” he said. He and Anna would brave the river outlet while Lydi and I clambered up the side of a cliff to the roadway above the beach. We then walked the rest of the way to the Boardwalk on our own, crossed an old railway bridge-walkway and finally made it there. Christian carried Anna on his shoulders through the river and got wet in the process. But, we found each other again, and all was well. In fact, it was fine all along of course, but as I said – we would have done it differently if we had known. 🙂
The Boardwalk was a blast, and well worth the effort, though. We did rides, cotton candy, arcade games, the works! It was a bit loud, crowded, and expensive too, but we’ll forgive it. The girls loved it, bought souveniers, and generally exhausted themselves. At the end of the day, we stumbled out, considered our ‘getting back to the boat’ options, and promptly called a cab. The best $11 we ever spent!
The next day we just lazed around, walked to the beach, played, and relaxed. Now that’s our kind of vacation. The beach next to us (on the SAME side of the Harbor as us) was perfect for the girls, and was right next to a little cafe/deli for lunch and other yummies. It also boasted free WiFi, so that put right at the tops of our list. By the end of that beach day, Lydi had mastered digging sand holes and leaping in the surf, while Anna took on body-surfing with gusto. Christian brought her out into the water, teaching her about surf and how to bob over it or duck through it, until eventually she was riding it! The cold water didn’t even phase her, or Lydi either. Crazy girls!
The next day, we packed up everything, hauled the dinghy and outboard onto the boat, the kayak too, and stowed all of our other goodies for the short sail around the corner from Santa Cruz Harbor to Capitola’s Soquel Cove. We had heard good things about this little cove, which was touted to have a great mooring field (an area of mooring balls that we can secure the boat to rather than anchoring), and gorgeous scenery. So we waved good-bye to Santa Cruz and our regular Sea Otter visitor, and cast out toward the open Bay waters. After no time we were arriving at Soquel Cove, radioing the harbor master and getting the run-down on securing a mooring there. This place is just amazing – they send a guy out on a dinghy to greet every arriving boat to help you tie off to the mooring ball and to give you a little introduction to the area. Loved them!
After we were settled, we immediately realized that Soquel Cove was special. The scenery was stunning – gorgeous cliffs topped by homes, a quaint fishing pier, the cute Capitola water front with its pastel-painted B&B’s and ecclectic collection of restaurants all served as backdrops to our front-row seats on the wildlife action. We didn’t mind the bit of roll in the anchorage, or the high-ish wind that came up later in the afternoon. We were cozy and comfy on Dragonfly, and getting from the boat to the dinghy dock on the pier was just that much more exciting! We spent our time in Capitola exloring some shops, eating out, and of course playing on the kayak and dinghy. The mornings were stunning – foggy skies, glassy water, misty air, and silence all around. We kayaked in and around the huge kelp forests on either side of the mooring field seeing Sea Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions up close.
Then we noticed the action as the day progressed and afternoon approached – animals were gathering, and we caught our first sight of Bottlenose Dolphins 10 feet from the boat. “Over there…and there!” Everywhere we looked there was sea life, diving, leaping, splashing. It is a true feeding frenzy of the marine variety. Sea lions surrounded us on all sides, coming to just a few feet from our boat, surfacing for a breath – “Puff!” – and diving for more. Big brown pelicans numbered in the dozens, circling above, then diving head first from 30 feet up, landing in the water with a crash, then gulping down the prize. And dolphins mingled, circled, then disappeared for minutes at a time. They raised their flukes above the surface of the water and brought them down with force, slamming the water, and stunning the fish beneath it. All of these animals were after the same prize, but there appeared to be plenty to go around. For hours this show continued. For the entire time, we just kept our eyes glued to the scene, and shouted “Over there!”. This place was so spectacular that we vowed we would come back to it on our way back from Monterey up the coast to SF again.