First, a couple definitions:
mooring (ball) – a large metal ball with a hook in it that floats in a harbor, usually arranged in big rectangular grids, used for tying off for the night
stern – the rear of the boat, or, shorthand, an anchor thrown off the rear of the boat
We arrive in Monterey the morning of September 21st, after a full day’s sail from Half Moon Bay. Within the harbor we look on in wonder at the number of sea lions, seals, otters, and pelicans. It’s a zoo compared to the San Francisco wharf. Nick pilots Saltbreaker to an open mooring and we tie off, blow up the dinghy, and head to where we guess the harbormaster’s office might be. At dock, Alex disembarks and arranges our stay for the night. When he comes back he is laughing. “Well, we did it all wrong. The mooring we’re tied up to is private, and the dinghy dock is over there,” he grins and points.
Back on Saltbreaker we motor to the other side of the harbor. We’re supposed to be on ball “1”, but none of them are clearly marked. There’s plenty of open moorings, so we just choose one and tie off. Alex suggests a nap, but we’ve still got to get to shore before the chandlery closes. Looking around, the moorings are all a bit crammed, and the other boats all have stern anchors dropped. We hem and haw for a minute, mostly because we just want to get ashore, and then we get to work on throwing the stern.
The current, though, has moved our boat into the complete opposite position we should be in to throw the stern. And we’re pretty sleep deprived, so we decide to try to pull Saltbreaker to the right position with the dinghy and then drop the anchor from the dinghy. We’re holding one of Saltbreaker’s lines and flooring the dinghy’s outboard and just spinning right back into the boat, or we’re pressed dinghy up against the stern and all holding on to Saltbreaker, again, outboard floored, but we’re not moving. And we’re tired. Suffice it to say none of those tactics work, but eventually we figure it out and got the stern out, about an hour later.
The chandlery’s closing in 45 minutes and we’re all on the dinghy heading for shore. We don’t get 150 feet before a harbor patrol platform boat pulls up next to us and tells us we’re on the wrong mooring. We can’t even laugh. The motor dies as we turn around to follow the patrol boat. Alex suggests a nap. After a few pulls the motor starts up again. The patrolman lets us go to shore before moving our boat, even offers to motor us over there on his boat so we don’t miss the chandlery.
Later we’re in the dive shop next door and Alex comes in looking confused.
“Man, I needed that,” he says.
“What do you mean?”
“I stopped,” he smiles, “I fell asleep against a pole out there.”
It’s getting dark by the time we’re back to Saltbreaker. We pull anchor and untie and head over to the correct mooring spot. The patrolmen had told us we shouldn’t throw a stern, so we just tie off, turn off the lights, and sleep.
We wake up to the deep sound of metal bashing the hull. Over and over again. Mooring balls aren’t particularly fixed in their position, and the swell was low, so we weren’t worried about the boat, but my God was it loud. Someone makes a comment about how this is probably why people have stern’s dropped. But it’s just intermittent enough, and we’re just tired enough, to not get up and drop one.
Nick and Alex wake up for the hundredth time at 8:00AM and decide to motor to a spot away from the awful mooring balls and just anchor, but a the crew of a nearby vessel inquires what the problem is and informs the guys that we just need to tie off to both bow and stern mooring balls. I wake up at the end of the adjustment and think in horror about the fact that we’re supposed to be getting up for the day, but as I peek my head out of bunk I see Nick and Alex crawling back into theirs. We sleep until 2:00.