Jumat, 27 November 2020

Back at sea (with masks) - Monterey Herald


After a $275,000 upgrade, including two new engines, a new transmission, new wiring, and cosmetic upgrades, Meridian, a crisp white, 50-foot luxury yacht — about the length of a female humpback whale — is back on Monterey Bay and taking passengers out to sea.

Custom built in 1986 as a luxury gaming casino, Meridian was decommissioned and sold privately before Monterey financial planner Karen Turner ultimately purchased it in 2013.

“I love to go out on the water,” Turner said. “I had been looking for a boat, finding plenty of sailboats, but I don’t like sailboats. They require too much work. When I found Meridian, I knew she was mine.”

When Turner pulled her yacht out of the Monterey Bay for refurbishing, she didn’t imagine how hard it would be to resume her charter company as she set her boat back on the bay in February.

As soon as shelter-in-place went into effect, she was dead in the water.

Monterey financial planner Karen Turner purchased and refurbished Meridian. (Philip M. Geiger — Special to the Herald)

Yet, after feeling stranded for several months, followed by a $1,600 installation of an “e-mist sanitizing system,” Turner is back in business, taking individuals, couples, and groups of four or fewer, plus Captain Josh Loya, on chartered cruises around the bay.

“During COVID, when everyone is cooped up at home, this is something we can do,” said Turner. “We’re a small, mask-wearing group out at sea, in the fresh air, with room to stay at a social distance and enjoy the breeze, the sun glistening on the water, and the abundance of sea life.”

Inspiration at sea

Legend has it that once a boat is christened, its name is recorded in Poseidon’s “ledger of the deep.” Renaming a ship or boat indicates a devious attempt to deceive the gods, who will wage their rath upon the sailor while at sea. Turner considered changing the name of her yacht from Meridian to something flashy, but she respects the legend and lore around never changing the name of a boat.

Meridian is plenty flashy. The sleek white yacht is outfitted with marine-grade white vinyl benches across the stern, and a pair of white curved chaises on the bow. Inside the cabin, a salon opens to a teakwood galley. Beyond is a master suite and a V-berth, shaped like the hull. The bridge from which Captain Loya navigates the yacht is upstairs, where he can survey the sea.

Loya, a former professional surfer, works for Secret Harbor Sanctuary, out of the Moss Landing Harbor. An experienced fisherman, he is known to “catch and cook” fresh fish for passengers aboard Meridian.

These intimate, two-hour tours get land-bound people up and out on the water, where they are likely to witness humpback whales breeching or flukes flapping, plus pods of dolphins arcing by, and rafts of sea lions, who mimic the dolphins as they race through the waves.

Reclining at the bow of the boat, folks often feel a sense of freedom as the hull cuts through the chop, seeing nothing between them and the knife-edge of the horizon, but miles of slate sea.

“There’s something about being out on the bay long enough to see the sun begin to set on the sea that shifts perspective and restores the spirit,” said Turner, who is at home on the water, whether by boat or at her oceanfront home at Moss Landing’s Monterey Dunes Colony.

At first, Meridian was a hobby for Turner, a way to get friends and family out on the bay. Today, hers is a bona fide business, which has inspired her to pursue her captain’s license.

For now, Turner is just grateful to have the chance to bring people back out on the boat. Through April, she’s donating 25% of each charter fee to a charity chosen by her patrons.

Inside the Meridian’s cabin, a salon opens to a teakwood galley.(Philip M. Geiger — Special to the Herald)

“Getting people out on the water, on this smooth and beautiful boat, where they can enjoy whales and dolphins, and remember there is something much bigger and better than all we’re dealing with on land, is really special,” she said. “I had to think of a way to show gratitude and benefit others who aren’t out there with us, particularly during this pandemic.”

The Link Lonk

November 28, 2020 at 02:15AM

Back at sea (with masks) - Monterey Herald



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