Shimada has tossed her lines and we're steaming out: past the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island, past Alcatraz, on towards the Golden Gate. The bay hills are dun and green while high cirrus clouds feather a windy sky. The Golden Gate Bridge stands in silhouette but as we approach we begin to see details, like the impossibly thick suspension cables and weathering on the girders and towers. Heavy Pacific rollers surge round its pillars. The ship's motion is evident now, her bow rising, falling, heaving, as we pass the bridge ourselves. We are at sea.
Setting out on a sea cruise always feels exciting. And sailing from a storied port like San Francisco is special. Using our imaginations it's easy to see the hills and light blue waters shorn of city and shipping till only the land and waters remain. What a magnificent section of North America! What must it have been like when only the Ohlone people lived here? What were the impressions of the early British, Spanish, Mexican, and American travelers? All the science party feels, maybe, a touch of that same exhilaration as we sail from this iconic Pacific gateway.
Our first transect awaits just offshore, amongst the Farallon Islands. It's time to get to work. All the preparation is finally behind. Sublime discovery lies ahead.