The Chardonnay Sailing Charter (right) cruises across the Monterey Bay on one of its numerous charters out of Santa Cruz Harbor. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Smoke from the CZU August Lightning Complex fires has been really bad most of the day. We got something of a break Monday and Tuesday, with blue sky dominating the weather picture. Maybe the wind shifted? I spoke with several people in Watsonville and they all said the smoke was worse today.

Our reporter Todd Guild and I drove back up into the burned area of Boulder Creek and photographed some of the ruins. It was ghastly. One home after another, in an area off of Jamison Creek Road, Alba Road, and Fallen Leaf Drive was mostly a flatbed of ash. A firefighter told me that they were planning to do a large control burn to wipe away a bunch of fuel to help save the mountain town of Felton. I don’t know if that will mean more smoke? Whatever they do I sure hope it works and we can get this monster behind us.

I’ve noticed the Chardonnay sailboat has been running its charters out on the Monterey Bay lately. They closed up shop during the first several months of the pandemic. I’ve been on their two-hour cruises numerous times and I’d certainly recommend giving it a try. It’s also a great way to have any visitors to the area truly get a taste of the bay and a different take on the beauty of this place.

They launch out of Santa Cruz Harbor and offer a wide range of food and drinks that are included in the price. If you’re lucky and get a windy day it adds tremendously to the drama and fun. You might even spot dolphins or whales. The skipper commonly lets passengers try their hand at steering the 70-foot boat as part of the cruise, which makes for great photos, among other things. For info visit www.chardonnay.com.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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