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Why Monterey Festivities Were Postponed by Surging Waters

We realize the season for lighted boat parades has passed, but this is still relevant and interesting. Joe Headley sent us a video of a hard surge running through the harbor in Monterey, to demonstrate the good sense involved in postponing a recent year’s lighted boat parade.

“A number of years back, I sent out a press release, which you kindly put out in your updates. As the Lighted Boat Parade director for Monterey, it fell to me to make the decision to postpone the parade due to “hard surges.” I subsequently received quite a few inquiries as to what that was.

“Well, I did capture this video the other day — it explains what a hard surge looks like in our harbor. It takes place when we have a large long-period swell. One can see why just getting in and out of your slip in the dark, let alone driving around night-blinded by your boat’s decorations, was deemed problematic.”


  1. Tim Mickleburgh 2 years ago

    I worked as a harborman in Monterey in the 1980s, and these surge events were a nightmare for us. The marina had (and probably still does) three solid sides, but the fourth side is Fishermans’ Wharf, which sits on pilings. Swells can flow under the Wharf and into the marina, and if the period is just right the marina will fail to “empty” before the next swell flows in. Water being what it is, a rotary movement starts to develop and the marina entrance becomes a whirlpool. Boats come loose. One time it was a whole finger-pier with a boat attached.
    Amazingly, the local Shields fleet would still sail out and in for their races, though I’d swear I heard some nervous whistling on occasion.

  2. Peter Detwiler 2 years ago

    That’s an amazing current! Local skippers might be accustomed to it but the crew of a boat in transit up/down the coast would be struggling to enter or exit. I’ve been surprised by sweeping currents in the Friday Harbor marina in the San Juan Islands – – – they come under the floating breakwater – – – but nothing like this video clip. Yikes!

  3. Diane and Greg Cailliet 2 years ago

    It sure was a wild day in the harbor.

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