dive flagLaunching at the Monterey Breakwater

Launching at the Montery BreakwaterThe Monterey Breakwater is the most common place in the area for a diver to launch their boat.  This page is written for someone who has never launched their boat there.

First and foremost: the Monterey Parking Enforcement Officers are more dangerous than Great White Sharks.  So pay.  If you don't, you'll come back to a $20 ticket.  It costs $12.00 for all day for boat and two vehicle, $8.00 per day for single vehicle (but only after noon) .  There are also hourly rates. There's a ticket machine and change machine at the kiosk by the entrance.  The new ticket machine takes credit cards, but has been very unreliable at reading them.  Put the stripe up and towards the ocean, and put the card in and out real fast.

BTW, they aren't called "Meter Maids", and there's one that's a guy big enough to play pro football.  And they are pretty reasonable.  Give them lip, and you'll get the ticket for sure.  Be nice, and they might let you off.  I get the impression that they are intended as a deterrent, not a revenue source.  There's no fee for launching and no fee for the facilities, so I think the parking charge is fair.

Some folks seem to think some of the lanes in the parking lot are one way, generally the way they're going.  Some of them get a bit vociferous about it.  There aren't any one-way signs, so as far as I'm concerned it's all two-way, though the lanes are narrow, and passing takes a great deal of care especially in the lane closest to the ocean.

Parking is generally not a problem in the morning except for the first couple of weekends of Salmon season.   Nice afternoons can be a problem because the tourists (without trailers) can use the center of the lot after noon, and it can be hard to find a connected pair of empty spaces to park in with a trailer.  While you retrieve your boat, you may wish to leave a buddy or a couple of chairs or tubs or dive bags to hold your spot.

There's a small chandlery on the breakwater, but they aren't open on Sundays.

The breakwater ramp is not supposed to be used "for hire".  This includes instructors with classes.

The ramp closest to the breakwater is a couple of inches wider than the other one, which sometimes gets a little over grown with ice plant, narrowing it further.

The ramp can be real hard to see when backing up, especially on a hazy morning.  There are two Botts Dots on the concrete even with the sides of the pier that are a big help if you know they are there.

Speed limit in the outer harbor (includes launch ramp to the end of the breakwater) is 5 MPH (4.2 knots).  Beware of the seals at the end of the breakwater.

The harbormaster's rule is that you can tie up at the launch ramp dock for 10 minutes maximum.  Please don't leave your boat on the dock while you have lunch or get your tanks filled, even if it seems like a slow day.  If you need longer than 10 minutes, you can tie to the concrete pilings on the ocean side of the ramp and wade in.

Please don't leave gear all over the dock.  If you have to launch unloaded, you can bring you gear down to the area between the women's rest room and the ramp, launch, then bring your gear down and load it directly into your boat.

My experience is that if your boat looks bristol, the Coast Guard won't bother you except to check that you have your PFDs.  They recognize that they are much more likely to find something wrong on a ratty boat.   I've launched at the breakwater about 150 times, and never had a boarding.  I've had to show my PFDs a couple of times.

You can fill your tank at the fuel dock on the harbor side of the ramp, but, like all fuel docks, they tend to be pricey.

The trick to docking is to use the upwind (usually the ocean side) of the dock, and let the wind blow you back to the dock.  You can use the flags on the CG boats and at the fuel dock to determine wind direction. 

There's no freshwater rinse for boats at the breakwater.  There used to be before the drought of the the early '90s, and the pipe is still stubbed out between the women's room and the ramp.  Maybe we can join forces with the fishermen and start a campaign to get it reinstalled.

There's a coin operated car wash in Monterey on Fremont Street.  To get there from the breakwater:

  • Go back down Del Monte towards Hwy. 1. 
  • At the first light after Aquarius Dive Shop (Casa Verde), turn right. 
  • Go under Hwy. 1, and another block and a half to Fremont, and turn left. 
  • The car wash is a block and a half (might be two and half) on the right.  I make a right turn at the intersection a half block before, then a left down the side street (almost an alley) and come in from behind. 
  • The stall farthest from the breakwater with no roof is an RV stall and your best bet. 
Figure on about $3.  You have to get tokens -- the token machine is on the side of the building facing Fremont.  You can't flush your motor.