Monday, May 12, 2008


Sunday started out as most of our current spring days have started with a morning breeze blowing, and the wind strengthening until it was blowing like stink in the mid-afternoon.

When we left port about 5 pm for an evening sail, winds were still blowing in the 15-20 knot range, so we raised single-reefed main and put out small jib before heading out into the central bay.

The breeze was out of the SSW so we were able to point straight for the gate, sailing directly against the flood current, and we were almost immediately passed by this lovely ketch with tanbark sails....

...several of the crew looking at us as we took their picture.

As we sailed directly toward the gate on port tack-- unusual for this time of year to have such a southerly breeze-- we saw this small Ericson sailboat behind us, heading toward the Bay Bridge.

The flags on pier 39 were pegged out in the breeze of about 20 knots, and we were happy that it wasn't blowing in the 25-30 knot range as it often has been lately.

This lovely gray-blue hulled Catalina passed to starboard, looking good with full canvas flying downwind.....

...her crew bundled up against the chill evening air.

A bit later, we spotted another Catalina headed east past the southern shore of Alcatraz, and she was not looking so good as her jib trim was poor and it was shuddering badly.

As you can see here, she was sailing on a course between close hauled and a beam reach but her jib was trimmed for a broad reach, and I was tempted to holler at the crew to 'TRIM THAT JIB!'

Further north, Vessel Assist was towing a nice looking ketch and I wondered what was her story of needing a tow? Perhaps she was tied up ain the cove at Angel Island and couldn't get her engine started.

The city was enjoying a slightly hazy, but quite brilliant evening sunshine as we continued sailing toward the gate.

As we sailed past Aquatic Park, we noticed a sailboat coming out of the lagoon there, and soon she was blasting our way-- another Ericson prowling the bay-- and flying a full jib with single-reefed main, and looking good!

She was sailing more off the wind than we were; her crew also bundled against the chill evening air, and as the windward boat, she owed us right of way and fell off to pass astern of us, as this brief video clip shows.

After another 15-20 minutes the breeze started shifting more westerly, and began to soften, as it almost always did 10 years ago, but rarely these days, and there was far less wind in the north half of the central bay than along the cityfront. So we began beating toward the gate, pulling the jib out to full for more power.

Eventually, we sailed southeasterly until we were close to the shore of the city, where winds were still blowing about 10-12 knots, and then tacked toward the gate, hoping to sail out on that port tack, as a catamaran behind us sailed toward the shore of the city. We expected that she would tack and follow us toward the gate, but she didn't and headed back across the bay toward home port.

The 10-12 knot breeze started to soften more as we approached the gate and we were still fighting some flood current, so began wondering if we would be able to shoot the gate at all while we enjoyed the views of our spectacular bridge.

As we were creeping toward the gate, we watched as our old pal ADVENTURE CAT 2 sailed out from further north-- I think they were probably motorsailing as there was little or no breeze in that area-- and she passed to port, heading home as we continued creeping along.

We just barely managed to sail out the gate between midspan and the north tower of the bridge, into growing ocean swells.

We just ducked out a short ways and then came about and headed back inside on starboard tack broad reach with some flood assist, and picking up a stronger breeze a quarter mile or so inside the gate as the sun went down behind the Marin Headlands.

With a steady wind and good headway, we eventually sailed far enough to the east to see the sun peeking over one of the hills on the headlands.

Eventually, the setting sun illuminated the top of the fog bank tha twas slowly creeping eastward....

... and later a bit of sunset color developed on the top of the fog bank.

We had a quite steady breeze all the way to Aquatic Park, as city lights were starting to come on, and then the breeze started to die out slowly.

The ebb current had started, so we doused the jib and turn on the engine to begin motorsailing toward home port, passing the end of pier 39 where the flags were barely fluttering

City lights continued to brighten as sundown gave way to dusk, and we motored toward the end of pier 35 before turning into the breeze to douse the main, ready for landing and then motor into the marina. This was only the second time in the last couple of weeks that we didn't need to go behind pier 35 for wind relief, and it felt like we had gone back 10 years when the evening breeze almost always softened and disappeared around sunset.

T'would be nice if we could look forward to a return of that wind pattern, but recent experience suggests that global climate change will continue to give us the more extreme wind patterns of the last 5-8 years, including keeping the strong winds blowing well into the late evening.

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