Monday, May 5, 2008


Sunday morning started out with a rather strong southerly wind blowing-- not a good sign-- and overcast [marine layer] skies. Judith, a cellist in the London Symphonia visiting SF this week joined us for our afternoon outing about 12:30.

We headed out about 1 pm, with moderately strong southerly winds blowing and we raised a single reefed main before heading out into the central bay.

Once we were well past pier 35, we gybed the main and headed down the cityfront toward the A-B span of the Bay Bridge, pulled the jib out to full for downwind power, sailing on beam reach for a while, passing this Catalina heading west with full canvas.

Winds were still quite southerly, so we had to keep hardening in the main and jib, and we were, at times, sailing through gust alleys and esperincing great lift-- speed increases-- and continuing to pass Catalinas off port, like this one also flying full canvas.

This lvoely cutter was heading north with her smaller jib flying along with a single-reefed main sail.

A bit later, another Catalina flying full canvas passed to port.

We made good progress in winds changing in velocity until we were a few hundred yards from the Bay Bridge and then stalled for a while in a wind hole, but finally managed to sail under the A-B span.

We then shortened the jib for the return trip and headed up for a while before tacking to the north to head back through the A-B span and head for the lee side of Angel Island, watching as the schooner operated by CALL OF THE SEA headed east toward the Bay Bridge.

One of the Catalinas that passed us heading west earlier was now retreating back to lighter winds with their full canvas-- perhaps they were overpowered on the central bay.

Another sailboat flying her club-footed small jib was also headed southeast along the cityfront.

This large Catalina with double-reefed main was also headed east as we continued sailing to the north in winds that were moderate between the cityfront and a point directly east of Alcatraz.

These two sailboats passed each other in opposite directions, the Catalina heading east and the other heading northwest with flapping canvas.

This sailboat flying full canvas was sailing downwind and looking good.

North of Alcatraz, the winds started to freshen dramatically and the seas began to build and we watched as this singlehander headed south with her rail in the water.

This beautiful schooner passed us, blasting downwind on starboard tack and looking great!

Directly ahead of us, we spotted some fast moving sails that I thought at first were windsurfers, but soon identified as dingy racers-- the 505s, like this one passing to starboard....

... and this one blasting past to port after we fell off to stay out of her way.

It was schooner day on the bay, I guess, as we spotted this lovely schooner headed east along with some other sailboats heading in the same direction.

As we passed east of the southern tip of Angel Island, Judith was at the helm and we were blasting along in strong winds, well heeled-over.

This lovely sailboat was sailing to the southeast with full canvas flying and rail almost submerged in the strong winds even in the lee of the island.

This large sailboat, also flying full canvas, was blasting across the east mouth of Raccoon Straits.

Behind us, this smaller Ericson was showing a lot of bottom paint-- likely having her port rail in the water.

We tacked toward Angel Island, found a lee spot close to the island, reefed the jib to a smaller size and then tacked to head into Raccoon Straits, followed by this lovely J105 flying full canvas and a smaller boat flying into two head sails only.

A lovely large sailboat passed to starboard sailing downwind and looking good and comfortable.

At the east end of Raccoon Straits, the winds became very flukey-- changing velocity and direction dramatically, but this sailboat was heading downwind into the straits....

... and this ketch was motorsailing through the crazy wind hole with sloppy seas.

We were suffering for too many minutes in this wind hole, banging around in the sloppy seas, mostly drifting with the ebb current, while this sailboat closer to Tiburon was finding some wind.

We eventually drifted out of the wind hole and were then blasting through heavy seas sailing just a bit off the wind, hoping the wind wouldn't be too strong and we would have a chance to beat to the gate before heading home. However, after sailing past Harding Rock, it became apparent that the winds were growing stronger and stronger and the seas more and more wild, so we gave up on shooting the gate and fell off the wind to head for home port. It was exciting sailing with winds in the 35-45 knot range, seas building to 4-6 feet inside the bay, and when we were sailing over Alcatraz shoal, the wind waves were the biggest I've ever seen, and we were surfing madly down the backside of the bigger waves-- WHOOEEE!!!!

All the way to the lee side of pier 35, the wind seemed to build and build and we were happy to have no cruise ship tied up at pier 35 so we could duck in there to douse sails-- and even there we encountered more wind than usual. After dousing sail and getting ready for landing, we motored around pier 35 into the teeth of the wind, and then into the marina where there was much more wind than usual, happy that our slip was close to the pier so we would have relative quiet while docking. It was fun and exciting out there in those hellish winds, but also felt good to be back home in calm air and water.

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