Wednesday, May 7, 2008


After the hellish winds of Sunday afternoon, which showed up again on Monday, it was a relief to see more moderate winds on Tuesday morning.

Michael joined us at about 11 am and we left port about 11:30, with winds fluttering the flags moderately-- under 10 knots, but we raised single reef main and put out small jib just in case the bay winds freshened dramatically shortly after we headed out. Note the bow of the cruise ship tied up on the west side of pier 35 which forced us to motor past her stern before raising the main.

The wind was out of the WSW so we had to point to the WNW and the flood current was strong and still waxing, so we were mostly sailing northward, making very little progress westward, and winds didn't freshen, so we pulled the jib out to full for more power and, after passing Alcatraz, we began to make some westward progress, helped eventually by a freshening wind shifting more into the southwest.

Eventually, we were sailing toward Sausalito in less current and making good progress westward across the mouth of Richardson Bay, and watching as this small sailboat flying full canvas headed southeats out of the bay.

A fog bank was hanging over the Sausalito hilltop, but not pouring down the hill as it often does.

As we approached the shore of Sausalito, we didn't find a lee spot, so fell off to reef the jib down to a small size for our run to the gate down the shoreline of Sausalito and the headlands-- the gate having some bits of fog obscuring the top of the south tower of the GGB.

Some gusty wind blasts greeted us from time to time as we sailed southward toward the gate, but out in the central bay, out of the lee of the headlands, the winds were more moderate than expected.

We tacked into the area just outside Horseshoe Cove, and this sailboat that had followed us out of Richardson Bay, tacked right behind to follow us still.

We began making short, quick tacks to avoid the flood current pushing us away from the gate, while that other sailboat sailed close to the breakwater of the marina in Horseshoe Cove and then tacked to the south again. We expected to see them continue to follow us out the gate, but they fell off after tacking and headed east riding with the flood current.

After four or five short, quick tacks in the moderate winds, and seeing no signs of a dramatic freshening anywhere at the gate, we pulled the jib out to full again while on starboard tack and sailing parallel to the bridge, gained some speed and then tacked to the west to head out the gate between midspan and the north tower.

Michael was at the helm and I was handling the jib sheets during this tacking, and remained there as we sailed out toward Kirby Cove.

We did a bit more beating westward, contemplating trying to beat our way all the way out to Pt. Bonita, waited for an inbound freighter to pass and then sailed southward toward lighter currents past the gate, catching this sight of the distant city in the haze.

Deciding it would take too long to beat out to the point, we fell off and then gybed back to the north with the flood current pushing us toward the gate, and watched whisps of fog starting to drift over the headlands.

Through the gate, we could see our old pal, ADVENTURE CAT, heading for the gate....

....shooting the gate and sailing out a ways along the rocky cliffs of the headlands just outside the north tower of the GGB.

The breeze shifted more westerly and the flood current helped to push us inside the gate on that port tack broad reach, and ADVENTURE CAT was heading back inside on starboard tack, forcing us to head up to give her right of way, and pass a few feet astern of her.

The wind was a bit stronger inside the gate, so we did a chicken gybe, turing 270 degrees from port tack broad reach to starboard tack broad reach to head for home, eventually spotting the schooner run by CALL OF THE SEA heading toward Sausalito-- seems like we have been seeing this schooner every time we go out lately.

Another schooner, flying more canvas, was also heading westward, but much further away from us-- probably a privately owned schooner.

We also spotted this ketch heading west, passing a large inbound freighter using the deep water ship channel, and about to plow through the freighter's wake.

As we continued eastward with moderate winds and flood current assist giving us 6-7 knots over the bottom, we spotted ALMA passing to the west of Alcatraz and then heading toward Aquatic Park.

The city was enjoying hazy sunshine as we sailed past pier 45 toward pier 39.

We doused the jib in front of pier 39 and, since winds were moderate, we doused the main also in front of the pier, rather than sail past the two cruise ships tied up at pier 35 and then have to motor around them. After tying up the main, we motored toward the marina entrane while readying lines and fenders for landing, We motored into the marina feeling great about our outing-- making it out the gate against a strong flood current and not having to fight hellish winds.