Friday, July 4, 2008
THURSDAY, 3 JULY 08 -- HEAVY FOG ON CENTRAL BAY FOR CROSSINGS TO AND FROM ANGEL ISLAND
A little bit of fog was drifting over the city as we left port around 5 pm and raised single reefed main in anticipation of strong winds on the central bay.
We headed out into the central bay and, as we headed north toward the lee side of Angel Island, we were surprised to see a sailboarder beating upwind along the cityfront. Can't recall ever seeing this before.
We pulled out a small jib as we headed northward, and looking back, we could see that the city was already starting to be obscured by the fog invading the bay.
As we passed the buoy at Blossom Rock, visibility began to drop as we started to be engulfed in fog that was already erasing the western features.
The fog was quite thick at the water line, so we called the CG traffic channel to ask if there were any commercial traffic coming out of the north bay, and were advised about that traffic that seemed not to conflict with our route to the north-- heading way to the east of Angel Island.
We finally arrived in clear air in the lee of Angel Island and began heading up toward Raccoon Straits, noting that the fog bank invading the bay had spread over the southern portion of Angel Island.
In the northeast, the fog bank was a brilliant white-- the finger of fog through the gate spreads north and south along the east bay hills.
As we headed toward the shore of the Tiburon Headlands north of Raccoon Straits, we spotted this lovely Catalina heading southeast toward the eastern mouth of the straits.
Off to starboard, this Beneteau with highly reefed main and full jib was headed on a course parallel to ours.
Looking southward through the straits, we could see a number of sailboats west of the straits, including what appeared to be two of the ADVENTURE CAT s on their sunset sails.
We beat toward the east mouth of the straits, eventually tacking so sail across the mouth toward Angel Island, following that Catalina that was ahead of us in crossing the straits.
That Beneteau that was sailing parallel to us eventually fell off to head toward Larkspur as the Larkspur catamaran ferry blasted past.
While we were in the fog bank on the central bay, we were listening to the CG traffic channel and heard the call from the TERRAPIN ISLAND that she was leaving the Richmond ship channel for the Alcatraz dumping site, and wateched as she steamed out of channel and headed south toward Alcatraz to dump her dredgings.
We had also heard the annoucement of this tug and barge coming in the bay from the ocean and heading to the northbay somewhere, and eventually spotted them passing astern of us.
As we sailed across the mouth of Raccoon Straits, we watched at the massive fog bank was pouring over the Sausalito hills on the other side of the Belvedere peninsula.
We sailed to just inside the northeast point of Angel Island, and then tacked into the straits, passing astern of this Beneteau that was ghosting eastward through the straits before she changed course to head south.
We passed some friendly comments as we sailed past them, and enjoyed the views of the low evening sun brilliantly illuminating the shore of Angel Island.
As we sailed past Ayala Cove, we noted that there were a number of boats tied up at the buoys, probably planning to stay overnight or all of the July 4th weekend, and we also saw that the fog bank was sending whisps of fog over the top of the island.
One lone sailboat was tied up at the docks of the small marina in the cove, and would have to be leaving before sundown.
As we continued sailing through the straits, pulling out the jib to full for more power, the sun was starting to set in some higher clouds over the west.
Ahead of us, this sailboat was heading out of the straits....
... and this Catalina was heading for Sausalito under main only.
The setting sun was brilliantly illuminating the massive fog bank over the central bay and it appeared that portions of the north tower of the GGB were visible at this time.
The Corinthian Yacht Club was seeing some late sunshine on the west side fo the building.
We beat through the straits, eventually exiting the western mouth of the straits as we sailed toward Belvedere, and then tacked to head southeast, noting that the fog bank had spread over the southwest part of Angel Island.
We sailed down the weather shore of Angel Island, hoping that the fog would begin to lift off the water, and listening to the reports on the fog and visibility on the central bay as we sailed along, and also watching as some colorful sunset color developed in the west along with fingers of fog leaking into the north bay.
The gate was now completely obscurred and the visibility reports on channel 14 didn't sound good-- one stated that visibility was zero south of Alcatraz-- not a welcome situation to try to sail through without radar. But, as we continued toward the central bay, and contemplating retreating to Sausalito for an overnight stay for safety's sake, we heard a report from the TERRAPIN ISLAND that had dumped its dredging south of Alcatraz stating that visibility south of Alcatraz was now 500 feet, so we continued to head southeast toward home port, reefing the jib to a small size in contemplation of stronger winds on the central bay.
After sailing past the southern shore of Angel Island, we were soon engulfed in the fog bank which was a wet fog and required that we clear our glasses of mist repeatedly every couple of minutes, and soon had our last views of Angel Island and the north bay communities.
We sailed by compass course toward home port, keeping in touch with vessel traffic on channel 14, struggling to see some landmark ahead through the fog as darkness was falling-- a rather tense sailing condition, but we eventually spotted the lights of Alcatraz and fell off to pass to the east of the island before continuing on toward the cityfront, happy to shortly begin to see the lights on the end of pier 39.
We had doused the jib fully in the lee of Alcatraz, and doused the main when we were in the lee of pier 35. Everything was soaked from the wet fog, including our foulies and non-foulie pants. We prepared for landing and then motored toward the marina entrance, noting that the fog had now lifted off the water and we could see all the way to Alcatraz-- something that we reported to CG traffic and thanked them for their assistance regarding central bay traffic our crossing of the bay from Angel Island. It would have been such a much less tense crossing of the bay had the fog lifted off the water sooner-- and it usually does do that once the fog has spread inland.
We motored into the marina, landed fine despite a waxing flood current flowing through that marina at that time, happy to be home and secure after a quite challenging outing.