Friday, August 8, 2008


Tuesday evening, we actually had a few sprinkles of rain-- very unusual for this time of year, but it didn't last very long. Wednesday morning, they were still forcasting possible thundershowers, but with low probability. I decided to go for a morning sail, hoping to avoid, to some extent, the strong midafternoon winds.

Winds were moderate as we left port around 10:30 am, but we anticipated stronger winds later so raised single reefed main, headed out into the central bay, gybed the main to head downwind on starboard tack broad reach and pulled out the jib to full for downwind power.

A light ebb current was flowing as we headed down the cityfront, and the financial district buildings tops were shrouded in fog.

After we sailed past pier 23, the SF Police fast boat blasted past to starboard.

A short time later, the SF fire boat steamed past to port.

Telegraph Hill and the houses there were brightening.

As we continued sailing toward the A-B span of the Bay Bridge in moderate but fairly steady westerly winds, we spotted a sailboat heading our way from far south of the Bay Bridge. At first we thought she might be a tall ship that hung around to visit ports down the Peninsula, but she wasn't.

We sailed past the Ferry Building with still gray overcast conditions.

The clock on the tower of the Ferry Building was showing 10:48 am as we passed, now starting to find less wind south of the Ferry Building, so were just ghosting along, sometimes wondering if we would make it to the Bay Bridge.

That sailboat we had seen in the distance south of the bridge now passed us and must have been motorsailing since she was going much faster than the winds and current could have produced.

Her skipper and crew were shielded from the sun by a dodger and a bimini covering the helm.

We encountered a small region with no wind, but fortunately the breeze filled in and we were able to sail under the A-B span of the bridge which was beginning to see some sunshine from clearing skies in south and east.

One of our favorite views of the city and financial district is this one framed by the Bay Bridge.

We came about and headed back to the north, sailing back under the A-B span, soon encountering a skiff rower heading for the Bay Bridge on the flast water of the bay.

The Ferry Building was beginning to experience some brightening as we approached.

The clock showed 11:08 am, so it had taken us about a half-hour to get to the Bay Bridge, splitting the 20 minute difference.

As we continued sailing northward along the cityfront, that rower passed us and soon was far ahead as we were just ghosting along in light winds until we reached the central bay.

As we approached a point opposite pier39, this catamaran was slowling steaming eastward.

The flags on the end of pier 39 were fluttering in a breeze of about 10 knots. It was now 11:45 am, so our ghosting phase made it take about 45 minutes from the Bay Bridge back to pier 39.

We continued sailing westward past pier 39, watching as this lovely full-canvassed Catalina sailed past, looking good.

Off in the north, a large ship that looked like a military ship of some kind-- perhaps a transport ship-- was being towed out to sea by a tug with a tug escort. I wondered what the ship was, where she came from, was she new, what was her mission, why was she being towed??? So many unanswered questions. I suppose I could have called the tug captain on the radio to see if he would give any information.

We continued beating westward, tacking back and forth along the cityfront, and as we were tacking toward the Ft. Mason piers, this lovely pelican flew past, flying low over the water.

This pelican was resting on the water of the bay, bouncing through the waves.

As we sailed toward the piers of Ft. Mason, we were sometimes overpowered by the now-stronger-winds, putting the rail in the water sometimes, so we reefed the jib in lighter winds in the lee of the Ft. Mason piers, and then tacked to head west again, passing CHUCKY'S PRIDE with a bunch of men fishing and surrounded by flying seabirds.

The CALIFORNIA HORNBLOWER was steaming past, heading for the gate on a lunch cruise.

This small Catalina passed to port....

.... as did this small catamaran.

A Coast Guard fast boat was steaming into the Gas Light Cove marina.

Behind us, nearer to Alcatraz, an Islander was heading west.

As we passed the entrance to the San Francisco marina, that SF Police fastboat with blue light flashing steamed past and then came around behind us and asked if we had called for help, and I shouted "NO!" and continued sailing westward with a waxing flood current and building wind velocity.

We hoped to be able to sail out the gate on a single tack, but the strong flood current kept pushing us northward, and soon we were heading toward Horseshoe Cove and passing this small sailboat that earlier had sailed into the bay from the ocean.

The Marin Headlands were frosted with fog as we approached the entrance to Horseshoe Cove.

As we started beating toward the gate against the strong flood current, we were enjoying the view of the bridge topped with fog.

We eventually tacked into Horseshoe Cove where Ft. Baker and a small marina and Coast Guard station were enjoying sunshine.

We tacked to sail across the gate with north tower of the bridge now clear of fog, and then tacked to try to sail out the gate against the flood current, but gave up after several attempts brought us about 20 yeards from the gate, and headed back toward home port. It was now 1:45 pm, so it had tacken us about 2 hours to reach the gate against the flood current.

Winds were strong and current was strong, including some strong flood eddies that pushed us around a bit. We were blasting toward home port with flood assist.

A dredging barge and tug was heading for the Alcatraz dumping ground as we passed south of Alcatraz.

A Coast Guard patrol boat was steaming westward along the cityfront.

The city was basking in sunshine as we sailed between pier 45 and pier 39.

A couple of pelicans passed, flying low over the water.

Pier 39 flags were being blasted by winds of at least 25 knots. It was now
2:07 pm, so it had taken us only about 20 minutes to cover the 4+ miles
from the gate to pier 39-- meaning that we were doing about 12 knots over the bottom on our return from the gate- Wow! flying reefed main and small jib. That tells you that the wind and current were both strong-- probably 3 knots of wind driven current and 9 knots of boat speed.

As we sailed toward the lee of pier 35, that Coast Guard patrol boat was steaming past to port, suddenly accelerating and sending out a mass of black diesel exhaust. Thanks a lot, Coast Guard! I'm glad we were not downwind of that blast of pollution!

We sailed into the lee of pier 35 to douse sails and ready for landing before motoring into the marina and landing nicely. We were out on the bay for about 3 hours and did a 2 bridge kiss-- great fun!!!!