Sunday, November 23, 2008

SATURDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 08 -- BRILLIANT SUNSET SWALLOWED BY NASTY FOG BANK -- a bad engine-kharma day for pier 39 boats.

A light breeze finally came up in the midafternoon, so we headed out of port around 3:30 pm for a sunset sail, hoping to be able to sail to the gate and back. As we motored down our fairway, we noticed that the Vessel Assist tow boat was tied up behind Robert and Cappy's boat, signifying that they had been towed back to

I raised the full main just outside the marina and headed out toward the central bay, passing this neighbor sailboat as they were sailing out of port without a functioning engine. They had to sail close to pier 35 because the dredging crane and barge was anchored against the marina seawall, but there was very little wind there and the flood current was pushing them toward the pier. So they were preparing to fend off with boat hooks if necessary. They did eventually make it out past pier 35, and the flood current was pushing them eastward as there was very little breeze at that point.

Once out in the central bay we started ghosting westward against the waxing flood current as this cute small sailboat was sailing eastward.

AMBIANCE, a Jeanneau Sun Odessy, was also headed downwind to the east.

Ahead of us, a Catalina named Giro4C was headed westward on a close reach port tack.

Closer to the eastern shore of Alcatraz, a sailboat had just raised her spinnaker and was now sailing nicely downwind on port tack broad reach.

As we looked back toward pier 39, we saw huge volumes of smoke pouring out of somewhere and a telephoto shot showed it was coming out of the exhaust of one of the ferries tied up at pier 41. I wondered if they had blown an engine or something.

A lovely sailboat named CHESAPEAKE was ghosting past pier 39, sailing with main only...

... as was this sailboat that passed to port.

Another sailboat seemed to be motoring into the west marina of Pier 39 and the flags were barely fluttering. The breeze seemed to be dying out so we wondered if we would have to retreat to port.

The PRIVATEER charter ketch was heading back from an outing and starting to furl the jib.

Now the breeze started to freshen a bit and the flags on pier 39 were starting to flutter again at a few knots of breeze.

Our old pal ADVENTURE CAT motored out of port and was raising her main sail for her outing to the gate and back with a moderate number of passengers aboard.

The ferry FUME BLANC COMMODORE was steaming away from the end of pier 39.

A large container ship steamed toward the port of Oakland but she was lightly loaded with a lot of bottom showing.

Out in the west, a bank of clouds over the gate gave us hope of a brilliant sunset in an hour or so, and we hoped that there would be breeze enough to allow us to sail out far enough to watch the sundown through the gate.

We tacked toward pier 39 to avoid the wake of a pilot boat, and then tacked to the west again and were happy to finally catch a freshening breeze while the city behind us was basking in the late afternoon sunshine.

Way in the west, this sailboat was crossing the bay while another sailboat further west was motoring across.

Off to starboard, a neighbor boat BEIGINIS was heading back toward home port and looking good.

As we continued sailing westward in the freshening breeze, two sailboats approached and passed us close to our port side, sailing between us and the setting sun.

The lead boat passed on her downwind course, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

The following sailboat passed between us and and the setting sun...

.. and then KANALOA passed us looking good and we could now see that she was a center cockpit sloop.

A third boat, a Cal apparently, was approaching and also passed to port.

With the freshening breeze we were now making good headway to the west as the sun was starting to set down into the clouds in the southwest.

Way off to port, a Tartan sailboat was charging downwind under a colorful spinnaker.

Three pelicans were sitting on the water, looking clumsy compared to their graceful flight!

The sun eventually fell down behind a fog bank on the horizon...

...and began thereafter to create a beautiful sunset.

However, in the south, a massive and threatening fog bank was riding the southerly breeze and starting to pour over the hills of the Presidio.

Indeed, the fog bank was thick and menacing!

As we continued westward, pink clouds covered the sky behind us.

Sunset color was also spreading across the northwest sky.

Vivid sunset color extended across the gate and the Marin Headlands...

... but the menacing fog bank was starting to intrude and swallow the sunset....

The breeze was starting to soften as we approached the gate and, with the approaching fog bank, I decided to come about and head for home.

... more and more ...

......eventually hiding the gate and later swallowing all of the sunset color. Fog in November????? when the central valley temperatures are about the same as ours in SF. Can't figure out why this is happeneing!!!!!

Here's a video clip showing the sunset and fog bank.

City lights came up as the sky darkened with the fog bank shooting over the hills of the city.

As we approached the end of pier 39, the city lights were brightening and I saw that the holiday lights on the Embarcadero Center buildings were now turned on.

Behind us, a sailboat was sailing downwind and the top of the fog bank was illuminated with some sunset color.

I furled the jib while sailing past the east marina and then headed up toward the end of pier 35, eventually heading into the wind with the engine in forward gear to stem the current while dropping the main. As I was tying up the main, another sailboat sailed past and hailed me, saying that they had lost their engine and asked for help. I told them I would tow them after getting my boat ready for landing, so they continued sailing westward and I motored toward the front of the marina to await their return. I tried to raise them on vhf radio but they did not respond, and I saw them finally coming back toward the shore.

I wanted to tell them to sail into the lee of pier 35 to douse their saiils, but they started doing this right in front of the fairway into the marina where the dredging was still taking place, and the strong flood current pushed us quite a ways to the east before we hooked up the tow line and started to tow them against the flood current toward the end of pier 35, past the barge holding the dredgings and then toward the marina entrance. I towed them into the marina and down the fairway between B and C dock, releasing them to coast toward their slip while I turned ANTICIPATION around in their narrow fairway and motored around and into my slip-- going in high and drifting down into the slip.

I was chatting with Hans when Robert came by and told us about his engine failure. Definitely it was a bad engine kharma day for pier 39 boats. Today I met teh couple on the Catalina 36 that I towed into port, and they reported that they had tried several times to sail into port, but kept getting swept away by the flood current. They also reported that the Coast Guard later towed in that Cal that was sailing out of port when we left. I'm not surprised that they were not able to make it back to port. It was, in my opinion, foolhardy to sail that boat out under the conditions that existed without any engine power. I hope the Coast Guard gave them hell.

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