Tuesday, December 23, 2008


After a day of rain on Sunday that kept us in port, Monday dawned with sunny skies, but clouds started to move in during the late morning hours. We headed out for an afternoon sail about 12:30 pm, and put up full main just outside the marina before heading out into the central bay. We headed northeast on main only for a while and then gybed to head southeast toward the A-B span of the Bay Bridge.

Skies over the city were clear but the north sides of the buildings were in shadow due to the angle of the winter sun. It was now 1 pm.

Behind us, the clouds moving over the bay had varying colors, some dark and some light.

Winds initially were light and we were just ghosting along against the ebb current and Telegraph Hill was also in shadow from this vantage point.

Winds freshened a bit and we began making faster progress toward the Bay Bridge and eventually this ferry blasted past us, heading towards pier 39.

Eventually we looked back at Telegraph Hill from a vantage point that showed the sun striking some of the buildings.

We sailed past the Ferry Building where the clock in the tower showed it was 1:25 pm.

The Bay Bridge was glistenting in sunshine as we approached.

It was 1:30 pm when we passed under the A-B span of the Bay Bridge and looked back at the city in sunshine. So it had taken us about 30 minutes to sail to the Bay Bridge.

We quickly came about and headed north, sailing with the current in a good breeze, and watched as this small power yacht steamed toward the bridge.

I was wondering if we'd have any sailboat company out there, and began to see some boats, like this one sailing jib only as we sailed between a point east of Alcatraz and the southern shore of Angel Island.

Off to starboard, this ketch was headed east, perhaps heading for Berkeley or Emeryville.

In the north, another small sailboat was headed southeast toward Treasure Island.

As we arrived at a point just east of the southern shore of Angel Island, a dark rain cloud was heading our way and obscuring Mt. Tam. It looked like we were going to have some showers, so I put on my foulie coat-- already had pants and boots on -- and downsized the jib in case the rain cell was a squall with stronger winds.

This small Alberg sailboat passed to port and behind her a freighter was headed out to sea.

A Catalina sailed past, looking good.

Way off to starboard, two small boats were headed southeast.

The small rain cell passed over us without a dramatic increase in the wind and the wind actually softened, so we pulled out the jib to full again. Behind us, the skies were partly cloudy.

Off in the west, skies were completely overcast and some light rain showers were falling.

Some sunshine from the south produced a section of rainbow out of the clouds in the east.

The sun was gleaming off the sea as we sailed well to the east of the mouth of Raccoon Straits. It was now 2:50 pm so we had been sailing 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to here from the Bay Bridge.

Off in the north, a lovely sailboat was heading south.

In the west, the northern part of the sky was partly cloudy while the southern part of the sky was completely overcast.

As we continued to head north toward the Richmond San Rafael bridge in light wind, making headway but not fast agasint the ebb current, the sun was peaking through some breaks in the clouds creating some dramatic sky and sea patterns.

In the distance, Red Rock was enjoying sunshine-- this is a zoom shot.

Behind us, the skies over the bay were mostly clear.

We were far to the east of the Tiburon shore where the current was lighter, but we were making such slow progress to the north that I was tempted to give up on doing a 3 bridge kiss. Finally, Mother Nature responded to our requests and freshened the breeze to 5-7 knots and we were then making good headway and Red Rock was getting closer.

Off to port, this large blue-hulled tanker was tied up at the Richmond long wharf.

Two smaller tankers were also tied up there.

I had to decide whether to continue heading north and pass to the east of Red Rock or to head up and pass to the east of Red Rock and I decided to head up to pass west of the rock.

Through the bridge, we could see in the distance the Bed and Breakfast Inn on the easternmost one of the two islands called The Brothers.

We were approaching the span of the Richmond San Rafael bridge which is the southbound sea lane span and were fighting a quite strong ebb current there and you can see the current flowing past the base of the bridge tower. With a good breeze, we were making headway against the current.

From a distance, Red Rock looks to be close to the bridge, but is actually about 500 yards away from the bridge.

We finally sailed under the bridge span, and it was now 3:45 pm. So it had taken us 2 hours and 15 minutes to sail from the Bay Bridge to the Richmond San Rafael bridge. It had taken us about an hour to sail from Raccoon Straits to the RSR brodge.

We quickly tacked and headed back toward Angel Island and were now sailing with the current and making faster headway. Skies in the west were still divided between mostly clear in the north to mostly cloudy in the south

We eventually sailed past this petroleum barge that was anchored in the middle of the north bay between the northbound and southbound sea lanes.

Some sea birds were resting on the water, including this lovely pelican. I'm surprised that there are still some pelicans around, given the rather cold weather we've been having.

As we were approaching Bluff Point at the east mouth of Raccoon Straits, the sun dropped behind the Tiburon Hills.

In the north, the sun was illuiminating some low clouds but higher cloud layes were all dark.

The same was true for the clouds in the east.

The breeze died almost totally as we approached Bluff Point so we were just ghosting into the mouth of Raccoon Straits, as the sunset sky in the west was developing some dramatic color. It took us only 40 minutes to reach this point from the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, while it took about an hour to sail there from a point opposite Raccoon Straits.

We eventually arrived in a breeze of about 5 knots and started making some good headway through the straits, sailing toward Ayala Cove on Angel Island as more dramatic sunset color developed in the southwest.

I was surprised to find a couple of sailboats in Ayala Cove as we approached, one tied up at the buoy field, and one at the docks of the marina.

We had to beat back and forth through the straits as the sun went down and skies in the north were completely overcast.

In the southwest, some sunset color persisted.

As we exited the straits, the city was in shadow and skies were overcast. The current was now a waxing flood and I was happy that the winds were strong enough to let us beat our way out of the straits.

We were sailing on close reach starboard tack directly toward the gate with a good westerly breeze and making good headway against the now flooding current as skies darkened in the west with some breaks showing the sky at dusk.

We now began taking some video clips of our progress toward the gate and here is that video showing that we ended up inside the south tower of the GGB and finally managed to sail out the gate on port tack close reach against the strong flood current. Here's the final video with clips stitched together.

We just ducked out and then came about and headed toward home port, continuing to take some video clips, as we enjoyed the city lights, e.g. while passing Aquatic Park....

... and the holiday lights of Embarcadero Center.

We sailed past the east marina, pulled in the jib, and then headed up to douse the main, tie it up and then motor into port, landing fine by playing the flood current properly. It was now 7 pm, so our 3 bridge kiss took about 6 hours to complete, not including the time to raise and douse sails. I felt really happy to have done my first 3 bridge kiss in many many months.

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