Saturday, December 27, 2008


Thursday, Christmas Day, started out with an outrageous strong, southeast wind-- probably 40 knots-- that had the halyards in the marina sounding like a loud orchestra. Some rain squalls came through as well, but by early afternoon the sun was shining and the wind had shifted into the northwest, still blowing 30+ knots.
Eventually, the wind started to soften a bit, down to 20-25 knots-- like summer winds, so I decide to go out for a sail.

We left port about 2 pm, raised single reefed main and headed out into the central bay. Now the wind seemed to intensify back up to near 30 knots again, and I was tempted to go right back into port again, but decided to head downwind toward the bay bridge, sailing on broard reach port tack.

The winds were gusty, the seas were big-- wind waves of 2-4 feet-- had us rocking and rolling and surfing from time to time-- lots of whitecaps on the water and some high cloud over the city. It was really wild out there and I hoped Mother Nature would soften the winds soon.

We sailed directly through the D-E span of the Bay Bridge against the strong ebb current that had rolled up the whitecapped waves, and then sailed past the southern shore of Yerba Buena where a group of harbor seals were lazily sunning themselves on shore.

The lighthouse on the southeast tip of YBI was as cute and charming as always.

The new east span of the Bay Bridge construction was showing some progress and it looked as if they were building some kind of cantilevered structure that rested on what appeared to be temporary supports. Could not make out where this was going to be roadway or what.

Just north of the major bridge span, right in the middle of the span is this structure that must have some function, but I have no idea what it might be.

Over on the other side of the span, they were also building some kind of cantilevered structure between the completed roadway section and the support structure west of that. Again, I have no idea what the function of that might be.

Over in the port of Oakland, two freighters were loaded and being filled with fuel from a fuel barge.

We started to sail northward through the bridge structure, but winds were a bit crazy there, so we gave up and headed back around Yerba Buena. Then we sailed parallel to the Bay Bridge suspension span and finally began beating toward home port, after passing through the A-B span of the Bay Bridge. Fortunately, the wind had softened down to 20 knots or so and the seas had calmed, so we didn't have to blast through big waves. We doused sail in the lee of pier 35, and motored into port. Fortunately, the water depth was sufficient that we only dragged the keel in the mud as we approached our slip. We had to gun the engine to motor into the slip and then rapidly go into reverse and gun the engine since the slip is deeper and we accelerate as the keel goes free of the mud.

Friday dawns with sunny skies and the morning develops with a light northerly wind. I guess Mother Nature used up most of her breath the day before. I needed to go to the fuel dock to fill up the fuel tank, and get there before the tide got too shallow-- the marina there is more shallow than pier 39 right near the entrance. So we headed out about 12:30 pm, 3 hours before low tide, put out full canvas and headed west along the cityfront.

The current was a waxing ebb current and the flags on the end of pier 39 were barely fluttering in the light breeze, but we made steady if ghostly progress with the ebb assist.

Ahead of us, a rower was just entering the breakwater of Fishermans Wharf, probably headling back to the Dolphin Club or the South End Rowing Club.

As we continued ghosting to the west, a Blue and Gold ferry blasted past us, giving us the benefit of her wake.

Further out on the bay, a sailboat was sailing past Alcatraz-- probably motorsailing in the light breeze.

Looking back to the east, we could see a plume of smoke that seemed to be coming from east of the Bay Bridge somewhere. It seemed more smoke than one would see from the belching smokestack of a freighter.

As we ghosted past Aquatic Park, we looked back at a sun-drenched Telegraph Hill, but something was missing-- the Balclutha is not docked at the Maritime Museum dock now. I'm told she was towed over to drydock for maintenance.

Off in the northwest, Sausalito and Mt. Tam were also drenched in sunshine, and a lovely Beneteau was motorsailing eastward.

The Golden Gate Bridge was basking in early afternoon sunshine, and a couple of sailboats out near the gate seemed to be at the mercy of the ebb current unless they had their engines on.

I doused sail just outside the Ft. Mason piers, and then motored into the fuel dock at Gashouse Cove. Fortunately, marine diesel has dropped in price by about 1.50 a gallon since I filled up last fall or winter. We only use 20 gallons or so per year, so price is not a big deal, but still it was nice to save 30 dollars or so on the 25 gallons that we pumped into Anticipation's tank.

As we motored away from the fuel dock toward the marina exit, we spotted this harbor seal cavorting off our port side.

I put up full canvas again outside the marina and headed east along the cityfront, hoping for a strong enough breeze to more than stem the now-stronger ebb current, but we were just barely inching along against the current as this folkboat behind us was sailing into the marina. Hope she had enough breeze as those boats don't usually have engines.

Off in the north, the Airship Ventures zepplin was heading toward the gate. Since we see a lot of her, I am assuming she is being successful in attracting passngers for her scheduled flights out of the Oakland Airport.

We continued to make pleas to Mother Nature for a freshening breeze, but she responded only with a few puffs that gave us a bit of headway against the current as the LOVELY MARTHA fishing boat blasted past with a load of passengers.

Over by Alcatraz, this lovely Catalina was making headway with the current and so probably doing 2-3 knots over the bottom.

Back Bay motored out of Gashouse Cove marina and begain to raise her main sail....

... continuing northwestward for a while after raising it.

A while later, we spotted a sailboat with main only motorsailing toward us and closing on us.

She was Culebra [spanish for snake-- according to my spanish-fluent daughter] and she put out her jib and was passing us, actually making some headway with her much larger jib.

Her crew was enjoying the sunshine and warm air due to lack of wind chill.

A bit later, Back Bay motorsailed past us with full canvas flying.

Her crew was also basking in the warm sunshine.

A bit later, the San Francisco Police fast boat blasted past to starboard.

We had to begin motoring toward home port as we needed to be back by 3:30 and could wait no longer for Mom Nature to bless us with freshening breezes, but further out on the bay this cutter sailboat was making good progress sailing with the now quite strong ebb current.

American Pie was also motorsailing, though she was going with the current and didn't really need the engine.

Her crew was also enjoying the sunshine.

I furled in the jib as we motored along past the Fisherman's Wharf area and then dropped the main while motoring toward pier 39 and flaked and tied her up partially, finishing the tying up after passing the marina. We landed okay in the slip despite the strong surge that bangs the boat back and forth as we enter the slip.

Later, as I was dropping some stuff in the trash, I saw that the small boat in slip E-4 had snapped her starboard bow line, and also snapped her power cord that was lead up through the bow. I pulled the cord out of the water and as I laid it on the dock finger the torn end was sparking a bit, so i turned off the mains switch. Apparently, the sailinity of bay water isn't sufficient to create a short circuit current of a magnitude that would fire off the circuit breaker on the dock box.

The marina office was closed on Friday, but I called one of the maintenance guys and left him a message, hoping he might go into the office and call the owner of the boat. If not, I'll check with the office on Saturday.

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