Thursday, September 4, 2014


When we arrived in San Francisco we went straight to Richmond, tied up, and took a couple of days off. We were both a little weary after being at sea for a week. To this day Jan and I both have been having fitful sleep dreaming about being at sea. For the first couple of days I would wake up a little freaked out wondering where we were and who was on watch. But finally last night I slept all the way through and didn't once think about watch. I think part of the problem was the dock in Richmond. We were tied to the end of a very old flimsy dock so the boat moved a lot - just like at sea. Well... maybe not "just" like being at sea.

We left the Brickyard marina in Richmond on Monday (Labor Day) and headed out to do a check out on the boat and some relaxing bay sailing. We wanted to get the sails up and check them for any damage or chafe from the passage. We also wanted to check over the rig very carefully to ensure all was secure. I looked it over at the dock, but I wanted to put a load on it as well. I am happy to report that the rig and sails look great!

As we were motoring out of the harbor from the Brickyard marina we saw a couple of boats that looked like  they had a man overboard. So we were immediately on the lookout. Then when we got close to one of the boats a guy did a swan dive off the deck. Okay, yes, man/woman overboard, but intentionally. So I checked the water temperature - 75 degrees! That will work!

I also wanted to do a sea trial calibration on the autopilot. All of the tossing about during the ride through the storm did not do the autopilot compass any favors. The compass heading was jumping around quite a bit and the boat symbol on the chart plotter was running a bit off kilter when we came in. We ran the calibration (pretty simple - turn a few slow circles, hold a few headings, etc...) and now it seems to be working perfectly.

The San Francisco bay is a sailor's paradise! The wind blows *every* day like clockwork. The sun heats up the valley and then convection takes over and sucks the cool air in from the Pacific during the afternoon. We left the dock around noon in light and variable conditions - perfect for checking sails and such. Then at about 2:00 in the afternoon the wind went from 4 knots to 25 knots in about 10 minutes. We went from looking for a puff to double reefed in 10 minutes. Holy cow! Fortunately I learned a long time ago to reef early, and reef aggressively, so we were always in control.

I am sure the San Francisco bay seems big to the locals, but being a cruiser from the Puget Sound - it seems very small to me. So while San Francisco always has the wind, the Puget Sound has beauty, variety, and size to its advantage.

And oh my gosh! I have never seen so many sailboats packed into such a small space in my life. Sailing here in not for the faint of heart. I had to jibe twice to keep from hitting another boat that tacked right in front of me. And unfortunately I was forced to tack right in front of another boat that had to jibe to miss me. It was crazy for sure. We tried to get some pictures showing all of the boats but our lens wasn't wide enough to really get the whole picture.

Granted, this was the last "summer" holiday so you would expect everyone to be out on their boats, but my gosh. Anyway, we headed over to Ayala Cove to see if we could find a buoy. We really prefer to use our anchor instead of tying to buoys because of chafe to the line. But Ayala Cove is too small for a boat to anchor among the many buoys already set. Our plan was to get there later in the afternoon after all of the holiday vacationers left to head back home. Well that didn't pan out - it was a crazy zoo!!! Most of the buoys were taken. And as we were approaching the cove slowly (as any normal prudent sailor would) we had 2 boats (one sailboat and one power boat) go roaring in cutting us off and taking the buoys that we were heading toward. I guess maybe they knew we were "tourists" and figured they had local first rights. Anyway, after all of that nonsense there were only a couple of buoys left in close to shore. We poked our nose in but when I saw a depth of 10 feet (and it was a +4 tide at the time) I knew it was no place for our deep draft boat to be. So we backed out and went to plan B - Berkeley marina.

We really wanted to spend some time on Angel Island. It was an internment camp for Japanese citizens during wold war II. A really sad chapter in American history in my opinion. When I am looking at the island I can't help but see how similar it is to Alcatraz Island right next to it. I understand the need for security during a war, but do we need to sacrifice our morals and character by imprisoning innocent people to get it? And for those of you that disagree with me - yes, I would rather be killed by a terrorist with my integrity intact than imprison an innocent person. Okay, enough of that.

We are tied up in Berkeley now. The upside for this marina is that it is inexpensive - $20/night including power and Wifi. The downside is that it is directly east of the San Francisco bay entrance so it blows pretty good here every afternoon. Also, being inexpensive, it is home to some rather untidy boats in questionable seaworthy condition. That being said, everyone we have met here has been very friendly and kind. Also, there are several HoHo (the rally from Seattle to San Diego) boats here that we were talking to on the trip down. So it has been nice to have some "local" faces to hang out with.

The first thing you see when you approach Berkely is what is left of the old Berkeley pier. All but the last part of it is gone except for the pilings. But at one time it extended 2.5 miles out into the bay. It is really incredible! It must have been quite a walk out to the end and back. If you click on the top picture to open it in full screen and then look all the way to the right side you can get a sense of how long this pier was.

The remaining portion of the Berkeley pier

Outside the Everett jetty there is a fairly new sport of kite boarding. On a windy weekend day you can see 50 or more kites flying towing people on wake boards. On the way into Berkeley we saw someone with one of those kites as well, but he was sitting on a jet ski being towed.

We also saw someone on a sailboard. The wind was blowing 25 knots and he/she was cutting across on a reach. I estimate they were going close to 50 MPH. It was absolutely amazing how fast they were traveling.

The pelicans here are amazing! I just can't believe they can fly with that huge bill. The first pelicans I saw were as we were crossing the bar into Brookings, OR. They fly around and then nose dive into the water when they see something they want to eat. I am surprised that they are not injured. I am not sure what was going on, but one pelican we saw had a small bird that followed him everywhere he went, including diving into the sea.

Pelican with friend in tow

Remember those strange jelly fish that we saw floating on the water on the way down to San Francisco? Well I had wanted to scoop one out of the water to have a close look at it but never came up with a method for doing so. I didn't think my throw bucket would be accurate enough so I never tried. Well, it turns out I didn't need to scoop one up. I was doing my engine room checks the other day and found 2 of them in my raw water strainer - oh joy!

They look and feel like plastic. It is hard to believe they were once a living being.

We are planning to leave Berkeley today and anchor up off Treasure Island. It is right below a bridge so we are hoping that it is not too noisy. If it is, then we will come up with something else.


  1. I am glad you made it safe and sound and it sounds like you two are living the dream. I am so happy for you. We are busy getting the house painted and moving my back deck stairs. The house color will definitely brighten up the corner. It is a shade of Turquoise with the trim to be a little lighter. when you look around at all the earth tones and brown we thought we would brighten things up.
    God Bless you both and keep in touch.

    1. Thanks Scott! It is really great to know that you and Toni are praying for us. Please send us a picture when you finish the paint job.