Thursday, May 25, 2006

General Log, January - July 2006

July 23 -
A year ago we put a daysail on Spindrift up for auction at De Anza College's annual fund raising event, "A Night of Magic." It's taken all this time for us to arrange with the lucky winners our day on the bay, but at last we were joined by Allan Epstein and his children, Aaron, Aimee, and Jordan. It was a perfect day for it, with a major heat wave sweeping through the state. Getting out on the water made the weather bearable. And, we had a splendid time, from Alameda over to Ayala Cove at Angel Island for lunch, and then on to Sausalito, across the bay to Crissy Field, and then down the city front and home.

What a great way to make new friends! We hope they come back again for another sail on the bay.

June 29-July 6 - A week on Spindrift began with our arriving at the boat on Thursday evening to prepare to sail to China Cove the next day with our club cruising fleet. Photo album.

Friday morning we awakened early, removed the Sunbrella covers, washed her down, and went to breakfast. We embarked at 10:00, and stopped at the Jack London fuel dock, where we put in 17.3 gallons of diesel. We had a lovely sail up past Red Rock, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the Brothers Islands, and then across San Pablo Bay to the China Camp anchorage. Nova and Bastante from our fleet were already there, and as we came into to anchor, Destiny arrived along side us. Eventually we had eight boats anchored, but because we were headed to the Petaluma Yacht Club for three days, only one, Freedom, had brought a dinghy. So, waving to each other, and occasionally chatting on the VHF, we all relaxed on our own boats. It was a peaceful night for most of us, though Aldebaran awakened the next morning to find her anchor rode had wrapped around her prop in the night – she had to have a diver come free her up before she could go on.

Saturday all waited until the flood began at 11:00 to head to the Petaluma River entrance and channel. San Pablo Bay is wide and shallow on northern side, and the river channel extends out almost three nautical miles. A couple of smaller boats set sail, but most of us motored to the river entrance and up the channel. Once we hit the shoreline and passed one of two swing-railroad bridges along the river, the bay winds died and we found ourselves on a warm and sunny river course, winding through vineyards and quaint river communities. The whole trip took about four hours, and we reached the drawbridge for the 15:00 scheduled opening a little ahead of time. Under the bridge and into the turning basin, and, oops, Nova, a Catalina 42 that draws 6’8”, bottomed out heading to the PYC docks. Our ten or eleven boats maneuvered in the small turning basin while Nova got free and cleared the channel, and then Destiny, came close to grounding but got through. Deb and I brought Spindrift (also a 6’8” draft), and, after watching the others, I simply powered through the silt. By 15:45, we were all med-tied to the dock, with our big powerboat, Destiny, anchoring the whole flotilla.

Let the partying begin. Unbeknownst to us, Mike Pernitzke sent out word to everyone that there was a party on Spindrift, and suddenly, just as I was dressing the boat with a string of signal flags up the backstay, we were invaded by between 25-35 people. We pulled out cheese and crackers, smoked oysters, popped open beer, and had the first of what would be a weekend of spontaneous boat parties. Almost everyone got boarded at one time or another by party-goers. It couldn’t have been greater fun. That night we all went to a great group dinner at McNear’s, a pub and restaurant.

Sunday we all awoke and found breakfast on our own. Deb and I found a great little bistro at the end of the docks that served the best quiche we’d had in years. Petaluma is a great destination. The historic town centered on the turning basin in the river. During the late-19th and early-20th centuries, it was the port for the Sonoma County agricultural region around Petaluma. The town has done a nice job of vitalizing the old town center, so there are loads of shops – antiques, knick-knacks, restaurants, pubs, and such. All day, we wandered around, bumping into friends from the club here and there, making one trip to buy some ice, and wandering back to the docks to relax or visit on other boats.

During the day a couple of other club boats joined us, and we reached a total of fifteen boats. Since some of them were leaving Monday morning with an early tide (07:00), Dave Dury (our cruise leader for the weekend) and I (in my capacity as cruise captain) decided to hold our “Fizz Party” at 17:00 on the docks rather than the traditional morning fizz party. We gathered for fizzes, adjourned to the Petaluma Yacht Club for cocktails, and then held a BYOF barbecue at the clubhouse. About the time we were thinking of wandering back to our boats, the PYC folks cleverly brought out a box of maracas, gourd shakers, and other rhythm devices, turned up the jukebox, and with needing no more encouragement than that, our entire group was up and dancing wildly for the next couple of hours. Whew!

Monday I got up at 07:00 to help those who were leaving cast off. We found another breakfast place a bit later, and spent another day enjoying paradise. Monday evening we had a spontaneous group barbecue potluck on the docks, which wound down into an evening party on Nova, which was tied up next to us.

Tuesday we arose at 07:00 to embark with the tide at 08:00. We all got out safely and had a nice motor down the river. One of our group, Rat-I-Cool, got stuck for a few minutes along the river, but a good-Samaritan power boater pulled them off – good thing, because we were leaving on an ebb, and he could have been stuck for the whole day.

When we got to the shoreline and motored out into the river channel, we found ourselves motoring directly into a 25 knot wind. The ebb in the face of the wind resulted in rolling waves, which, because we had to stay right in the center of the channel, we had to pound directly through. Deb was at the helm when this hit, and she was quickly soaked. She was a not-to-happy sailor. “You stay below,” she insisted. “No point in us both being soaked. And, when I leave this wheel, I’m not coming back up. So stay dry now.” She hung in at the wheel until we reached China Camp, and then I came up. Things eased by the time we went under the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, and I put up the jib. We managed to sail at a nice clip of five to six knots, and we began drying out.

West of Angel Island and off the Richmond shore, we sailed past a small open motorboat with three fellows aboard. They must have been fishing, but I got the feeling they were in trouble, so Deb fired up the engine and I pulled in the jib, and we maneuvered back to them. Turns out they couldn’t start their outboard, and they wanted help. I called the Coast Guard, gave the particulars of their situation, and then we stood by for thirty minutes while another power boat, Black Mariah, agreed to render assistance and made headway to our location. Once they arrived, we broke off, put the jib back out, and headed home. Our friend John Foy on Destiny heard the whole thing on the radio and congratulated us later for not only being good Samaritans but for being so professional in all the radio transmissions. That felt good.

We pulled into the marina, waited for a bit for a boat to clear the pump-out station, and then thoroughly pumped out and flushed our head. Then we put the boat into the slip and went up to our EYC clubhouse for a July 4th BBQ. We didn’t expect many people (nor did the club), but to everyone’s surprise it was crowded. We had a great time there, and eventually ended the night without even seeing the fireworks.

Wednesday we arose to clean off the boat in time for John Hansen, rigging forman at Svendsen’s Boat Works, to come out and consult with us on replacing the standing rigging, doing some rerigging, and adding some electronics to Spindrift. After he left, we put on the canvas and went to take a demo sail with Klaus Kutz on his Tartan 3400. The sail was great fun, and afterwards we decided to spend one more night aboard so that we could go over to Sausalito the next day, Thursday, to look at a Sabre 402 and a Beneteau 47S. We finally got home at about 16:00, a full week aboard Spindrift.

June 17-18 - Sailed over to China Beach, on the northeast end of Angel Island, and dropped the hook and waited for Chuck Wetteroth and Cat Gordon who were sailing over with Mark and Karen Brunelle on the Capt'n B's boat Aldebaran. They arrived and as they tried rafting up to us, one of our fenders made and escape, so they pulled away and picked it up for us. Got rafted up, and just as we were breaking out cold ones, a swell hit us and really through us around. We agreed that rafting in China Beach wasn't going to make it, and since neither of us had dinghies, we decided to try and get slips in Ayala Cove on the north side of Angel Island. We weighed anchor, followed them over, and, probably because it was around 16:30, had no trouble finding two slips together. Had lots of good food, Mark barbecued some sausages, and we lolled about for two hours.

At 19:00 we were underway, and the sail across the backside of the Slot to Treasure Island was great. With two reefs in our main, we didn't have Spindrift balanced as we should, and never got her quite right until I shook out the reefs in the lee of Treasure Island. This meant that Aldebaran, and Ericson 35, was threatening us all the way across - we should have walked away from them, but alas, our seamanship wasn't good enough this time. Photo album.

We finished the day, motoring up the estuary in the sunset. Deb and I decided to tied up for the night at the yacht club's docks. Docking in the dark with a strong ebb proved very frustrating, but we eventually got in safely, and adjourned to the EYC bar. Chuck and Cat showed up and we told lies about our great sail across the Slot until the place was empty.

Sunday morning we washed down Spindrift, went for breakfast, walked all round the marina, looked at boats, and then motored back over to our slip after lunch. A nice weekend.

May 28 - Went out with Rob Bastress today, starting in the south bay and then going north, across the slot, and to Tiburon. Sailed easily with two reefs in the main and a reef in the headsail. Between Alcatraz and Angel Island a Beneteau 470 had a hard time catching and passing us. We docked at the Corinthian Yacht Club (again), and went to lunch at Guaymas in Tiburon. It was pricey but okay, until Deborah discovered a maggot in the leg joint of her half-chicken mole. Yuck! We lost our appetites, but had a good sail back to the cityfront and then down to Marina Village.

May 14 - We had an unexpected break in sailing during April and May. We'd planned a cruise-out to Clipper Cove on Treasure Island on May 15, but inclement weather plus the fact that Deb's elderly father had just gone in the hospital and we didn't know if we'd have to leave at a moments notice, led us to drive over to the TI Yacht Club for dinner, make our "Cruise Captains" appearance, and then drive home.

We got the call, and the next week sat vigil at John's bedside, missing not only the Strictly Sail Show at Jack London Square, but also cancelling out on our club's Ron Byrne Estuary Cup (we'd hoped to be sailing against two Cal 40s in the club). Then, the first week of May, John died, and we cancelled our part in our cruise out for "Jazz Night at the Corinthian," which meant there was no live jazz band for the cruisers, a bummer for them, but couldn't be helped.

So, finally, May 14th arrived, and we went out for a great day sail, taking Deb's son Brett with us. On the way out we passed Mike & Ina on Nova, and then made the circuit from Alameda to Sausalito, to the Corinthian Yacht Club (where we docked and went to lunch in Tiburon), and finally east through Raccoon Strait, and back down to Alameda. It was a great day, and it was cathartic to be back on the water again.

More photos

March 19 – This weekend was the sort of weekend of which sailors on San Francisco Bay dream: sunny, almost warm, absolutely unlimited, crystal clear visibility, 12-16 knot winds. We went out with some friends on Saturday, but Sunday Deb and I took Spindrift out, reefed the main and the jib to keep us comfortable, and sailed across the south bay, then north across the slot to Belevdere, then east through Raccoon Straits, then down the back side of the slot and along the lee of Treasure Island, and finally, now under main only, down the Oakland Estuary and back to our marina. Yummy!

March 10-12 – In icy winds and rain on Friday afternoon, we put on our foulies and motored off to South Beach Harbor to celebrate Deb’s birthday and start our weekend yacht club cruise-out. Drinks with friends who also came early led us finally to an overpriced dinner at MoMo’s across from the San Francisco Giants ballpark.

Saturday we awoke fairly early and had friends Mike Pernitzke and Ina Tabak aboard for a breakfast of eggs and Locks and bagels. It was a nice breezy sailing day, but stayed ashore to help our fellow cruisers find their berths and tie-up. The rain held off during our afternoon dockside cocktail party and then we hustled off in fourteen cabs (55 of us all together) to Club Fugazi to see Beach Blanket Babylon. After the show, we all adjourned to Capp’s for a great North Beach Italian dinner.

Sunday morning we awoke to rain and threatening skies, but after an early breakfast at the Java House, we returned to our boats and hosted the traditional morning fizz party, which drew virtually everybody to the docks. But, the return trip across the bay was even more blustery than our Friday trip across, and we were glad when we returned to our home port.

February 25 - My sailing friend Bruce Sinclair picked up another mutual sailing friend, Lenny Reich, at the Oakland Airport today, and drove straight away to the marina, where I had Spindrift ready to cast off for an afternoon sail. We cast off at 14:15, motored out the estuary on the ebb, and were sailing as soon as we reach the bay.

A nice tack across toward SBC Park with the wind at 15 knots, and then we turned north, under the Bay Bridge and toward Angel Island. Winds reached 18 knots in the north bay, and even though we were a bit overpowered, we still closed reached to Angel Island on the end of the ebb at nine knots over ground. Then we turned back across the bay toward the city front on a beam reach. During the crossing the wind decreased to about 10 knots, but the ebb gave way to slack water, so we still made it back to the slip by 17:30, in time to enjoy a nip before Bruce and Lenny had to drive up to Vallejo.

February 17-19 – This weekend marked our first official cruise-in as EYC’s Cruise Captains. It was actually just a cruise-in to the club for a weekend of relaxation and dinner and a show, “The Raft Pack Show,” a musical tribute to the era of Frank, Dean, and Sammy. We had eleven boats cruise-in plus another nineteen couples drive over for the weekend, and the Richmond Yacht Club cruising fleet brought over another twelve to fourteen boats. More photos.

February 11-12 – Held off taking Spindrift during the beautiful warm weather, since Any Neuvecelles is varnishing our hand-rails for us. Saturday we washed her down, and then took Pup out for a row around the marina. Great fun!

On Sunday, we took Spindrift out, motoring all the way to Alcatraz, when we finally found a little wind and put her under sail. As we neared Sausalito and turned to catch a nice twelve-knot breeze across the bay to the city front, another Cal 39-2 came along our port side. We were off, and raced across to just off Crissy Field and then tacked back across to Sausalito. He picked up two boat lengths on us by the end, but we agreed we were pretty evenly matched. Our 200 feet of anchor chain up front offset the fact that his was a short rig. Deborah had a ball at the helm, and we made a nearly flawless tack half way through the race.

January 27 – Took Pup off Dog Days’ foredeck and rowed her around to Spindrift’s slip, where I secured her on the dinghy dock (photos of Pup). Think were going to leave Pup there for a while, which will make it easier to use her in the marina as well as take out Dog Days.

January 13-14 – We had a cruise-leaders weekend at the Encinal Yacht Club, and since Deborah and I are “Cruise Captains” for the year, we brought Spindrift over to the club docks for the weekend. It was rainy, but we had a good time, and a really successful hook-up with the cruise leaders.


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