Making memories for life

Published on January 17th, 2022

In his January column for Seahorse magazine, Paul Cayard described San Francisco Bay as “a treacherous piece of water off the otherwise peaceful Pacific Ocean. On a summer afternoon, with the current going at 2kt out the gate and the 59° wind pushing in at 25kt, what you have is the Octagon of Sailing.”

Here are some memories from fighting on this canvas:

Rose Perez Jessen:
I raced as the Bow person on a 32-foot Sabre, in San Francisco Bay, for 2 years, in the mid-80s. Typically, I’d start in shorts, change to fowlies, and finish in shorts. Much of the races was standing at the bow pulpit, peering through the fog, listening for waves lapping up on Alcatraz as we, hopefully, passed it, and freighters making their way through the channel, and looking for other obstacles, including sailboats and buoys.

The race committee would have to time the races with the tide coming in, otherwise, the boats, full sail against the tide, would be pulled out to sea. My racing days on that boat finished when the skipper made too close a rounding on the upwind metal marker buoy. The tide slammed and pinned us against it, tangling the shrouds, but fortunately not bringing the mast down.

I then moved to Newport Beach and started “racing” there. It took a while to get used to 5 knots as being stiff enough for a great race day. As they say, if you can sail San Francisco Bay, you can sail 90% of the world. I loved it.

Dr. Paul F. Jacobs:
It was almost 50 years ago. We had returned Woodwynd from the 1971 Transpac, sailing and powering around the Pacific High and finally into San Francisco. She was temporarily docked at the old (before the terrible fire) SFYC, and after celebrating a return to terra firma, and having a cold beer in their lovely bar, I eventually decided it was time for a shower.

A friendly member pointed me to the shower room, and therein I discovered numerous meticulously maintained member lockers which were fitting and appropriate in this elegant but extremely functional place. Responding to an inevitable call of nature, I meandered about until I located an available urinal.

Directly in front of it was a small chalkboard with spare pieces of chalk; especially convenient for extemporaneous commentaries on sailing and life in general, that could thus be made without defacing the walls. On that little chalkboard was a note that broke me up, and that I obviously still recall five decades later. It read, “Please do not throw toothpicks into the urinals, the crabs are learning to pole-vault!”

Do you have a San Francisco Bay story? Send it to editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com.

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