Cracking a few eggs to make an omelet
Published on January 18th, 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:
In 1968 I was at River Patrol School in Vallejo when my girlfriend visited from the east coast for a few days. On a sunny Saturday I thought it would be fun to go for a sail, so we went down to Sausalito and rented an O’Day Day Sailer with the intention of sailing over to the San Francisco waterfront.
Mainly interested in my crew, I didn’t pay much attention to a couple of dinghies with broken masts being towed in as we headed out into the Bay. Once we cleared the Marin County headlands, however, it quickly became apparent that a balmy sail around Alcatraz wasn’t in the cards. Wisely, I retreated down into the Lee of Angel Island for a leisurely picnic on the hook.
I say “wisely” because I still have the same crew today!
I moved to NorCal for a great career opportunity in 2013, and having grown up racing in SoCal, I was looking forward to mixing it up with the local (and highly competitive) J/105 fleet in SF.
My education began in the first race, as with the pin favored, our port approach for the start saw the whole fleet setting up at the boat end. Fools, I thought, and proceeded to lee bow the first boat and ‘own’ the bottom half of the line.
But after we sheeted in and headed for shore, it took just 30 seconds before we were wrapped around the pin end committee boat looking the true fool. Had a great time and learned a lot about racing in 20kts and big tides that year!
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