Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From the Archives - Sailing the SF Bay

Someone asked me what its like to sail on the bay. In the summer, its cold and very windy. Remember that famous Twain quote? "The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer in San Fran". It's very true. The wind blows 20-35 most of the time. When we sail in the summer, long pants and layers are the norm. With a backdrop of mountains, the Golden Gate Bridge, the city skyline and throw in some famous islands (Alcatraz and Angel) and you have got one of the most beautiful sailing venues in the world. The fog thundering down the hills above Sausalito is fantastic. Sailing thru the "slot" as the winds approach 40 knots. Having lunch and resting peacefully at anchor in the lee of Angel Island (and swimming in 64 degree water). Many people don't realize that before this area was covered with ocean and bay, the mighty Sacramento River flowed out the gate and created this majestic topography. With a very cold ocean and a very hot inland valley, the wind sucks thru the gate with amazing force. If you don't know what you are doing, you can get in trouble quickly. And just outside the gate, it can get tricky with areas like the Potato Patch and currents running at 6 knots in very large seas. The Pacific in our area has been known for it's treacherous waters since the first Spanish explorers discovered the bay in 1775. Juan de Ayala was the first known sailor to find the bay. Apparently, explorers sailed right by the entrance for 100 years before Juan took a turn inside the bay. If you have never sailed the bay, do yourself a favor and try it!! But be sure to have a good boat and someone who knows what they are doing!

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