Thursday, March 30, 2023

History Lesson: Ayala, First Sailor to Sail into the SF Bay

Sailors first began to sail the west coast way back in the 1500's. They sailed by the entrance of SF Bay for over 250 years, before a Spanish exploror sailed his boat into the bay in 1775. The first report about San Francisco Bay came from Sgt. José Francisco Ortega (1734-98). Ortega, who had been born in Mexico and served in the army, was with the Portolá expedition in 1769-70. When Portolás party was looking for Monterey Bay in 1769, they went north to what is now the San Francisco Peninsula. There, on November 1, Sgt. Ortega met some Indians who seemed to be telling him that there was a ship anchored to the north. When Ortega went to investigate, he saw a large, unknown body of water blocking his way. Ortega followed the shoreline far enough to see that the water stretched far to the north. Portolá was not interested in the discovery. He wrote: “I did not linger there, nor did I see anything worthy of description there, save only a labyrinth of bays and channels which inundate the territory.” This was the shallow southern end of the bay. Father Crespí saw more possibilities. He wrote: “It is a very large and fine harbor, such that not only all the navy of our most Catholic Majesty but those of all Europe could take shelter in.” Portolá left California in 1770 after establishing the Monterey presidio (fort). Lt. Fages, who was in charge there, did some exploring around San Francisco Bay in 1771-72. While scouting on the east side of the bay, he saw the Golden Gate entrance. It was about this time that the name Bahia de San Francisco (Bay of San Francisco) began to be used. The explorers thought the new bay was an estuary of the smaller bay to the north (now called Drake’s Bay) which had been called San Francisco Bay by Sebastián Cermeño in 1595. AYALA’S JOURNEY Ayala was in Mexico in the spring of 1775. An expedition was being readied to sail from San Blas (Mexico) to Alta (Upper) California. Three ships would make the journey: the frigate Santiago, the schooner Sonora, and the San Carlos, which had been part of the Sacred Expedition to San Diego in 1769. The mission of the San Carlos was to sail into San Francisco Bay. The other two ships were to continue north along the coast, searching for a Northwest Passage across the continent. Ayala was to be the captain of the Sonora. Just before sailing, however, the captain of the San Carlos had a mental breakdown and Ayala took over as captain of that ship. The San Carlos carried a cargo of dried meat, garlic, red peppers, and live chickens and cows, and a crew of 23. The San Carlos reached Monterey Bay near the end of June 1775. Planning his exploration into the great bay, Ayala had the ship’s carpenter make a canoe from a big redwood tree. On August 4, 1775, the San Carlos was at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The water was choppy and looked dangerous. Knowing that a small boat had more chance in choppy seas, Ayala sent a group of sailors in the canoe with instructions to row through the opening, into the bay. If the canoe got through, Ayala would follow with the ship. In charge of this canoe was a young navigator named José Cañizares. He had been on the overland part of the Sacred Expedition from Baja (Lower) California to San Diego in 1769, and had remained in San Diego. Now he was serving as Ayala’s pilot. Hours went by, and there was no sign of the canoe returning. About an hour before dark, Ayala decided to take the ship through the entrance anyway. He managed this safely, and anchored near the shore. In the morning, Cañizares and the crew of the canoe were there. Ayala then found a good harbor for the San Carlos at an island in the bay where there was a supply of wood and water. Ayala explored the bay for 40 days, making drawings and descriptions as well as making friends with the local indian tribes. He named Angel Island and Alcatraz Island (though the island he called Alcatraz is now Yerba Buena Island and the name Alcatraz was transferred to another island). He had hoped to find a passage from the north end of San Francisco Bay out to Drake’s Bay, but none existed. He did find the mouth of the Sacramento River emptying into the bay at the north end. He described the salt marshes at the south end of the bay, and the groves of oak trees on the hills to the east of the bay. Before leaving San Francisco Bay, Ayala put up a wooden cross near the bluff where they had anchored the first night. Beneath it he buried a message about their exploration. He then sailed the San Carlos out through the Golden Gate on September 17, 1775. WHAT HE ACCOMPLISHED Ayala was the first to sail a ship through the Golden Gate and into San Francisco Bay. He made the first charts of the bay, taking soundings to determine the depth of the bay at 485 places. LATER YEARS Ayala and the San Carlos went back to Monterey, and then on to Mexico. The other two ships in the fleet had gone north, one of them as far as Alaska, but found no Northwest Passage across the continent. They met Ayala in Monterey and the three ships returned together to Mexico.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Ocean Race Drone from Leg 3

I love the reaction of the crew when they see how cool the boat looks from above sailing along at just under 30 knots of boat speed.

J Class Crash

This happened in Antigua a few years ago. Apperently the skipper on the boat that got hit swung the stern around towards the other boat and they collided. Had he stayed on course, there may not hve been a collision. These boats are so big and their rudders are small and don't respond very well. The racer that went overboard suffered some broken ribs and survived.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Sailboat Sinks in South Pacific after Encounter with Whale

Ealier this week a sail boat was 13 days into a 20 day passage to the Islands. They encountered a whale and the boat sunk. Mayday was announced and within 10 hours another sailboat resuced them from their life raft. Read the full account here:

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

My New Favorite Song!

I am not a musician however I am a music lover, also know as a melomaniac. I found this song on a cool station on SirusXM called Coffee House Classics, acoustic songs from the 90's and 2000's. The song is 47 years in the making. It was recorded after a near death accident by Bob Dylan and members of The Band. Here is the history of the song: Bob Dylan is universally regarded as one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold more than 125 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world spanning six decades. His influence and impact on our culture is unparalleled, and his artistic output of recordings and songs are both cultural landmarks and the genesis of countless great songwriters and musicians that have emerged in the decades since Dylan exploded onto the global stage. Among Dylan’s many cultural milestones, the legendary Basement Tapes – dozens of songs written and recorded by Dylan in 1967, backed by members of his touring ensemble who would later achieve their own fame as The Band – have long fascinated and enticed successive generations of musicians, fans and cultural critics alike. Having transformed music and culture during the preceding five years, Dylan had reached unparalleled heights by 1966 through the release of three historic albums, the groundbreaking single, “Like A Rolling Stone,” a controversial and legendary ‘electric’ performance at the Newport Folk Festival and wildly polarizing tours of the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Dylan’s mercurial rise and prodigious body of work in that decade came to an abrupt end in July, 1966 when he was reported to be nearly killed in a motorcycle accident in upstate New York. Recovering from his injuries and away from the public eye for the first time in years, Dylan ensconced himself, along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson (and later, Levon Helm), in the basement of a small house in West Saugerties, New York – dubbed “Big Pink” by the group. This collective recorded more than a hundred songs over the next several months – traditional covers, wry and humorous ditties, off-the cuff performances and, most important, dozens of newly-written Bob Dylan songs, including future classics “I Shall Be Released,” “The Mighty Quinn” and “You Ain’t Going Nowhere. When rumors and rare acetates of some of these recordings began surfacing, it created a curiosity strong enough to fuel an entirely new segment of the music business: the bootleg record. In 1969 an album mysteriously titled Great White Wonder began showing up in record shops around the country, and the music from that summer of 1967 started seeping into the fabric of our culture and penetrating the souls of music lovers everywhere. With each passing year, more and more fans sought out this rare contraband, desperate to hear new music from the legendary Bob Dylan. The actual recordings, however, remained commercially unavailable until 1975, when Columbia Records released a scant 16 of them on The Basement Tapes album. Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes is a music event 47 years in the making. The album celebrates the discovery of never-seen Bob Dylan lyrics from that legendary 1967 period and marks a creative highpoint for the album’s participants – Burnett, Costello, Giddens, Goldsmith, James and Mumford – who have brought them to life nearly 50 years later. As Burnett explains, “What transpired during those two weeks was amazing for all of us. There was a deep well of generosity and support in the studio at all times, which reflected the tremendous trust and generosity shown by Bob in sharing these lyrics with us in the first place.” Marcus Mumford is the vocalist on this song.

Inside the latest IMOCA60

The Ocean Race is well underway and these boat are flying around the planet at 25 knots and more. Take a tour of the latest technologies and design with Team Malizia. Here is an look at racing these boats from the inside. They are capable of 600 miles in 24 hours! This is Team 11th Hour.

Out the Gate with Hana

We took off about 2pm with a 10 knot breeze from the south. As storms approach the Bay Area, the wind always comes from the south. This is a pefect set up for going out the Gate. The tide was flooding so that conditions were ideal, as if you get in trouble out there, the tide will push you back into the bay and not the ocean. Within a couple hours, we were sailing out towards the Pacific. Good tunes, lots of gusts to over 20 and a very memorable sail. Did I mention I was the only boat out on a Monday? For us in Northern Califonia, summer begins with Daylight Savings and what a great start to my favorite season!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Been Gone and Now Back in Action

A few vacations stacked up that were very fun indeed. Two weeks ago we got caught in that monster storm in Lake Tahoe. Hana and her two siblings, along with our best friends headed up to Tahoe just before the storm hit. We got snowed in for three days and 50 inches of snow. The roads were all closed for very good reason. We got a break in the storm and the roads opend and we took off for home. We made the best of it and the dogs loved the snow. Then it was off to Arizona with the boys for a little spring traing games with the Giants and the A's in Scottsdale. We rented a house and attended three games in 70 degree weather. More storms at home and no sailing so it was a perfect time to get away. In Lake Tahoe, we are passing all records for snow at this time of year. Several ski resorts are reporting over 600 inches of snow. That's 50 feet! This bodes well for our water supply in California. Another big storm is due to arrive on Tuesday. The hits just keep on coming with the storm door wide open and much more wet stuff on its way.