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Sailing the San Francisco Bay

Labor Day 2007 was the first time either Patty or Craig had ever spent time sailing the San Francisco Bay. It was a weekend we will always remember. Our weekend in words and pictures below.

Six of us met on Saturday morning at the Oakland airport - Craig and Patty; Craig's cousin Fred, newly married to Lisa; Fred's son Nick and his new wife Melissa.

Intending to drive through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito, we didn't count on California closing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco for the entire weekend to do earthquake retrofit work. They demolished a section of the bridge, cleaned it up, and replaced it with an entirely new section in only three and a half days. Labor Day was the weekend with the least amount of traffic so....

As impressive as the engineering feat was, we still had to bypass San Francisco and take the San Raphael bridge to reach Sausalito.

Here we took all our things out of the van we had rented, loaded the Hunter 42 sailboat (Anne's Turn), and set off for our first sail - Fred being the only experienced sailor in the bunch.

As long as we all could follow orders, Fred assured us, we would be fine. Our friend Harry, another experienced sailor, had warned us that the San Francisco Bay was no place for people with no sailing experience - well our son C.J. has sailed competitively and I figured maybe that would count a little bit. Alcatraz As it turned out Fred really knew the boat and kept us all from trying things we shouldn't - we are here to write this, aren't we?

Alcatraz Island in the fog

San Francisco's hills

What I expected was a little sail around Sausalito and then to stop and drive into The City for dinner and a show. What I got was a sail across the San Francisco Bay and an overnight berth in the St. Francis Yacht Club, next to the Presidio, with a taxi to dinner. Rounding Alcatraz on the east, the fog was very heavy toward the Golden Gate Bridge, but we got a beautiful shot of the island. Our sail took us west along the shoreline of North Beach and this view of San Francisco's hills presented itself.

After docking at the St. Francis Yacht Club for the night - Fred is a member of the Phoenix Yacht Club and gets guest privileges (yes Virginia, there is a Phoenix Yacht Club) - we set off for our evening in San Francisco.

Beach Blanket Bingo

Dinner was at Joe DiMaggio's on the corner of Union & Stockton and was spectacularly good; though I'm not sure a bad restaurant could survive in San Francisco. Following dinner we hiked up Stockton and down Green Street to the Club Fugazi. The traditional San Francisco show, Beach Blanket Babylon, has been playing for the last 33 years and Fred had gotten us tickets. It was a hilarious show, highlighted by gigantic hats worn by several of the ladies. In some cases the hats were so big they had to be supported by polls rolling behind the women - yikes! If you go to North Beach, see this show.

Back at the yacht club we sacked out for the night on the boat. The following morning we hiked up Baker Street - past the Palace of Fine Arts (built for the 1912 World's Fair in San Francisco) - and had a leisurely breakfast at a little street cafe on Chestnut. The morning was unique for summer in San Francisco, there was absolutely no fog.

It was an idyllic setting, taking us back to the 60's and 70's on the San Francisco scene.

Fred and Nick

Fred and Nick then took us out and around Angel Island for lunch in Tiburon, however all the slips were filled with boats so we never made it. We went back to our slip in Sausalito, jumped in the van, drove into downtown Sausalito, had a late lunch, then wandered around the town.

We had liked the St. Francis berth so much Fred had made arrangements for us to stay there again Sunday night so we set out for the 2+ hour sail across the bay.

This time we decided to go directly across the mouth, paralleling the Golden Gate Bridge. In the afternoon the wind is usually up and today was no different. At one point our speed reached 9 knots - the usual top speed is between 7-8 knots - and the boat was healed over on the port side like we all see in great sailing pictures. We were having a real blast and Nick was doing well at the helm.

At this point we noticed some wind sailors over on the San Francisco side, near the Presidio. They had parachutes out in front helping to pull them along. One sailed by us heading for the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, then turned around and sailed back. He went by us like we were standing still. At that point we didn't feel so fast, but we were still having a great time.

Sunday night we ordered pizza in and quickly went to sleep on the boat.

The next morning we planned a leisurely sail around the bay to Alameda, then back to Sausalito. There was fog this morning, but it pulled back as we sailed. Sailing by the Maritime Museum we could see the Transamerica building on the right and Coit Tower on the left.

Coit Tower

We rounded the San Francisco Wharf area, got a beautiful view of Coit Tower, and then passed in front of the Port of San Francisco building. It was almost buried by all the high rises that surrounded it.

Patty insisted on staying in touch with family, while Lisa took advantage of the sun.

On our way back across the bay we had a run-in with a tanker coming from Sacramento. Needless to say, the tanker won and we were forced to sail around the north side of Angel Island to get back to Sausalito.

We were too busy working during this time to take much in the way of pictures, but Nick and Melissa did get some time alone together - as much alone as you can get on a 42' boat.

We again missed lunch in Tiburon, docked the boat one final time in Sausalito, and jumped in the van for the return trip to the Oakland airport. Stopping for a late lunch at Spenger's in Berkeley, where the fish was superb, we all just made our evening flights; bringing the unique weekend to a close.