Sausalito Getaway


Friday March 28, 2014

This trip started as a Treasure Island getaway. I had requested a Friday off during Kristin’s spring break to make for a nice 3 day getaway. Unfortunately the March weather wasn’t entirely cooperating. Friday looked good, Sunday looked good, but Saturday called for heavy rains.


We’ll head somewhere in the bay, hole up on Saturday, and return on Sunday. Checking the calendar it happed to be a Flea Market weekend on Treasure Island, so that made for a nice excuse to make that our destination. Truly, all we really wanted was to get out on the boat and get away from our day-to-day for a few days.

IMG_1997I neglected to call Clipper Cove Marina in advance and when I did on Friday morning, the harbormaster broke the news to me that their docks were damaged in this winter’s storms and he had no place for Sonrisa. We could anchor out and dinghy in, but that meant inflating the Avon because we were already enroute and left the hard dinghy at the dock. Kristin didn’t seem too keen on dinghying back and forth in the rain on Saturday and suggested we go to Sausalito instead. Sausalito seems to be our default fall-back destination and is probably our most frequented port in the bay.


At least in Sausalito we could call our friends who live in Sonoma and see if they were passing through this weekend and wanted to stop by for dinner at Salito’s. We both love Salito’s, especially their chili-mary’s and calamari, and we stop there every time we in port.

Friday’s sail north was very nice. There was a rare southerly breeze around 8 knots gently pushing us north along with the ebb tide. The sun was out and it was pleasant in the 60’s even on the water. We sailed most of the way north until the wind (ironically) died off around Oyster Point and we motor-sailed up to the Bay Bridge. We needed to make it to Sausalito before 4:30 in order to get a gate key before the office closed.

The calm before the wind tunnel was switched on.

Just past the Bay Bridge the wind picked up enough to start sailing again and we headed toward the eastern side of Angel Island to maintain a favorable broad reach. We had the full main and the genoa up and I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to deal with poling out the genoa to go wing-and-wing.

I’ve sailed the bay enough to know about the typical afternoon winds in the slot, but as we approached the middle of the bay I could see other sailboats south of Angel Island drifting along in light winds, so I figured if anything we would be searching for wind as we drifted toward Sausalito on the ebb tide.

But the Bay had other plans. On the other side of Alcatraz we found wind–a lot of wind. Strong north-westerlies out of Sausalito suddenly had us changing from a lazy broad reach to a spray-flinging, rail-burying beat toward Angel Island with the big genoa up.

Now, a word about Sonrisa’s genoa. I’m still trying to come to terms with it. The Baba 40 is a cutter rig with an inner forstay and is intended to have a high-cut yankee on the forward stay–not a big, low-cut genoa with a thick roller-furling sail cover sewn onto the leach. The combination makes for way too much ‘stuff’ to make it though the slot between the forward stays in anything less than perfect conditions. We’ve encountered this problem several times now when we have the genoa up in too much wind and simply can’t tack without either rolling up the headsail or going forward and dragging the sail through the slot. Note to self: drag out that high-cut yankee and save the genoa for long downwind runs in SoCal or Mexico.

So here we are again and I know Kristin is nervous about having that much sail up with that much wind. I don’t know the exact wind speed because while the direction indicator works, the wind speed indicator has been frozen at the top of the mast since before we got Sonrisa, but based on past experience on other boats I’d put the wind speed at 20 to 25 knots. Sonrisa barrelled along toward Angel Island, but we’d have to either tack twice more to make Richardson bay directly, or go around Angel Island and risk getting the wind directly on the nose in Racoon Straight. Either way the genoa should be furled, so we opted to furl the genoa and motorsail a more direct route off the west end of Angel Island toward Sausalito. Sonrisa motorsailed very comfortably with a full main and just a little throttle (maybe 1000 RPM) at 30 degrees apparent. I figured under main alone there would be wicked weather helm, but the combination worked surprisingly well and we made good time into Richardson Bay.

On passing the southwestern side of Angel Island, we saw plenty of other boats that were obviously taken by surprise by the sudden change in wind. There was a 30-footer that was doing a serpentine track toward Belvedere as they went from near-broach to luffing. Just outside of Richardson Bay there was a class of dinghy sailors that seemed to be taking turns capsizing and recovering as the support boat raced around like a sheep herding dog. On the other hand there was also an Open 5.7 out there that was being masterfully sailed in the strong winds.

We made our way into the shallow Richardson Bay and followed the markers to Clipper Yacht Harbor. They assigned us to a slip in Basin 2 which we hadn’t stayed in before. The tide was falling and was approaching a -.08 low in a couple of hours. Sonrisa draws around 6.5′ and we have touched mud in Richardson Bay before. We saw 8.1 toward the last marker before making the turn into the basin. I wasn’t sure exactly where the place place was to turn from the marked channel toward the basin entrance, so I made a guess and angled in toward the basin. The depth outside the entrance was fine (around 10′) so it was mostly the channel to watch out for.

Arriving in Basin 2 I saw that our assigned slip was just across from Koh-Ring which I crewed on last May from Marina Del Rey to San Francisco just before we purchased Sonrisa. In many ways that passage was my trail run for bringing Sonrisa home. Wolfgang was busy making preparations for the Pacific Cup and we invited him over to see Sonrisa.

After checking in at the harbor office, we were just in time to catch the end of the lunch menu at Fish. It was as it was described, a little pricey but very good. Kristin had ahi tacos and I had the halibut fish and chips. We were both hungry as we had only had some chips for a snack since breakfast.

After dinner I configured Sonrisa’s wifi router for the Clipper Yacht Harbor wifi and put things away. As I was turning off the navigation instruments I glanced at the nav station repeater and for a moment thought that I saw a wind speed reading. I flipped the instruments back on and sure enough, it was showing 14 knots. I went out to the cockpit and looked up to the top of the mast and saw something I had never seen before–Sonrisa’s wind gauge spinning! I checked the instrument at the cockpit and sure enough it was getting a reading. Is it accurate? Who knows, but at least it gives us a relative gauge to use.

Considering all the wind we encountered on the 400+ mile passage north from Long Beach and all the past outings since then, I have to think that perhaps the wind today was much stronger than we thought or was predicted and busted loose whatever was restricting the wind gauge. Or at least that’s what I like to think.

That night, we were pleasantly surprised to find we had a great connection on the wifi which would be important for a rainy Saturday. We rounded out the evening by watching a movie on Netflix (Frances Ha).

While brushing my teeth before bed, the fresh water ran out. We can tell when we’re out of water as the rather noisey Par diaphagm pump turns on and doesn’t shut itself off. Sonrisa has two 75 gallon water tanks and we’ve been using the port tank for a month or so. I didn’t fill it up as I figured there was plenty in the starboard tank for the weekend. I pulled up the floorboard where the tank valves reside and switched over to the starboard tank and turned the pump back on. It started running continuously again without shutting off. I could have sworn that the starboard tank was full, but the pump just continued to run as a re-tried the tank valves. Figuring we were out of water, I told Kristin I’d fill the tanks in the morning and grabbed a bottled water from storage.

Overnight the rain started and once it did it was quite impressive. Torrents of rain and windy too. The dock lines groaned as Sonrisa seemed to want to sail out of her slip. Kristin and I cozied up in the cabin with the Dickinson diesel cabin heater putting out a cheery glow and making the cabin nice and toasty.

Saturday March 29, 2014

We woke to more torrential rain as forecasted. Since coffee was a necessity and water is required for this, I donned my foulies to go outside in the downpour to fill the water tanks. Once outside I saw sheets of water streaming over Sonrisa’s decks and out the scuppers. The Semco-coated cap rails and cockpit were beading the water nicely and stayed bright reddish blonde while the untreated teak turned sark brown as it soaked up the water.

After filling the port tank, I dragged the hose to the other side of the boat and started filling the starboard tank only to find that it was already full. Was it the pump not priming all along? Returning to the cabin I shed my foulies and hung them in the shower to dry and returned to the water (now coffee) issue. Thinking that perhaps the pump was the issue, I filled the kettle using the manual pump at the galley sink (nice to have a manual option) and started the coffee. After fiddling with the pump connectors, I noticed that there was pressure in the lines and after opening the faucet and letting the air out of the lines the pump started working normally again. Apparently too much air had gotten into the pressure side of the water system and the pump could not reach the shut-off pressure as it was compressing the air in the system.

The rain continued to pour down outside, so I told Kristin that this would be a good time to check for leaks in the cabin. When I was in the head I found that the mast boot was leaking quite a bit onto the floor of the head and into the bilge (one more for the to-do list) and we saw a couple of drips from the companionway hatch and the forward hatch, but otherwise she was very dry.

Grading papers on a rainy Saturday.

Saturday turned out to be what I’d call a liveability shake-down day. That is; could the two of us stay cooped up in the cabin on a nasty rainy day and have a pleasant time. Kristin had a pile of papers to grade for her classes and I wanted to catch up on some of these blog posts. I adjusted the main cabin table to be a comfortable height for Kristin to work at and we set about to make the best of the day. I alternated between computer time and little boat projects and reading. I checked the oil, topped up the coolant, checked the filters, checked the fuel and dug out the diesel additives in case we decided to refuel in the morning.

IMG_1998What a great day it was! I can’t remember the last time I had a true down-time day when I gave myself permission to read whatever I chose purely for pleasure. Kristin seemed very productive with her work and Sonrisa’s wifi worked great. The rain finally eased around 1 PM, so we made a little trek to Molly Stone’s for some toothpaste, but mostly as an excuse to take a walk.

Our friends Erin and Randy said they could possibly meet us for an early dinner, so we met them at the harbor parking lot and we all went over to Salitos for a round of chili-mary’s and calimari. So delicious!

After an early dinner we retired to Sonrisa’s cozy cabin watched some You-Tube nonsense and listened to music while I plotted our course home for the next day. The weather report showed that the rain would end by midnight and the weather for Sunday looked great. We also had a flood tide all morning which meant that we would be riding the flood tide all the way back to Redwood City. There is approximately 1 hour difference between the time for high tide in the central bay and Redwood City, so when returning you do get an extra hour of tide for better or worse.

That night the light came on for the holding tank indicating that it was full. That meant that we might as well motor around to the fuel dock to return the gate keys for our deposit, pump the holding tank and top up the fuel tank. I had been meaning to add a treatment of Biobor and Startron to the tank anyway, so this was a good opportunity to get it mixed into the tank.

Sunday March 03, 2014

We left the fuel dock at 8:30 and headed toward Alcatraz. Kristin was snapping photos the entire time as it was a gloriously sunny morning after such a dismal Saturday.

Everyone is enjoying the sun.
Kristin’s clove hitch.
Golden Gate from the east side


Sunrise over Alcatraz


San Francisco

An hour later a westerly breeze had picked up and we started hoisting sails. While hoisting the main I have to pay attention to the halyard to make sure it doesn’t goo too loose and get fouled in the empty running backstay tangs on the upper section of the mast. The previous owner never used the running backstays, probably because he may have rarely sailed her as a cutter, so he removed them, leaving a couple of empty tangs on the mast. On more than one occasion, the halyard has somehow wedged itself under the tang and prevented the main from being hoisted. As I was raising the main I noticed some resistance partway up and I checked to make sure the halyard wasn’t fouled again. Everything looked good and I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t hoist. I gave the winch a couple of turns, but the resistance increased.

Moments before discovering the reefing line was fouled.

“I think it’s stuck back here.” Kristin said, iPhone camera in one hand documenting my stuggles and pointing to the reefing line which was stuck under the rim of the dorade vent. It was cinched tight against the pressure of the halyard and the rocking of the boom. I lurched toward the dorade to try to pull the line free but just at that moment there was a crack from the dorade box as the line freed itself. Grumbling I went back to the mast and finished hoisting the sails.

Once the sails were up, I inspected the dorade and found that the wood was cracked around a couple of screws which should be a quick fix  (one more for the to-do list).

With the flood tide going in our favor we were soon after cruising past the city waterfront under full sail at around 8 knots SOG. It was a truly glorious sail. The water was flat and the breeze was fairly steady and enough to push Sonrisa along at a comfortable clip. Kristin took a few turns at the helm while I fiddled with the sail trim.

We sailed for hours alternating from a beam reach to a close reach all the way past the San Mateo bridge. Just before the bridge we were passed by a freighter heading in to the Port of Redwood City and watched as she was joined by two tugs which escorted her into port.

What would be an awesome finale to a great day of sailing?

How about being greeted at your home port by not one but two tall ships on their way out for a day of mock battles on the bay. We were flanked by the Hawaiian Chieftan on our port and the Lady Washington on our starboard as the crew and passengers cheered and waved as we passed by.

Being flanked by two tall ships.


Lady Washington


Hawaiian Chieftan