Commuter Cruising (unclear on the concept) part 2

High tide on Sunday was at 8:31 AM which meant that we’d be fighting the ebb current all the way to Benicia on the first day. After fueling up and pumping out we finally departed Emeryville at 7:30 AM. We would at least get an hour of favorable current and the high-water slack to work with.

The winds were out of the northeast from 5 to 10 knots and both San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay were unusually flat. We typically brace ourselves for a wild downwind run up San Pablo Bay when heading to the Delta, but with the winds coming directly out of the Carquinez Straits it meant smooth motoring to windward. The November air had just a touch of a chill to it, but the skies were mostly clear with just a few wispy cirrus and cirrostrauts clouds. If we sheltered behind the dodger the sun felt warm, but I still kept my knit hat and foulies on most of the day for warmth.

The newly painted bottom and PropSpeed treated propeller seemed to really help Sonrisa’s motoring ability. She maintained over 7 knots the entire run up from Emeryville to Benicia and we were able to essentially follow the last of the rising tide all the way to Benicia. High tide is later in the day the further inland you go, so this always buys you a bit of time when trying to catch favorable currents further inland. In particular the Carquinez Straits can have quite strong currents. In fact, if we arrived just two hours later we’d be pushing against a 2.3 knot current at the entrance to the straights.

I thought we’d hit stronger adverse currents sooner in the day, but Kristin was the optomist and pegged our arrival time to within 10 minutes.

We didn’t have the sail covers off even once all day, but with the wind right on our nose the entire day and an impending ebb current spoiling the afternoon the motor north was a success nonetheless.

We arrived at Benicia Marina and tied up with plenty of time to walk around town and peruse the antique shops for some oddball Christmas gifts (no spoilers here) before winding up at the Raven Tavern for some delicious beer and appetizers. Their onion rings are some of the best I’ve had anywhere and their fried green beans are delicious too.