This is Jeff and Marcia Parten from On Three. We were members of the club for several years before we bought our own boat. We also had a slip on Dock D during Covid. We just wanted to drop a note to say we’ve ran into several Tradewinds members and alumni since we’ve left SF. Here is a picture of current Tradewinds members who we ran into in Ensenada Grande in the Sea of Cortez while kayaking around the anchorage
Best wishes to you guys and thanks again for all you did for us!
I hoisted the TWSC burgee on “Rover” (Valiant 42) after we anchored in Taioha’e Bay on Nuku Hiva in the Marquesa Islands after our 26-day passage from San Diego, covering 3,230nm. We left San Diego on Saturday April 1 (yeah, I know, April Fools Day…)
Rover’s owner-captain is Eric Ahlvin from Seattle (Rover’s home port), and there were three other crew onboard, including me. At age 73, I learned a lot about passage making and, candidly, about myself as well.
Eric signed up his “Rover” in Andy Turpin’s Pacific Puddle Jump which made our preparations and arrival smoother. The three-person passage crew left “Rover” at Nuku Hiva, but with fresh crew Eric will continue to cruise the South Pacific until reaching New Zealand by November.
I wanted both of you to know how excited I was to take my Tradewinds experiences across the Pacific!
– We were on our way back to Tradewinds after lunch at Jack London Square.
– Under motor power, approaching Bay bridge from Oakland Inner Harbor. We were preparing to hoist sails after under crossing the Bay Bridge.
– US Coast Guard came aside us on starboard and said they would be boarding us for a routine safety inspection.
– I took over helm and followed instructions of speed and heading. I told Liza and anyone below to come up, so they get no surprises.
– (2) Officers boarded, immediately counted life jackets and persons on board. I informed him it was a boat from the Tradewinds Sailing Club in Richmond.
– I went with officer down into cabin as he asked to see various items:
– Boat registration, all fire extinguishers, sound signal (which was already hanging off pedestal) life ring or life sling. I showed him all items without hesitation and to his satisfaction.
– Head, and asked if the head switch was set to correct position. I told him it was set to tank. He asked how many, I told him one tank. He asked if we had a macerator, I told him on this boat yes.
– He asked if diesel or gas engine I said diesel.
– He looked around a bit and said thank you, we’re done here.
– He and the other officer asked for my ID, filed out the Report of Boarding and gave me a copy.
– They proceeded to de-board and left.
– Entire process took about 10 – 15 min.
If I forgot anything g I’ll let you know. Or if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.
Quite the experience, but was glad and thankful with the training and checklists given by Tradewinds, I knew all I needed to know about the boat, where, and definitely what was minimum required safety.
When last I wrote about the Doors’ song, Horse Latitudes, I was skeptical about the practice of jettisoning live horses at sea, or even dead ones, for these reasons: They could be used for food if all provisions had run low; they may revive in a rainstorm if the ship was low on water; they were among many animals transported to America, so it’s puzzling that horses be singled out to be thrown overboard; I can find no cases of insurance claims for this cause; and the so-called Horse Latitudes are closer to Europe than the Doldrums, so provisions would be more likely to run out in the latter calms. Admittedly, the wide acceptance of the “jettisoning” account of the term’s derivation, and its mention in print as early as 1777, means we cannot completely rule it out. Still, more reasonable explanations exist.
One is that the phrase “dead horse
month” referred to that time at the beginning of the voyage when the sailor was
working off wages paid in advance. The ordinary seaman often spent this money
before leaving, so at the beginning of his duties at sea he felt he was working
for nothing. A ceremony, described in the Sailor’s Lexicon of 1867, was
performed when wages finally began being credited to his account, at an area
that came to be associated with the celebration. An effigy of a horse was
dragged around the deck, hoisted to the yardarm, then cut away and cast adrift,
all attended by much merriment.
Another explanation is that the area
between Spain and the Canary Islands was called El Golfo de las Yeguas by the Spanish, meaning “the gulf of the
mares.” This gulf is at about 35 degrees north, consistent with the Horse
Latitudes. But this region is known for gales, not calms, and in any case, the
question of why it is named after horses remains unresolved.
More often than not, the phrases of
the sea were created by men who could not read or write. Many evolved for
centuries before showing up in literature, which today is our only source of
information. Some of you, enamored of the original macabre poetry from the pen
of Jim Morrison, will stick with his reading.
But as with many important issues in our sport, sometimes it is best to
follow that great nautical sage Captain Ron, and wistfully confess that “nobody
In 1967 The Doors released their second album, Strange Days, which included a creepy song called Horse Latitudes. The song alludes to live horses being “jettisoned” from ships and suffering in “mute nostril agony,” presumably to lighten the load or because provisions have run too low to sustain them. Composer Jim Morrison based the song on seemingly solid nautical sources; the phrase is explained similarly by W. H. Smyth in his 1867 lexicon, in reference to the Azores High. There’s no doubt that the calms associated with this high prolonged the voyage for many ships heading to the New World and that the trip was dangerous. The mortality rate for humans could range to 30%. Still, many authorities question this interpretation of the phrase for the following reasons:
1) The Azores High is much closer to
Europe than the equatorial calms, making the Doldrums an even more likely area
for cargo to be thrown overboard. Why do we not locate the practice there?
2) A ship’s consignment was
documented in the manifest. Horses were not incidental items that could be
glossed over when they failed to materialize at their destination, but highly
valued ones. Their absence would have required a thorough accounting to the
ship’s insurers from the captain, who took responsibility for their safe
transport. Yet as far as I can determine, no record of an insurance claim for
this type of loss has been documented, while we have records of other losses
due to storms.
3) Horses were not the only animals
transported. Cows, pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, and oxen were also among the
animals needed to be supplied to America, which lacked them. Why are only
horses singled out in this phrase?
4) Even if the ship’s water stores
needed to be rationed, there remained the potential for rain, which could come
at any time. Why jettison live animals, while there was still hope that they
could be revived with fresh water from a rainstorm?
5) However unappealing it may be to
modern Americans, horsemeat is still consumed in Europe and would have been
much better fare than the salted, often rotten meat which was commonly
provided. With supplies running low, would the captain order this important
food source thrown overboard?
common as Morrison’s interpretation of this phrase is, logic cries out for
another explanation. We’ll see if we can come up with one next time.
Ever feel like you’re “in the doldrums”— where everything seems bleak and colorless, and there’s nothing you can think of that sounds like fun? Yeah, me neither.
word comes from the old English dol
meaning dull. Appended to this is the suffix drum, which is believed to have been borrowed from tantrum. As
tantrums are fits of anger, doldrums are fits of dreariness. The term was used
in this form by the nineteenth century, so in 1824 when Lord Byron referred to
a ship as being “in the doldrums” in “light and baffling” winds, he was noting
the ship’s forlorn behavior, not its location.
first time the doldrums were connected to a specific place in the ocean was in The
Physical Geography of the Sea, 1855, by the estimable Matthew Maury, whose detailed
research formed the foundation of pilot charts: “The ‘equatorial doldrums’
is another of these calm places… a region of calms and baffling winds.” But
this seems to have been the result of a misconception on the part of someone
(not Maury) who, when told a ship was “in the doldrums,” thought this was a
The doldrums are now the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a
title that is infinitely less poetic than its predecessor. The ITCZ consists of
a band of light wind north of the equator that varies in latitude and width according
to the season and any old whim that occurs to it. Many try to avoid it when
sailing, and marine forecasters will give you a good guess about just where to
cross it at its narrowest. Of course, by the time you sail to that spot, it
will be the widest.
I’m going to buck the crowd and put in a word for the
doldrums. The wind has ceased, and you’re alone in a vast, primordial
wilderness far from the chatter of civilization. It wasn’t easy getting here. The
ocean is quietly resting, though you sense the uncanny power of her languid
undulations born of distant, violent storms. In this desolate and dreamlike domain,
you can read, contemplate, and swim in perfect serenity and solitude. Your cup
and plate sit calmly on the table instead of unsociably flinging themselves to
the cabin sole. The sunset beams across the anvil tops of thunderheads a
hundred miles away. Soon enough, you’ll be in a city with all the normal folks.
What’s the hurry?
Mastering all those sailing terms can be troublesome. It’s like learning a silly secret language that an exclusive club made up just to befuddle outsiders, or at least that’s what I like about it. But sometimes it seems as though the sailing wizards have just gone too far. What follows are mariners’ words that have two or more meanings with little or nothing in common. Why? Just because.
(1) Of the wind, to turn clockwise, or when steering, to change course, often
by spacing out; (2) To let out anchor rode, particularly when you believe that
using fancy words will disguise the fact that you have no idea what you’re
(1) The middle of a line, where you have to learn special ways to tie knots
like clove hitches and bowlines that you thought you already knew; (2) A
concave stretch of shoreline, not deep enough to have its own name like those haughty
coves and bays.
(vb.): (1) To sail slightly further off the wind than a close-hauled course to
increase speed; (n.) (2) The bottom edge of a sail; (3) The thing at the end of
your leg, useful for many seamanlike tasks like kicking the windlass to get it started.
(1) To sail to a point upwind without having to tack; (2) To “fetch up” means
to come to a stop, usually on a reef (see below); (n.) (3) The distance over
the water that a particular wind blows, generating waves. I’m not even counting
what dogs do.
A shallow shelf of rock or coral that sooner or later you’re going to hit; (2)
The bottom part of the sail taken in when shortening down, although on a square
sail this is the top of the sail, of course.
(vb.): (1) To taper the end of a rope; (2) To sail close to the wind, as in
“she points well”; (n.) (3) Any one of several courses relative to the wind, as
in “point of sail,”; (4) An area of land projecting from the coastline; (5) A
32nd part of the compass card equivalent to 11 degrees, 15 minutes. Are
these five different things, or what? Couldn’t we have five different words?
the winner is:
(adj.):(1) Of wind, blowing from the
west; but (2) Of current, setting towards the west.
One of the most common calculations you make when cruising, whether it’s a sail on the Bay or island hopping in Greece, is figuring when you’re going to get where you’re going. It’s easy enough to estimate time of arrival when you are “fetching” your destination, which is sailing jargon for sailing directly there rather than tacking. Distance divided by speed equals time. But suppose you want to figure out how long it takes to sail to San Francisco from Richmond. With the prevailing summer wind, it’s going to be a beat and let’s say your boat does 6 knots through the water, but not in a direct line because you have to tack. The “ETE” or estimated time enroute, and “VMG” or velocity made good aren’t so straightforward, and these are what you need to know to figure “ETA,” or estimated time of arrival. You can figure a rough estimate, though, without knowing trigonometry or having a whole cabal of nerds running arcane computer programs for Larry Ellison. What you’ve got when your destination is directly upwind is, theoretically, an isosceles right triangle (iso=equal, skelos=leg) where the hypotenuse represents the distance to your destination and the legs represent your tacks. So x + x is the distance you’ll have to sail to get from F to D via point E:
Remembering that geometry class in high school, a squared + b squared = c squared, but since the legs are the same, the hypotenuse is equal to either side times the square root of two. (In this theoretical treatment it doesn’t matter whether it’s ten tacks or one.) So if you divide the hypotenuse, which is in this case the distance from the end of Potrero Reach (F) to the City (D), about 5.5 nautical miles, by the square root of two (≈1.41), you’ll have the length of one tack, and then multiply by two for the two tacks, you will have the distance you need to sail to get there. This turns out to be a little less than 8 nm. Let’s assume a boat speed of 6 knots with a steady breeze. If you divide that distance by your six knots of speed, you’ll have your time enroute or ETE, about 1.3 hours. Divide the distance from F to D by the ETE, 5.5/1.3, and you’ll have your velocity made good or VMG, a little more than 4 knots. And add the ETE to the present time, and you’ll know if you’ll be arriving in time to meet Betty and Sam. Because that calculation is neglecting leeway, however, the distance is actually a little more than that so your ETE is longer and your VMG is less. So forget all that square root stuff. It turns out that just multiplying the distance from F to D by 1.5 is going to give a close enough estimate of the actual distance you’ll have to sail, assuming the destination is dead to windward, for us regular old sailors. Correspondingly, your VMG is 2/3 of your boat speed through the water. If it isn’t dead to windward, sail the long leg first, and the multiplier will be less than 1.5, but never less than 1. It’s not so hard. So put those high school trig and geometry books back on the shelf next to your vinyl Spice Girl albums. But wait. We also have to figure current, as the above assumes slack water. This can get a bit cumbersome but let’s see if we can, again, find a shortcut. Have a look at the current charts at the back of your tide book. Turn to the max ebb chart on p. 59. You’ll see 1.4 knots helping you along, then a little over 2 knots of current to the right. This is on an average day at maximum current. To find what the figure is on a strong day, go to the chart on p. 50 and you’ll see the multiplier is 1.5. This means that at max ebb on a strong day, you’ll get 1.4 x 1.5, or a little over 2 knots of help halfway there, and then let’s say 2.4 x 1.5 or about 3.5 knots of being set to the right, which also helps. Averaging those, you’ll have a bit less than three knots in your favor for the whole trip. When we add this to the six knots your boat does over the water, we get a speed over the water of nearly nine knots on a day with a strong ebb. The distance sailed is the same 8 miles, so now the trip will take just less than an hour at max ebb on a strong day. [There is some oversimplification going on here, but…let’s just forget about that.] On a flood where the current is adverse, consult the chart on p. 53, and again adjusting by the chart on p. 50, we’ll multiply by 1.5 for a strong day. We get 1.5 knots of adverse current and then a little less than 2 setting us to the left, opposite of where we want. (The flood difference is smaller than the ebb difference because on average the ebb is stronger than the flood. A subject for another day.) Averaging the 2 with the 1.5, we can subtract 1.7 knots from our boat speed, bringing it to about 4.3 knots. The distance through the water is the same 8 miles, so it will take a little less than 2 hours to get there. Again, this is max flood on a strong day. The end result is we get a range of ETE from just under one hour with a strong ebb, which yields a VMG of about 6 knots; one hour, 20 minutes at slack for a VMG of just over 4 knots; and a little under 2 hours against a strong flood for a VMG of about 2.8 knots. Try this for any destination on the Bay. If any of you decide to actually do this, please report your results back for all of us to benefit. There’s nothing like empirical validation. OK, I admit, that was a bit complicated. But you only have to figure this out once, based on the speed of your boat, and you’ll know at a glance how to estimate your ETE to the city given the state of wind and current. All of this assumes constant wind and consistent boat handling, so your figures may vary. Not that you really care, because if you’re sailing, no matter how long it takes to get to your destination, you’ve already arrived.
Beautiful Richardson Bay was named after a man named William Richardson whom came to the area as a second mate aboard a Brittish Whaling ship named Orion in 1822. After staying out all night at a party in the Presidio in San Francisco against the orders of his captain, it was a mutual decision for him to leave the ship. He eventually won a petition for a rancho called “Rancho Sauselito”. Sausalito is the spanish word for “small willow grove”and these headlands across the Golden Gate from the Presidio were full of freshwater springs and the section Richardson requested had a creek. Likely the place we today call, Coyote Creek.
Richardson then brilliantly established a watering station for incoming vessels with his natural supply but did later abandon this endeavor for something more in his wheel house. Surveying land and water, something he did multiple times throughout his life. He was the first to chart San Francisco Bay, he was a translator, helped layout towns such as Sonoma and San Diego and he used his personal boat to transport people and supplies up to Sacramento during the gold rush. He also built the first 2 story wood framed house in the Presidio that looked out at incoming vessels so he could greet them and offer them any goods they may be needing. Richardson was named Port Captain due to his seafaring abilities, overseeing maritime commerce in the bay and often times personally piloting arriving ships. Making him the first of what we now call Bay Pilots. You can now see why his name was given to one of the most beautiful parts of our bay, what we call Richardson Bay.
Before I go any further I want to say, this post includes a cove within the bay that is not technically in Richardson Bay. I tried to break this series of posts up into general areas, sometimes needing to squeeze an area into a box it didn’t quite fit into. I have laid this post out by starting on the most western area and moving up and around the bay ending in the most eastern corner.
This series is meant to serve as a guide to help day and weekend sailors find new and interesting things they can do on board Tradewinds Sailing School and Club boats. If I include a place or a thing that isn’t allowed in our club, I will mention it explicitly so our members know but this post can still be used by independent boat owners and visitors from out of town.
Below is a map of the area we are talking about. You will find pins dropped for each place mentioned so you can orient yourself with where each place is as I go along. You can interact with this map better by clicking on the link below it.
The marina with the most controversial name (everyone swears it’s Cove but the charts all say Bay) but the most beautiful views in the Bay! This marina is the closest marina to the Gate with the best views of Golden Gate Bridge right from your anchorage or guest dock and full views of San Francisco, assuming you are there on a clear day or night which is advised. If you do happen to have the fog roll in before you get into the cove you may want to reconsider. It will be difficult to navigate in and most of the beauty and wonder will be hiding behind our favorite Bay Area friend, Karl the fog. If you are going on a clear day however, you are in LUCK. Make sure to enter the cove down the middle of the entrance and keep an eye out, you have a fishing area to your port and to your starboard you have a shallow area near the breakwater. Check your tides and currents as well before you plan to visit this location. It is best to enter at slack tide or on a gentle ebb or flood as the currents are strongest near this part of the bridge and you can find yourself drifting out of the gate.
This Harbor has an average depth of 8′ so watch those negative tides! The area closer towards the bridge side of the cove should be kept clear as the coast guard may enter at any time and can take up that whole side. There is a small no wake zone marker in the middle but 2 boats can fit in here comfortably or more if rafted up. TRADEWINDS DISCLAIMER: It is against club rules to raft up at any time. The sea floor in this harbor is mostly silt. Be sure to test your anchor well before resting to be sure you are holding. Be advised, some local sailors have said they would not anchor here as there is debris on the seafloor that your anchor could get tangled up in. If you are anchoring here you could tie a trip line to your anchor to help you if this becomes a problem.
Guest Dock: Travis Marina: (415)332-2319 No reservations. $1/foot for overnight stays 40′ boat is max End of dock is 8′ at low tide, progressively getting more shallow towards land Restaurant and Bar at marina – Best burger on the bay! On Friday’s and Saturday’s be sure to call before trying to visit the bar as they sometimes have private events.
This club is members only, however, if you are a member of a yacht club you can use your reciprocal priveledges to visit this area. I recommend visiting during one of their live music events. You can view their events page here. If you decide to visit on a day they are not having an event you can take advantage of the two hours on the guest dock, or if you have a dinghy, stand up paddle board, kayak, etc… you can use it to get to shore from here. Once on land you have 3 of the top 10 water front restaurants that are just south of the yacht club. The Trident, Scoma’s of Sausalito and Barrel House. Of course you could also have a good meal right here at Sausalito Yacht Club Restaurant.
Information below is directly from the Sausalito Yacht Club website.
Dock Rules Boat Captain is responsible for securing his/her yacht – Please utilize the most upwind available space maximizing room for other vessels.
All visiting Yacht Club vessels should fly their respective yacht club burgee.
Visitors from reciprocal Yacht Clubs must check in with the Officer on Deck or Club Steward upon arriving.
Maximum stay 2 hours. (During special events, less time may be allowed)
No overnight tie-up at the dock. Members are requested to use the mooring balls when tying-up overnight. NOTE: Our dock experiences significant surge and current. Boaters should be aware of this and plan their visit and dock lines accordingly.
Use of the SYC Mooring Field The SYC mooring field is for members and guests who have registered with our Port Captain, Officer of the Day or General Manager. No boat shall be moored for more than 72 hours. Call 415-332-7400.
Notice: There are a few boats anchored between two locations and other random spots along the side of Richardson Bay – keep in mind this areas are very shallow and not recommended for overnight anchoring. You will likely find yourself stuck for possibly a few days.
Sausalito Yacht Harbor
Sausalito Yacht Harbor is a small marina with monthly slips that rarely become available. The reviews online all state this is a beautiful spot if you can get one. There are no guest docks available for use.
These are easily walked to from neighboring marinas with guest docks.
Pelican Harbor is another small marina. Although no guest dock or transient slips available, it seems like a very nice marina to stay in by month. Below is a few more of the great restaurants you can visit while staying in a nearby marina that does have a guest dock.
Another sight to see between this marina and the next is the Floating Taj Mahal. It is a sight you can’t miss! Snag a picture as you are passing by but if you happen to get onto the docks please do not try to approach or look in as someone does live in this beautiful floating home.
Sausalito Cruising Club
The Sausalito Cruising Club is such an interesting place that I have been researching to try and get accurate information about and I think I finally figured it out. Although not actually called a yacht club this club is very similar to what we know of as yacht clubs. The Cruising Club is a member of the Pacific Inter-Yacht Club Association. They even have reciprocal rights with many yacht clubs on the West Coast, Hawaii, and throughout the world.
This club started during World War II by service men who were looking for a place to decompress. The clubhouse is a surplus World War Two munitions barge which is a detail that makes me want to jump on a boat and use my own reciprocal yacht club privileges to go check it out. To the side of the building are a bunch of stand up paddle boards and kayaks which look like they are available for club use. Before you visit the Sausalito Cruising Club I recommend shooting them an email at email@example.com to make sure the facilities are available during the time you plan to visit.
Galilee Harbor is once again a marina we wont have access to but it’s home to 38 floating households that is full of creative residents. Keep an eye out for events in this marina you could find your new favorite piece of livingroom art, pottery, t-shirt, etc! It looks like they haven’t updated their website with events for 2023 but you can find the page by clicking HERE!
Schoonmaker Point Marina Guest Dock
A relatively new, full-service marina. Side-ties can handle yachts up to 220 feet long. Guest slips often available by prior arrangement(varify guest dock space they want you to pull up to). Café at marina. Sandy beach that can be used to land or launch a dinghy, stand up paddle board or kayak. You can also swim in this calm area and rent a kayak if you don’t have your own. If you are visiting by car, there are free carts you can borrow to transport your stuff from the car to the beach.
Restaurants in this area are: Le Garage (415)332-5625 New Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar (415)332-1512
New Old School E-Bikes (415)324-7039 You can get 15% off bike rentals when you mention Tradewinds and this blog post. Comes with bike lock and phone holder.
Bluewater Yacht Harbor
Nightly guest dock and monthly dry storage docking
Not sure if you are annoyed that this list is full of marinas that do not have public access but this is a marina I was sure was going to be that and then I found a singular line written on their website that set me straight. “There are also side ties up to 60’ available for daily or other short term use”. If looking for somewhere new to tie up and stay the night at, I recommend giving this marina a call. If looking for somewhere to store some smaller water toys, this also might be your spot. They advertise monthly stand up paddle board, canoe and kayak dry dock storage.
Liberty Ship Marina
The most difficult marina in Sausalito to find any information on at all. It is home to the beautiful Matthew Turner, a Liberty Ship that offers bay tours and is seen almost every weekend and in the evenings sailing with its big square sails on display. You can visit the marina to take a look a little closer at the ship but please do not climb aboard unless it is open for tour. More info coming soon about this marina.
Marina Plaza Harbor
Another marina that is website-less and has little information. However, this marina does offer daily guest docking. More information coming as I get the chance to visit or call this marina. If you happen to get ahold of anyone before I have updated this post, please email the office with the information!
Clipper Yacht Harbor Guest Dock verified!
This is a family owned full service marina open to the public. You must call to reserve your guest dock in advance and they will require you to send them boat documentation and proof of insurance (Tradewinds is happy to provide anytime a marina asks for this just send us an email and we will send you so you can provide). You can find a lot to do is this part of sausalito including more restaurants and shopping. This is also a great place to stay while you go walk around the cool Waldo Point Marina talked about next.
Recommended restaurants in area: Fish. (415)331-3474
Waldo Point Harbor
Waldo Point Harbor is an adorable community of floating homes that is happy to have people walking around soaking up the creative ways they have decorated their community. There is no guest dock and they do not appreciate people looking in their windows or taking pictures but have a walk around and imagine living in such a beautiful and interesting place!
Richardson Bay Marina
Last but not least is Richardson Bay Marina. Tucked in the very northern corner past Waldo Point Harbor, is this awesome marina open to the public but not offering any guest slips. They do have monthly slips and possibly liveaboard slips, although it is unlikely that any slips become available in our lifetimes!
Things to do in the area: Sea Plane Adventures
Strawberry Lagoon and Araburo Island
As we make our way now around to the other side of the Bay you will see Strawberry Lagoon and Araburo Island. This area is very shallow and I do not recommend trying to visit it on a sailboat. However, if you happen to be visiting the area in anything with a much more shallow draft, it is quite an interesting place. The island and lagoon you see in the picture is home to a bird sanctuary and just outside of the island is an Eel Grass experiment that SF State University has been doing. Definitely something cool to check out.
Our very own Tony Johnson gave us a great secret entrance you can see in the next image.
Cone Rock Anchorage
If you are a Tradewinds Student and you have taken our ASA 104 Bareboat Cruising Class, there is a high chance you have spent the night near cone rock at anchor. It is most of our instructors favorite places to take their students to experience to beautiful views as well as this usually protected anchorage. Just be careful, the wind doesn’t always come from the same place and on an evening with a west wind, you are on a lee shore.
The depth at this anchoring is pretty steadily, 8-11′ at zero tide between the cone rock marker and land to the edge of raccoon strait. If you are on one of our deeper draft boats, like the First 40 Child’s Play we have in our fleet, on a negative tide you can find yourself sitting in the mud. Most of our boats though are about 6′ draft and you will be perfectly afloat for your evening on the hook.
Richardson Bay and Horseshoe Cove are beautiful areas that are not to be missed if you are sailing in San Francisco Bay. We owe this priveledge to a man named David Steinhardt who fought against this area of water being filled in during the 1950’s. Apparently there was a plan to fill it in so they could build homes and install roads but Steinhardt stopped the process and convinced his neighbors to also take a stand against the idea which preserved the bay of water for all of us to enjoy over the past 70 years and counting.
Whether you are day sailing and looking for somewhere to cruise around/stop for lunch or staying the night and looking for something a little more special to do, like renting an ebike and exploring part of your day on land checking out the history of the marin headlands, put this area on your list immediately!!
The following is an excerpt from my book, “The Captain And Mr. Shrode,” and was written in the harbor of Huatulco in southern Mexico, on the last leg of our circumnavigation.
When one undertakes a venture such as ours, he perhaps holds out the hope that the experience may toughen him a bit, make more of a man of him, that sort of thing. He’ll walk with a salty swagger and have a certain air that sets him apart from the ordinary man. The last thing one wishes is to be proven a weakling, a fool, a coward.
But Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said that if you live life fully, it will break your heart, probably quoting an old Irish proverb. Similarly, it seems that if you sail enough miles, the sea will turn you into a poltroon. Just what you didn’t want.
The crew of Maverick arrives at Huatulco where all the books say it’s safe to wait out a Tehuantepecer. The Captain looks at the bay, which is not too deep, and the faxes, which predict 12-foot waves gliding oh-so-gently by only a short distance away. He recalls that waves have the property of refracting around things. Looking at the headland that protects the bay, he hypothesizes thusly: Here lies the sort of thingamajig around which a wave, if it got a notion to, might refract, sending its mischievous energy into the harbor. The books say no, it’s safe. Never one to be comforted by facts or evidence, the Captain has developed that particular talent of the coward: to be afraid.
Seeking reassurance, he asks the port captain if the harbor is safe, if the mean old waves might refract into the harbor. The port captain pats his hand and looks meaningfully into his eyes, having seen his sort before. “No, it is very safe here.”
Then the Captain goes to see the manager of the marina, Andrico, who has the sort of sporty name that tennis pros and ski instructors favor, and asks him the same thing. “No, not to worry,” he says in his best bedside manner, as if reassuring a little old lady.
So the books, and the Port Captain, and Andrico, and the fishermen, and the indulging looks on the faces of all who are brave, say that the nasty waves will not refract around the headland.
But the waves refract around the headland.
On Sunday, when the Tehuantepecer is scheduled to start blowing to 50 knots, the right side of the bay, the one the locals said was safest, starts to look untenable and will be if it gets worse. We move to the other side of the bay and as usual make certain we’ve got the hook well stuck. Later, the other cruising boat in the anchorage follows.
On Monday, the winds gusted to 65 knots, hurricane strength, out in the Gulf, and we had gusts of up to 40 in the bay. Every vessel in the bay dragged its anchor, except Maverick. Okay, there were only three other vessels. But one was a 60-foot steel trawler, and another was a large barge. Both craft were anchored by professionals—members in good standing of the “nothing to worry about in this snug harbor” school of thought. The trawler crew was aboard and tried to re-anchor but couldn’t and eventually settled for tying up to the pier, which, with the surge, was a very ugly solution. The barge fetched up on the rocks. The cruisers were away in town, so when we saw their boat was dragging in the strong wind and chop, we got into the dinghy with three fenders and clambered aboard to try to keep the fenders between their boat and a huge channel buoy. As the boat dragged past it, we found some lines and tied two to the buoy to stabilize the situation until the weather died down. This bit of maneuvering with the dinghy, boat, lines, and buoy in the midst of a chaotic scene could not be described as elegant. The cruisers were not ungrateful; the boat would have foundered.
An exasperating fact is that most of the time, the dashing, devil-may-care skipper who throws out 30 feet of rode in 20 feet of water and says, “Who’s ready for a brewski?” is going to be fine, while the silly crew of Maverick that spent FIVE HOURS before they were satisfied that their anchor was well set in Mykonos will look like fools. Most of the time even a poorly set anchor will not drag, the boat will not be broken into, the through-hulls will not fail, we will not lose our passports, the lighthouse will be working, the rig will not come down, the hull will not come apart, the navigation will be obvious, the chart will be correct, the oil cooler will not spring a leak, lightning will not strike, the boat will not swing onto the reef in a gale, and all your worries will seem the far-fetched scenarios of a guy with no self-confidence and no sense of adventure.
When we were in Lipari, I saw an excursion boat loading passengers for a day trip. Everyone was in a festive mood, the crew welcoming the visitors, handing out drinks, helping them stow their bags. Only one man stood apart from the rest, leaning on the rail with a worried look on his face, staring down at the mooring lines. Though he wore no uniform, I knew in an instant he was the captain.
It’s a little humiliating to feel the need, or even the duty, to be a fussy worrywart. It’s really not what you had in mind when you visualized yourself as Captain. There is no dignity in paranoia, when the movies teach us that the hero is like Butch Cassidy or the Sundance Kid, jumping off a big cliff and not getting hurt. On the other hand, in the book, Little Big Man, there is a story about Wild Bill Hickok that I assume is apocryphal, but nonetheless like many apocryphal tales it is a good one. As he approaches a bar to get a drink, a man at a bar stool on the end who seems to be passed out drunk lifts up his head and raises a gun to kill him. Hickok, prepared for that eventuality because he’s paranoid, has his gun hidden behind the hat he holds in his hand, and blows him away. Little Big Man is amazed, and asks Hickok how he knew that guy had a gun, and Hickok replies that it was just a hunch, and when he gets hunches like that 99 out of 100 times he’s wrong. “But it’s that one time in a hundred that pays me for my troubles.”