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July 26 - San Francisco Bay

Gas Light

While out doing a charity sail yesterday on San Francisco Bay, we snapped a few photographs that demonstrate that this area not only has a variety of boats, but a variety of sailing conditions. Out by the Gate, for example, we came across Billy Martinelli's Gas Light, the lovely replica of a Bay cargo schooner he built in Sausalito. The classic yacht does charters and educational programs. While Gas Light was reaching in a four-knot flood, a short distance away and battling the flood on her way out the Gate was the Lancer 30 Friar Tuck.

Friar Tuck

We see this boat on the Bay a lot, and have always marveled at what we consider to be the curious name. Lancer Yachts was a company put together by Dick Valdez a number of years after he made Columbia Yachts a juggernaut in the '60s.

In the Central Bay, a big Etchells regatta was underway. #1168 had a big lead over the pack in the race we happened to catch.

Etchells regatta

Seeking a little warmth, we headed behind Angel Island, where we spotted this sloop headed north.

The lee of Angel Island
Photos Latitude/Richard

In the lee of the island, as well as in the lee of the Tiburon Peninsula, it was not just warm, sometimes it was hot. It felt like late August or September, not July. No matter what boat you were on, it was a day to be on the Bay.

He Told Me My Boat Should Be "Demon-Free" for 28 Days

July 26 - Pacific Ocean

Can you imagine being the woman owner of a boat, signing on a husband and wife couple to be crew for a long Pacific passage, and then having them get strange? How strange? Here's an excerpt from the woman's report:

"One afternoon, the man, let's call him Bill, and his wife, let's call her Lynn, appeared in front of me in the cockpit, both completely naked, to inform me that they had both heard voices on the boat whispering at night. They also said that he saw and she felt demons around and on the boat and me. They both insisted that the boat was possessed and controlled by the evil forces. They said that all of the equipment failures, adverse weather conditions, minor mishaps and injuries, even my chronic cough, could be attributed to the demonic influence and powers. They started shouting at me, angrily accusing me of attracting those demons. Then Lynn said, 'We are both of pure hearts and Jesus lets us see these things.' I was terrified that I was about to be executed to satisfy the requirements of some bizarre witchcraft ritual.

"Bill claimed to have special powers that help him control spirits and demons, and insisted on performing exorcisms on everything - including me. I declined. He nonetheless told me that he had 'bounded the boat,' and that it should therefore be demon-free for the next 28 days, and that he was taking over my boat as she was not safe in my hands."

More to come.

More on the Sailor, the Ship, and the Bridge

July 26 - North Bay

On July 12, we reported that the day before the 590-ft car carrier Pacific Highway had swerved to miss a sailboat, and as a result, struck a glancing blow against the fenders around the base of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. We also reported that the San Rafael Sheriff's Office had stopped a sailboat suspected of having forced the ship to swerve, a sailboat we knew couldn't have been involved.
Subsequently, we heard from eyewitness Lee Roberts of the Catalina 30 Alexandra, who was closer to the incident than we were. She reported that the sailboat passed about two boat lengths in front of the ship.

The innocent Makahiki
Photo Latitude/Richard

And yesterday, we received an email from Pina Au Kanaii, captain of the ketch Makahiki, the vessel that had been stopped by the sheriff. He wrote about being stopped by the sheriffs - and then never hearing any more about it. He also reports:

"The following Sunday I had breakfast with a commercial captain who is contracted to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge project, and who is a personal friend of the pilot who was on the Pacific Highway. Without wanting him to go into detail, I asked if he knew anything about the incident with the ship. He told me that the mate on the ship had gotten the CF numbers of the sailboat, and that it had been intercepted by the Coast Guard in Richmond. Further, that the skipper of the boat had refused DUI/drug screening, and was taken into custody. I figured that all that had to have been happening while my Makahiki was being boarded off Angel Island. Don't these government guys talk to each other? Lovely weather we're having. And how about those Giants?"

Shorter Hours for Bridge-Tenders

July 26 - Napa River

We had to come down the Napa River early on Sunday morning in order to pick up a charity group in Sausalito. So imagine our dismay to come across the sloop La Mouette, which was having trouble getting the bridge-tender to lift the span at the Mare Island Causeway. We tried the radio, too, then tooted our horn - but still got no response. We couldn't figure it out, because we'd made the same trip downriver early in the morning on the 5th of July. Then we got real close to the bridge and read what looked like a newly painted sign indicating that unless there was two hours prior notice, the bridge-tender wouldn't be on duty until 9 a.m. No wonder nobody was answering.

The bottom of Mare Island Strait Bridge
Photo Latitude/Richard

At 8:45 a.m., having waited half an hour, the bridge-tender showed up early for work! And he was nice enough to lift the bridge before 9 a.m., too. But take this as a warning, bridge hours - probably because of budget cuts - have been changed.

By the way, we're told that a low fixed bridge on the upper Napa River is being replaced with a higher fixed bridge, and that by next summer most sailboats will be able to make it all the way to the soon-to-be installed berths in downtown Napa. As such, Napa would suddenly become a prominent feature on the local cruising map.

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