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July 15, 2020

Sailing to Angel Island on Two Weekends in July

Nancy and I spent Fourth of July weekend at Angel Island. We pulled into Ayala Cove around 11 a.m. on Friday, and there were already a handful of boats on the moorings. By Friday evening the moorings were completely filled, and boats were being turned away. State Parks opened the moorings on June 29 with the stipulation that rafting was not allowed, however, there were at least five boats on raft-up. We counted as many as 20 boats using the moorings Saturday night.

Boats moored in Ayala Cove at Angel Island
The mooring field at Ayala Cove. Boats are required to tie to moorings fore and aft.
© 2020 Gary Ryan

In general, the island was not crowded, as very few people were coming in by ferry. The San Francisco ferry was not running, and our understanding is that the Tiburon ferry is operating by reservation and limited in terms of the number of people allowed per trip. However, the moorings and docks were packed, and many boats trying to get a day slip or a mooring had to look elsewhere. A few boats even tried to anchor in Ayala, but the park rangers quickly told them it wasn’t allowed.

The café just opened on Friday, and we saw a few trams leave with a handful of people on them. We talked to one of the café workers who was almost in tears to see all the boats at the docks and moorings.

We walked the perimeter trail on both Friday and Saturday, and it was fantastic, with a wide road to socially distance, few people around, and many deer who couldn’t care less that we were invading their island. Plus you cannot beat the 360° view of the Bay as you walk around the island. It was a wonderful weekend watching seals pop up, kids swinging on halyards and people swimming — and just talking with other boaters by social dinghy distance.

We went back this past weekend and spent Saturday night on a mooring. It was funny because we saw four boats that had been there over the Fourth. Same great conditions, and it was just as nice.

We have been visiting Angel for many decades. Here are a few tips for using the moorings and docks:

There can be a pretty big tidal countercurrent in Ayala. Counterclockwise on an ebb, clockwise on a flood. Any ebb or strong flood will create the countercurrent, so take this into account when docking or mooring.

If you get to the docks early, before the rangers clean off all the seal poop, be really, really careful as the docks can be extremely slippery.

The center of the mooring field is shallow. We had early-morning minus tides over the weekend. Our catamaran, ‘iliohale, draws 4 feet 2 inches and was sitting on the bottom. If you have a deep-draft boat and there are going to be low lows, then look to moor on the outside balls of the mooring field.

Mooring bow and stern can be a challenge, especially if there is current and/or wind and if the moorings are crowded. Be sure to have long mooring lines available because if the only open spot is in the center of a mooring string (they’re color coded), the balls will be pulled in and the distance between them will be greater.

Boats with limited control in reverse should consider picking up the stern mooring first, not the bow. You will have more control in forward than in reverse. Use a poly line that floats for the stern or have someone on the stern line keeping it clear of the prop as you go for the bow mooring.

Spending the weekend at Angel feels like a real vacation. We hope that everyone gets the chance to experience it.

— Gary and Nancy Ryan
‘iliohale, Lagoon 450S
Loch Lomond, San Rafael

Readers — For more info about visiting Angel Island State Park, including what’s currently open or closed, see

A Heartwarming Sailing Story We Just Have to Share

We received this fun and, yes, heartwarming story from a local sailor and Latitude reader. While we haven’t met either the storyteller or the heroine, we felt drawn to both as we realized we just had to share this true-life tale.

John Fredericks lives in Oakland Marina aboard his 1973 Bill Garden Porpoise ketch, Horizons. Like most liveaboard sailors, John is in a position to witness and often partner in salty tales of all kinds. But how often can a sailor say they have touched nautical history or connected with the heroes and heroines of sailing’s chronicles?

John’s story is the tale of a historic boat long abandoned, but not forgotten, and its journey back into the life of its history-making owner:

He begins:

“Would you like to hear a heartwarming story? Well, have a seat near the proverbial fire and lend me your ear.

“Over the winter, a boat sank at our marina. I had been told it was a famous boat but I really never paid it any mind. After doing a bit of research, I realized that this particular boat was the first ever to cross the Pacific, singlehanded by a woman. The event occurred in 1969. The woman’s name is Sharon Sites Adams and she is still among us at 90 years old!”

Adams & Sea Sharp ll Historic
Adams and Sea Sharp ll as they appeared in the late 60s. Sharon had her first sailing lesson in 1964. She was 34. On turning 90 in May this year, Sharon was quoted as saying, “Can you believe the life I had? All that, just because I owned a little boat once.”
© 2020 Sharon Sites Adams

“Being the local diver, I was hired to partially float the sunken boat in order to get it out from underneath our dock. It took several days and many truck tire inner tubes, but we were finally able to move the boat to her final resting place.

Sea Sharp ll mostly submerged and cover in weeds
It’s hard to envisage this unfortunate vessel once crossing the Pacific.
© 2020 John Fredericks

“The boat was basically abandoned at my marina and little by little she was scavenged. One item that remained attached to the boat was the helm. Everyone in our village (marina) tried their hand at removing the wheel, but none were successful. Never a stranger to a challenge, I decided to give it a try. I grasped the relic with both of my hands, and with all my might pulled with the strength of 100 horses until the wheel came free in my hands. (Actually, I used a small sledgehammer in the most delicate way possible but . . .). That’s basically how I became ‘Shing Arthur.’ Now it’s time for me to cross the Pacific myself, on my boat, Camelot. Sorry, I may have let my imagination run away with me there.” [John is in the process of refitting a 1962 Chesapeake 32, aboard which he plans to go cruising.]

“After removing the wheel, I knew who should have it — the very woman who grasped its spokes in her hands as she sailed alone across the Pacific, nearly 50 years ago. So, I wrapped it in bubble wrap, put it in a box, and shipped it to Portland, Oregon. It wasn’t until today that it was presented to her. [July 1, 2020.]

“We spoke on the phone and she was so delighted. She told me in her own words about when she was five days out from San Diego, listening to the moon-landing live on the radio. The first man on the moon and the first woman to cross the Pacific were happening simultaneously.

“She said, ‘I was looking up at the moon and wondering if Neil Armstrong would want to trade places with me.’

“It brings tears to my eyes to have been able to play a small part in this story and bring some joy to an amazing woman whom I have never met. In exchange for my good deed, she told me she would send me a copy of her book, which I have yet to read. She told me that she expects a book report, and I don’t want to disappoint her.”


The boat featured in John’s story above is Sea Sharp ll, a Mariner 31. Sea Sharp ll was built for Adams, but she never owned the vessel. Despite this, Adams and many of her friends had spent years trying to locate and buy the sailboat. The recent events have put to rest Adams’ longing and search for a significant piece of her own history.

Sailor Lilli Matzke from the Island Sailing Club in Portland, OR, and Adams’ longtime friend Carol Baker prepared to deliver the wheel to its unsuspecting recipient.

“She had no idea,” Lilli said. “She didn’t want to open the box right away. But we started talking about the unfortunate news about Sea Sharp, and as soon as I said the word retrieve she really wanted to open that box.”

With shaking hands Sharon removed the wrapping to discover the wheel that had guided her across the ocean so many years ago.

“She started crying. ‘I can’t believe this day, I can’t believe this day,’ she kept saying.”

Sharon Sites Adams unwraps Sea Sharp ll's wheel
Adams’ face tells us all we need to know about the joy this gift has brought her.
© 2020 LIlli Matzke

“We were worried that she was going to donate it. Most of what she had from the boat and her journey she’d donated to a museum. Above and beyond everything we wished it to be for her.

“The next day Sharon called me. She’d decided to hang the wheel in her house, above her bed. She was starting to believe it, just a little.”

Sharon Sites Adams was featured in a story we wrote about international and historic women sailors in March this year.

News of the YRA Encinal Regatta, PICYA Lipton Cup and More

YRA Encinal Regatta (2nd Half Opener) Postponed

“With the spiraling caseloads in most Bay Area counties, we feel the responsible and safe course of action is to postpone the Encinal Regatta,” announced the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay yesterday evening. “We were really hoping we could get YRA racers back out on the Bay and ocean this summer, but we need to do so in a safe and responsible way. We’re hoping we can reschedule the regatta to a date in late August or early September. But of course, all is contingent on when we feel it’s safe for the YRA racers to sail in an unpredictable pandemic.” The Encinal Regatta (formerly called the 2nd Half Opener) had been scheduled for July 25-26.

Update from St. Francis Yacht Club

StFYC has canceled all of their races, including kiteboarding and windsurfing, through August 1. They were to have hosted the Laser North Americans on September 2-6, but that is also canceled. Check their racing calendar at to stay up to date. The Rolex Big Boat Series, planned for September 17-20, is still in the works.

PICYA Lipton Cup Canceled

On July 10, Ted Floyd of Encinal Yacht Club and Andrew Lorenzen of South Beach YC sent the following message to the 10 yacht club teams registered for the Lipton Cup on August 7-9: “Lipton Cup competitors, it is our unfortunate duty to inform you that the 2020 Lipton Cup on San Francisco Bay has been canceled. We are instead looking forward to carrying your registrations over to the 2021 event, which will be planned around its traditional weekend in June. Please stay tuned for information on the 2021 event that will be shared with you later in the year.”

Lipton Cup finish
Richmond and St. Francis YCs co-hosted PICYA’s Lipton Cup the last two years. This year, SBYC and EYC were to have taken over as co-hosts, still using StFYC’s fleet of J/22s.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

US Multihull Championship

The United States Formula 18 Association (USF18) and US Sailing have postponed the 2020 F18 Americas and US Multihull Championship, originally scheduled for September 26-October 2, hosted by San Diego Yacht Club and Mission Bay Yacht Club. Organizers from USF18, US Sailing, Mission Bay YC and SDYC are exploring dates to reschedule this combined championship in 2021.

Corpus Christi Yacht Club in Texas plans to host the 2021 Hobie Formula Wave and US Multihull Championship on November 1-5, 2021. The US Multihull Championship awards the Hobie Alter Trophy.

No Opti Worlds in 2020

The Optimist Class has canceled the 2020 Optimist World Championship. The Opti Worlds had been scheduled for July 1-11 in Riva del Garda, Italy. When that was called off due to COVID-19, the class considered offers from Brazil, Hong Kong and Spain to host the Worlds. However, with international travel still so fraught, the class has called off the championship for this year. Read more at

Shorthanded Sailing

Here’s something you can do: Tune in to the Yacht Racing Association’s Shorthanded Sailing Seminar. As the pandemic drags on, sailing solo or with just one other person has become even more appealing than it already was. Learn more about it on Tuesday, July 21, 7-9:30 p.m. Speakers will be San Francisco Bay shorthanded sailors Lori Tewksbury, Express 27 Hang 20; Jim Quanci, Cal 40 Green Buffalo; and Bob Johnston, Alerion 38 Surprise! Quanci and Johnston are vets of the Singlehanded Transpacific Race. Tewksbury had been preparing for a doublehanded Pacific Cup this year. There’ll be opportunities for Q&A. The $20 registration fee “helps support the YRA during this difficult racing season and will help us keep the lights on until we can get back to a full racing season.”

Bob and Lori on Hang 20
Lori Tewksbury on the bow of her Express 27. With no Pacific Cup this year, she had to settle for doublehanded beer can racing.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Get more info and sign up here:

Weather Forecasting for Mariners

And, while we’re on the topic of online learning, Chris Landsea, branch chief of the Tropical Analysis and Forecasting Branch at the National Hurricane Center, advises us that “The two Forecasting for Mariners webinars that the National Hurricane Center hosted last week are now available as recordings on our YouTube channel (”

Community Sailing
Recent events have provided the stark realization that providing opportunity will never be enough to adequately address the systemic racial inequity in either our society or our sport. It has been 20 years since TISC began and yet we still do not see the changes in our sport or society that we envisioned.