We now bring you part 2 of Mitchell and Quincey’s Truly Cruising (part 1 ran a week ago today). Along with some friends, the couple spent a weekend in Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, and were ready to get back out to sea. But they weren’t finished cruising just yet.
Our plan all along was to enjoy some overnight sailing, and when better than headed north in southerlies? We departed Santa Cruz at 2 p.m. on September 29, set a course south-southwest to add little more room between us, the coast, and San Francisco, and to chase some dying winds farther offshore. Our plan didn’t work as hoped and we ended up motoring until nearly Pescadero. At 9:30 p.m., the wind filled in to 13 knots at 120 degrees apparent, we unfurled the genoa and shut down the engine. The last time we sailed Esprit on a broad reach at night we were leaving the Bay of Panama! That was in March. Since then, we’ve been going upwind in the dark. This was a wonderful change — Q and I spent longer than our watches on deck that night.
Motoring south after leaving the main ship channel out of San Francisco.I have to profess another merit of center-cockpit boats. Have you ever stepped all the way aft to the backstay and admired the way a boat moves through the waves, with an uncluttered view of the deck and full view of the cockpit and sails displayed in front of you? This is the best vantage to watch a boat sail and dance with the water.
The night was clear with an 85% moon but it was wet. The forecast called for some rain on our night passage, but with very little cloud cover, it never materialized. Still, the sails and rigging were dripping and glistening in the moonlight. Besides the 60° cabin temps and 54° on deck, I wanted to believe a tropical rainstorm had just passed over us. The dream wasn’t going to last forever, though, and at 2:30 a.m. the wind died. We were motoring again.
I went off watch to grab some z’s in the salon, always ready at a moment’s notice. I chatted with Q about the Golden Gate entrance and reviewed the chart, still expecting her to wake me once we were in the channel. To my surprise, she woke me when it was time to anchor in Richardson Bay. This was a huge confidence boost for us both. She said there was plenty of traffic but on a clear night, flood tide, and motoring at six knots, it didn’t take long to negotiate.
We anchored in Richardson Bay and turned in at 5 a.m. A great sleep was had by all. By 9 a.m., we were awake and ready for a pancake breakfast. We ate in the cockpit as the Sunday morning sailors converged from Sausalito and Raccoon Strait in very little wind. At one point we saw one boat flying a spinnaker west and another east. We figured sailing to Benicia was out of the question and instead decided to just sail until we found a suitable place to spend the last night of our fall cruise.
We sailed across the Central Bay, and gybed back toward Richmond and into the riviera for lunch. Looking back across the slot showed whitecaps and reefed mains, so we decided to head back across to the lee of Treasure Island and into the South Bay. Evening was falling, so I called into South Beach Harbor. “We’re full,” was the harbormaster’s reply. Well, back to Clipper Cove, I suppose. We covered 20.5 nautical miles in five hours that day and still made it for sundowners at Mersea, the new tapas and wine bar across from the SF Cityfront (a word from the wise, don’t walk through the construction zone that is Avenue of the Palms right now, the security guards don’t appreciate it).
We settled into a comfortable evening anchored in Clipper Cove with only a few other boats. This included an Australian-flagged trawler that we suspect had come down from Alaska this summer, truly cruising, but we never saw anyone home for a chat. We all enjoyed sleeping in on Monday morning, and once again had a slow, delicious breakfast. We were waiting for the wind to pick up a little, but by noon, we were ready to call it a trip. We motored to Marina Bay to drop our friends off near their home in Point Richmond and had a wonderful beam-reach sail back to Berkeley.
Clearly, we had a schedule to keep, and that’s never a great thing when cruising. We motored 27 of the 43 hours underway and covered 208 miles in five days. If we had been truly cruising, we would have never left SF with the wind forecast at the beginning of the trip, but being forced to cruise on a schedule actually brought some wonderful sailing that we would have otherwise missed.
Quincey and Mitch are young sailors living aboard their Kelly Peterson 46 in Berkeley. They have big plans for cruising and adventures. They’re here in the Bay for now, and migrating south next fall. If you like sailing posts (and sailing cats), you can follow the crew on Instagram @QMTravels or check out their website; www.qmtravels.com