After the Master Mariners Regatta joined the long list of canceled events last year, hopes were high for this year’s comeback. It turned out as bright as the varnish on the many gleaming toerails. A healthy fleet of 46 boats signed up. All who showed up were met with blue skies, sunshine, a big flood, big breeze and big smiles. Most boats sported full crews of deckhands, vaccinated and occasionally masked, to press the wooden hulls and canvas hard around the course.
We were very fortunate to hitch a ride on the Bay Area’s magnificent tall ship, the Matthew Turner, under the command of skipper Adrian McCullough with founder Alan Olson at the helm. After the keel was laid in 2013 and the hull launched in 2017, the USCG-certified Matthew Turner was getting ready to begin her Bay sailing career in April a year ago when the pandemic intervened. As most active Bay Area sailors have seen, Matthew Turner sightings on the Bay are now more common than whale sightings. According to Olson, Call of the Sea’s Matthew Turner has been sailing about four days a week taking out paying guests from yacht clubs and other organizations, which helps to fund the brigantine’s upkeep and educational mission. Don’t miss an opportunity to sail aboard.
Sausalito Yacht Club runs the race committee and sets up the reverse-handicap reaching start in front of St. Francis Yacht Club. This means small boats start first and the Matthew Turner plays sweeper, with the goal of a come-from-behind finish. The flood made the reach to Little Harding a tight one. Matthew Turner worked hard to stay above Harding Rock. The engine allowance gives a square-rigged brigantine a fighting chance given the challenges of getting downwind topsails upwind from Little Harding to Yellow Bluff against a full-bore flood. The innovative twin-prop hybrid diesel-electric drive made short work of that leg, but there was still a lot of sailing to do.
The Master Mariners have probably put a combined million miles under their keels on this course, which, after Yellow Bluff, heads to Blossom Rock, on to Southampton Shoal, then to a reaching finish in the lee of Treasure Island. After the finish, boats head down the Oakland Estuary for post-race celebrations at Encinal YC in Alameda.
This year’s EYC festivities were especially welcome after a year’s absence. Though the Master Mariners fleet didn’t get to race last year, many were able to take advantage of the time off for some extra care and maintenance. The normal chance for the public to see them up close and personal in June’s Wooden Boat Show has been postponed until the fall, but, for now, the boats and crews are just happy to be sailing again. We’ll bring you more photos and details on the regatta in the July issue of Latitude 38.