After having met Maiden and her crew at their arrival in San Francisco on Monday, we were pretty excited to learn that we’d be joining them for a sail on Thursday. Like Christmas for a 10-year-old, Thursday couldn’t come soon enough.
But the day did arrive and with it came San Francisco’s habitual fog, and not a breath of wind. As we gathered on the dock ahead of the safety briefing there was the buzz of excited anticipation. We’d all seen Maiden, the movie, and nearly all of us were sailors. We were ready to cast ourselves in the roles of the ground-breaking women we’ve come to associate with Maiden.
We left the dock, and as the crew collected fenders and readied the sails, we were met with a dredging barge occupying the deepest part of the channel. Skipper Wendy Tuck was on the helm, and despite the barge crew’s estimation of depth, we felt the familiar nudge of ground beneath the keel. It seemed that would be the extent of our outing until the barge offered to move and let us through. Even then Wendy called the falling numbers as Maiden’s almost-11-ft draft brushed the mud below.
Once in the Bay and clear of all obstacles, it appeared as though the sailing gods had conspired to give us the best day possible. The curtain of fog had cleared the Bay and sat politely in the wings as though waiting for us to exit the stage. The crew called for volunteers to help hoist the headsail and man — in this case, woman — the grinders. Unfortunately, as with all boats, Maiden needs regular maintenance, and her mainsail was off the boat for repair. Despite this, we picked up a nice breeze and set of for a circumnavigation of Alcatraz, imagining ourselves crossing wild oceans under the pressure of race conditions.
Fortunately, we did not have to lash ourselves to the wheel or don our foul weather gear only to still be cold and wet. There was plenty of time to move around the boat and chat with Maiden’s amazing and very competent crew. The girls onboard hail from Finland, Spain, Australia and the USA, and among them have amassed several decades’ worth of offshore and race-sailing experience. We were certainly in good hands.
To add to the day, Oracle came by for a visit and sailed alongside as we headed toward the Bay Bridge, and after tacking to head north, we could pretend that we were indeed racing as the two famous boats held the same course. At one point while cruising at 7.1 knots — this under only one sail, and in a light breeze — we again could only imagine ourselves racing across oceans challenging sailing’s earlier prejudices.
The most inspiring factor in Thursday’s experience was not the sail. We can enjoy sailing on almost any boat, and with any reasonably competent crew. The biggest influence was The Maiden Factor itself. Tracy Edwards didn’t become the first woman to gather an all-female crew and compete in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race (now called the Volvo Ocean Race) to then slide into obscurity and do nothing. Tracy has continued to challenge boundaries, and today, Maiden is on a world tour to bring hope and help to thousands of girls and young women around the world.
As we headed back to the dock and watched the fog drape its curtain across the Bay, we felt as if we had become a part of this amazing journey.
If you have the opportunity to go see Maiden — the boat, the movie, the crew or all three — we recommend that you do. The boat will be open to the public this weekend as follows:
Maiden’s Bay Area Schedule
Saturday, August 24 — Open Boat Tour at St. Francis Yacht Club. Maiden will be open to the public. You’ll find on the club’s guest dock in the San Francisco Marina. Come aboard and meet the crew from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Maiden’s San Francisco Open Boat was originally planned for South Beach Yacht Club. But, due to the tides at Pier 40 and the keel’s draft, it’s been moved to StFYC.
Sunday, August 25 — Opening Day at Richmond Yacht Club from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Friday, August 30 — Maiden Departure from St. Francis Yacht Club from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
After leaving San Francisco, Maiden will sail down the coast to L.A. and then continue her voyage around the world via Cape Horn.