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Weekend Report: Hardcore Summering

The best part about Fourth of July this year was taking off the 5th, making for a weekend within the week . . . right before the weekend! What better way to enjoy the post-fireworks extravaganza we witnessed in East Oakland (a citywide show like no other) than with a mid-week sail?

Since getting my boat last October, I’ve never crossed under the Richmond Bridge. With the tide perfect for an (mostly) ebb to Angel Island and a flood back to San Rafael, it was the ideal time to take a small step in my Bay cruising career. 

Is it just me, or can bridges be a little spooky? I’m not sure what it is exactly; sometimes I half expect to see a car crashing through the rail and falling toward the water. I’m still getting used to the massive currents here, as well, which are most tangible (and swirling and gurgling) around the pylons.

Another surprise when passing under the Richmond Bridge: It is amazingly skinny, and seems to go on forever.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

But after slipping through the shadow of the bridge, I checked off that little step, then laughed that I’d considered it a ‘step’ at all. As we worked our way upwind, the horizon started to fill with whitecaps, and it had every indication of being a typical breezy summer day. But as we got closer to Marin, the wind stopped building, and stopped blowing altogether. At first I wondered if it was the lee of Angel Island, but the smattering of sailboats all around us had hardly any heel to them. As the wind petered out, the tide started to turn, and we had to fire up the motor to punch through Raccoon Strait and into Ayala Cove.

What a difference a weekday makes. We were one of just a few boats at Ayala Cove.

© Nathaniel Beilby

Bay Area weather will get you every time. Anticipating breeze, I had a good jacket, and even a fleece vest if things got frisky. But all we got was still, blazing sun. As we sat at a mooring, we were roasting like Fourth of July chicken wings on the BBQ. We caked ourselves with sunscreen so that we all looked like geishas, but still we fried (note to self, always keep a light-weight, long-sleeve shirt on board for such rare occasions. And a canopy for shade). The water in Ayala was . . . refreshing . . . or as refreshing as ice-cold water is on the body. Still, it was a hot, lazy afternoon, and we what we lacked in shade and sleeves, we made up for in ice-cold provisions. It was the first time we’d ever been to Angel Island during the week, and we found the whole scene refreshingly quiet and empty. It was absolutely perfect. We were hardcore summering.

In that momentary, thin band of shadow while passing south-to-north under the bridge.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

We dropped one of the crew off at Tiburon to catch a ferry and caught the flood back. The Bay was teeming with sea life — there were always seals or porpoise somewhere in view. We had about five knots of breeze as we reached past Paradise Cay, before the wind died completely. Stuck between two shipping lanes (complete with oncoming ships), we were reluctant to start the motor. There was a wind line to the west that had promise, and in moments it was whitecapping around us, making for a sporty reach back under the bridge.

The author heading up and about to duck under the bridge one last time.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

The Bay giveth, and the Bay taketh away. But then it giveth again.

How was your holiday week/weekend? How’s your summer? We’d like to know.


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