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Weekend Report: St. Patrick’s Day

What do you do on a Saturday St. Patricks. Why, sail, of course.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

It was definitely going to rain. That was our St. Patrick’s Saturday forecast, and like the ‘Everyone is Irish’ parade happening in San Francisco, we were not the least bit deterred. We suspect that many of you weren’t, either, and as always, we’d like to know how you spent your weekend, especially on St. Paddy’s Day. Got a photo? A story? Send them here. In Marin, the 40% chance of precipitation forecast manifested in charcoal gray chunks of cloud enveloping Mt. Tam as we motored out. 

The clouds were spectacular on Saturday. We were all transformed into Irish poets.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

Following the ebb, heading north into San Pablo Bay (SPB) seemed like it might get us out of the way of the coming deluge, but off China Camp, the wind died and a slow drizzle swallowed us. But it was surprisingly pleasant to go below, close the hatch, and drift lazily away from shore and into the emptiness between Marin and Vallejo. We’ve decided that the name of the game for winter sailing is to go with the flow. Wind? Great. No wind? No problem. The motivation for untying the dock lines is, simply, to be out there. Sailing, drifting, and motoring are just logistics to the larger goal. In fact, the windless days often offer the most compelling patterns and light on the water.

A rainy forecast deters many a California sailor. But for those of us who like to get on the water for the sake of its beauty, the rain (especially in small doses) can be especially striking.

© Nathaniel Beilby

The rain was especially mesmerizing. Each drop was its own elaborate, tiny explosion accented by ripples in the water. We dropped the jib, left up the main, went below and cleared off the bunks, poured a little whiskey, and contemplated the unraveling wonders of the universe. The wind didn’t die for long. Five knots popped up on flat water, and to my discouragement, I had to steer, which I did from inside. Eventually, I took an oar, and managed to hold a straight-ish course into SPB by using the shore as a reverse bearing. 

Steering from the dry comfort of your bunk isn’t necessarily recommended for all occasions, but with miles of empty water in front of us and a high tide, we managed to escape the rain.

© Nathaniel Beilby

Blue sky wasn’t far behind the rain, and the mountains of the various Marin County preserves were suddenly bathed in crepuscular rays. It was almost an absurdly over-the-top St. Patrick’s Day-looking landscape. All the mountains that rimmed the girth of San Pablo Bay — from Marin, to Sonoma, to Wildcat Caynon in the East Bay — were brilliantly, awe-inspiringly green and sumptuous in the sun. 

California doesn’t get big, spectacular clouds with the same regularity as the tropics or the East Coast, so it’s always thrilling to see such dramatic skies.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

The breeze was in constant flux, but filled in for a while and made for a good beat to Point Pinole. As the sun went in and out through the clouds, the water turned a milky, pale emerald green. The meager beginnings of a rainbow even started to form over Mare Island, but quickly faded.

Latitude’s newest editor enjoys getting out on the water with no destination in mind, no racecourse and no time frame. Just sailing for the sake of sailing.

© 2018 Nathaniel Beilby

We put a little Flogging Molly on the iPod, and marveled at how such a festive holiday is also crushingly sad. ("Mocked by the wave that beats the water’s edge; There for the Grace Of God Go I.")

We hope you all had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.

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