Sunday, December 6, 2009

First time through the Golden Gate

A forecast of wind and rain wasn't enough to keep us from making our way under the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time - and a good thing too, as we awoke to pretty perfect (albeit slightly chilly) sailing weather. 15 to 20 knots and intermittent clouds and sunshine. Amanda and I invited Rick (since he'd done such a great job last time in 50+ knots of breeze and could officially call himself a sailor now) and Nick who'd helped me sail the boat over to the slip for the very first time from the broker's dock (Amanda was in Minnesota). Between the four of us, we were feeling pretty confident, and ready to leave the safety of the flat seas in the bay to venture out into the open expanse of the Pacific for the first time.

Because the currents under the bridge can be pretty intense (sometimes literally barring entry or exit via sailboat), we made sure to time things perfectly. However between a run to Starbucks (Starbucks and yachting? Who are these people...?) and the standard (though somehow never foreseen) delays, we missed our ebb tide which would have sucked us out under the bridge with ease. Instead, we hit the gate with 2 knots of current (and a stiff breeze) directly in our path. This actually turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise though, as it allowed us to perfect the finer points of sail trim, scraping for each tenth of a knot. The downside was that by the time we got out, we pretty much had to head straight back again to avoid the opposite problem, as the tide shifted again sweeping everything out to sea.

We threw up the spinnaker, as we rocketed at max hull speed back down wind. We ended up getting home in about two hours whereas we'd taken more than 5 to get out.

Literally within minutes of pulling back into the slip, the rain started - all in all a fairly perfect end to a great day of sailing.

Looking back east after leaving the gate.

On our way back in

Sailing buddies

Nick looking confident with the spinnaker up.