I arrived at today's Potter Yachter scheduled event at Richmond Marina
to another typical bay area Summer morning, under heavy fog overcast
and cool temperatures. I set to rigging Lazy Ka for the day; that took
care of the cold. As I labored the boats started to roll in. By launch
time our little fleet had swelled to the size of a small armada of 15
The destination of this sail was originally set to take us across the
bay to Loch Lomond Marina and lunch at
Bobby's Fo'c'sle Cafe. But
with so many boats, it became evident that our sheer numbers would
overwhelm the limited capacity of the Loch Lomond guest dock, so the
command decision was made to divert to Ayala Cove, Angel Island.
I was a little apprehensive about this this change in destination, to
say the least, as I had seen some photos of Potters in the wind and
waves of Raccoon Strait that gave me pause to question whether my
skills were up to the task. I concluded that I could always reef down,
and turn back if conditions became more that I could handle. I also
recalled that following the lead of the more experienced skippers had
served me well so far, I'd just continue to do that, and all would be
well. It struck me that this might well be the real be advantage to
the Yachters: learning through the example of others. So with my heart
out of my throat, restored to it's proper place, I slipped Lazy Ka
into the water. I was ready to go.
winds in the Richmond Channel were favorable for sailing out to the
open bay. By my experience in Richmond, this is not often the case.
is wide enough to tack, similar to the estuary at Oakland, the process
quickly becomes laboriously
repetitive. It felt good to not need to resort to the outboard motor.
Sailing past the old ferry terminal at Point Richmond, I could see
blue skies over Mt Tamalpais as the fog started to burn off. By the
time we made Angel Island it was gone. Most of the fleet chose to sail
the bay, then turn south, and tack along the Marin shoreline
for Raccoon Straight. Terry Gotcher
and I made our tacks mid bay which brought us to enter the strait on
the heels of the others. The main fleet had been well ahead as we came
out of the channel,
so it appeared that
we had closed the distance somewhat.
Strait was as I had expected. There were winds-a-plenty, and they were
all blowing the wrong way. The Raccoon Strait is the main conduit for
just about everything that flows into and out of the bay. The deepest
waters in the bay are found here; the combined runoff of the
flow from the Carquinez Strait through
here, then on to the Golden Gate, generating some of the strongest
bay currents to be
found. Air follows the reverse path from the gate, through the straits
into the inland valleys.
inside the strait I was sailing into a blow that was easily 20 knots.
I furled in my foremost sail, pointed windward, and made several
changes in tack to make Ayala Cove. Sailing into the cove is an
experience in itself. Once inside
the protection of Point Ione, which defined the windward
of the cove, it is as is the wind was
switched off. I was left with just enough wind to allow me to sail to
the docks of the small marina located here.
up, and my day use fees paid, Angel Island is a
California State Park, I settle in for a light lunch and
conversation with the rest of our Potter Yachter band. One of these
days I'm going to come back and spend some time touring the rest of
the island . . . maybe even spend the night.
one, we started to move back to our boats. First away were the
McDevitts followed by the Dolans, and several others in rapid
succession. Reentering Raccoon Strait from the protection of the cove
made for a real surprise for me; The wind comes on as if a valve was
One moment it's a light breeze, the next it's a torrent.
return trip to Richmond Marina was great fun as wind blows from the
strait directly at the entrance to the Richmond Channel. I simply
pointed Lazy Ka for the jetty with wind at my back and ran for home
wing-on-wing. The favorable winds continued to carry me up the
channel, blowing over the starboard quarter.
all, it was a very satisfying day of sailing. I overcame the daemons
of Raccoon Strait. I'm feeling more confident in stronger winds.
That's is a good thing.