Date: Saturday August 18, 2006
Event: Richmond Marina, Richmond, CA. to Angel Island (10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (6 hrs on the water.)
w/ Our fleet for the day prepares to put out from Richmond Marina (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)P-15s: Don Person, Pat Brannan, Terry Gotcher, Keith Hubbard, Mike Dolan & daughter; Rich & Mary McDevitt
P-19s: Mike & Russell Swartz, Dave White,
Jerry & Carol Barrilleaux, John Choi, Tim (Morning Dove)
Others: Mike Trueman (Montgomery-15,) Dave Meredith (Com-Pac-19)
Winds: Winds 8-16 knots outbound, 16-20 knots in Raccoon Strait for the return, reducing in the central bay to the 8-12 knot range with 2-3 knots back in the protection of Richmond Marina. 
Weather: Started the day with fog overcast which burned off by noon. Had sunshine for our arrival at Angel Island that stayed with us all the way back to Richmond Marina.
 

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 boats.

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.P-19 Morning Dove in the shadow of Red Oak Victory, Richmond Harbor, Richmond, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

The 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. Though Richmond Keith Hubbard and his lateen rig, Triple Duce, outbound at Brickyard Cove, Point Richmond, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Channel 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 across the bay, then turn south, and tack along the Marin shoreline for Raccoon Straight. Terry GotcherWith Mt. Tamalpais in view, the Potter Yachter fleet makes for the Marin County shoreline (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan) 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.

Raccoon 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 Sacramento-San Joaquin flow from the Carquinez Strait throuMorning fog gives way to sunshine over Raccoon Straight, Marin County, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)gh 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.Our Potter Yachter fleet tied up at the Angel Island Marina, Ayala Cove (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Once 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 Dave Meredith (front Table) Mary McDevitt, Russell & Mike Swartz, Rich McDevitt  (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)boundary 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.Rich McDevitt, Mary & Jerry Barrilleau, Mary McDevitt (front Table)  Dave Meredith (Rear Table) (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Tied 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.Rich & Mary McDevitt motor out of Ayala Cove for Richmond (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

One by 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 opened.Mike Trueman on the return passage to Richmond Marina (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan) One moment it's a light breeze, the next it's a torrent.

The 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 and 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.