Date: Saturday April 14, 2007
Event: Potter Yachters on Oakland Estuary from Grand Street, Alameda. (1:00 PM to 5:30 PM, 4.5 hrs on the water.)
w/ Bruce Hood (host) sailing with Dan Phy (Montgomery 15,) Dave Kautz (P-15,) Mike Swartz & and his nephew, Greg Ocano (P-19).
Winds: 25 knots with gusts to 30 knots as measured by Mike Swartz in the late afternoon. Bruce Hood estimated 30-35 knots.
Weather: Blustery & soaking wet to broken overcast.
  A Gathering of Potters, Alameda, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)I left Concord for the Potter Yachters’ scheduled sail of Saturday April 14th , with some concerns for the forecast calling for morning rain; expected to be heavy at times. But our host for the day, Bruce Hood, floated a plan-B by way of the Trailer Sailor Bulletin Board, suggesting if conditions didn’t look good for sailing, we might adjourn to a local eatery for breakfast, and to wait for the expected clearing and better conditions around noon. This enticing option made the trip worthwhile whether I managed to get out on the water or not.

Under gray skies, I was on the road to be at the Grand Street ramp, Alameda, around 9:00 AM for a projected launching by 10:00. Along the way changing conditions demanded wipers to clear away the occasional mist from the windshield. Upon arrival, the lot was dry, and I was alone to wait to see how many others would brave to forecast and make a showing. Mike Swartz was next to arrive on the heels of a downpour. He grabbed his raincoat from the back of his truck, and joined me in my Explorer to share my thermos of hot coffee. In no time we were joined by Dave Kautz to swap tall tales of recent sails and drink more coffee while we waited for Bruce Hood to show.

Just before 10:00 AM Bruce slid into the remaining back-seat space where it was quickly agreed that breakfast in dry indoor environs would be welcome by all. While Bruce left to further coordinate with Dan Phy, John Wheeler and Pat Brennan who would be joining up at breakfast, his seat was taken by Mike’s nephew, Greg Ocano, who would be crewing with Mike for the day.Breakfast with Potter Yachters, Alameda, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Following leisurely Breakfast at the South Shore Cafe, skies were still dark with falling rain. Dave suggested killing still a bit more time with a visit to Svendsen's Marine. This was a first for me, and certainly won’t be my last visit. With the recent changes in West Marine’s marketing plan we are seeing dwindling support for sailing at the inland storefronts that I frequent. Display space dedicated to sailing has been cut by half, if not more, in favor of the power boaters that dominate local waters. I encourage any who have not yet visited Svendsen’s to do so sooner rather than later. You will be amazed at the extensive inventory displayed in such an orderly Dave Kautz showing off his Svendsen's treasures, Alameda, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)manor as to make shopping for sailing solutions a n absolute pleasure.

Back at the lot, Mike had his P-19, Burgundy Splash, rigged and ready to go. Dave shared his Svendsen’s treasures with mike and Greg; we then turned to our P-15s while Mike sailed off to secure a berth for the night at Fortman Marina. By 1:00 pm, our little fleet, now joined by Dan Phy on his Montgomery 15 with Bruce Hood as crew, was on the water tacking down the Estuary into 6-10 knot winds. Bruce Hood & Dan Phy on "Six", Alameda, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

With blue skies peeking through the dominant gray, conditions were beginning to look much better. Fifteen minutes out of Grand Street, as Mike and I make traded frequent passes on opposite tacks, I make the fatal blunder of commenting on Mike and Greg’s foul-weather dress. It couldn’t have been ten minutes later that the skies opened up. I’m covered up in no time, but the wind driven rain is somehow finding every opening in my gear. I was miserable!A very wet Dave Kautz at the tiller of his "Tilly Lucy", Alameda, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

By the time I had questioned myself thoroughly on the likes of “why are you doing this?” and “What part if this is fun?” the rains had past leaving us to dry out under an overcast that didn’t seem too threatening.

I pressed on down the Estuary in a series of tacks to make headway against the wind. Upon reaching the Turning Basin, I put the wind at my back for the run back to Grand Street. By this time the winds were blowing in excess of 15 knots. I was moving along with all three sales set, when almost simultaneously, the Forestay and Flying Jib let go, leaving the sail and stay flailing around uncontrollably. This occurrence is very similar to the incident that forced me to Ayala Cove, Angel Island, on my trans-bay sail of March 18. I managed to douse the loose sail, temporarily secure the Forestay, then make it to the guest dock at Pasta Pelican Restaurant to fix the tangles and snarls. Once all was secured I could make it back to Grand Street for needed tools and parts to finish the repairs. "Lazy Ka," Alameda, CA (PHOTO: Don Person)

Once repaired, it was back out on the water for more sailing. With the wind at my back, I returned to the Grand Street ramp where I played around in the wind driven chop for an hour of so.

Throughout the day the winds, which were coming straight up the Estuary from the northwest, continued to build. We had white-caps and all the expected indices of high winds; conditions not often found on the Estuary by my experience. I estimated the winds at 25 knots, but kept shaking them off as unlikely or imposable on these sheltered waters. On meeting up with Mike and Greg back at the Grand Street lot, I learned that Mike had taken one measurement of a 25 knot blow with 30 knot gusts. By all expectations, we were seeing late afternoon winds gusting to the 35 knot range. What a ride it was!

At days end, the hearty holdouts, who stayed out later than we should, marveled at our growing skills and the events of the day. Sharing my rigging ails with Mike Swartz generated the suggestion of using "Rigging Tape" to secure the forestay and head sail hardware. I'm going to give it a try!