Sometime in early June, I had spoke with Potter Yachters' Commodore
Dick Herman about his 17' Com-Pac Sun Cat. I have been looking at
these as a possible move-up vessel and had a few questions and hope of
catching a ride some time in the future. Today's sail was to be the
fulfillment of my wish.
arrived at the Richmond Marina lot at about 8:15 AM to find Ron Bell
nearly finished setting up his P-15, Least Tern. Ron was engaged in
conversation with Mike Swartz who had arrived yesterday and spent the
night aboard his P-19, Burgundy Splash. Over the next hour we were
joined by Don Person, Carl Sundholm, Harry Gordon and lastly Dave
White who had also spent the night at the marina with Mike and Dick
all boats rigged and in the water, we were off and away just after
10:00 AM into a foggy overcast. The temperature was warm enough for
shirt-sleeves in spite of the lack of sunshine. Most motor-sailed the first mile or two out
from the marina into
the Richmond channel where we found winds in the 12-15 knot range
blowing from the east. This made for a very nice start to our day,
sailing neatly down
the channel and into the open bay.
Once in the bay,
beyond the end of the jetty, we had a strong
flood-tide to contend with; probably in the neighborhood of 6 knots.
Most chose to go with the tide, which took them on a course north of Red Rock
Island, and under the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. I talked Dick Herman into pointing a little
higher on the current which allowed us enough margin to carry past the
south of Red Rock. The only other to choose this course was Harry
Gordon. With mid-bay apparent winds blowing from the South-east, our
decision to go south of Red Rock put the wind at our back all the way
into Loch Lomond Marina.
and I were last to arrive at the guest dock where Dick neatly
maneuvered Muddy Duck into the only open space available, just
slightly wider the boat, between Burgundy Splash and Wee Boat. With
only inches to spare, and display of expert seamanship, Dick neatly
guided Muddy Duck into the space, and wedged fenders between is and
our neighbors in the remaining void.
dock we met Vince & his wife Linda, who had driven their new P-19 up
from the factory at Inglewood only yesterday. They offered guided
tours to all who were interested. Lunch in the sun on the deck of
Bobby's Fo'c'sle Cafe was met with varying reviews. Most ordered the
Potter Yachter mainstay of Fish & Chips; not all were satisfied,
reporting that the quality did not live up to that experienced on
previous visits. Any shortcomings of the menu were certainly overcome
by the good lunchtime conversation with Potter Yachter friends.
Following lunch we put out again into winds, pushing 15 knots. Blowing
from the west off the Marin hills, these conditions made for a
good initial run out the channel. But this didn't last long. Two to
three miles out, a bit beyond East Marin Island, we ran into a number
of anomalies not often found on the bay. The individual troubles
encountered depended upon the course chosen by the Skipper. First the
wind died; this problem seemed to be encountered by all who were
spread out over a mile or so distance.
and I, followed by Harry Gordon, chose a southerly course intended to
take us south of Red Rock once more. We motored a short distance to
find wind again. Again under sail we encountered very shifty winds.
We'd sail on a reach for a couple of hundred yards only to find
ourselves sailing dead into the wind as it shifted. We'd change course
only to have the cycle repeat itself again, and again, and again.
North of the San Rafael Bridge, after much frustration with wind
conditions, and recognizing the late hour, Skipper Dick opted to
the remaining half-dozen miles back to the ramp. To our amazement,
once back in the Richmond channel in side the relative protection of
the jetty, we found winds blowing nicely across the starboard
stern-quarter of Muddy Duck. So it was back under sail for a
delightful run home. After haul-out, and we compared notes with
others, I learned from those choosing the northern route that
conditions varied for them as well. In common, all (with the exception
of Mike Swartz and crew Bruce Hood) had resorted to auxiliary power
for their bay crossing out of frustration.
spite of the strange conditions encountered in the afternoon, it was a
wonderful day of sailing; warm enough to not require a coat or wind
breaker, and cool enough that we were not looking for protection from
the sun. Sail doesn't get much better than this.