Oh, what a cold and rainy day it was!
With provisions and camping gear loaded onto the boat earlier in the week Jeni and I drove down to Richmond Saturday, arriving at KKMI’s dock at 0630 ready to start delivery day. The repairs completed (albeit, at a cost much more than expected) we were ready to bring her home. We watched the weather forecasts and tide movements all week, and with bad weather on the horizon this weekend was pretty much the only time we could swing until the New Year. The plan was to motor toward Antioch, hang a hook overnight, then make the rest of the trip Sunday morning. The tide movement into the Bay was predicted to be a fairly big swing and it was going to coincide perfectly with our planned departure.
It was chilly that morning but we were in surprisingly good spirits considering how much we (read: Rich) agonized over this move. By 0730 and only one minor disagreement regarding who was to steer and who was to cast off dock lines, we were motoring out the harbor channel and north toward the Richmond Bridge just as the sun was peeking over the hills to the east. Tayana 37’s aren’t the fastest cruising sailboats but I was fairly impressed at the 6 to 6.5 knots we were making under engine power. This was beginning to seem so easy that I started to wonder why more people weren’t making the choice to drop everything and sail around the world on a boat?
By the time we rounded the bottom of San Pablo Bay moving toward the Carquinez Bridge we were taking 20 knot winds right on our nose and boat speed dropped considerably through the narrow straight. Rain joined the headwind somewhere between Benicia and Pittsburg and spirits weren’t quite as high as earlier that morning, but boat speed had once again picked up with the incoming tide and we were making 8.3 knots according to the GPS. That’s pretty good for a 24,000 pound full-keel sailboat and we were covering some serious ground. Jeni did some quick calculations on the paper chart (read: eyeballed the distance with her fingers) and determined that at present speed we’d be off the chart, onto the next page, and make it to our destination by 4:00.
On we pushed, anxious to finish this trip and get into some dry clothes.
The rain had eased up as we made the turn into the San Joaquin River and Jeni called up Kurtis at Owl Harbor to let him know we were coming in soon. The entrance to Seven Mile Slough was a little confusing and the information we received over the phone was to “take the left side of the channel”, so I can’t hold Jeni completely responsible for me sticking the keel in the mud. However, I did get pretty good at making 18-point turns inside of a 60 foot wide channel in a 42 foot long sailboat. Priceless skill to master if you ever happen have the time and space to practice. Next week’s lesson is parallel parking….. Kurtis ended up motoring out in a small flat-bottom skiff and towed us the rest of the way into our new slip, clearing a path through the overgrowth of water hyacinth (thanks for nothing California Department of Boating and Waterways) inside of the slough. Cold, wet, and exhausted, we managed to boil some water for our dehydrated backpacker’s dinner and crash out for the night.
Here’s a little video we made underway, but stopped filming when the rain got bad: