We exhibit Hydrovane at the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in Richmond, CA (east bay) every April, so it made perfect sense to base Kaiquest out of the San Francisco Bay area until the 2018 Show. What a cool opportunity to get to know this diverse, colorful, big city and her surrounding neighborhoods!
Will and I came and went, but Kaiquest spent almost exactly eight months in the Bay: August 28, 2017 to May 4, 2018.
Therefore, eight observations…
1. The San Francisco Bay breeds amazing sailors who are used to sailing in windy conditions. 25+ knots in ‘the Slot’… no problem! Reefing? Hardly ever! SF Bay racers are so much more hard core than us. It’s rare to see a boat with a bimini, and half of them don’t even sport dodgers. Our giant ‘bubble’ enclosure makes us look like pansies.
Interestingly, winter is the calm sailing season – less windy and generally tranquil conditions unless a winter storm blows through. It’s in the summertime – due to the thermal effect of the hot Central Valley – that the really strong winds blow consistently through the Gate every afternoon.
2. The Bay also breeds awesome people doing interesting and creative things…
The region is now famous for its creative tech work force, but the artsy / hippie / counterculture / spirit of cool lives on. It’s a city where you can be who you want to be – never categorized into one box or another.
Looking for fun and different things to do in the city? SY Anna Caroline gave us the tip to check out this website: sf.funcheap.com
3. Everyone kept saying to us “You came to San Francisco for the winter? You know it’s cold, right?”
Yes, yes, we know SF is not tropical! But let’s put something in perspective here: we experienced days of 20C in November in Alameda. Now that’s something you just don’t get in the Pacific Northwest. And you’re talking to people whose MAST FROZE the previous winter in Vancouver. In our minds, San Fran was balmy and generally up to 10C degrees warmer than Vancouver throughout the winter months. And much drier – no doubt about that.
And remember, winter is generally not the foggy season. That’s reserved for the summer, unfortunately. Fog rolls in from the ocean as the summer sun heats up the land. Warm air rises, and the foggy air that’s hanging out above the ocean moves in to fill its place.
Fog = cold. We know all about that from our sail down the WA/OR/Northern CA coast last summer. Brrrr
“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” – Mark Twain
4. Everyone thinks their marina is the best in the Bay. After much research and visiting almost many marinas ourselves in April 2017, we chose to base Kaiquest out of Marina Village on sleepy Alameda island. Important to us was the proximity to the Oakland airport, the fact that the Oakland Estuary is generally a bit warmer than downtown (less windy/foggy), and how super safe Alameda is despite proximity to the action. Oh, and a Target within walking distance was nice too! Kaiquest was on the wait list for a few months, but the timing worked out perfectly for our arrival in September as another boat headed south. Moorage was a tad more expensive than Vancouver, but hey – everything in San Fran is expensive.
5. The Bay is shallow… coming from the Pacific Northwest, it took a while to get used to seeing single digits under the keel in anchorages and coming in/out of dredged harbors. Kaiquest draws 6.5 ft.
These shallow depths are put in perspective if you visit the Bay Model in Sausalito – well worth a visit. “Because the Bay is so shallow, if the same scale were used both the horizontal and vertical aspects, the water in the Model would not be deep enough to measure. The vertical scale is ten times greater than the horizontal scale, further exaggerating the Model’s depth.”
6. Having a Yacht Club membership is really helpful if you want to check out different communities in the Bay, potentially enjoy free nights of moorage, meet other sailors, and have access to nice showers. This is not a hoity toity endorsement, but rather a reality for enjoyment of extended cruising in the Bay. Some Clubs care if your Club is on their reciprocal list, others don’t even need to see a card but do want to know you’re a member somewhere… anywhere.
Some of the YC’s we frequented, or tried to:
- Golden Gate Yacht Club – San Francisco Marina district. Friendly, casual vibe. (2 visits)
- St Francis Yacht Club – San Francisco Marina district. Location, Location, Location! (3 visits)
- Corinthian Yacht Club – Tiburon. Amazing view back to the city. (2 visits)
- Richmond Yacht Club – super friendly, great renovated shower facilities. (1 visit)
- Encinal Yacht Club – Oakland. Friendly and love the ‘ship’s bow’ bar. (1 dinner visit)
- Sausalito Yacht Club – nice restaurant, mooring balls so easier to anchor out. (1 dinner visit)
- Vallejo Yacht Club – tried to go in, but they were dredging the harbour… too bad
- Benecia Yacht Club – cool marina and town – but YC not very cruise-y
7. Speaking of Yacht Clubs, there are these visits called Cruise In’s … Members from one Club cruise over to another Club for the weekend. Often just from one side of the Bay to the other. Since those boats take up all the dock space, transient boats are sometimes out of luck.
8. Which leads me to the best two anchorages… Not the only two anchorages in the Bay, but close, haha. A lot of boats don’t even have anchors.
- Richardson’s Bay – Bay sailors don’t seem to anchor out here often, but you’ll find a large community of local liveaboards and all the transient boats in the summer months. It’s great holding, shallow (of course), safe enough if you don’t leave anything on deck, and has a fantastic view of the bay and city. The best part is being in Sausalito, one the cutest communities in the bay.
- Clipper Cover on Treasure Island – all weather anchorage. Very shallow coming in – you have to hug the pier and the north shore to get around a sand bar. We were down to 0.5 ft on a mid tide! Once inside it’s great holding in 10 – 20 ft. Cute breweries and wineries ashore and best timed with the Treasure Islands Flea Market (last Sunday of every month)