The Golden Gate

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 25 Sep 2015 20:57
Position: 37 51.71 N 122 18.56 W
At anchor Richardson Baty, San Francisco Harbor
Wind: calm
Weather: sunny, mild
Days run: 99

The wind continued to freshen during the afternoon and at 22.00, as we
approached Point Reye, 25 miles west nor'west of the Golden Gate, we were
back up to seven knots. However, once around Point Reye we were caught in
its wind shadow for a short while, which slowed us down, but an hour later
we were clear and back up to speed. We passed Drakes Bay where the US Pilot
tells me that sir Francis Drake anchored in 1579 and I was tempted to stop
there for the night so as to make some tenuous connection to this impossible
adventurer. Sylph had last crossed tracks with the Golden Hind in our
passage down the east coast of South America, perhaps most memorably in San
Julian. Drake is a man I truly stand in awe of.

But it was dark, we had a fair wind, and our timing was looking good to get
through the Golden Gate with a fair tide, so we pressed on, waving a hand in
salute to Sir Francis as we passed the bay named after him. We kept clear of
the Four Fathom Bank, sailing to the south of it, as the Pilot warns of
possible steep seas over it, also keeping clear of a couple of ships coming
out of the San Francisco Bay as we did so. As things turned out we
arrived at the Golden Gate an hour early with the tide still ebbing quite
strongly. The ebb stream against the westerly breeze created for some
uncomfortable short seas, but nothing to worry about. At a little after four
we once more lost the wind, having now fallen under the lee of the Marin
Peninsular, and we found ourselves drifting backwards with the tide. By this
time the Golden Gate Bridge stood clearly before us, and, not wishing to
drift around in the sloppy seas, a navigational hazard to the shipping
coming in and out of one of the world's major ports, I flashed up the BRM to
motor the remaining distance into the harbour of this iconic city.

At 5.10 we passed under the famous bridge, its towers standing dark and
gothic, and its huge span suspended high overhead, but, nonetheless, like
the stars on a clear night, looking close enough to reach up and touch.
Sylph's mast looked like it would barely pass underneath, but this is of
course an illusion as we had some 170 feet of clearance above Sylph's
insignificant fifty feet of mast. We continued up the northern shoreline,
Sylph gliding quietly over the now smooth seas, with just the quiet hum of
the BRM turning slowly over down below. The odd sea gull seemed to hang
floating in a pool of shadow and light thrown down from the bridge, only
reassuring me that we were not in fact hanging in space when they took to
flight as Sylph's approach disturbed their somnolence. RC, as is his wont
when the engine is running, was curled up behind me sleeping in the cockpit.
We crept our way up the unfamiliar harbour. A couple of small boats,
presumably working craft, shone their annoyingly bright lights in my eyes as
they passed, destroying my night vision and adding to the challenge of
finding our way in the dark. But we did not have far to go, and had the ever
faithful GPS to show us the way to our chosen anchorage. We slowly motored
up the narrow channel into into the shallows of Richardson Bay, just to the
north of the suburb of Sausalito, recommended as an anchorage by my friends
on board the Muktuk, and, at 6.10, dropped the anchor in three meters of
water amongst the other sail boats at anchor in the bay.

I secured the foredeck, tidied Sylph up a little, and then, just as the
orange glow of dawn was showing on the horizon, fell into my bunk for a few
hours sleep.

All is well.