NLSC Trip Report

San Francisco Bay Enchants NLSC Sailors in September

By Wayne J. Hokemeir, Trip Chair

I’ve been to San Francisco several times through the years and always had a fun time. So being a sailor, I wanted to sail there.

What a terrific place to sail and visit. It goes to the top 10 of places to sail. Sun, wind, good food, good wine, good boats and fine company. It doesn’t get any better.

Wayne's World: Magnum 44 with Wayne Hokemeir at the helm heads for the Oakland Bay Bridge.

We started our trip from Sausalito, with Atlantis Yacht Charters. We had three boats, a Nordic 44 and a 38-foot Beneteau and a 38-foot Catalina — all in good condition. JoAnne Rizzuti, the Charter Master, did an excellent job of making our trip fun, smooth and safe.

The Nordic 44, Magnum 44, was captained by Wayne Hokemeir. His crew included Norena Hale, Peggy Bergstrom, Betty Lamb, Gloria Werner and John Dahlmeier. The Catalina, Kokomo, was captained by Kim Wright. Her crew included Dan Lockren, Kristin Hanson, Rodney and Shirley Martenson. The Beneteau, Escapade, was captained by Tyler Howell. His crew included Dan DeWeese, Julie Thorndycraft, Marge Collins and Jackie Horner.

Bay Watchers: Most of these sailors left their hats in San Francisco.

We all arrived on Friday, September 6th with the usual rush and excitement of getting gear stored, learning our way around and becoming familiar with our new homes on the water. Happy hour came early in the day and we finished it with dinner at the Cat and the Fiddle overlooking the Sausalito Marina and Bay. Enchanting best describes the scene.

Saturday was more organizing, getting the boats and skippers checked out. A chart talk was hosted by JoAnne and husband, Ernie (who owns the Nordic 44), going over charts and hazards of wind and tide on the San Francisco Bay. Very informative. In the afternoon, we headed out into the Bay. We had 20-plus knots of wind for openers, building through the afternoon, peaking with gusts to 38 knots. We reefed and hung on for a rollicking ride in the afternoon sun, wind and spray in the shadows of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was great sport!

That evening we came back to Sausalito. Docking in 20-knot cross wind is not for the faint hearted but we made it. We walked uptown touring the quaint shops and had dinner at the Spinnaker Restaurant over the water with Alcatraz Island and the city of San Francisco for a back drop. It was thoroughly enchanting!

Sunday morning we headed for Vallejo in the North Bay area (San Pablo Bay) under the Richmond San Rafael Toll Bridge. The sun was bright — no fog, no wind — a quiet motor up the Bay. The tide was running with us; it was really peaceful after our rip roaring afternoon the day before.

Vallejo is a quiet town on the Napa River across from Mares Island Naval Shipyard. A lot of ships and submarines were built there during the W.W. II. The Vallejo Municipal Marina has 809 slips and it seemed no one was using their boats (too late in the season?) It was great for us. We toured the town and some ate at the Water Barge and some at the Sardine Can — an afternoon of music and libations.

Monday morning we headed out on a falling tide. Water was shallow but we made it — heading for a sail in the central Bay — around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. We ended the afternoon in San Francisco at Pier 39 — next to the 300-400 sea lions, the heart of tourist country. The sea lions were noisy but we got used to it. Everyone scattered with so much to see, eat and do and so little time. Dinner for some of us was at Alioto’s Fisherman’s Grotto #9 overlooking the Italian fishing fleet.

Barking loungers: These docks at Pier 39 are crowded with sea lions, which should not be confused with the Italian Fishing Fleet.

The evening ended with a stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf, a ride uptown on the cable cars to Union Square and Irish coffee at Buena Vista.

Tuesday was a non-sailing day so the crews could tour San Francisco. Again, sailors being independent, they scattered with their own plans. Our group took the Gray Line Tour for an overview of everything - Mission Defores, the Haight-Ashbury district, Twin Peaks, the Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden, Presidio across from the Golden Gate Bridge. The date was September 10th and security was heavy with police in pairs on bikes, motorcycles, tow trucks on each end of the bridge, and Coast Guard boats in the waters below. We went on to Muir Woods for a hike among the towering Redwoods. We then had cocktails at the Alta Mira Hotel overlooking Sausalito and the Bay. What a fun day! Dinner was at Neptune's on Pier 39. Another enchanting day.

Wednesday we headed out about 11:00 a.m., and we did some sailing into the lower Bay under the Oakland Bay Bridge and on into the Oakland Alameda Inner Harbor by Scott’s and Jack London Square. There are thousands of boat slips in the area. A boat show was going on and we could hardly find slips. We split the group with two boats at Marina Village (750 slips) and one boat at the Oakland Yacht Club (213 slips). Happy Hour was hosted by Kim and her crew after which we headed en masse to Chevy’s for margaritas and Mexican food.

Thursday we headed back to San Francisco, sailing on the Bay around Alcatraz, dodging the 50- and 70-foot boats in the Rolex Race. It was challenging and exciting! We spent some of the afternoon hiking on Angel Island — which is directly across from Tiburon and Belvedere. Then we went over to South Beach Harbor in the shadow of the Pacific Bell Ballpark, just south of the Oakland Bay Bridge. This was a quiet marina, not far from the center of the financial district. We had dinner at Momo’s and other places.

Potato Patch Kids: The crew of Escapade, skippered by Tyler Howell, pass under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Friday we went back to Sausalito with a quiet morning of light fog coming in over the Golden Gate Bridge. Ferry boats were plying the Bay; container ships coming and going. About halfway to Alcatraz Island a black line came at us across the water — a huge wave. All at once our boat rose up and dropped into the trough of the wave. Green water rushed over the bow of the boat up to the mast and spilled off the side. Then a second wave anddeep trough hit us and green water rushed over the bow to the mast and spilled over the side again. Unfortunately, the front hatch was wide open and about 40 gallons of water dropped down the hatch with each wave.

Where did it come from? Looking behind us we realized a huge container ship had passed in front of us and had turned up the Bay about 20 minutes before the wave hit. Luggage, bedding and pillows were soaked — another lesson to be relearned. Constant vigilance must be observed. We arrived at Sausalito without further problems — messy but unhurt.

It was a great fun trip and as usual, too short. We will have to go back again. It was truly an enchanting area!