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Old 24-03-2018, 18:42   #1
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Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Looks like I will be skippering a day sail out of the Berkeley Marina next weekend, looking for any local knowledge as far as good destinations / routes to shoot for, spots to avoid, anything else locals might think is good for an out of towner to know beforehand.

Details are this will be a family sail (my wife and I who sail out of Bellingham, WA, haven't sailed on the Bay before; and my brother's family including 10 & 13 year old children who are getting interested in sailing but very little overall sailing experience among them) so we're not looking to get pounded while burying the rail, just looking for a nice cruise, see some sights, let the kids behind the helm a bit etc.

Too far out yet for reliable forecast but looks like nice weather and probably lighter winds. High tide is 1PM so we'll have the flood in the morning and the ebb in the afternoon.

Brother is pushing for all three bridges, I'm a little leary of taking the family crew out to the Golden Gate (commercial traffic, Racoon Straits wind against current, we'd most likely be fighting the flood out and possibly the ebb back) but maybe I'm being too conservative here?

So any little local tidbits would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

-- Bass
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Old 24-03-2018, 19:02   #2
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

If there is any breeze, the Slot can be a wet, bumpy place to sail. Your brother's plan has you spending a lot of time there. Maybe head south under the Bay Bridge, do some of the City front and maybe a run down the Estuary?
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Old 24-03-2018, 19:09   #3
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Given the nature and number of your crew, I would recommend a little less ambitious itinerary, and be open to amending it according to weather conditions.
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Old 24-03-2018, 19:28   #4
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

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Originally Posted by fstbttms View Post
If there is any breeze, the Slot can be a wet, bumpy place to sail. Your brother's plan has you spending a lot of time there. Maybe head south under the Bay Bridge, do some of the City front and maybe a run down the Estuary?
Forgive my ignorance, despite reading Latitude 38 for years, I'm a little foggy on what exactly is considered "the slot"?

City front had crossed my mind as a good destination, thanks for that recommendation.

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Old 24-03-2018, 20:44   #5
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

The slot is the area between Golden Gate and Berkeley. The prevailing winds are from the west and can be quite strong particularly in the afternoon, and with an ebb current, the water will be very rough. But conditions can vary significantly. For instance, in the photo below the boat is heading SE in Raccoon Strait with the burgee showing wind coming from the east. (South side of Angel Island prominent, with Yerba Buena Island, SF, and Bay Bridge in the far background.)
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Old 24-03-2018, 21:27   #6
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Dunno what sort of boat you will be sailing, but i sailed those waters for some years in a Catalina 22, with kids and guests at times. Did the "three island tour: (Emeryville, around Yerba Buana, up city front, around Alcatraz and then Angel, back to Emeryville) countless times and seldom found it too bad, even in a trailer sailor. Raced there in SYRA too, but not with non-sailing guests on board. A more competent boat would make it more enjoyable, as we found in later years!

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Old 24-03-2018, 21:58   #7
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

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Dunno what sort of boat you will be sailing, but i sailed those waters for some years in a Catalina 22, with kids and guests at times. Did the "three island tour: (Emeryville, around Yerba Buana, up city front, around Alcatraz and then Angel, back to Emeryville) countless times and seldom found it too bad, even in a trailer sailor. Raced there in SYRA too, but not with non-sailing guests on board. A more competent boat would make it more enjoyable, as we found in later years!

Jim
Thanks Jim... Pearson 32 (1979) is the boat, have never sailed one but seems to be good boat for the bay.
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Old 24-03-2018, 22:00   #8
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Typically I beat up to Racoon Strait, eat lunch at Sams in Belvedere (they have a dock) or Ayala Cove at Angel Island, reach across the slot then dead downwind along the San Francisco waterfront past Alcatraz and if I have time under the Bay Bridge and back to Berkeley. Stop by OCSC Sailing in the morning, there will be a bunch of folks milling about, getting ready to sail and they can give you some ideas of best itinerary for that day. Have fun!
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Old 24-03-2018, 22:06   #9
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

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Typically I beat up to Racoon Strait, eat lunch at Sams in Belvedere (they have a dock) or Ayala Cove at Angel Island, reach across the slot then dead downwind along the San Francisco waterfront past Alcatraz and if I have time under the Bay Bridge and back to Berkeley. Stop by OCSC Sailing in the morning, there will be a bunch of folks milling about, getting ready to sail and they can give you some ideas of best itinerary for that day. Have fun!
Sounds like right now I should only pass under the Bay Bridge West of Treasure Island because of construction, true?
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Old 24-03-2018, 22:09   #10
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Spring winds are often pretty mild and you're going to be fighting the flood until probably 3 PM, so expect some motoring. Also expect squirrelly currents because of the rain we've been having lately and the runoff. With kids and sailing, it's best not to overwhelm them so plan for a quick escape back to the barn if they're getting cranky. Here's one possible itinerary explained from your perspective as you're leaving Berkeley. Leave from the southern (deeper) entrance and follow the Berkeley Pier all the way to the red marker buoy marking its end. Don't cut across the pier - very dangerous. Turn left (south) once you get past the pier and head toward Treasure Island/Yerba Buena. Tell them about the history of the man-made part of TI against the back drop of the natural island. Then pass under the Bay Bridge (now THE coolest bridge on the bay) and around the other side of YBI where the Coast Guard station is (mind your distance from their cutter). Tucked around in the southeast corner is a super nice little lighthouse just next to the Bay Bridge, which you can't actually see if you're driving. Port of Oakland is to your left. You can tell them about how the Star Wars' At-At Walkers were inspired by the cranes at the port (apparently, it's an urban myth, but they don't need to know this). Head across the way toward the city front and AT&T park where the Giants play. Many a sailor has enjoyed a party in McCovy Cove listening to a rock concert or having their boat show up on the ball park's web cam. If you hug the shore up toward San Francisco, you can catch the counter current, which all the racers use on the bay to help them sail up against what is often 5 knots of flood. You'll pass Pier 41 with the sea lions, Giradelli's chocolates, Crissy Field, Golden Gate Yacht Club (with the sea pipe organ at the end of the breakwater) and the Civil War-era Fort Point, which never saw battle. All of this is deep water until you get close to Crissy Field so you can start veering out at that point. Stay to the north side of the South Tower and take a quick jaunt under the bridge. It's a must do. People pay good money just to have said they sailed under the GGB and it really is iconic. If it's really calm, you can venture to Point Bonita Light and back. Mind the ship traffic and know where the lanes are. Everyone crosses and uses the lanes, especially in big sea state and adverse current, so have an ear to 14 and listen for when the ships are heading in or out. You can then head back toward Alcatraz, and do a tour around this very cool island, but know where Little Alcatraz Rock is because it has caused the quick sinking of boats. One not too long ago when I was out with my son. Otherwise, it's deep all around. Keep an eye on the ferries going in and out of there, as well as the ones crossing from Sausalito. From Alcatraz you can skim the east side of Angel Island. I might go the long way around staring near Tiburon to see the most coveted real estate in the area. This is also Raccoon Straits. Not much to worry about through here except it gets shallow on the Tiburon side and current are really crazy next to Angel Island. There's lots of interesting history about Angel Island and the unfortunate Japanese-American internment camp they had there. If you have time and it's not too surgy, stop at the docks there ($15 fee) and run off a bit of energy on the hiking trails. Return to Berkeley (mind the shallows between Richmond and Berkeley) or run up to Three Brothers Lighthouse (and B&B) on the other side of the Richmond Bridge. Don't go between the islands and stay a ways off the Richmond Long Wharf. If you do all that, it would be a very full day! PM me if you want greater details. I love taking folks out like this. Hope the weather is good. More than likely you won't have to worry about wind in the slot (an imaginary line drawn between Berkeley Marina and the GGB). The crazy sailing conditions are usually just in the summer when the wind funnels off the cold Pacific water and is energized by the heat of the surrounding hills. Not to say it won't happen, it's just less likely than in June. Hope you have a grand time!!
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Old 24-03-2018, 22:17   #11
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

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Sounds like right now I should only pass under the Bay Bridge West of Treasure Island because of construction, true?
I'm pretty sure construction is finished there. Be aware that the closer you get toward the Berkeley side, the shallower it gets....
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Old 24-03-2018, 22:43   #12
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Lat 38 has repeatedly published their recommended Tour of The Bay: Counterclockwise from Berkeley, up to and around Angel Island and/or Sausalito, beam reach across the gate, down the Cityfront and back home either way around Yerba Buena/TI. It's a great tour and easy if you start early so the pm winds are behind you.

I sailed there from 1978 to 2016 out of Alameda.
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Old 25-03-2018, 15:57   #13
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Thanks all, great replies as usual on CF, much appreciated... now have two good plan A's (clockwise or counterclockwise) depending on timing etc, and looks to be plenty of plan B's out there if the wind is piping up we'll just stay out of the slot.

Thanks again.

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Old 25-03-2018, 15:58   #14
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Suggested the grand loop route, assuming the wind is supportive: Start early, head around Angel Island / Ayala Cove great walks on that beautiful island which I enjoyed camping and riding bicycles, thence Tiburon / Belvedere, Sausalito, Fort Baker, Golden Gate, SF Marina, Fisherman's Wharf, under the SF side of the Bay Bridge, around Yerba Buena Island, under the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge back to Berkeley marina. For a first time day trip I would skip the Richmond / San Rafael bridge / Richmond excursion north as it is not quite as scenic as the central parts of the Bay, albeit I spent many a summer day up in the Delta but that was for water skiing, freshwater clamming and beer drinking, not sailing. Hope you have a wonderful time with family and that the weather is warmish, the Bay can be cold, wind, wet and foggy, the no joy days. The current can be challenging, I recall we once drifted about seven miles out to sea with an ebbing tide as the motor was not functioning properly and the wind was gentle and offshore, but then returned with the flood tide, much, much later than we had expected to return; time spent sipping wine and telling stories, figuring we could always ask for a tow. I new a commercial fishing boat captain that would be headed back from his daily charter that would do us a favor if we asked.
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Old 25-03-2018, 17:29   #15
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Re: Day sail out of Berkeley... advice?

Weather prediction is good for next weekend, but the currents are just opposite of ideal. I think many of the replies have suggested a fairly strenuous or ambitious itinerary, but my suggestion is to get to Ayala cove first, by about 10AM so you can get a spot at the pier and have lunch there. For non-sailors and children, they will get pretty bored if you spend the whole day under way.

Often I've planned to spend only an hour or so at Angel Island but then my guests wanted to hike to the top or around all the way. If you manage to leave there by 3 you'll still have time for crossing the Bay to the City front and then home. The point is to have a good time and not try to see everything there is in one pass.

The slot is actually just the area between Alcatraz and Angel Island. Either upwind or downwind more than a few hundred yards away from the slot, the wind and seas are not so boisterous. In an ebb, if there is strong sea breeze and you have a green crew, you may want to avoid it and pass to the south of Alcatraz.
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