It's a huge anchorage, protected from the prevailing NW winds. I've anchored there a half-dozen times, usually for a long weekend, and we always seem to have a marine
layer overhead. Let's put it this way, at Drakes, the wind generator
does more charging
than the solar panels
. I've seen bunches of boats drag there. The wind
seems to come up in the middle of the night, and people with inadequate ground tackle pay the price
Some good hiking ashore, especially during the spring wildflower season. My wife likes the trek up to the lighthouse, but it's a fairly vertical hike if all you're used to are flat walks.
Bottom line: there are few anchorages
within a day's sail of SF once you head
out the gate. You can turn south and do Half Moon Bay, or turn north and do Drakes Bay. Given the lack of better options, it's a good option.
Regarding the best route
, we usually take the Bonita channel. You'll find it on the Gulf of the Farallones chart. (18645) The Bonita Channel will take you inside of Fourfathom Bank. A lot less shipping
traffic that way than if you take the Main Ship Channel all the way out.
If there's no fog
and there's good wind
for a spinnaker
run, some folks like to return by looping around the Farralones. Makes for a long sail, but it's gorgeous when the conditions are favorable.
For me, Drakes Bay has always been more of a late spring or early fall sail. It can be rough in the winter, and foggy in the summer.