Sarafina is right. That stretch of Ocean Beach periodically claims folks who get inside the surf line--almost an annual event. The surf line is offshore
at varying distances depending on the winds and wave heights and where you are along the shore. I have had a close call there myself while nearly 2 miles off shore. Problem is that the waves get suddenly steeper as you move up the coast toward the SF Bar and the Gate and then you notice they are breaking inside of your course. You think you are OK, but as you continue North, they start breaking further offshore and with more force as you go over the SF Bar. It is easy to sail right into a trough and have the waves break over you. Once you are in it--it is easy to imagine how things go to hell as you get pounded in the surf on your beam--eventually up on the beach. I would say 3 miles is a minimum in anything other than flat calm. Plotting a course to turn in to the Bay at the first channel marker seems like a prudent thing. In really heavy weather
and big seas, I think the only safe thing is to stay way out and enter the Bar at the main SF Buoy and take the whole channel in--staying out of the way of the heavy traffic. It is one of the most dangerous places I know because the situation can get bad so quickly as you move North and in OK weather
and sea conditions.
Also agree that we single
handers have to be fastidious with safety
lines. I confess I am not consistent, except at night, and that makes no sense. No one is going to pick you up in time in the daytime either. You just have a better view of your boat as it sails
away from you. I can imagine that the cozy cockpit
of that International Folkboat
is very reassuring, perhaps too much so. Experience can make us more cautious or more of risk takers. The boats always seem to make it, the sailors do not.
Sobering stories to us old guys. Thinking about the great luck we have had when we have taken chances.