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Old 26-02-2016, 23:31   #16
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Mark - First, what an outstanding resolution! Sometimes when we've felt crowded or hemmed in on the Bay we've found really satisfying sailing outside the Gate.

Your plan of heading out around low slack is a reasonable one, but it's a compromise. One issue with the sea-state around the Gate and the bar is when current is opposed to the wind and swell, and that is almost always during the ebb. A strong ebb against winds with much west in them can set up nasty standing waves mid-channel, especially abeam Point Diablo but to seaward, too. These persist for awhile, eventually laying down after the flood is well-established, so that, all things being equal, the flattest water can be expected just before and at high slack. So some say high slack is the best time to be between the bridge and Point Bonita and Point Lobos. But for you that's not optimal because you want to go back home in a few hours, and don't want to fight an ebb under the bridge. So unless you're headed for the Marquesas (or Half Moon Bay), low slack works because conditions are more likely to improve than deteriorate.

Either way, you can work the eddies around Bonita Cove to the north and what's called on the charts "South Bay" to the south. Inside Points Bonita and Lobos, if you don't like the current mid-channel, then you'll like the eddies to the north and south. There's plenty of sailing in there.

Seaward of Mile Rock, like scotty c-m, I sail just outside the ship channel - either to the north or south, depending on which side allows me to avoid crossing the channel to get where I'm going. Only when you're crossing the bar between marks 3 & 4 and 7 & 8 will the depth go much less than 50 feet at low tide.

Coming back in, I give the South Tower a wide berth and I never consider going between the South Tower and Fort Point. If you have an adverse current, you might find better water to the north.

One last thing: jack-lines and tethers. We treat going forward in these cold waters as seriously as anywhere in the world we've sailed. Conditions can change fast and you might need to go forward to reef or deal with some snafu. I can't think of any good reason not to be clipped in. We also keep the drop-boards installed.

Oh and I keep a pocket full of lollipops to distribute to my actually young son and otherwise young-at-heart crew to commemorate passing under the bridge.

Your original question was about day-sailing, but I agree with those that like the overnight at Half Moon Bay. Anchor out in Pillar Point Harbor and heat up some soup! Getting there I avoid the South Channel, too. I was once caught in exactly the situation scotty c-m described: tide falling and seas rising all around. I go out to 70 feet or so before I turn south.

The "Tidal Current Charts, San Francisco Bay" are useful. I don't know if they're still in print, but you can download them here:
https://ia902608.us.archive.org/17/i...rts_SF_Bay.pdf

Maybe see you out there.

Seth
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Old 26-02-2016, 23:58   #17
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Concur with most of what has been said, but nobody mentioned: Do not go past Mile Rock/Pt Bonita if there is a forecast of big south wind (usually associated with incoming winter storm). We did the infamous double-handed Lightbucket race in, what was it the 1980s? when several boats and lives were lost after being driven up on the shore to north of Pt. Bonita. The wind was predicted first at 30 so we went on out, but eventually got to 55kts that day. Fact that we had no GPS didn't help either.
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Old 27-02-2016, 09:54   #18
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Brings back memories of the infamous double handed Farallons race in 1982. The Farallon islands are about 25 miles outside the Golden Gate, and it was a long slog back against the wind. As said, when we left they forecast 30k. Coming home the anemometer was pegged at 60 knots, but that was apparent wind. The boat owner was bloody useless with seasickness, and I had to lash him in the cockpit. The most interesting part was going back under the bridge, where it was almost calm in the bay--nothing out of the ordinary except a CG cutter doing figure 8's under the bridge--they were not letting anyone else out into the ocean.
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Old 27-02-2016, 10:01   #19
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Kimball calls it The Demon of the South Tower.

Stay away, very far away, from it.
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Old 27-02-2016, 11:17   #20
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

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Originally Posted by Chuck Hawley View Post
Interestingly enough, I did a life raft test in the same area, on a 57' boat. What are the chances? I have fond memories of sailing under the GG Bridge in a 10' Tinker Dinghy with only a jib flying. That was awe inspiring! Ray, you were a good influence!

(Damn; would normally insert image of Tinker Dinghy, but cannot figure out UI of this forum. It's a good shot, too.)

And, back to the point, I think that you can experiment without a high degree of concern on virtually any day that doesn't have extreme currents or a high sea running. Stay in the channel(s), watch for shipping traffic (monitor Ch 14), keep your eyes open, and have fun.

Chuck

So you were part of that ?94 west marine and was it CCA? test of the tinker vs a life raft? ☺️



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Old 27-02-2016, 12:37   #21
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

IIRC, the demon of the south tower is the wind eddy off of it. The reason to not come back in between the south tower and Ft. Point is that there is a rock there. One of my skippers thumped it when i was aboard.

JUST DON'T GO THERE!
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Old 27-02-2016, 12:56   #22
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Too true, Ann. The Demon I mentioned was because of the swirling winds. I completely forgot about NOT sailing between the S tower & Ft. Point. Silly me, I thought folks would look at charts!!! Thanks for mentioning it.
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Old 27-02-2016, 13:06   #23
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Everyone- This is absolutely the best discussion of the Golden Gate entry problem that I have seen. Every sailor new to the Bay should have a chance to read this. For myself I now wonder why I have had so little trouble when crossing using South Channel (where there is no channel)? It must be because I was going when the wind was light (usually from SW) and the water was nearly flat.
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Old 27-02-2016, 16:19   #24
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

OMG!!! jseth just put on the link to the current chart of SF Bay!!! I have an original copy given to me from my dad in the 1960s. It has the BEST current charts of SF Bay that I have ever seen. I didn't know it was on the internet (silly me!). If you have not downloaded it, do so now. I can't believe how cool this is. This is really big. Thanks jseth.

https://ia902608.us.archive.org/17/i...rts_SF_Bay.pdf
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Old 27-02-2016, 16:25   #25
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Agree. This is a great discussion. Jseth also brings up a really important point about tethering. I'd add that crotch straps for the PFD are equally valuable offshore that practically no one uses in the bay. If you haven't already jumped in a pool or calm water with your PFD on and tried to breath with it squeezed around your neck (never mind in thrashing, tumbling breakers and trying to swim), you'll quickly appreciate the use of the straps.
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Old 27-02-2016, 16:34   #26
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Quote:
Originally Posted by jseth View Post
The "Tidal Current Charts, San Francisco Bay" are useful. I don't know if they're still in print, but you can download them here:
https://ia902608.us.archive.org/17/i...rts_SF_Bay.pdf

Maybe see you out there.

Seth
Nicholson 35 "Liberty"
Thanks. For those who may not know, these charts are also available in the back of the little tide & current books handed out at most chandleries in the Bay Area. For free. Of course. WM charges 99 cents.
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Old 01-03-2016, 17:46   #27
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

Kame Richards,owner of Pineapple Sails, is the most knowledgeable person I know of for Tides and currents in and outside SF Bay. He usually gives a couple talks a year somewhere in the area, my favourite is when it's at the Bay Model in Sausalito.
<http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=sgtisacab&oeidk=a07e7arc7kz64f35eda>
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Old 01-03-2016, 18:05   #28
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

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Kame Richards,owner of Pineapple Sails, is the most knowledgeable person I know of for Tides and currents in and outside SF Bay. He usually gives a couple talks a year somewhere in the area, my favourite is when it's at the Bay Model in Sausalito.
<http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=sgtisacab&oeidk=a07e7arc7kz64f35eda>
The Bay Model is a truly wonderful resource. Anyone in the Bay area who has not been there should try and make it. You can walk around a 1 acre model of the bay in which the tide cycles at 16 minutes. Absolutely fascinating and highly informative. Not to mention that it is free to attend.
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Old 01-03-2016, 19:02   #29
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

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Originally Posted by scotty c-m View Post
OMG!!! jseth just put on the link to the current chart of SF Bay!!! I have an original copy given to me from my dad in the 1960s. It has the BEST current charts of SF Bay that I have ever seen. I didn't know it was on the internet (silly me!). If you have not downloaded it, do so now. I can't believe how cool this is. This is really big. Thanks jseth.

https://ia902608.us.archive.org/17/i...rts_SF_Bay.pdf
Scotty - Is it just me, or is this link not working? I've tried different combinations of characters in the link but keep coming up with a page 404 error or "Page Not Found".
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Old 01-03-2016, 19:25   #30
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Re: San Francisco bar conditions and currents

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Scotty - Is it just me, or is this link not working? I've tried different combinations of characters in the link but keep coming up with a page 404 error or "Page Not Found".
Yeah me too, something is wrong with that link, but the original in post 16 is working.
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