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Old 01-09-2020, 15:00   #1
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Planning a San Fran Bay Cruise this fall

Although we've sailed on the Bay quite a bit in the past, moored at Angel Is, we have never really poked about in it otherwise. Now, having ascended to 80 years each, planning a motor cruise on 33' Swan Song out of Monterey the end of this Sept./early Oct. when N-Westerlies lay down a bit.

First leg the 60 or so nm's to Half Moon Bay we know well, then the 25 or so to the Golden Gate timed with flooding tide, to an overnight anchorege off Sausalito. Beyond that, who knows?

With our 2.5' draft, 13' air draft, and 9-10kt cruising speed we have a lot of options, and are thinking of exploring the Napa and Petaluma Rivers, and poss. Sacramento/San Joaquin river delta area in a 2-3 week or more time frame. Also the possibility of Drake's Bay for a day or two, and/or Tomales Bay, where we've been by land.

We've got the extraordinarily informative current ('15) Mehaffeys' cruising guide to the Bay, but some overall guidance and favorite spots would be appreciated! We will be primarily boat-bound and unfortunately not planning on any shoreside dining or other than an occasional stroll-about in these days of Covid-19..."too late smart, too soon dead"...
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Old 01-09-2020, 15:48   #2
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Re: Planning a San Fran Bay Cruise this fall

I lived and cruised SF Bay for about 10 years. The Bay itself is more or less day cruising. South Beach Harbor near the ball park is a good spot for a guest berth for a few days to explore the city if you're so inclined. Farmers Market at the Ferry Bldg, venture further down towards fisherman's wharf to the maritime museum, etc. Good access to the city from South Beach.

Drakes Bay is awe inspiring. But it's pretty remote and desolate. You could head north to Tomales Bay, but too is pretty spartan.

Prettiest anchorage in the Bay is Clipper Cove at Treasure Island. Difficult to get off your boat there but it's a really relaxing anchorage.

Jack London Square on the Oakland side of the Alameda Estuary is another nice day stop. My info is dated so check Active Captain, but they used to have short term Docks and a Saturday farmers market and several decent restaurants within easy walking distance.

For anchoring in the bay, we enjoyed China Camp. Shallow water and currents run strong, but a cute shoreside museum of how the Chinese fisherman used to life and earn a living. There are also many nice trails nearby. We preferred Petaluma to Napa but do check access - silting has been a problem. Not even sure you can all the way to Petaluma anymore.

But if I had 2 weeks in SF Bay, I'd head up the Delta. Once north of Rio Vista, the towns get smaller and the water gets narrower. Benecia is a good stop along the way. Our favorite towns were Locke and we also like Rio Vista. Sacramento has city Docks that are very convenient, but it's a long way and you must time tides/currents. We found many side sloughs along the way where we'd tie up beneath a cottonwood and just read. It's not beautiful or anything, but it sort of crept under our skin over time.

Hal Schell wrote the definitive cruising guide to The Delta. He passed away many years ago and unfortunately his book is long out of print. But it has many stories and historical facts. If you can find a copy, even at a premium, you will enjoy it if you head up the Delta.

Good luck. And I look forward to other contributions.

Peter
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Old 02-09-2020, 10:36   #3
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Re: Planning a San Fran Bay Cruise this fall

Thanks so much, Peter! Clipper Cove it will be for our our first night or two in the Bay - great protection, and not much current possible, and we'll check out Jack London Square. I see in Mchaffys' guide that a free phone permit is required for >24hrs - up to 96hr.

About the rivers, probably just the Peteluma and maybe the lower half of Napa. I read about a motor cruiser losing both props and a strut in the upper, between Green 23 and 25 recently. Strayed just a bit from the line and hit the submerged dredged channel edge full of rock and debris. Fixed up in Napa, which apparently has a steady flow of similar casualties!

Found Schell's book used for $55 on Amazon, looks like a "must have" and have ordered it.

Thanks again, PeterB
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Old 02-09-2020, 15:20   #4
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Re: Planning a San Fran Bay Cruise this fall

Mind the tidal height and hug the side near the pier and TISC. Depending on what you draw, make sure to go through that low spot only with at least a +1' over low tide and that it's rising....

Once you're in, it's a great spot in one of the most amazing bays in the world. Have fun!

Oh nevermind. I see you draw 2.5 feet. You're golden!
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Old 02-09-2020, 18:06   #5
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Re: Planning a San Fran Bay Cruise this fall

Quote:
Originally Posted by PineyWoodsPete View Post
Thanks so much, Peter! Clipper Cove it will be for our our first night or two in the Bay - great protection, and not much current possible, and we'll check out Jack London Square. I see in Mchaffys' guide that a free phone permit is required for >24hrs - up to 96hr.

About the rivers, probably just the Peteluma and maybe the lower half of Napa. I read about a motor cruiser losing both props and a strut in the upper, between Green 23 and 25 recently. Strayed just a bit from the line and hit the submerged dredged channel edge full of rock and debris. Fixed up in Napa, which apparently has a steady flow of similar casualties!

Found Schell's book used for $55 on Amazon, looks like a "must have" and have ordered it.

Thanks again, PeterB
Hal Schell book is a throw back to the golden age of travel books. Sprinkled with history and stories, it's a good read whether you go to the Delta or not. For us, it transformed the Delta from a ditch running in agricultural lands into an adventure. I called him a few years before he passed and discussed the need for an updated version of the book. It would have been a fun project.

Get a good map of the Delta (not a chart, but an old fashioned map) and resist the pull of your chart plotter and observe the water and banks.

For Treasure Island, definitely hug the old navy pier on entry - as in within 50 feet. There is shoal water towards Yerba Buena Island. Not a difficult entrance, but it snags a boat every so often. I kept my boat at TI for almost 25 years so know it well, at least until 2 years ago. My wife and I used to putter 300 yards from our slip to anchor in clipper cove, often for entire weekends. Sort of like camping in your back yard. On one of first "dates" I took her out for a sunset sail and the engine stalled in Clipper Cove so we anchored while I figured it out (I had mistakenly shut off a fuel valve). She joked for years that I tried the old trick of running out of gas so I could make-out with her.

Fastest way to Clipper Cove is direct to North end of island, but if you have the time and currents are too adverse, circle the south end. There is a nice seal rookery just south of the Bay Bridge, and the old USCG commandant house is on the extreme south side of the island and just gorgeous. You will pass the USCG Station just before entering clipper cove. As mentioned above, do not turn into the cove until you are abeam the old pier on the north end of the cove.

Angel island has a few anchorages in addition to the mooring field at Ayala. Currents are a problem but workable with decent ground tackle.

I hope I haven't over-hyped the trip. All I can say is we really enjoyed our 10 years of exploring the Bay. We followed our nose and had a great time. I hope you have a great time.

Peter
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