Fair Weather Sailors

We’ve been spending this week anchored in San Fransisco’s Aquatic Cove Park. It’s front and center to all the tourist attractions in the area, has a killer night time view,  and I thought it would be a protected anchorage. Laugh. Out. Loud. There is no such thing as a ‘protected’ anchorage in this area, and that’s something we’ve had to become accustomed to. The wind is pretty much constant here, and even though there is a sea wall around this cove, at high tide the water comes over the wall and you still get the wallowing from all the ships passing through. Nevertheless, it’s a great place to jump off from to go see things like the beautiful Victorian houses in the Alamo Park area, the crooked Lombard Street, and yesterday, Chinatown.

We’ve been wondering when we’re going to be leaving the area for points south, a decision that is truly still up for grabs. Only a fortune teller would be able to see into the future far enough to predict that. So I was very relieved to find a Chinese fortune teller in the form of a mechanical Confucius on the street on the main Chinatown drag. For only one simple dollar, Confucius would tell my fortune. I could not resist. I placed the dollar in his machine and his orb began to glow, his mouth began to move. My fortune went something like this:

“When it is obvious that the goal cannot be reached, do not adjust the goal, adjust the action steps. If you wish more wisdom from Confucius kindly relieve yourself of more of your monetary burden.”

Well. Okay then. I was sorely tempted to put another dollar in his tiny machine slot (even though I don’t find the having of money to be distressingly burdensome), but Mike, always the grown up, stayed my hand. Also, he had the cash. But really, I got what I came to Chinatown to get: the answer to our ‘when do we leave’ conundrum. I’ve been kind of itching to get going because I want to be warm and out of the wind. I’ve assumed that meant we needed to get further south. However, we are not going to reach our goal of going further south anytime in the very near future. Clearly we must adjust our action steps.

So that leads me to one way we make our decisions about when and where to go. We have a subscription to Predict Wind and we use that on Mike’s Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet. We’ve been mostly happy overall with Predict Wind’s performance, although it has not been 100% accurate. We have found ourselves in much more wind than predicted. During a particularly nasty night in Sausalito we were awakened in the wee morning hours by winds that were clearly over 30 knots with gusts even higher. As our anchorage neighbor informed us he had put out 300 feet of chain (in a water depth of about 12 feet), we spent the rest of the night with our engine running keeping Galapagos steered away from his boat. I prefer to forget that night. That little weather system was not registered on Predict Wind at all. But the following day, when the winds kicked up strongly again, we could see that action with the software. By that time we’d had enough of Sausalito and moved on. I was beginning to see a pattern there.


Anyway, we can also use Predict Wind with one of the computers with Open CPN software, which gives us a better picture of where we are in relation to the weather patterns we are seeing on the screen. This software helped us avoid big winds during our passage, and helped us find enough wind to sail in as well.

Lately we haven’t been happy with what it’s showing us for our next passage. It’s predicting winds of 35 knots or better until at least next Thursday. Since it’s also showing us 14 foot swells, we’ve decided we’re not going to leave yet. We’ll have to ‘adjust our steps’.

Do you see all those white caps. Because…wind.

In search of warmer weather, less wind, and more settled water, we’ll adjust our steps by going inland a bit, toward the Sacramento River Delta. We need to do a repair on our headsail furler and also put up some lazy jacks for the mizzen sail. (Lazy Jacks are a system of lines that guide the sail and contain it when you lower the sail. They keep the sail from flopping around dangerously.) We also need to raise our mainsail and get those sail slugs back in the track like they should be. All these tasks are better done in less wind than we have here.

One more day in the windy anchorage next to the city. If you’re in San Fransisco, just skip the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream down by the waterfront and go directly to Salt and Straw. It’s off the tourist path, even better, but the ice cream is AMAZING! Just go.

S/V Galapagos Out.


22 thoughts on “Fair Weather Sailors

    • Hi Melissa and Mike:
      That is all sounding very familiar. In our log on Oct. 3, 1987 we pulled anchor in windy, cold SF Bay and continued up the Sacramento River and branched off into the San Joaquin River past Pittsburgh and Antiock, into False River and anchored in Fisherman’s Cut. Water was about 70F, great swimming, no wind – temperature around 100F. We spent about four blissful days wandering through the myriad of sloughs, cutting some turns too close and having to kedge off. Interesting area and a great break.
      Enjoying your blog – brings back lots of memories

      • It’s so cool to have you reading along and reflecting back on your own time on this boat! We hope to pull up to the guest dock in Pittsburgh today, if there is room. Already it’s a relief to have warmer wind and flatter water. We slept very good last night!

    • Oh, I’m sure that Confucius’ wisdom would go on and on! I just love the way they said it, though. So far, I’ve found that lots of people in San Fransisco try to find interesting ways to relieve people of their money. Many of them ‘in your face’. Dislike.

    • In our home cruising grounds, local weather is everything. And the forecasts are frequently wrong because things change quickly. An accurate forecast is, indeed, the holy grail of cruising. I guess the take home is to always be prepared for the forecast to be wrong, one way or another!

  1. Isn’t predictwind computer-model generated (ie no human expertise added)? If so, these models don’t do well with local topograghy, etc. What does NOAA-NWS indicate:
    PZZ545-170515- Point Reyes To Pigeon Point To 10 nm-
    152 PM PDT Sat Sep 16 2017

    TONIGHT NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 4 to 6 ft at 8 seconds. Patchy fog after midnight.
    SUN NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 5 to 7 ft at 8 seconds. Patchy fog in the morning.
    SUN NIGHT NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 5 to 7 ft at 8 seconds. Patchy fog after midnight.
    MON NW winds 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. NW swell 4 to 6 ft at 8 seconds. Patchy fog in the morning.
    MON NIGHT NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. NW swell 6 to 8 ft at 8 seconds.
    TUE NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 8 to 10 ft.
    WED NW winds 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 4 to 6 ft. NW swell 7 to 9 ft.
    THU NW winds 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 7 to 9 ft.

    I agree that NOAA-NWS tends to underpredict (add 5 knts) (in contrast to Environment Canada that overpredicts in the Summer).

    Monday looks good. Gets you down to Pillar Pt (Half Moon Bay), which has well-protected docks and decent anchorage. Nice walking etc in area.

    • We certainly do listen to (or read since that’s actually easier) the local weather forecasts when we are cruising in coastal waters. We’re going to enjoy the river for a few days and then take a look. We likely will stop by Pillar Pt. We’ve heard it’s very nice!

  2. It was nice to meet you finally, even if I was hanging onto my bowsprit trying to connect my Mantas anchor snubber on. I agree with you about Aquatic Park and the rolly anchorage. Our Tayana 37 Slow Motion seems to move even when the wind isn’t blowing. We will move over to a marina in Alameda for a couple of days to get some things done and wait for the next weather window ourselves. Hope to see you down the coast or in Mexico.

    • Curt,

      Sorry we couldn’t have visited a bit more before we left. Aquatic Park is a great place for visiting the city but it sure can be uncomfortable. We spent just enough time there to be tired of the city.

      We are now at a slip in the Pittsburgh Marina for three days. It is very quiet and a welcome respite from our nearly four months of anchoring out. The moorage is super cheap too; 50 cents a foot!

      We will keep an eye out for slow motion and visit when you aren’t hanging off of the bowsprit.

  3. I was trying to picture Aquatic Cove Park and pulled it up on Google Maps. The aerial shot shows the breakwater has a wide pedestrian walk way on it. Waves were getting over that??
    Most of the photos of the water make it look quite calm, but I guess you were there at a particularly windy time.

    • The waves were not over the walkway, which is above the actual breakwater. The breakwater is underneath the walkway and waves were coming over that. The water is, of course, way calmer than it is outside the park. But on that day it was pretty rough, even inside that breakwater. Still a pretty great place to anchor and explore San Fransisco.

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