Last weekend, we took the boat out for the first time in four months. She has new rigging that Tom strung up himself, and we wanted to see how she handled with three sails and a slight pounding from the Bay. My friend Lacey was along, so we stocked up on beers and ingredients to make chili.
“Maybe we’ll play some games,” Lacey said as we got ready that morning.
I imagined the smooth San Pablo Bay, the long stretches before having to tack or jibe. Games and beer, how nice, I thought. Too bad it’s not a bright sunny day.
I wanted to see Alcatraz and go on the Golden Gate Bridge side of Angel Island. We crossed underneath the Richmond bridge with no problem at all, two sails up, heading smoothly toward our destination. It was calm enough to crack some beers, eat some chips and salsa.
But then, everything changed. The waters became choppy, the wind strong and irregular. We had to turn the boat’s direction every few minutes, tacking and jibing. The boat leaned far over, the furthest she’s ever heeled under the power of the wind. And I couldn’t stop smiling.
The waters became even choppier near Angel Island and we saw the spray from whitecaps. This was where current converged with tide, and boy, the going was rough. It was also prime sailing territory, and boats of all shapes and sizes whizzed past, some tipping so far over that the crew had to use body weight to keep it aloft. I was glad to have a full-keeled cruiser beneath me, one that wouldn’t tip under the weight of the sails.
Lacey and I forgot about games. She went down below right as the boat began to lurch and bob as we hit the craziest stretch, and she didn’t feel quite right for the rest of the day. I started to yearn for the peaceful waters of San Pablo Bay, where I could have focused more on my chili than racing down below to stir every five minutes, add an ingredient five minutes later. It seemed to take hours to make that darn chili, as we were so busy adjusting the sails.
That part of the Bay was pure excitement for me. We could see the Golden Gate Bridge, Pac Heights, Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco. I loved being in the crush of boats and the high winds. I wanted to batten down the hatches even more and fly under the Golden Gate and out into the open ocean. But the boat needs a few more things before we can head out there, like fuel tanks that hold dozens of gallons of diesel. I loved the excitement of sailing, even though we weren’t really going all that fast.
The next day after Lacey left, we took the sailboat out again, this time to the much more tranquil San Pablo Bay. I think next time someone is new to sailing, that is where we will go. You can relax into your chairs there and whip out the games and beer, and have a lot more time to make a kick-ass pot of chili.
Sailing these past couple days makes me so excited to see what the future holds. I can’t wait to take the boat past beautiful islands in California and Canada, down to Mexico to lounge around the Sea of Cortez. With a sailboat, the world really is our oyster.