3. Down By The Bay – San Francisco

October 2nd – October 11th, 2019

As we passed under the Golden Gate we were welcomed by sunny blue skies and a feeding humpback whale. Our entrance to San Francisco couldn’t have been timed much better and that great timing would continue with us during our amazing 10 day stay in San Francisco Bay. On our way in we got a call from our friend Nick Estvold who had arranged for us to stay at the prestigious St Francis Yacht Club for our first two nights in the city. We were blown away by his generosity and quickly swapped our stinky sailing clothes for our “fanciest” outfits. Nick came down to the boat and we toasted our safe arrival with a Pangea Boat Drink before heading up to the club for dinner.  The next day we walked through Fisherman’s Wharf to catch the ferry to Alameda for lunch with Austin’s brother Gabe and friend Mike Kent.

When it was time to leave the St Francis, we motored less than a mile down the bay to Aquatic Park Cove anchorage. It was amazing to anchor right in the heart of the city. The bay is controlled by the National Park Service and only sailboats are allowed to enter, dodging swimmers as they drop the hook.  A long-curved peer extends around the outside of the bay protecting the 12 or so anchored boats from the majority of the swell from the active shipping traffic. Historic tall ships and a steam powered ferry boat occupy Hyde Street Pier on the other side of the cove. Aquatic Park has a bit of a bad reputation among cruisers. It has limited and unsecure shore access so we opted to pay a few extra dollars to tie up our dinghy behind the locked gate of the fishing boat marina next-door. Knowing we had a safe place to leave the dinghy made Aquatic Park the perfect place to explore the city and we would highly recommend it. We hiked up the hill to the Street Car Museum and down the other side for lunch with two of Austin’s cousins. After lunch they gave us a ride up to the top of Telegraph Hill, where we enjoyed the spectacular view with a sneaky glass of wine before walking back to the boat. The sunset view of the Golden Gate Bridge from our anchorage was spectacular almost every night we were there. On Sunday we caught an uber to Golden Gate Park for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival. We set up a blanket in the shade and watched The Infamous Stringdusters, who we saw play in Seattle for Elise’s Birthday last year. It was an awesome, and very hot day! Austin almost witnessed a riot when the giant water dispensers ran low. The next day we did chores; laundry at Tons of Bubbles, a few groceries and an amazon order that we picked up from the locker at Ghirardelli Square. That night Nick came over and we made dinner and drinks on the boat.

Our next stop in San Francisco was Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda.  EYC was the perfect place to meet up with Alameda friends, gather the packages that we had shipped to Gabe’s house and pick up Elise’s Dad Don who came down for a visit. First we met up with Mike Kent who had been making us drogue chain plates from ¼” stainless plate and then walked across the island to gather our packages. The most notable was a tiller pilot that we mount to the Hydrovane self-steering unit. Our cheap alternative for an autopilot that has been working out great! Over the next day Austin built a mounting bracket for the tiller pilot and Elise sewed cockpit cushions with foam that also came in the mail. Now that it’s getting warmer, we have been spending more and more time in the cockpit and having a comfortable place to stretch out is a must. We took full advantage of the EYC pool to cool off after a long day of boat projects. Don arrived by uber and in the late afternoon we all headed over to Saildrone so Eugene Gwost could give us a tour of the factory and show us what he has been working on. A Saildrone is an autonomous sailboat that is rigged up with all kinds of scientific measuring tools. We were in awe of the amount of data they can collect and the ingenuity that has gone into the design.  We even got to see one in the “wild” on AIS on the next leg of the trip! After a great tour of the factory we met up with Eugene’s girlfriend Lauren for dinner and then we all went back to the boat for drinks and many laughs. The next morning before we went back into the city Eugene stopped by the boat with some Saildrone swag and a 150W solar panel that couldn’t be used on a Saildrone because it wasn’t “perfect”. Thanks, Gwosto!

Timing is everything! The next weekend was the beginning of Navy Fleet Week San Francisco, so we headed back to the city and anchored again in Aquatic Park. We dropped anchor just as the Blue Angels began their practice flights for the airshow. It felt like they were using our mast as a target, EPIC!! We got a suggestion from @pleasanttiki to check out the tiki bar scene in SF and we just couldn’t resist. All three of us piled into the dinghy and then an uber to Pagan Idol and Smugglers Cove tiki bars. We enjoyed live music, elaborate interiors and fancy drinks! A night on the town always seems much more special when you end it with a moonlit dinghy ride back to the boat.  

Our last day in San Francisco was the big fleet week Parade of Ships and Airshow. Elise went up the mast for a bird’s eye view of the military ships coming through the bay and ran the new halyard/topping lift. For the airshow Austin went up the rig to replace the steaming light and got on the level with the stunt planes! We had a great afternoon sitting in the cockpit with the best view of the airshow. We could even hear the announcer and music playing for the crowds of people on the beach stadium behind us. Feeling like we had soaked in as much of the city as we wanted, it was time to raise anchor and head out under the bridge once again.

2 thoughts on “3. Down By The Bay – San Francisco”

  1. Wow sounds like an amazing time in sf. When I looked at your Dad, Elise, I remembered babysitting him when he was a little boy! Since I’ll be 68 tomorrow you know how long ago that was! What a great adventure you are on! Sail on and sail well. 🤓🌈☀️💫

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