I cashed in on my belated father’s day gift from my son and daughter today; an afternoon of sailing on San Francisco Bay. We couldn’t have ordered a better day; the sun was out, the breeze coming in through the gate was fair, and there was a sailboat race under way on the bay, with all the race boats using their colorful spinnaker sails for more speed.
We had chartered the 36 foot Flying Tiger and its owner/captain, Kirk Miller, for a 4 hour cruise on San Francisco Bay. We found the boat on the internet (sfbaysail.com, e-mail CaptKirk@SFBaySail.com) among many others offering somewhat similar trips. The Flying Tiger was built to be used as an open ocean race boat and we were looking for a fast ride. As soon as we set sail we knew we’d made the right choice choosing Captain Kirk and the Flying Tiger for our sailing adventure. As the saying goes, “It’s a well oiled machine.”
After leaving the harbor in Sausalito, where the Flying Tiger is berthed, we made our way toward the Golden Gate Bridge. With a fair wind blowing in through the gate and a strong in-coming tide, Captain Kirk used his 20 years of experience sailing San Francisco Bay to choose a course and tack back and forth and make headway. We got a good taste of what sailing is all about here. As the wind was pretty stiff, we had to really work the boat to get it to go where we wanted to go. Always personable, Captain Kirk was thoughtful and generous with sharing information about why and what our sailing procedures were at this point and was happy to share his wealth of sailing knowledge with us all afternoon.
Captain Kirk let each of our crew 6 take turns at tending the tiller, always with a watchful eye out for other boat traffic and changes in wind conditions; he gave instructions on which course to steer. When we were almost under the Golden Gate Bridge we heard a freighter blast its horn. It was passing by Alcatraz and heading out toward the gate. Captain Kirk thought it prudent at this time for us to vacate our current position and set our course toward the San Francisco water front.
During this stage of the cruise we encountered a sail boat race with all the colorful sails on the masts of the contestants. Captain Kirk explained to us some of the details of the race and even pointed out a few boats in the race that he knew the captains. Captain Kirk skillfully navigated us around the racing boats, thus avoiding any possible interference with the racers. After getting past the race, the wind let up a bit as we sailed along the San Francisco waterfront. It was at this time that Captain Kirk went below into the cabin and prepared our lunch (which was included in the price of the cruise) of turkey, ham and cheese sandwiches, plus beer, wine, and sodas. It was a calm and peaceful time to enjoy lunch sitting on the boat deck admiring the San Francisco skyline from the best vantage point possible; on a boat in the bay.
After lunch we sailed under the Bay Bridge and on past the Giants ballpark down to the Hunter’s Point ship yard.. We made our turn back toward Sausalito at this point. As we were about to make our way from the sheltered waters along the San Francisco waterfront out into the wind blown waters towards Alcatraz, Captain Kirk suggested that those of us sitting on the deck near the bow, come back to the stern for more comfort and safety while crossing the bay at this time. The wind was blowing fairly strong now and there was more chop on the water as well.
With my daughter, Celine, at the tiller, things really started to get interesting [read thrilling]. The wind had picked up quite a bit while we were lolly gagging along the water front enjoying lunch. Chop on the water had also increased significantly. Zipping along toward Alcatraz at 6 ½ knots with the sails “reefed” and water splashing over the entire boat, we were having the time of our lives. To make things a little more interesting, an incoming freighter passed by some ways off our bow causing a series of wakes that we crashed through sending even more water flying everywhere. Captain Kirk took it all in with a grain of salt (salt that he is) and we were all smiles. This was just what we were looking for…
After we passed Alcatraz and were heading into Sausalito ,sailing in much less windy and rough waters, Captain Kirk mentioned to us that what we had just sailed through might be considered a storm on many East Coast bays and water ways, and added,” but this was just another day sailing on San Francisco Bay.” What a treat!!
After we docked in Sausalito we bid Captain Kirk farewell and rushed off to dinner in San Francisco. All the 6 of us could talk about at dinner was what a fabulous day of sailing on the bay we had had. We are all anxious to do it again.
Thanks Captain Kirk for an exhilarating Day!!