Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 6, 2014 - San Francisco

Awesome time touring in San Francisco!  Of course we had some adventure on the way over from Sausalito that are noteworthy.  Check in time for the marina is normally noon but there was no other vessel in the slip we were going to occupy so they told us to come anytime.

Motoring over, the Coast Guard calls us on VHF 16 telling us we are being hailed on VHF 13 (Bridge to Bridge).  Switching, the captain of a large freighter headed out of S.F., asks us of our intentions.  Steve makes the statement we intend cross the channel to S.F. ahead of him (we see him on AIS)  Setting the scene for you, there is some fog, we can still see a distance although this freighter is not visible (900ft in length or so and HUGE!).  Captain Steve makes the right decision and states we will instead let them pass and cross the shipping channel after they pass as we do not have a visual on them.  Just when you think all is fine, it is not, the current is strong and Steve has to hit the throttles hard in order to avoid hitting hitting a channel buoy.  We were being set by the current and drifting right into it, driving forward and also floating sideways.  I would say we missed it by not more than 20 feet.  I was shaking after that. Steve had had a visual on the buoy and was quite far to the port side.  He had to look at the chart plotter, talk to the captain of the freighter, and contend with a huge wake from another freighter.  During that "mess" the buoy got dangerously close, as we were being pushed sideways by the 5 knot current, while moving forward at about 6 knots.  It was a surprising event.

Getting over to the entrance to the Marina at Pier 39, the current is ripping through the marina as there are only pilings surrounding the marina, so current can flow through them.  Needless to say, after the other experience with the wild current , we decided to tour the bay for a couple hours and enter close to slack – not a lot of room to maneuver in the marina!  Plus we will be right in view of a restaurant or two, and a ton of seal lion spectators.  We were moored right behind the famous Pier 39 Sea Lion floats, which has become a major tourist attraction.

Later we enter without issue and get tied up in a very rough marina.  Perfect timing on our return to the marina though, the first military vessel (an aircraft carrier) was coming in with the Police, Coast Guard, and fire boats giving them a formal greeting!  Police kept us far away.  This was our first experience pulling into a slip where both fingers are ours.  These vessels that do it everyday are quick to move and make it into these types of spots.  Captain Steve did a great job of getting us in there!  We had three very rolly (I know this is not a true word but it was reality) and noisy (dock lines groaning from the movement) nights along with the sea lion docks to our stern, but it was well worth it.

Freighter coming out of the fog as we motor to Pier 39 Marina

Military ship coming in for Fleet Week

We walked up Lombard Street, also to Coit Tower, and spent an entire day in the Exploratorium.  My (Kathy) cousin Kristen, partner Stephanie and son Hunter spent an afternoon and evening with us showing us the sights, with China Town as the highlight.  It was great to catch up with them as we had not seen them in maybe 3 years.  Kristen grew up in N.J. so she and I spent quite a few holidays and vacations together as I grew up on Long Island, only a few hours away.

From Coit Tower, Pier 39 Marina (our boat) and Alcatraz.  See it? Blue top catamaran, to the right of it and bow facing us.

Coit Tower (statue of Christopher Columbus too)

Adagio and the Pier 39 West Basin Marina
All of us at the gates to China Town

Kathy's cousin Kristen, Stephanie, Hunter, Kevin and Cindy in China town

Ice cream at Ghirardelli's, yummy!
Zoltar gave us a very appropriate and positive fortune, one for this trip - a keeper!

Yes, Kristen bought this one, looks great on her!

Another military ship coming in for fleet week, from our Pier 39 slip, Sea Lions dock as well...

Kevin and Steve with pedal power at the Exploratorium

Kevin is being silly at the Exploratorium

My infrared family!

We did not have quite enough time to do all the things we wanted but it was Fleet Week so we had to leave and no other marina’s had anything for us near the city.  Next trip, on the way back, we want to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge for sure!  We had our bikes but not enough days.  Alcatraz is also on our return trip to-do list.  Kathy and I have been there before, but the kids need to see it.  There were no tickets available for about 10 days, it's a popular attraction.

The kids had no boat-school for a week and now we are trying to get them back into it!


  1. Madoc would like to teleport to where you are...ready to receive?

  2. I was going to suggest that you do the Alcatraz tour on your way back. It's a real experience. Also, when I lived down there one of my favorite bike rides was to drive our bikes to Fisherman's Wharf, park the car, ride the bikes through Fisherman's Wharf, through the Presidio, across the GG Bridge and down an amazing long, curving road into Sausalito. When we were ready to return, we catch a boat back to SF, put the bikes back on the car and head home.