It started out with all things going the "right" way. We had carved out a tiny block of time on Friday afternoon to prep the boat, which included spending an hour trying to fix existing (“I swear they worked 6 months ago!”) running lights, before giving up and buying the last set of tape on junk from West Marine just before closing time.
We showed up bright and early to RYC and pushed off the dock just after 7. We were pretty set on going to TI first. After a quick (and oh so necessary) pre-start pit stop to the luxurious heads at GGYC, we watched the breeze die and started doubting if we could even sail upwind against the ebb. With about 5 minutes to go a nice little puff came in. We could sail upwind again, so we started on port tack near the yacht club side of the line. Orca was next to us initially, but was able to escape the current by tacking first around the wave organ / sand spit. From there it was a beeline to Fort Mason where we got as close as we could before tacking out. We sailed far enough to clear the next piers and then tacked back in to Aquatic Park. We probably sailed a bit to far into the wall because as soon as we tacked onto starboard the breeze died and we were quickly being taken back towards the starting line. We decided to take a bit of a hit against the ebb to sail into more breeze, which seemed to pay off versus the boats that had done a few more tacks against the wall.
After aquatic park most boats in our group, including Orca, Gruntled and Flying Tiger, split off to the North trying to cross the river. We stayed low since we we’re making good progress over the bottom and not wanting to have to sail deep later against even more ebb. We slowly crossed the channel with about 30 degrees of set. The whole time we were crossing we were wondering if the boats that had split north were going to turn south and ride the shore down, or continue in the figure 8 fashion. As we got closer to the shore it was apparent they were going to the other side.
We found a nice counter current along the shore that lasted right up until we were under the bay bridge span. It was pretty apparent where our treadmill ride was going to end, so we pulled the anchor out of its storage bag and had it ready for deployment. As soon as we saw our progress stop along the shore we set the anchor. Quick anchor work meant we were able to hold our spot, while those just behind us were swept back. We joked to ourselves a bit saying that anchoring usually isn't a good sign. We made the best of the good weather and busted out the sandwiches! We were enjoying our lunch when we noticed that the slight southerly breeze that was filling in was causing our anchor line to go slack, so we pulled it up and sailed for 50 yards or so before the breeze died and we had to re deploy. After a few more cycles of racing our anchor line, we finally made it around and got to the ride the ebb. We found Orca and Gruntled coming around the other side, cursing the ebb as they traded tacks and we waved goodbye.
With the breeze being pretty light from the south and the current pushing us along, our sails were pretty limp, but we were happy that we were at least being pushed in the right direction. Our kite eventually plastered itself against the rig when the Northerly breeze found us. We then found ourselves on port in about 5-8 knots of NNW breeze headed towards the range markers outside the Richmond breakwall. When we were almost to the range markers, we got a nice auto-tacking shift with steady breeze and found ourselves on starboard heading directly for Red Rock. We'll take it!
As we were passing the break wall, we decided it would be a good time to brush up on the restricted area around the Richmond Long Wharf. Were able to sail below all the buoys of interest on starboard tack and still be able to make it around Red Rock without having to tack. The 10 knots or so of breeze was also perfect to counter the ebb that was still very much present at 1500hrs. We saw Motorcycle Irene in the distance sailing downwind with their kite up heading towards TI. We were not sure whether they had rounded Blackaller or not. As far as we could tell, it looked like they were the first mono-hull to round Red Rock. Just before getting to Red Rock, Snafu tacked just below us rounding the same way. It was nice to see a familiar face (and offering up some beer, too!). They were the first boat we had been close to since we had seen the other Moores rounding TI. We both set our kites and parted ways. We headed to Raccoon Straits and Snafu headed towards TI.
The closer we got to Raccoon Straits, we could see that it looked pretty light inside. We were now staring intently at our watches hoping that we could make it through the straits with the last bit of dying ebb. We got to Ayala Cove when the breeze ran out and our sails went soft once again, but the ebb was still pushing us along at this point. There were a couple of boats who were coming downwind from the GG Bridge with their kites up in westerly breeze, and we hoped that the ebb would last long enough for us to meet it. When we made it to the westerly we tacked onto starboard and were sailing in about 6 knots of breeze right towards Blackaller. The closer we got to the Golden Gate, the more the flood started to pick up. Blackaller was the last major hurdle but we still had the westerly to get us around.
After rounding the mark we could see two trimarans coming upwind. Way in the distance we could see Motorcycle Irene sailing on port upwind near Alcatraz. It was pretty apparent they were not heading towards the finish line and still had to round Blackaller. Where's the Champagne?! All we had to do was not miss the line riding the river of flood. We let the current do the rest of the work and drifted though the line. It was cool to hear cheers from people on shore over an almost empty bay.
At the end of the day, it was sticking with our initial decision to go to TI first, not being shy with the anchor and getting lucky with a few puffs and making good friends with the Ebb (she took us everywhere). It was awesome to see 31 Moores out on the water at the same time. We even saw Lon and Suzy Woodrum, the previous owners of the illustrious #66, out on the water in a runabout just after the start cheering us on. Maybe that is where the good luck came from.
Hope to see everybody out on the water soon!
Matt Van Rensselaer and John Gray
Moore 24 #66 Immoral