Ship’s Log: 4th of July Weekend, 2011

July 5, 2011

I’ve found, time and again, that no plan is the best plan. This weekend was a perfect proof of that theory. On Friday night we still didn’t know where we were going. Would we go back to our old tried and true anchorage (Horseshoe Cove) or brave the sail-in-sail-out anchorage at Aquatic Park? Would we prioritize getting a good view of the fireworks, shoreside activities, or visiting with friends? As it turns out, we managed all three.

Sometime late in the week, our dock mate and friend KC mentioned that he and his wife would be anchoring out at China Camp. We had spent a weekend there a back in February, and while it was a fun spot, I wasn’t in a huge rush to go back.  But the lure of buddy boating with KC, and a little break from our developing cruising routine (Horseshoe Cove and the BADM) was all the convincing we needed.


The sail out to China Camp was just awesome. Convivia has recently been outfitted with Dyneema® line from New England Ropes, a Monitor windvane,  a Garhauer boom-vang, and a beautiful QuickCover from North Sails. With all of this new gear I expected some snags. We had put most of it through it’s paces in a brief evening sail, but this was a typical 25-30 knot San Francisco Bay sailing day and with currents working against the wind much of the time we had some pretty ideal conditions for a failure.

The Dyneema® provided the only real trouble of the weekend, and I’m fairly sure that both counts were my own fault. The biggest problem was that the gorgeous Salsa Line  was a foot or so too short. I took my lengths directly from the previous rigger’s invoice, and there are countless ways that that could have been wrong. As a result I had one incident where the genoa didn’t furl all the way (it got close enough for safety), twice where it couldn’t unfurl all the way (better by far) and once when—after forgetting to tie a figure eight—I lost the line down the deck.

The only other problem was with the diameter of the genoa sheets which were sized to fit our non-adjusting tailers, as opposed to the SWL requirement. When our winches were installed in 1970 a 154% genoa for our boat required 5/8″ diameter sheets. Now, with Dyneema, the same loads can be carried by 7/16″. Sadly our self-tailing winches can’t take advantage of this and we are stuck with comparably heavy and unwieldy  sheets. No fault of Dyneema, but kind of a bummer. On the up side, I’m already feeling them breaking in, and I expect within a season of cruising, they will be supple enough to not bother me.

All of the other upgrades worked better than expected and I’m still having a really hard time deciding which of the QuickCover or Monitor are my all time favorite upgrades. The Monitor is so stupid-intuitive to use that I can’t believe I’ve been hand steering all these years, and the QuickCover has removed every shred of pain associated with raising and lowering the main. Both operations now take me roughly 2 minutes to complete and my sail gets put away quickly every time, which saves it from UV. I’ve heard some people have reservations about this type of sail management but I honestly can’t understand why.


As for the socializing, wow, just WOW! We anchored far enough from KC and Judy to give them some privacy. Ruby and Miles started angling immediately for me to blow up the dingy so they could row over and say hi! I put the boat to rights before relenting and soon we had KC and Judy over for sundowners and some awesome cruising talk. KC has been one of the most consistent positive influences on our cruising plans since we moved aboard, and it was totally fun to get to hang out with them at anchor.

On Sunday, after returning KC’s kayak I decided to stop over by a Cal 40 that had just re-anchored near us. I was greeted by a really friendly couple who introduced themselves as Stan and Sally and invited me onto their boat Illusion. Never one to turn down a social call, I gladly accepted the invitation and their offer of scotch. We talked about geekery, and sailing, and about Cals. I got a great many ideas for improving our boat (Stan and Sally have completely restored theirs and it. is. beautiful), and was sad when (after borrowing Sally’s phone) Victoria told me she needed me back. We saw them under sail on the way home the next day and marveled at their speed and grace. I would have been humbled by how fast they overtook us but for the fact that Stan and Sally are 11 time TransPac winners, and Stan was the navigator on the fastest circumnavigation ever.

Monday we headed home for a quick battery charge and shower and then headed off to Clipper Cove (Treasure Island) to secure a seat for the fireworks. We pulled into the harbor, set the hook and immediately saw another harbor-mate’s boat closer to shore. We buzzed by in our dingy and said hello to Eva and Milton before continuing to the beach for some kid time.

The fireworks that night were amazing. The Marin side was a little underwhelming, but that may have just been because they were further away. San Francisco’s show though, well I may take this back later, but I think it was the best pyrotechnics display I’ve ever seen. On the way back we ran into our friend Pete who we seem to run into all the time in random sailing related spots. We didn’t get to chat as long as we would have liked, but it was fun to see him there.

Tuesday morning I was back to work, but luckily from the boat. We had a brief but super fun visit with the crew of Del Viento, a soon-to-be-sailing family on their way to meet their new boat in Mexico. We have always made a point of meeting other sailors (and especially sailing families) as we travel and when they pass through. I have not yet been disappointed that we did. The Del Vientos went out of their way to meet us at anchor (and survived the dingy ride of doom), and we were glad they did. The girls got along really well and we’ll be looking forward to meeting up with them in Mexico in a few months.

We are back in our slip now and I’m mentally preparing for the rest of the work week. As I write this I’m filled with that particular cast of contentment that comes from fresh air, sun, warm conversation, relaxed schedules, and following the current of life. We started out with no plans and low expectations and reaped a weekend full of memories and new friends. What could be better?


Go top