Paul--With all due respect, considering the draft of your yacht, you really had no need to be in the ship channel at all, eh? Having been raised sailing on SF Bay, one learned early on, that it was wise, under almost all circumstances, to stay out of the ship channels/traffic lanes and particularly so at night or in fog or both. One could easily sail/motor point-to-point along the edges of the channels reasonably confident that one was not going to become a bug on the wind screen of ship. Crossing channels in fog was the greatest hazard/most nerve wracking event. One hove too and listened, quietly, for a ship's horn or the thumbing of their engines through the water and when opportunity presented itself by the quiet, went heck-bent for leather across the fairways. One's echo sounder always told the tail, and when one's depth came up to two or three fathoms, one was almost always in the clear. The experience was a good way to break a sweat regardless of how cold, dark and wet the fog, and, afterward, everyone had a good laugh about the experience, in relief, over hot Irish Coffee.
Points well taken. On that particular night the bar was breaking & we were concerned about going up Bonita channel. We were going up the far north edge of the channel trying to stay out of anybody's way. It was very rough, even in the channel and we got pre-occupied with what was in front of us. For some reason, I looked back and saw a wall of lights closing on us fast, no whistle, no sounds, nothing, although the "screaming Jimmy" in our boat did put out some noise. We had a big steel diamond shaped radar reflector in the mast. If the ship saw us, they made no mention of it. I don't know why the ship was that close to the edge of the channel, but it was, took us completely by surprise, we thought we were about as far to the edge as we could get. We did not have a fathometer or radar, which would have shown the ship closing on us.
Yes, I know, "penny wise and pound foolish". We underestimated the cost of going into that business, but that was a poor excuse for not being properly equipped. Looking back on it, we shouldn't have even considered going out that night, bad call, lucky to be here. 1964 was a long time ago.