Join Date: Feb 2012
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Advice on SF Bay summer sailing
I'm looking for a bit of advice and perhaps encouragement on sailing in summer conditions on the SF bay. Back in December I bought an old Ranger 23 (short rig) and have been getting out on her about twice a month. I am brand new to sailing and this is my first boat. No lessons but I've been out with folks a few times prior to buying my own boat. I have avoided going out in any kind of small craft advisory and with one exception have managed to avoid winds much over 10-12kts as it's been fairly light winds over the winter.
Last weekend (Sunday) the forecast was 9-12 kts and I was sailing S of the Bay bridge and we had little to no wind. As we crossed under the bridge heading north near the city the wind started building and I looked out ahead and thought "damn, that's a lot of whitecaps, and gee the water sure looks crazy". Then we were in it. Waves from every direction, strong winds, and stronger gusts. I was suddenly way out of my comfort zone. We took some spray over the nose a couple of times and we may have momentarily hit 30 deg of heel. The boat seemed to take it all in stride. It never really tried to round up. I was tense and kept on for a few minutes before tacking back towards the bridge and heading back to calmer water and home. Looking later at the recorded wind graphs online gusts may have been hitting 30.
1st lesson for me is that it's time for decent sailing shoes. Sliding across the deck wasn't cool.
I'm trying to get a sense... is this what sumer conditions are likely to be on the bay? This weekend is calling for winds 15-25 and I'd really like to go sailing but I'm not 100% sure of my own abilities. We have a single reef in the main we can take advantage of with a single line system that I have yet to even try out.
How much wind is "too much stay home" wind for my little boat? Does small craft advisory always mean stay home? How often will these conditions happen over the summer?
What's your advice for a newbie sailor on the SF Bay in the summer?