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Old 05-25-2012
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Re: Advice on SF Bay summer sailing

I used to have a Victory 21 that I sailed out of Alameda Marina. As you seem to have found out, everything south of the Bay Bridge is usually in the lee of the SF Peninsula. Between the Bay Bridge and the end of Treasure Island is something of a transitional zone. And north of Treasure Island to the Marin Peninsula is "The Slot". If there is any wind on SF Bay you'll find it in the slot. Most summer afternoons 15 to 25 kts is pretty much the norm in The Slot.

I often sailed from Alameda Marina to the end of the estuary (about 4 nm) and then to the north, behind Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands (although, I don't know if that's possible with all the bridge construction nowadays), or between the islands and the SF waterfront. I would just keep going north until I started feeling a little uncomfortable and then turn back for the run back to the marina. Some days I barely got out of the Estuary, some days I managed to go around Angel Island. Often I would at least go around the end of Treasure Island, so I could at least say that I was in The Slot that day . I had the older model Victory, w/o a self-bailing cockpit. So I was always a little nervous about taking too much water over the side when things got rough (although I don't recall ever having to bail more than a couple of gallons out, even on the roughest days). But a Ranger 23 (as I recall) is a more robust design, with a self-bailing cockpit that's probably a bit smaller than that of the Victory.

I would just do basically what you you seemed to have done: sail until the conditions make it not so fun any more, then turn for home. Over time you'll find yourself more comfortable in windier/nastier conditions (maybe THAT is when you should really start to worry?). As long as you aren't flying a spinnaker, or gennaker, or even a big genoa, and you're ready to dump the mainsail when necessary, there isn't too much chance of actually broaching, particularly if you don't try sailing in anything over 25 or 30 kts. I sailed the Victory across The Slot several times in 25 kts (give or take), with the main reefed and the jib bundled up on the foredeck, at least until I got in the lee of SF or Yerba Buena and felt comfortable with more sail area.
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