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post #10 of Old 05-27-2012
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Re: Advice on SF Bay summer sailing

Originally Posted by dabnis View Post
Slow: sounds like it was a "fun" trip For whatever reason my Dad hated, with a passion, to start the motor. I could never figure out why. Did your wife ever sail with you again?
Yeah, she sails with me, occasionally. But she never has really warmed up to sailing all that much. I don't think that particular trip turned her off -- sailing has just never really been her thing.

Get a good tide program with current predictions (I use Mr. Tides on my Mac, but there are several other programs for various platforms), and carefully study the patterns in the areas you're most likely to sail. A few general rules about tides and currents:
- Current predictions can be WAY off during high river flow periods, particularly north of the SF peninsula/Treasure Island. Since river flows in SF Bay and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta are controlled (at least in theory) by a combination of upstream dams and pumping for the big water projects, river flow isn't always easy to predict.
- The ebb can continue in some places for some time after low water occurs in that spot; likewise, the flood doesn't necessarily end with high water.
- The downstream sides of bridge towers and islands can have very tricky, and sometimes not so obvious, eddies and vortices. This is particularly true during strong ebbs and floods. Many a sailboat has done an impromptu 360 (or 720, or more) because they got caught in one of these. While usually more humorous than dangerous, combining ship traffic with pirouetting boats can be downright lethal.
- One can often avoid much of the tidal flow by staying out of the main channel, and/or away from sharp bends in the flow patterns, but not always. And, in some areas of SF Bay, particularly the South Bay, being out of the main channel often means being in thin or nonexistent water once the tide goes out. There are parts of the South Bay and San Pablo Bay where one can get stuck on a falling tide and be literally miles from both the shore and the channel at the same time. In such areas you might have to wait almost 24 hours for the boat to refloat.

Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
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