Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Alameda, San Francisco Bay
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A lot of interesting opinions from people who either don’t regularly sail Northern California or the C30. I have done both. A lot. Let’s divide the discussion into the C30’s capabilities and then strategies for sailing the Gulf of the Farallones.
First, the C30: The C30 has been around for a very long time. It was first designed back in the IOR days and despite the numerous upgrades and tweaks it still displays that early influence. The boat predates the EC ratings and that is why you do not see the rating on older models. To obtain the rating, some relaively minor changes were made, while the basic hull, rig, and sailplan remained essentially the same. All versions of the C30 conform to their class one design rule. The boat has always adhered to the AYBA standards of the day. Granted, the standards have been improved upon over time and the more recent boats have obviously benefited from that. A misnomer is the large companionway opening. The Ericson, Newport and Ranger companionways have approximately the same cross section. Whereas the Catalina is wider at the top, the others have a lower bridge deck with Newport’s being almost at the cockpit level. The two cockpit drainlines are one inch so a completely swamped cockpit is slow to drain.
The knock on the boat in the racing circles here is that it is a heavy cruiser, requiring 15 knots of wind before it will start to sail to it’s rating of 180. Above that, (and in the hands of a compident skipper and crew) the boat is extremely competitive in our YRA’s SF180 class. Remember that a C309 (one of the current versions of the 30) did this year’s Single Handed Transpac and he sailed it back after only a week layover in Hawaii. And, his keel stayed on for the entire trip.
Strategies for the Gulf of the Farallones: It doesn’t matter if you own a Catalina or a Swan, at times the Gulf and the SF Bar can be downright dangerous. All mariners should take prudent precautions. Understanding our unique combination of winds, tidal action and coastal currents will go a long way in safely transiting the Bar. Simple rules of thumb: The winds build throughout the day and way into the night. Exit in the morning, try to enter before mid afternoon (especially if returning from HMB); Tide tables mean nothing. Current tables mean everything; Cross at slack or a dieing flood. Never at peak ebb and late afternoon. Current lines look more like washing machines; Check the KPIX marine forecast on the web before going – it is a NOAA feed. Depending upon your skill level, stay in the Bay if the forecast is for a swell height greater than ten feet and wave periods less than 10 seconds. Sometimes the winds from “gale alley” will extend down into the Gulf of the Farallones. This should show up on the forecast. 20-30 kts outside the gate is harder to sail in than inside the Bay.
Trip Planning for both HMB and Drake’s: Leave early in the morning (mainly to get a good anchoring spot). Depending upon the conditions, take the Bonita channel to Drake’s and go out to at least Red 8 before turning south (to avoid most of the south shoal, I will go as far as Red 4).
The anchorage at Drake’s is usually fog free. Anchor as close to the shore as you are comfortable (in the vicinity of the boat house and fish dock). The prevailing winds are usually from the north and will blow you away from shore albeit, a bit surgie. If you want to return via the Frallones, leave early, it will be a long day and you will find yourself crossing the Bar in the afternoon to evening hours.
HMB is easy, stay off the coast. Avoid the South Shoal and Ocean Beach area. For less confused seas, steer wide of Montero and Pillar Points. If at all concerned about crossing the reef at HMB, call the Harbormaster on Ch16. You can always go around the reef to the south (adds an hour +). HMB has a really good anchorage or you can get a temporary slip in the harbor. HMBYC puts on a great party over the Labor Day weekend, and you can buddy boat with the hundred or so others that come down for the weekend. When returning, leave early! Entering the Bay from the south is actually more dangerous than from the north. When in doubt, sail first to the lightbucket and then down the ship channel.
Fog: There is a lot of it. Expect most of your trips to be in low visability. Know how to navigate. Carry a GPS (or two).
Last edited by GeorgeB; 09-16-2010 at 04:27 PM.