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Old 06-01-2011
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Optimum draft for cruising San Francisco Bay

My wife and I are thinking of living aboard and cruising SF Bay. I like racy boats with a deep draft. Will this substantially limit our cruising ?
Jeff
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Old 06-01-2011
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Not necessarily but a deep draft will make for a stressful sailing in SF bay. In the bay inside the markers, the water is usually 30-40 ft but it gets shallow really quickly if you are not careful and start drifting out of the channel.

My boat has a draft of 6 ft and I had a number of scares where I saw 6 ft on depth sounder.

The other thing to consider is the marina location. I go through the Redwood slough to reach my marina and it gets to around 12 ft at high tide.
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Old 06-02-2011
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In SF Bay proper, draft isn't too much of an issue. There are a couple of things to hit around the Berkeley circle, and if you're going to the N. Bay, S. Bay, or up to the Delta, then yes, draft becomes a potential limiting issue. In the Bay proper, deep draft will help slogging upwind in an ebb where pointing ability is your friend.
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Old 06-02-2011
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Yes and no

For most of San Francisco Bay you'll have plenty of water under you and you won't have any problems in marinas or anchorages.

However, the farther inland you go the more draft becomes an issue. If you're going to cruise the Delta, a draft of 3-4ft or less is what you'll want. Even getting in and out of marinas can be a challenge. Many parts of the Delta and Bay are silting in at a rate of 1-1.5ft per year. Keep this in mind when you look at charts.

That said, I draft 6.7ft and have gone to Napa and Suisun without any great problems. I always do a careful check of tide tables though.

What I'd recommend you do is look carefully at the charts for the areas you're planning on cruising. This'll give you an idea as to what draft you're willing to live with.

Skipper, J/36 "Zero Tolerance"

PS The vast majority of the Bay and Delta has a silt/mud bottom. When you do run aground, it's at least a soft bottom.
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