Life Jackets – We went to Emeryville for a few days, mainly to have a free and voluntary safety check from the US Coast Guard. The main thing that they instigated was a search for safer life jackets for the girls.
The jackets that we have are legal, but for offshore we would like a safer style. Sadly, the US is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to comfortable, advanced life jackets for kids. After going to West Marine and trying on the child’s off-shore life jackets (which will roll an unconscious person on their back and keep their head above the waves) it was obvious they would not work. The girls couldn’t even turn their heads in them and they were so bulky, tight and uncomfortable that they could not be worn long term on a passage without skin chafes, muscle aches and very unhappy kids. I wish I had some pictures, it was hilarious. The other disadvantages are that they didn’t have crotch straps to hold the jacket on when pulling the wearer out of the water, or an integral harness so that the kids don’t have to put on a harness as well as a jacket which is the process now. We use a harness whenever underway so the girls can connect to jack lines going up and down the boat. In this way they are always connected to the boat when we are moving. So, the search continues and we are probably looking to the UK for life jackets that have all the safety features we are looking for. The girls will probably have two life jackets each, the ones they currently have for on the docks or in the dinghy and their off shore jackets they will wear whenever strapping into the boat anytime we are under sail.
Emeryville was a nice stop with laundry and showers along with free and easy public transport to Trader Joe’s and a few other stops we had to make. It really feels like we are traveling now (in our own backyard). We also got welcome visits from a few friends and family and took some time to get the soccer ball out.
On our way back to clipper cove, while really testing the systems and heeling over quite a bit, one of the sea berths (couches) on the high side slid out of place and a few cabinets popped open. It was a bit chaotic and quite the mess. I popped down to get things in order and while pushing the berth back into place, I total crunched my finger. It was our first OUCH!!! It was extremely painful but I kept it together while continuing to sail and then trying to back up the boat during anchoring in Clipper Cove. With the strong wind on the nose knocking us back and preventing me from having any control at the helm I started to crack. When we knew the anchor was holding I went ahead and had my mini melt down. My family took very good care of me. The girls read Garfield cartoons to me while Cameron brought me tea, Advil and first aid supplies.
Needless to say we stayed put for a few days (and installed sea locks on the bed and the cabinets!)
The girls and I spent a day in San Francisco. We went to the main SF Library for cards so we can take advantage of their online borrowing library and then we did all sorts of errands that took us all over the city on busses and trains. It was quite the education for the girls in many ways and they were amazing troopers.
Later in the week we went back to Richmond to pick up our sail cover (yea!). It was uneventful -thankfully.
From there we sailed over to Sausalito where we had a meeting with the sail maker to adjust a problem we were having with the reefing rings (cringles). On the way over there, we had a problem with the reefing rings… But, we didn’t realize it until the mast track was pulled straight off of the mast (see photo below). A reef is when you shorten your sail, meaning you pull it down a bit and tension the sail from rings that are placed strategically in the sail for this purpose. You do this in higher winds (just another day on San Francisco bay) or heavy weather to de-power the boat. The ring we had problems with lives at the front of the sail and it connects into a hook attached to the mast/boom joint which will then take all the tension when pulling the sail tight. On our trip to Sausalito, the ring had popped off the hook before we tensioned the sail, so when we did tension it, all the pressure was pulling on the track. OUCH AGAIN! This felt a bit disheartening and we didn’t know quite how long of a setback it would be.
We got the rings fixed (Cameron brought the sailmaker in the dinghy out to the boat and he hand sewed the rings into a better location). We also had to run to West Marine and the grocery store. It was cold and windy when we all piled into the dingy. When we arrived at the dinghy dock Adelaide and I (having had the pleasure of the windward seats) were soaked to the undies. We aired out as we bussed and walked around getting our errands done. Then, we headed back to the dinghy… which was a bit deflated when we got to it. OUCH! We all piled in to see if it would hold us and all of our supplies but half way to the boat Cameron decided to drop the girls and I at a conveniently located beach (Thank you God!) while he alone went on to the boat and pumped up the dingy. Patching the dinghy went onto the high priority list.
The next morning we headed off to Pier 39 in San Francisco. We thought we would have a quiet early morning sail over but the wind was whipping and there was a really strong ebb (tide going out) in opposition to the wind (coming in) which made for a rocky ride. Adelaide did some steering to start but in the end I made Cameron take the helm so he could feel how strong it was. We sailed under jib alone (the front sail) since the main sail track still needed work. We popped into the marina to pump out our waste and…we hit ground again! OUCH again! It is confirmed. 3.7 ft. on the depth sounder is when we “bump” We had asked the marina about depth specifically and their response was that they have no depth problems… We informed them otherwise. Cameron and I worked with the engine and ropes to get her moved around to deeper water with success. At the marina I found some WiFi and worked all day while Cameron and the girls got showers in and laundry done. They also did spend a bit of time checking out the mayhem of Pier 39 and riding the carousel!
The whole reason we were there was for Cameron’s sister who was in town leading a trip of school kids. We had a nice dinner with her on the boat and also later with a our great friend Hans who we always seem to run into (one of those fated friendships). It was a fun evening but we were happy to leave that marina, it was full of tidal surge and was rockier than most nights at anchor!
We are now sitting at our favorite spot in Clipper Cove on Treasure Island.
My parents came to spend the day with us a few days ago. We worked on the sail track and after hauling Cameron up the mast twice, removing the main sail, the boom and the whole track, we (meaning mainly Cameron and my Dad) got the mast track fixed and reinstalled. Check! Yesterday we got the gooseneck and boom back on, a winch rebuilt and the life raft properly secured and we are planning our escape.
They say that the San Francisco bay is one of the most challenging places to sail in the world, and they are not wrong. With the tidal surges, the consistent high winds and the occasional shallow spots it’s a great proving ground and we have learned a lot about our boat here. It’s been good to work out the kinks and find the weak points but we are now ready to fly south to find warmer water and weather.