Believe me, my young friend,
there is nothing - absolutely nothing -
half so much worth doing
as simply messing about in boats.
--rat (The Wind in the Willows)

When I was about seven, my dad built a boat - a mirror from a kit and started teaching us to sail - the beach was less than a mile away. I've enjoyed sailing ever since.


Port Philip Bay

I grew up in Melbourne Australia which is on Port Philip Bay; a very large but generally quite shallow body of water.

With little by way of hills to protect it from wind, a front could whip up a serious chop in a matter of minutes. The timid would head for shore as soon as a front appeared on the horrizon.

The entrace is both narrow and shallow, resulting in a strong tide gate called the rip.

I recall a bottle drift dive at the rip, a dozen of us holding onto a rope side by side being carried by the current over the bottom at considerable speed, looking for old bottles from the many ship wreaks.

San Francisco Bay


San Francisco Bay is a great place to go sailing, one can generally rely on good wind (20 knots) in the afternoon no matter how calm the morning is.

Here too, a very narrow entrace (The Golden Gate) results in a strong tide gate (6 knots) and with prevaling westerly winds the ebb tide can result in a vicious sea state outside the gate.

I moved to Silicon Valley in 2000 and for several years was too busy to even think of sailing - especially since neither I nor anyone I knew had a boat.

In 2009 a friend pointed me at Club Nautique (CN) who run a yacht charter business and a sailing school (US Sailing). They have bases in Alameda and Sausalito (sadly both a good hour drive from the south bay).

To charter boats you generally need some certification - of which I had none. CN had a Bare Boat Cruising class comming up which seemed to match what I knew, so I called to sign up.

There were a couple of pre-requisite classes needed first but they offered to let me do a checkout sail with one of their instructors and if he was satisfied, I could just take the tests for the pre-requisite classes - which is what I did.

The Bare Boat class was a lot of fun - four days of sailing, crew overboard drills (lots of them), anchoring etc on the bay. At the end (after passing another test of course) I could charter any of the yachts in CN's fleet.

Grand plans of chartering in the BVI's etc ran into the reality of school age kids, soccer, ballet you name it. I did manage to take Sam sailing on a friend's boat in 2012.


Fast forward to 2018 and with both girls off at college (or graduated) it was time to go sailing again. I finally joined CN and signed up for their Passage Making program - which covers all the US Sailing classes I'd not yet taken, and let's you take their boats out of the bay. I did Bare Boat again - and again it was a lot of fun.


The club's mailing list is a great way to hookup with others looking for someone to go saling with, and splitting the charter cost with 5-6 makes it far less painful ;-)

In 2018 I got to go out twice during fleet week and watched the Blue Angels from the water - a very good view, have done the same several times since. There were hundreds of boats just drifting with the current around the exclusion zone (so a crashing plane doesn't take out any boats ;-)

US Sailing at Club Nautique


Other /* imagine something very witty here */