Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sailing with Bruce ...

Yesterday I drove up to Vallejo to join Bruce Sinclair on his lovely little Gary Mull-designed, Hank Easom-built thirty-foot sloop, Pretty Penny, for the Vallejo Yacht Club's "Two Bridges" race.  The race starts just west of the Carquinez Strait at the mouth of the Napa River (the Vallejo Yacht Club is just a mile up the river).  We crossed the starting line second in our class but 40 seconds after the gun (a slow start), sailed west into the wind to the first mark, which we rounded with the mark on our port side, and then began a the long downwind sail up under the Carquinez Bridge, through the Carquinez Strait, past the historic town of Benicia and to the Benicia-Carquinez Bridge where we rounded another mark and tacked our way back to the finish line, which was set up just above the entrance to the Benicia Yacht Club and harbor.  Altogether the course ran about 10 statute miles.

Winds were strong at the start, probably around 20 knots, then as we sailed the downwind course, they fell off considerably, which meant nobody made great speed against an ebbing tide.  Bruce and I decided we needed to change out the 90 blade head sail for a 125 head sail, which I agreed to do and once we got it up we managed to pick up some speed and time, ultimately sufficient to take second place in our group.  It's been a while since I've sailed on any part of San Francisco Bay, and I enjoyed it enormously, despite the spray of cold water which really got us after we'd finished the race and were tacking upwind back to the mouth of the Napa River.
On our return to Bruce's slip, we put Pretty Penny to bed and Gail joined us at the yacht club for a celebratory drink.  They asked me to stay for dinner and for the night, which I agreed to do, and Gail cooked up a magnificent meal while Bruce and I polished off a bottle of Zinfandel, enjoyed Bruce's parrot Lorenzo, who is 30 years old, and were entertained by their new dog Lulu (maybe a poodle, but they think a "puddle").  It was great fun, and I look forward to the next time we get together.  Perhaps they will come east!


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