After receiving Laingdon’s email with the invitation to join in the Master Mariners Regatta, my itinerary started to fall in place. I drove up to Sausalito and met Laingdon and his friend Leighton Richardson. I had pulled up at the Spaulding Boatworks to see if there was any chance in finding some work for the next couple of weeks. It being Friday and a holiday weekend coming up, I thought I might as well plant a seed now for when I would return after the trip on Tomalas Bay. There was no work in sight, but he was going to talk to the coordinator of the Arques School, which has an educational boatbuilding program in the same building. I got a call later that evening, but no immediate opportunities were apparent. It felt good though to have made some initial contacts.
Laingdon and Leighton met me at the boatyard and we arranged for parking for my van and boat. Parking in Sausalito is a bit of an issue as I was to find out a day later. Somehow I was supposed to know that I couldn’t park a trailer anywhere for more than an hour on public streets. Oh well, maybe I’ll contest the ticket.
Leighton lives in Sonoma and has a beautiful boat ‘Morning Star’ moored in Sausalito. I was familiar with the boat, because it used to be berthed in my hometown for years, during which I had admired her many times. Both Laingdon and I got a bunk on the boat, which was very convenient and fun. A few berths over was ‘Elizabeth Muir’, the schooner we were to sail the race with.
We took a walk and admired some of the other racers. Pursuit was one of them, a classic sloop with a huge rig and lots of shiny brightwork (varnish). (Some specs: Formerly “Avatar” – Designed by Burgess & Morgan, NY. Built in 1929, Length 82′ Mast 96′ Weight 50 Tons – 12 Man Racing Crew – Sleeps 12. Spinnaker 3600 Sq Ft)
We had dinner in a Nepalese restaurant and chatted on the boat before hitting the sack, greasing out throats with some good wine. Leighton used be in the wine business, selling software for managing grape farming and knows a lot about wine.
Next morning (26th) our crew and the skipper Peter showed up from Sonoma and we went right ahead to get the boat ready for the race. We motored out toward the Golden Gate and got the sails up. What started in a light breeze would end up in 30 knot winds and good sized waves splashing all over the boat. We had a wonderful race in an amazing setting. Classic boats, Golden Gate as a backdrop, wind and whitecaps and a happy crew. In certain areas on the bay, called the slot, the winds are particularly strong due to a ventury effect through the Gate. Ocean air gets sucked in by heating air inland. It gets a bit exciting there at times, but the schooner (and skipper) handled it gracefully, only burying the rail a few times creating a big stern wave that followed the rail seemingly dutifully. Off course this was more due to the historic evolution of boat shapes and the eye of the designer that laid down her lines. Wind, waves and boat were all working well together.
Tradition has it that Laingdon goes aloft after or during every Master Mariners to straighten something out.
After the race we had a ‘debrief’ below with bagels, creme cheese, capers and salmon and good wine. Peter, the skipper, is actually a grape grower and winemaker in Sonoma, so there was no shortage of this wonderful stuff. We capped it off with rum on Leighton’s boat and I finally crashed in my bunk in a cloud of bliss. It had been a good day indeed.
Sunday we all took it easy and hung around between breakfast, lunch and dinner. No pressure to accomplish anything, but eat and rest. Monday midday I planned to get back to Tomales Bay to meet fellow small boat owners for a few day messabout on that bay, however I just learned that the trip is delayed due to some medical emergency.
All weekend I was impressed that, by ‘pure luck’, I had fallen into this opportunity to be part of that well known race on San Francisco Bay. I know the theory of following ones nose, but it still amazes me when it works out this way. I can only hope that the rest of my trip will follow suit.