Date: Oct 1, 2018
Position: Anchored, Drakes Bay
It was not a surprise, this start. Jo and I had picked the departure date two months ago, targeting a weekend when she was free combined with a convenient ebb. The wind would be what it was, and it was usually northwest.
Almost a year ago, I had departed for the first Figure 8 attempt. Then, Jo and I had spent our final night together at a hotel just above Horseshoe Cove. This cove, San Francisco Bay’s closest mooring to the sea, rests just below the massive north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Mo tugged at her lines as I closed the marina gate behind me and ascended the hill for one last evening alone with my wife, one last restaurant dinner, one last sleep in a bed of soft sheets.
At dusk, the fog rolled in from the sea and engulfed the bridge. Then the fog horn kicked into gear.
I swear, this horn could be heard by ships as far away as Tokyo harbor; the breadth and depth of its blast could herald the second coming of Christ; it would not simply wake the dead, it would wake them screaming. We shut the hotel room windows and doors; we drew the curtains; we put pillows over our heads. But once in every sixty seconds the horn penetrated all our defenses. We slept little.
Next day, October 28, 2017, I departed into fog a shaken man. I had left many times, but never for such a circumnavigation and never after such a night. I hugged friends. I waved to the small flotilla that followed me out. As I rode the ebb under the bridge, Jo quickly drove to Pigeon Point for a last exchange. I never saw her or the point; I never saw the point. The fog had swallowed all, and the wind carried me quickly to sea.
This time Jo and I had learned our lesson. On our last night together we enjoyed an evening with friends in Sausalito. They cooked a dinner of lamb and roasted potatoes. Table conversation was politely kept away from the my adventure while, surreptitiously (I thought), I passed scraps to the companionable Lab who pressed his weight against my leg. That night we slept soundly in their cool, quiet guest room above Richardson Bay.
Yesterday came on sunny and warm. I felt strangely relaxed. I, again, hugged friends on the quay. Mo and I motored out surrounded by another small flotilla. Again, Jo drove to the Pigeon Point, and this time I could see her. We waved and waved. And here, to my joy, Mo picked up a small wind from the northwest. I unfurled the big genoa and we slid slowly out. By mid afternoon we had nearly sunk the land. The bridge towers were but small, dark pins on the horizon.
Given my druthers, I would not have departed yesterday. The forecast did not call for this lovely wind, a mere day breeze. It called for flat calm followed by southerlies and rain as the remains of a dead hurricane passed overhead. But the date had been set, plans made.
Mo’s sails went limp at dusk. The sea went to glass.
Faced with the prospect of bobbing in the shipping channel for a night and a day, I chose to hop Mo up to Drakes Bay. I dropped anchor at 7pm, made a dinner of hashbrowns with corned beef and cabbage and had one more delicious sleep.
Half Moon Bay would have been closer, but Drakes Bay is a favorite, a wild place, and by going north, I will cross my own departure track as I come down from the Gulf of Alaska a year from now.
Officially, the second Figure 8 began yesterday. For me, it will begin tomorrow when Mo and I head to sea from Point Reyes.