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BLOG #4 - April 8, 2021

Less than 8 months until I am required to report to San Sebastian, La Gomera for pre-race briefings and boat/equipment safety checks.  Less than 7 months until I will need to ship the boat to the start line.  Time is flying by.


Feeling the pressures of time, I decided I HAD to step up the training. The feeling was so strong, I could barely sleep.  With less than 48 hrs. of planning, I decided to do a 2-day row in SF Bay.


Left Reno at 5 am and drove to Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael, California.  Upon arrival met Harbor Master Pat Lopez and his staff, who were beyond gracious and helpful.  Also met a lot of friendly fellow boaters as we prep’d Jack Keane for launching.  Got underway in awesome conditions, so warm and calm that I was wearing shorts and t-shirt.  Caught the ebb tide out of Loch Lomond and by the time I passed under the Richmond San Rafael bridge, I was cruising at close to 4 knots.

Heading out of Loch Lomond.jpg
Richmond San Rafael Bridge.jpg

Rowing an ocean rowboat attracts attention – including that of a fancy power boat/yacht who decided to do donuts around me so they could take photos and as a result their wake almost capsized my boat.  But survived that and as I got to Raccoon Strait, all I could think of was my “friend” John Sims telling me beforehand that I “needed” to circumnavigate Angel Island.


Since it was still early in the day, I decided I couldn’t really argue with that idea and headed around the island.  But as I got to Pt. Blunt, the wind was blowing and the SF bay was white capped.  I decided that I wasn’t ready to dive into the deep end of the pool on my first SF bay row.  I turned around and tried heading up sheltered side of Island.  But of course, now I was rowing directly into ebb current and also getting hit by the wind.  After 15-30 min of literally going nowhere, I realized I had no option but to flip around, head into the bay and hope I could handle the conditions.  I put on my safety harness and clipped into my safety lines and turned into it.  Sorry no photos as I was busy rowing.  😊


Once I managed to get around Pt. Blount, things were still interesting but manageable.  But John was no longer my “friend” 😊.  The boat responded as if it was built for the conditions – which it was of course was.  I crabbed my way around bay side of Angel Island into Raccoon Strait. 

Golden Gate Bridge from Raccoon Straits.

Eventually made my way up to Ayala Cove, where I tied up to a mooring buoy for the night.


While moored, tried out the water maker which didn’t work due to a huge leak from one of the joints.  Cooked my first meal, using Jet Boil, on the boat.  Due to the Cove’s position, couldn’t actually see sunset, but enjoyed the light changes/night fall over Tiburon.  As the only boat in the Cove, it was super quiet – other than all the seals surfacing next to the boat.  It was a truly tranquil experience. 


Boat's kitchen.jpg
Dusk - looking towards Tiburon.jpg

Sleeping on the boat was surprisingly comfortable  - more comfortable than backpacking.  Next morning got underway before sunrise and headed back towards Loch Lomond.  As I left Raccoon Strait, I noticed a ship heading my direction.  It followed me up to the Richmond San Rafael bridge.  As we got closer to the bridge, I realized I was on the wrong side of the ship and needed to cross its path so it could cross under the appropriate section of the bridge.  An easier concept in light winds, not so easy in winds we were experiencing.  But finally managed to cross the ship’s path shortly before the bridge.  Turned out to be the USCGC Polar Star – a heavy duty ice breaker with two escort tugs. 

USCGC Polar Star - heavy icebreaker.jpg

Got back to Loch Lomond marina and was pleasantly surprised by many friends waiting for me.  2 days on the bay – 12NM first day, 8NM second.  A total success but also revealed how much training still needs to happen.

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