Drake's Bay Cruise

Sailing Instructions
October 4-5, 2003

Chart of Drake's Bay

The WoodenBoat Magazine ~ Master Mariners Drake's Bay Cruise & Oyster BBQ will be in its traditional location and format on the weekend of October 4-5, 2003. One purpose of this announcement is to remind everyone that itís time to mark the calendar, call the crew and to make plans. A second and more significant purpose is to encourage new MMBA members and members who have never come with us to consider making the cruise this year.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ritual, this is what we do:

Saturday morning, boats get out of the gate at a good hour and make their way to Drakes Bay, about 25 miles up the coast. This is an easy sail or motor -sail and boats start arriving as early as noon. The regular summer northwesterlies have softened by October so it is usually an easy beat. Some years the wind backs around a little in the late afternoon so that boats can start their sheets. Last year there was so little wind that we motored most of the way.

Anchoring is easy. The Pt. Reyes peninsula gives good shelter and there is good holding in a sand bottom. Everyone gets ashore with their own small boats. The beach we use has no (or at least very difficult) shore access, but is has good shelter and a little reef that makes landing smoother.

Now, the good part. In the late afternoon, we start a big driftwood fire and dig a barbecue pit. We bring a bunch of big, juicy oysters from the Johnson Oyster Co., over in Drakes Estero. This forms the basis for an informal dinner, supplemented by bread, wine, sausages, or anything else brought by individual boats. There are sea chanteys, good talk, seeing old friends, and old friends weíve never met before. Eventually, the party tapers off and we all make our way back to our boats.

There are no organized activities on Sunday. Boats up-anchor at their leisure and return to San Francisco Bay. (A really mellow strategy would be to plan the MMBA weekend as the start of a vacation, staying at Drakes Bay and perhaps extending the cruise to Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay.)

What I really havenít gotten across in the above description is what an absolutely magic place Drakes Bay is. If youíve just looked at it from land (or from the air), you havenít seen anything. Try it anchored, late on a clear night. A few riding lights. The dark mass of land in the distance. No lights on shore! Or wake early on a foggy morning, the bay just like it was 473 years ago. Imagine a carrick from one of Drakeís galleons, rowing through the fog, searching for the bay they would never find. Magic!

This year on Saturday there will be an early morning flood at the Golden Gate (3.2 kts. max at 0707, slack at 1020). Any of you whose fathers were Italian fishermen know that a little ebb starts along the beach shortly after max flood. Practically, you can start as soon as itís light if you donít mind going a little slower in the Gate. A more serious hazard could be fog. All the usual precautions should be practiced. As always, monitor VHF channel 16 and communicate on channel 71.

Members should plan to arrive in Drakes Bay and get their anchors down by late afternoon. (Sunset is about 1845.) Note that at anchorage time (say 1700) the tide will be about +5 ft. but at 0200 Sunday morning it will be 0 ft! Bring your small boat to get to the beach. The MMBA formally recommends that life jackets be worn during this transit.

We will be located on our traditional beach 0.4 miles west of the old fish pier. Low tide will be at 1325. We will establish the firepit far enough up the beach to withstand a high tide of +5.6 ft at 1847.

MMBA members who come by land should park in the Chimney Rock overlook parking area and walk down the road towards the fish pier. Because communication by shouting and flashlights have not been reliable, it is suggested that you make arrangements ahead of time for someone already here to pick you up in his small boat at the little beach to the right of the fish pier. There is, reportedly, a steep passage down the cliff, but it is very difficult and with several thickets of poison oak along the way. Stay off the fish pier. Itís not safe.

The MMBA provides oysters and the fire. In the past, members have brought bread, sausages, drinks, oyster condiments such as lemon and hot sauce and other good things to consume and to share. No one has gone hungry. Handy things for grilling oysters are tongs, heavy gloves, oyster (or heavy bladed) knives and red bandanna handkerchiefs for wiping your mouth between bites. This is an isolated, but public beach, with no refuse cans or clean-up crew. Each one of us must pick up his own trash and take it back to his boat.

Concerning the safety of oysters, we will be getting our oysters from the Johnson Oyster Co. whose oyster beds are in Drakes Estero. Health officials recommend against eating raw oysters especially in warm weather. Oysters should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145įF. The California Department of Health Services maintains a Shellfish Hotline (800-553-4133). Currently there are no oyster warnings in our area. We will monitor this hotline. MMBA members may wish to do the same.

About the possibility of inclement weather. We suggest that each boat bring alternate provisions for an on-board meal for the case when no one can get ashore.

During last yearís Drakes Bay Cruise, Ouessant hit a submerged rock that is not marked on the chart. We were about 500 yd. NE of the Chimney Rock buoy under power. Ouessant draws 6 ft. We rolled off the rock and proceeded with no damage. It felt like a rock and when we examined the keel at our next haul-out it looked like a rock. The chart shows 8 fathoms. We give this unverified information so you can proceed prudently.

There will be no organized activities on Sunday. We will need a few volunteers to go ashore to make sure that weíve left the beach clean and trashless. Boats can up-anchor at their leisure and return to San Francisco Bay.

Please phone or email Ken Inouye to let us know youíre coming. Give Boat Name, Skipper and No. of Crew and of course call with questions and comments.

Ken Inouye (650) 494-7271 *~* inouye@cepheid.com
Pat and Gene Buck (415) 435-0936 *~* phbuck@marink12.ca.us

Home - History - Contacts - Membership - Members' Message Board
Photos - Sponsors - The Shellback - Website Info. - Links

Calendar of Events - Regatta - Wooden Boat Show
River Rat Cruise - Drake's Bay Cruise - Jessica Cup