Motor sailing

Alas, the Delta is not a place for comfortable sailing.  The consistent wind patterns are that all the way in the breeze is at your back.  Directly at your back so you are constantly jibing your way in.  Of course the reverse trip the wind is on your nose so you are tacking your brains out.  We found a way out of this with motor sailing.

The Cat is by far the weirdest boat I’ve ever been on.  Skipper built it with some plans a million years ago and continues to tinker with it.  Still, the 16′ PVC pipe that is the horizontal tiller feels wiggly when moved, like the sloppy steering in an old farm truck.  The zero draft is great when parking on a beach but the twin rudders are held together with bungee cords that give way by design when hitting an obstruction. Of course you lose all steering at that point.  More than once I was hanging off the back stay with one foot on the rudder to keep it down when the shock cord had abandoned post.

As the navigator I chose travel windows when we would have the least fight with nature.  The two times we went against our better judgment we got beat up pretty good.  One of those times was on our last Friday as we were trying to escape Pittsburg.  We spent an hour zippering in a washing machine churn against chop and wind, nearly getting hit by a barge and then by a huge Coast Guard vessel.  Finally I said screw this, let’s go back to Pittsburg.  We flew back and all proceeded to pass out with exhaustion.  That night the wind slammed into us and we decided to wait until Sunday morning and leave with the ebb.

I recommend this Delta escape plan.  We left at 6:30 am from Pittsburg and the ebb was just petering out by the time we reached Glen Cove Marina at the Carquinez Bridge by 11 am.  During flood tide we ate lunch, took naps, went for a long walk with the dog, and hit the water at 3:30 as the tide was turning to ebb again.  The wind in San Pablo switched to NW fortunately but mostly it was the tide and the quirky 10 hp motor that carried us at about 6 kts. back home.  Patience and planning made for a very successful return.  We would have preferred to shut off the whiny motor that hiccuped spitefully to make our hearts race, but it was not to be.

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