Fourth of July - BBQ and night sail on the Bay for Fireworks!

Fireworks in a small craft advisory - 11.4 nm, 4 hours, 2 hours sailing

Some friends of my crewmate, as well as a good friend of mine, Brian, was able to join us for the afternoon and evening. We cut up some green peppers, onions, beef, salmon, and with cherry tomatoes and salad dressing for a marinade, made up some shish kabobs for the Bar-B. However, with the wind still blowing briskly, it turned out to be somewhat of a challenge to keep the thing lit, but after a few tries, and about an hour and a half, we finally got the kabobs cooked..

Although not the best I've ever made, everyone seemed to enjoy the kabobs and we all ate our fill and were ready to sail about 6:30 p.m.

We motored out of South Beach Harbor and put the sails up poste-haste. We still had a reef in the sail, and it was very lazy (slow) going as we passed under the Bay Bridge and made our way up to Pier 39, admiring the cityscape.

Then, as we entered "The Slot", the winds picked up and we had a lively sail across the channel to a point between Alcatraz and Angel Island. Everyone had a chance at the helm as Mandala bounced along happily in the 20 knot and building winds as the sun began to set and the many boats came out to see the fireworks.

There were ferries everywhere (criss-crossing at 20 knots, they are a little scary to us slow-boaters), as well as a steamboat, the San Francisco Belle, and inumerable sail and motor boats of all sizes milling about for a good position to watch the fireworks. I had not expected the winds to be quite so strong, and at one point, and after we tacked around to point back to the southeast, I set a preventer for the downwind leg (especially as I was giving folks turns at the helm). However, I forgot about the preventer as we tacked around in preparation for heaving to, and of course, it prevented the sail from coming fully about, and in the process tightened the knots such that they could not be untied under load. Since I did not want to come about again (it was getting close to firework time and we were in a pretty good place), I asked for a knife to be passed up and I cut the preventer, allowing the main to fully come out on a port tack.

My big plan was to heave-to and drift to watch the fireworks, but I had never hove-to under 25 knot winds and reefed sails before, and so was a little surprised when, after heaving-to, the GPS still showed us making 4.9 knots, which, with all the boats around, was somewhat uncomfortable, and was away from the fireworks, steadily diminishing our views with time, so I decided to motor in reverse to try to stop the boat.

Even with the motor idling in reverse, we were still making over 3 knots! Yikes! So I ended up bringing the motor up to about 2200 rpms (2/3 power), in reverse, while hove to, and we were able to somewhat hold our position to watch the fireworks.

Going to see the fireworks

It was windy and cool, as I said, about 20-25 knot winds at about 55' Fahrenheit, but everyone was able to see the fireworks and there were lots of oohs and ahhs as we watched the display. Then at one point, I exclaimed holy shit! as the black outline of a minimally lit freighter (about 300 feet in length and making 6-8 knots) passed by us about 100 yards away. Right in the middle of the fireworks show! We were somewhat surprised that a ship would put to sea at that time, in that place, but, heh, no harm no foul as it passed by and rocked us a little with it's wake.


After the fireworks ended about 10:00 pm, we motored back under the Bay Bridge to Pier 40. It seemed to take a long time, and when we later checked the tide table we understood why, as we had been bucking a 3 knot ebb current the whole way. We finally tied off and said our goodbyes to Amy, Michael and Brian about 11:30 pm.