A Little Lido Vist to Tomales Bay
Norene and I just came back from Tomales Bay. We drove up Wednesday evening and checked into the Tomales Bay Resort in Inverness, which has a ramp and a marina. We launched the Lido on Thursday at about a +3 foot rising tide and sailed north to the Marshall area, we got to see a race of 110 class boats that was being run by the Inverness Yacht club. We came back and put into the marina overnight, then sailed again on Friday, again going out with a rising tide at +3 feet. This time we sailed further north, but still stayed near Marshall, then sailed a nice long broad reach down to the Inverness Yacht Club and checked out what they looked like from the water. Then we sailed into the marina and pulled out so we could get an early start for home on Saturday.
Both days the wind was moderate, 10 knots or so I think with some gusts. It tended to swing a lot, with 90 degree shifts and sometimes we were back winded. The waves were pretty mild, temperature was cool but not bone chilling - neither of us wore a windbreaker. We were very conservative, we stayed down in the boat and did not hike out, this helped when the wind shifted suddenly because we were not leaning way off center. If a gust came up I sheeted out and then pulled back in to keep the heel under control.
To prepare the boat I added oarlocks on the sides, but these did not work well. I first screwed them into the inner side of the gunwales, but the angle was wrong. I added wedge shaped spacers that angled the oars downward so the blades would hit the water, but even so the oars would rub on the rail. Also, while I was rowing, the gunwales would flex and creak. I think I know what is needed to fix all this, will provide details once I have it worked out.
We also raked the mast back to take out all the slop in the shrouds, put a fender on the masthead as a float and bought an anchor kit and a collapsible boat hook. We launched with the sails down, I rowed us out of the marina, then we anchored and raised the sails. The anchor worked great, once I shortened the line to make it less likely to tangle. We ran the anchor line through the bow eye, then tied it off on the mast so we could pull on the line from the cockpit. The anchor sat in the cockpit, we dropped it over the side with the line under the jib sheets and let out about 30 feet. This worked great in the mud and weed outside the marina! After we rigged the sails, we used the boat hook to grab the line, then hauled it into the cockpit and raised the anchor.
When we sailed towards Marshall we saw the 110s racing around marks, including setting asymetric spinakers on the reaching legs. We sailed back and forth south of the races so we could watch without getting in the way. It was pretty cool.
We made a huge mistake when coming in. I sailed us just _down_wind_ of the marina entrance and set the anchor, then we unrigged the boat, with the jib not completely taken down. I sat to the oars, and Norene hauled the anchor. Immediately we were getting blown further down wind, and the oar locks were just not quite right so I was struggling to row against the wind. We realized the jib was still catching the wind, so dropped anchor again and completely lowered the jib. When we started up again, I was able to make headway, and we felt better, though it was still a struggle. At this point, one of the race committee boats from the yacht club came over and offered to help, but we said we'd be fine if he would just keep an eye on us. He said if we set our anchor again he'd come over and pull us in, then he went back to towing 110's into the hoist. By the time I'd rowed back to the marina entrance I was thinking longingly about that offer of a tow, but we finally made it into the marina. There we found that the oars were a problem in the narrow fairways, so I rowed us to the first open space and we used the lines and the boat hook to thread the needle to the open slip we'd been given.
We took down, cleaned the anchor mud off, and went to Nick's Cove for a dinner that couldn't be beat. There is a public ramp there, and a dock that you can sail up to and have lunch. More about that later.
Friday we went to Muir Woods in the morning, then launched again just as the racers were finishing up. Again we rowed out, set anchor and rigged the boat, and again a race committee boat came by to ask if we needed help. I need to write the Inverness Yacht Club a thank you note. This time we sailed farther north, about half way to Nick's cove in an hour. Then we had a wonderful broad reach back south, and snooped around the yacht club before heading in. This time we sailed into the marina on a beam reach with the jib flapping, the main depowered and the center board halfway up. This was much easier than rowing in! We had no problem docking, but there were several boats moored along the launching dock that led to the ramp. After taking down sails and fetching the trailer, I got out the oars and rowed over to the last dock by the ramp (earlier a Zodiac had occupied the ramp, so we couldn't sail all the way in). It was not pretty, with the oars popping out of the locks several times, but I avoided hard collisions and got the boat close enough for Norene to grab it with the hook. Whew!
The Tomales Bay Resort is a nice quiet beach hotel, and they have a ramp and marina. In the end I concluded that I'd rather pull the boat onto the trailer each day than deal with the marina slips and narrow fairways.On a weekday they were OK with us parking the trailer in the parking lot, but if you want to go there with your boat make sure you talk to them about it, it may be an issue on weekends. The ramp was fine for launching when the tide was at +3 feet, at +2 it might be dicey. Below that and the ramp and marina dry out, exposing some nasty rocks near the entrance... as you exit the marina, there are rocks on the left side that extend along the line of the breakwater, so go straight out for 100 feet to make sure you are clear. Best to get there and see it at low tide to be clear on it. There are also buoys that mark the public swimming area to the north of the marina, so stay outside those.The Inverness Yacht Club has a link to tides information, see http://www.invernessyachtclub.org/ and click on Tides @ Inverness. The biggest issue we had was getting in and out. I was not sure we could sail out, but the fairway leading in to the ramp is pretty wide, it would be doable if the winds are right. I felt it was safer rowing out, but the set-up still needs a lot of work.
The other hotel with boat facilities is Nick's Cove, they are on the north end of the east side of Tomales Bay. There is a public boat ramp there with trailer parking, we went there again on Friday night and saw that even at fairly low tide the ramp looks usable. Nick's Cove rents cottages and has a really good restaurant, including a long pier with docking floats. You can sail up, tie off, go up to the "boat shack" on the end of the pier and call in an order to the restaurant. I don't think you can tie up overnight, they don't have a marina, just the public ramp and the "boat shack" floats for the restaurant. The boat tamp has overnight parking, there is a fee machine to pay the launch charge.
The sailing conditions were pretty mild, we've had rougher days at Lake Elizabeth. I think this may be because the inland weather was not as hot as usual, so the wind on the bay was strong but not a gale. We were careful, but never felt like we were in danger. The wind did swing around by 90 degrees on a regular pattern, sometimes we were surprised but not knocked over. We did make a point to raise the centerboard part way when we were near shore, and especially going into the marina.
On Friday we had dinner at Saltwater in Inverness, yum! Then we drove back up to explore north of Nick's Cove, but there are few places to get off the road beyond that point. The views were great though. We went back to the boat ramp at Nick's Cove for a potty break, and found three young men assembling folding kayaks in the lot, they were going to go out to see the bioluminescence. It gratified me to see their enthusiasm, and their kayaks were really cool, made out of corrugated plastic that folds up into a package the size of a large suitcase. They were developed at a Tech Shop here in the bay area, www.orukayak.com if you want to see something cool, they are like Klepper Kayaks for the 21st century (only maybe not suitable for hardcore arctic exploring!).
We didn't try to make contact with the Inverness yacht club, but whenever we drove by they seemed to be open, and the race committee boats were really nice to come check on us. There was a race this week, so we saw them out a lot (and I figured they would be too busy for drop-in visitors). I'm going to write them a note, will see if they want to invite people to stop by.
So we had a blast, will definitely do it again.