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Two Nifty Cruise Destinations in S.F. Bay

as visited by the

CCDO April Fool's Float-In

Last updated December 4, 1996.

Welcome to San Francisco Bay! We're the California Cape Dory Owners Association. We'd like to show you some of our boats, and take you along with us to Treasure Island and Angel Island, two neat places in the Bay that we visited during our informal float-in, March 30 and 31, 1996.

Moving Up in the World

We converged Saturday afternoon at the Treasure Island Marina, and it was soon apparent that the event would be a grand success, by our admittedly modest standards. True, we had only four Cape Dory boats at the dock. More had been expected, but an errant prediction of rain may have scared some of the participants into their land yachts.

Still, a throng of twenty-four CCDO members were in attendance for the posh feed at the Treasure Island Yacht Club. Lah-de-dah! Well, actually it was a barbecue and TIYC is definitely blue collar but still a step up in the world for the CCDO. It was a nice feeling to see our new burgee displayed in the "visiting club" place of honor (see photo above), just like real cruising and yacht clubs. And the hospitable folks at TIYC were really nice to us.

Treasure Island - Hub of the Bay

Treasure Island is one of the finest cruising destinations on San Francisco Bay. It's right in the "slot," on a line from the Golden Gate past Alcatraz, and takes the full force of the afternoon gale that whistles up like clockwork during the summer months. But the cove, on the east side of the island, provides good shelter and room for several dozen boats to anchor in six to twelve feet of water. Guest docking is usually available for those who prefer it, but the harbormaster doesn't usually monitor Channel 16, so grab an end tie and check at the office.

No services are available on the island, except for use of the yacht club facilities if you're a member of a reciprocating club. But dozens of restaurants with docking are within a few miles, at Berkeley Marina, Oakland's Jack London Square and San Francisco's Pier 39, to name just a few.

This weekend, we were at the docks, but the Cybercruisers had a good-sized raftup going in the cove. (Photo, right: Cape Dory 30 motorsailer Molly Waldo, with Cybercruisers way back in the cove and the Bay Bridge behind.)

Treasure Island is flat, manmade land built for the 1939 exposition (not to be confused with some contemporaneous World's Fair on that other coast), and is connected by a short causeway to Yerba Buena Island, the midpoint of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. If the traffic noise from the bridge provides a background murmur, its nighttime illumination is a display few anchorages can match. And right across the road from the marina is one of the best full-on views of the San Francisco skyline.

The one permanent building remaining from 1939 houses a lovely museum, showcasing the fair, the island, and the naval history of the U.S. in the Pacific. Particularly fascinating is the story of the Pan Am Clipper flying boats. During the 1930's they provided the first scheduled airline service across the Pacific, taking off from right here in the cove. On display in the museum is the navigation chart used during a night flight from Honolulu to San Francisco, with the course drawn in pencil between dead reckoning positions and star sights. The chart alone is worth the visit.

Our Sunday Mini-Cruise to Angel Island

Having enjoyed the hospitality of the Treasure Island Yacht Club, some peeks at the museum, and the view of San Francisco at night, the CCDO fleet awoke Sunday morning relaxed and ready for coffee and socializing. Jo Anne Kipp and Dick Honey, aboard their Cape Dory 36 La Baleine (photo, left), chatted with Sandy Smith (Sandman) and Dave Symonds (Molly Waldo). Dick and Jo Anne had arrived just in time for dinner the day before, having spent twelve hours sailing out to the Farallon Islands and back, part of a volunteer group that resupplies the ornithologists doing research in the marine sanctuary.

Our Sunday adventure was calmer than that, but not without excitement. Around 1130, the fleet set out for Angel Island State Park, another jewel of the Bay. This island, between Alcatraz and the Marin peninsula, offers public access via ferry from several cities, as well as docking for about fifty boats. Bicycles can be brought over or rented on the island; they also rent kayaks.

A five mile road around the island provides an easy hike or bike ride to a number of historical sites including fortifications from pre-Civil War batteries to a Nike missile post. A docent tour of the immigration center gives a fascinating and sobering look at the treatment of Asian immigrants during the island's four decades as the Ellis Island of the West. Trails up 900-foot Mt. Livermore afford panoramic views, and on most days the view from the summit includes four bridges across the Bay.

Bumper Boats

Boating to Angel Island can have its adventurous aspects. The docks are in Ayala Cove, off narrow Raccoon Strait, where the ebb tide heading for the Gate gets up a good head of steam. The steep point at the west end of the cove scoops up the current and shunts it back through the harbor in an whirlpool eddy that Mr. Jacuzzi wouldn't be ashamed of.

The current runs at right angles to the slips, most of which are two boats wide, and the first boat in naturally winds up on the downcurrent side. If you're second boat in and the tide is running, you get one shot to make a spring line fast, and then you're playing bumper boats. Factor in an uneven level of experience on the part of many visiting skippers, and you have all the ingredients for close encounters of the fiberglass kind.

This, then, was the harbor toward which the Cape Dory fleet sailed, with almost a four knot ebb running at the Gate. Our 30' powerboat, Golden Phoenix, had gone on ahead to provide a base for a possible raftup, so fortunately we had some dockhands available. Craftily rigging fenders on the upcurrent stern corners of the boats already docked, we were well prepared for the inevitable, and emerged with four Cape Dorys safely docked, with gelcoat, and most of our dignity, unscathed. (Photo: Sister ships: Cape Dory 30 powerboat Golden Phoenix, between Cape Dory 30 motorsailers Sandman (left) and Molly Waldo at Angel Island.)

Angel Island Hospitality

Once docked on Angel Island, our first stop was the snack bar. Vastly upgraded in 1995 by a new concessionaire, it is now referred to as the Angel Island Café, if you please. It's open daily in summer, and features not only sandwiches and salads but also espresso, wine, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream bars.

But the highlight of the Café was the two gentlemen on the terrace. During the week, they run Zio Primo, a pasta factory and bag lunch takeout place in downtown San Francisco. On weekends, they preside over the barbecue grill on the veranda with as much friendliness, panache, and enthusiasm for fine food as you would ever hope to encounter in the city's finest restaurants. Here (photo, left) we sampled their barbecued oyster plates, with garlic bread, salad, and three sauces: garlic butter, pesto, and sinus-threatening fresh horseradish.

Our enjoyment must have been obvious, for our hosts cheerfully pressed on us samples of their chocolate mousse dessert, so rich we were astonished to hear they contained no butter or egg, only chocolate.

Not to take any chances, we set off on a brisk calorie-burning hike up Mt. Livermore before returning to the boats and casting off to go our separate ways..

(Unfortunately, the terrace grill is no longer a feature of the Angel Island Café. Rumor has it that the cooks now preside over the dinner cruises aboard the Angel Island ferry, out of Tiburon.)

Note: Ferry service to Angel Island is available from Tiburon, San Francisco, Alameda and Vallejo.

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