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Old 03 October 2012, 17:20   #1
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Another Beautiful Sunday at Angel Island

We left our house at 9:50am with our Zodiac in tow and our two visiting French friends ready for a day of touring and hiking. One of my scuba diving buddies also wanted to get out and joined us at the launch ramp, since he was coming from the East Bay. Often we take guests out for a boat tour followed by a nice hike around Angel Island since it offers some of the best scenery around. So we headed down from the heart of the wine country in Sonoma County towards one of the most famous landmarks the world over...the Golden Gate Bridge. Right at the base of the bridge is a small cove called Horseshoe Cove (Bay). It houses a small marina, and the Coast Guard Lifeboats. During World War II this was a military location (The best land always is!) and the place where one of the San Francisco Bays most important pieces of protection was tended from. The submarine net that stretched across the Golden Gate required a lot of people and boats to maintain and Horseshoe Cove is where it all happened.

This photo was actually taken last year, by someone unknown as I found it on Flickr.


Our arrival was preceded by our friend Chris who had stopped at the store and bought some more supplies BEER and cookies, well and some fruit too. Blue Moon does taste best with some orange in it. We loaded up the cooler, got the boat prepped and started to launch. My partner hasn't had much experience driving as she had never even owned a car let alone put gas in one until moving to the United States from France. She has been trying to learn to back up a trailer...and a car for that matter. Standing next to her I guided her down to the water. Once the trailer was deep enough I pushed the boat off the trailer, started the motor and proceeded to watch them struggle to get the car and trailer parked. Finally I beached the boat, leaving a friend to hold it in the 6" surf zone, and parked the car myself. Since the boat trailer is light all they had to do was get the car going in the right direction and straighten the trailer by dragging it over, although two people can easily pick it up.

Everyone jumps in the boat and we shove off of land and idle out of the cove. A quick stop to air the boat up after the cold water lowered the air pressure and we were officially off. All of us were either in tee shirts or tank tops and no one was cold. We headed out under the Gate, and ventured out on the Marin Headlands side a couple of miles for a different view of the bridge. Wasn't long before a seal was spotted, then some dolphins. The seas were calm in this section but by the buoy reports it was clear that on the "outside" it was a whole other world with very large swells. Channel 16 was blowing up with calls, and the Coast Guard was busy as throughout the day we heard a couple of Pan Pan calls, and requests by the Coast Guard to assist in searching for capsized boats. Two boats apparently had flipped over on Sunday and four people were in the water at different times. Not sure what became of them. Sticking to the inside was very calm conditions and were able to enjoy this part of the tour. We headed back into the bay stopping to take photos of scenery and ocean creatures since we came across more dophins. A quick lap around Alcatraz and then towards the backside of Angel Island so we would make a full lap of it by the end of the day. Ayala Cove is a very beautiful place, well protected from wind, current and swell. We tie up to the dock here and using the now very expensive state park pass we do not have to pay the daily moorage fee of $15.00. This is the same place that all supplies, and the ferries come to the island at too.

Three Zodiacs in a row. There was also a Protector tied off to a larger yacht. (Sorry all photos below taken with just an iphone although a 5 it still doesn't compare to a real camera)


Angel Island used to be military, go figure, and was the immigration center for many years. Many Chinese have stories of passing through there in their journey to the United States, including some of my brothers wife's family.

Grabbing the cooler and our bags of food we head over to the picnic tables for a nice lunch. Two tasty beers, a sandwich, and an apple later, I start the herd back towards the boat to drop lunch supplies off, grab a couple water bottles each and start our trek around the island. Since it is later in the day we do not run into too many people. The ferries stop running at 4:30pm so most folks are already heading back to the marina.

Photo taken on the hike up the hill, of Belvedere (Left), Tiburon (Right), with Mt Tamalpias in the background.


We get to the top of the hill, and find ourselves alone with a 360 degree view of the San Francisco Bay. It is a gorgeous, but hot day. We can see the three bridges, San Francisco clearly, Marin County, the East Bay, Sausalito, Treasure Island, and all the other sights around.

San Francisco on the right with Alcatraz in front of the city and Treasure Island towards the center.


After hanging out on top for about 20 minutes we head back down the trail to visit the old barracks. At this point I am 1 1/2 bottles of water down and very thirsty. Fortunately there is a tap to refill our water bottles. I pound a full 24 ounces of water in one shot then refill one of my bottles for the rest of the hike. Many of the buildings are falling down and dangerous to get near (Fenced off), but some are still able to be walked through.

Since it is now around 5:00pm we start back towards the boat to head back to the launch point. When we arrive back at the boat the park ranger stops me and starts asking all kinds of questions about our little Zodiac. He was amazed by the "improvements" that have been performed to it. When I explained it is primarily used for scuba diving, his eyes lit up and he goes "That is what I want one for". I guess I need to take him on a boat diving trip now. We didn't have much time to talk as we had a potentially rough ride back to the launch ramp. The tides had swung and were now ripping out the gate, and of course the afternoon wind was blowing into the gate. Put those two going the opposite ways combined with swells and you have potential for some short interval vertical waves that are white capping. We stop before getting to main part of the bay as I wanted to put my jacket on now before getting wet...it is a rather small boat after all at 14' (4.2 meters). Fortunately they are designed to handle pretty much anything within reason, and are commonly used for surf rescue. I set it up with an elephant trunk on the back to drain the deck of water, and have a bilge pump mounted under the deck to get the remainder. Since it is unsinkable we just need to keep it upright and hopefully with a running motor. The trip back towards Sausalito was uneventful albeit a slow ride at around 12-14 mph so as to not bounce everyone around, or worse knock them overboard (We all did have life jackets on though). Adeline and I have the auto inflate life jackets that we wear while out on the bay and ocean, unless we are in our drysuits in which case we forgo the life jackets. Coming around the last corner back towards the cove we hit a gnarly tide line where the water was standing straight up. With rocks on the right and bigger waves on the left I chose the middle path, and worked us through some rough water, back into the smooth protected waters, and we idled back into the launch ramp.

Our arrival time back at Horseshoe Cove couldn't have been any later as the sun was just setting behind the hill and I haven't rigged up running lights yet. 15 minutes or so after sunset running lights are required. Cutting it a little close so lights are on the shopping list sooner rather than later.

My partner went to go and get the car, since the wind was blowing and technically the boat would be more of a handful. I can't really leave it on the beach since the occasional swell comes in and would swamp it. 5 minutes pass, as she struggle to keep the trailer and car going the directions she wants. Then 10 minutes, now I am very patient, but starting to get frustrated as all they have to do is walk the trailer over and worry about the car. Finally after a few more minutes the trailer starts going into the water. Since the tide is out pretty far, I watch as the trailer falls off the end of the ramp into the water and I yell "STOP!" I line the boat up about 6 feet to the left of the trailer and as the wind pushes it sideways I guide it onto the trailer bunks. With a little throttle it slides up some but not far enough. Shutting the motor off I jump out and winch it up the rest of the way. Now it is time to get the car up a slimy green ramp with the trailer wheel hanging over who knows what. I can barely stand and fear slipping into the water or landing on the concrete ramp. First try produced wheel spin and the power is pulled back. Second try same thing. Third try and with two of us trying to lift bow of the boat to assist the wheel coming back up onto the ramp produces the same effect, no movement. For the fourth try I have her back up about six inches and tell her to gently accelerate quickly. The car moves forward and just stops. Fifth try produces nothing. Back up again and this time she whacks the throttle a little harder, and we lift with everything we got. The trailer jumps up and the car graciously pulls up the boat ramp. By no means were we ever stuck and I had plenty of solutions including putting my launching wheels onto the boat and dragging it up the ramp, then putting it on the trailer. Never have just one option!

We packed everything up and with our iPhones tried to find a local restaurant. The closest one closes in 15 minutes, so went to well known local site on the North side of Sausalito, called Fish. Parking is always and issue when towing a trailer but since there is a marina right there it is cake with specific trailer parking spots available. They went to order food and I pulled up at the really nice wash stations to wash the trailer and flush the motor. That is when I noticed the dent in the rear bumper. It was obvious the trailer had been jackknifed, shoving the trailer jack into the car (Doesn't one look in the backup camera occasionally?). I finished washing the boat, parked it and headed into the order line with everyone. At this point I did the proper thing to do, I beat the little woman! Of course I used my soft sweatshirt and no I didn't even yell at her. I know it was an accident, and am always very easy on her when she damages or breaks something. She has agreed to some trailer lessons, now I just need to decide which trailer, as we have two, and need to find a parking lot to do it.

All in all a great day that everyone enjoyed. With plenty of sun block we all got a little tanner and a had good workout hiking for hours.
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Old 03 October 2012, 17:34   #2
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WOW. nice pics.
Is that a Prius. with a tow bar!
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Old 04 October 2012, 01:07   #3
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Looks like it was a beautiful day on the bay. Nice pics! Pretty rare for the water to be like this l? It's always been blowing when I've been there (visiting & when I lived there for a year... Though I wasn't a boat owner then).

I love the Prius tow vehicle. A buddy even tows his Hurricane 540 with it no problem.
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Old 04 October 2012, 02:58   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncp View Post
Looks like it was a beautiful day on the bay. Nice pics! Pretty rare for the water to be like this l? It's always been blowing when I've been there (visiting & when I lived there for a year... Though I wasn't a boat owner then).
It was another awesome day there. We often take guests out to Angel Island since it is so nice. The water was calm in the morning but like most every afternoon it kicked up. I grew up sailing a 10m sailboat out of Fort Mason, and let me tell you 20+ knot winds by the gate were almost a daily routine. Sailing for us didn't start until it was blowing over 20 knots, and we were happy at 25 knots.

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I love the Prius tow vehicle. A buddy even tows his Hurricane 540 with it no problem.
Our little boat weighs somewhere around 650-700 lbs including trailer. I have towed around 1,200 lbs with my other trailer, and there is no way I would do that traveling far, nor on purpose again. The 540 weighs 1,300 empty, before adding in fuel, ENGINE, and the TRAILER There is no way a Prius could safely tow that much weight
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Old 04 October 2012, 11:31   #5
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As an FYI, I recall hearing that a boat with 4 fishermen on board capsized off the Marin Headlands on Sunday. Last I heard, 2 swam to shore, and one was found (dead) on Monday or Tuesday. One still missing (as of Wednesday.)

Wise move to not push the ocean side of the trip.


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Old 04 October 2012, 14:12   #6
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Turns out it was a 23 foot Striper (Nice capable boat, so it must have been a big wave) that flipped off San Mateo County at Pigion Point, and yes two swam to shore, the two with life jackets on, and the two without life jackets drowned. One body has been recovered and the other is buried at sea, unless located. With an EPIRB or portable VHF attached to a person they might all have lived. Of course wearing floatation would also prevent 70+% of all drownings. Still in our cold water thermal protection is important if you are going to spend any considerable time in the water.

Fisherman's body found off San Mateo coast; one still missing from capsized boat - San Jose Mercury News
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Old 05 October 2012, 11:00   #7
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Oops. Wrong bay. Sorry about that.

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