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Above the Bay

San Francisco Bay
July 19, 2004

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Inviting people sailing is a little like inviting people to dinner and then hoping something to eat walks in the yard. No control over whether the wind shows up. And even though no one verbally blames the skipper, the feeling of watching your crew bob sadly in irons is not unlike the feeling of hosting a party that no one's enjoying.

So I was a little worried to see flags and tell tails hanging limp as Allen, Lang & I prepped our boat for an afternoon sail, just a few days before I headed out on a business trip and got this view of the bay. But as we motored out of the marina, the winds began to puff and by the time we cleared the channel we were gliding. We heeled our way up Raccoon Straits, and saw the swells and white caps in the central bay, decided to go for it and let the wind rushing in the Golden Gate push us along the windward shore of Angel Island, so roughly that we had to furl the jib.

Then, coming around the island's southeast point, I saw something I hadn't seen on the bay: a dorsal fin breaching, just a few yards off the stern. I looked again and saw there were three of them -- porpoises, giving us chase as we sailed into the island's lee side. The day was so good we were loathe to bring it in, sailing back and forth across the yawning gape of the marina entrance, the beers drained and the sun sinking down over Mount Tam. In the end, we couldn't bring ourselves to sully the day by starting the engine, so we sailed on into the marina, letting the wind bring us all the way home.