It started with a trip across the San Francisco Bay to spend a warm long weekend in Sausalito, CA. It ended with an unscheduled trip to visit the Farallon Islands
and a rare opportunity to take a tour of an island closed to the public.
At the beginning of February I signed up to be a skipper with the Farallon Patrol
. This group provides transport for scientists and supplies to and from Southeast Farallon Island where Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) has maintained continuous observation of wildlife since 1968. My first planned round trip was scheduled for May 28.
On Friday night an email went out to skippers requesting a volunteer to make a run on Monday (Presidents’ Day) due to the bad weather that was going to prevent the scheduled run on Saturday. I assumed that another skipper would step up and so continued with my planned cruise to Sausalito where I met up with a fleet of sailboats with whom I have been sailing for 15 years.
We had a great weekend in Sausalito that included a tour of the Matthew Turner – a 1860s design wooden ship currently under construction. By Sunday morning not only had no one volunteered for the run to the Farallons, but one of the returning scientists had sent out a sad email plea to be reunited with his valentine.
At breakfast on Sunday I turned to one of my friends and asked “how do you fancy a trip to the Farallons tomorrow?” With the other sailors there I was quickly able to put together a crew of 3 for the trip and sent an email reply volunteering for the run. The outbound scientists were notified and made their shopping trip for two weeks of provisions for them and the other scientists on Southeast Farallon Island. We met them at 0700 on Monday morning and were loaded up and underway by 0730.
The predicted weather was for 3-5’ wind waves on top of 7-8’ swell. With a 2.5kt ebb tide things were a bit lumpy exiting the Golden Gate, but nothing too alarming. The seas flattened out a bit as we escaped the typically confused seas that occupy the Golden Gate. By 1100 we were picking up a floating line to tie up at a buoy on the east side of Southeast Farallon Island (SEFI).
The crew disembarked in shifts onto a skiff that was skillfully lifted by a crane (passengers and all) out of the water and onto the island. From there the crew and I were taken on a wonderful tour of SEFI while my boat was unloaded and reloaded with trash and other items making the return trip. We didn’t get to visit the lighthouse but it will be top of the list on my return visit at the end of May.
We returned back to my boat with two scientists who were headed home to the mainland for a 2 week break and slipped the buoy line at around 1300. The seas had continued to flatten and we had a fairly smooth ride home assisted by a flood tide through the Golden Gate. We tied up in Sausalito at 1730 and unloaded the scientists and their return load.
After a quick bite to eat I had to depart again for my home port of Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City. Departing at 1815 made for another 4 hour trip, this time at night and singlehanding. I pulled safely into my slip at 2230 tired but very satisfied after a fascinating unplanned conclusion to my long weekend cruise.
I can’t wait for the next run.