On July 17th at 7:49am a crew of six departed Pier 39 marina in San Francisco for a trip around the South Farallon Islands. Months of boat preparation, safety infrastructure, and crew training had been completed prior to the 65+ mile trip. ‘Rascal’ and her crew were ready for big winds, large ocean swells, and open ocean navigation using dead reckoning as a backup to GPS. Little did the they know, the day unfolded very differently than forecast or expected . . .
WBFV longer term goals include sailing Clover, the historic 68’ gaff rigged topsail cutter, to Hawaii and back with an all vet crew. Question is, how to you build a deep reservoir of experience with WBFV volunteers to be prepared for such a voyage? Most WBFV sail training to date has remained within the bay and occasionally up to 5nm off the California coast including a trip to Monterey in early 2020. But there’s a big difference between coastal and blue water sailing. The Farallons provides a necessary stepping stone for future WBFV blue water excursions.
The intrepid crew included Navy veterans as and a well established veteran of SF bay tug and pilot operations, WBFV board member, Patrick Mulcahy. A common thread among these volunteers was the number of hours dedicated to our wooden boats restoration program (primarily Clover) in past twelve months. Future Farallon roundings and other WBFV blue water sail training will give priority to those vets who have completed multiple wooden boat restoration and sail training days.
So, how did the crew and boat fare amongst the challenges of the day?
Eventually the winds filled in after the crew navigated a large feet of chartered fishing boats and losing sight of the California coastline. And then something amazing happened . . . whale sightings. Not one, two or five whales – but at least ten whales of different types spotted beyond 15nm from the Golden Gate. It was an epic experience for the crew to be greeted by such a host of these amazing creatures. Whale water spouts, whales dramatically breaching and then crashing back into the sea, and even a mother escorting her calf were observed. This phenomenal show of nature was a wonderful prelude to the South Farallon Islands, which also exceeded crew expectations.