stillhowlyn's travels 2010 travel blog

Mavis #4, as featured in the History of the St. Francis Yacht...

Bird fleet!

Sign says it all!

All set to sail!

Christina hits the beach!

Annie, too!

Norm & Annie framed by the GG!

Time for a snack!

Getting serious about some sand!

Wet dog's shake!

Where's Papa?

That's gotta be them, rounding the buoy!

...& coming up on Alcatraz!

Back to the water!

But first I need to explain how this day came about. From 1960-1964 Howard owned the Bird Boat Mavis, hull #4 of a group of vintage, wooden sail boats that, to this day, race on San Francisco Bay. After a recent afternoon spent wandering around the beautiful town of Sausalito, and more specifically the "Bird Sanctuary" at the marina where many of these classics still reside, I went on their website and left a message: "If you ever need a crew member to race, give Howard a call", and included his ownership and experience info! Well, the club president, Pierre, responded right away and invited Howard to crew on his boat, Petrel #8, on a race planned for June 12th!

Our next hurdle was trying to ascertain the race course which would be affected by factors such as wind direction and tidal flow and finding a suitable shoreline position for me, hopefully within range of my long distance lens, to capture some of the action. The beach at Crissy Field in the Marina District near the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge proved the perfect spot.

Howard met up with his crew mates, Pierre and Loudin, all seasoned sailors with a combined age average of 77, the oldest being 82! They exchanged stories, caught up on which boats were still active, set sails, donned foul weather gear and life jackets, then motored off to their 10:55 starting time somewhere near the St. Francis Yacht Club in SF, or so we thought!

In the meantime, Norm with Christina and Annie the dog arrived in Sausalito to pick me up. This truly made my day! We shopped at Mollie Stone's market for some good picnic fixings and headed across the Golden Gate to join the crowds of families, most with dogs, enjoying this picture perfect, warm, sunny day in San Francisco! Chairs, blankets, cooler, food and drinks, bucket and shovel, balls - all the gear was offloaded and set up. Within minutes both Annie and Christina were wet and sandy, soon joined by Norm trying to keep track of them both. I, of course, took hundreds of pictures and reveled in the moment.

All the while, mind you, we're watching the action on the bay which consists of all manner of marine activities and hundreds of sailboats, cargo ships, wind surfers, and ferries running back and forth. We finally thought we had spotted the Bird fleet, a small group of racers about to round the buoy off the yacht club. I hurried over for a better shot, though a close-up was out of the question. Satisfied that I had tried, we went back to our own water activities.

Shortly my phone rang and it was Howard: I am back at the dock in Sausalito! We got all the way over when Pierre realized he had not turned the radio on and the course had been changed due to high winds. But he got to sail "Petrel" all the way back and was thrilled though they completely missed the race!!

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