Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sailing on San Francisco Bay

Navigator's Dream
Acrylic on Canvas, 2006
In Memory of my father, William C. Irving
     While recovering from a summer cold, I couldn't resist an opportunity to watch the America's Cup on Super Sunday, the last day until they return for Fleet Week in October. It had been overcast for days but finally the sun broke through the marine layer. I didn't want to miss a chance to see the 72-foot catamarans racing on the bay. So I bundled up grabbing the vintage Manon binoculars my father used when he was a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy on the USS General W. A. Mann during the Korean War. Jumping on the Fillmore 22, I cheerfully greeted the bus driver who responded with a hearty "Great day for sailing on the bay!" as I headed down hill to the Marina Green.
     After searching for a few minutes, I found a place along the rocks just past the St. Francis Yacht Club close to a lighthouse. There were lots of people perched on rocks or standing wherever they could fit in. It was the perfect spot next to a couple guys who shared some interesting facts about the event. Helicopters flew overhead and a man suddenly floated through the air propelled by two enormous jet streams of water. At times, the racing boats headed in our direction as their colorful sails flapped in the wind with the Golden Gate and brilliant blue sky in the background.
     While observing this scene, I remembered the time I went sailing with a young, enthusiastic crowd and as we went under the Golden Gate the boat tipped up at 180 degrees sending waves splashing aboard drenching us. I held on for dear life to keep from sliding into the icy depths. Although exhilarating, I was terrified and wasn't sure if I was going to make it. I'm not the strongest swimmer. In fact, I'm not a swimmer at all and prefer to stay on deck leaving subaquatic excursions to the imagination.
     Another time, I went out with a boyfriend for sailing lessons to celebrate my 36th birthday. We sailed to Angel Island and were leisurely sipping wine, talking, laughing and enjoying our lunch in the sunshine. Then, suddenly I noticed that the boats around us were getting closer and closer. He hadn't set anchor and, although I was the student, I've been on enough boats in my lifetime to know better.  I've never seen anyone move as fast as he did that day to prevent us from crashing into the other boats. It was all hands on deck even though mine didn't quite know what they were doing! I learned a lot that day but there are definitely less stressful ways to go about it. Fortunately, it was smooth sailing on the way back as we glided past the skyline of the city I've come to love over the years.
     San Francisco Bay is one of the most challenging but rewarding places to sail. I'm looking forward to many more windswept trips out on the bay. After spending time on boats I better understand why my father especially enjoyed the beginning of his Naval career as an oceanographer navigating the seas of the world. He was able to use his artistic talent for spatial relations with the planets to guide him and loved the free feeling of the wind and water. Nature was everything to him.
     I'm looking forward to the next regatta scheduled  for October 4-7 in preparation for the 34th America's Cup race in 2013. It will feature extreme 13-story high AC72 wing yachts. I'll  be there in the crowd again with my father's binoculars in hand and his spirit close as ever.

Surviving my 36th Birthday Celebration
 Angel Island Sailing Trip, 1987

For awhile I was put in charge of steering which seemed to be a good fit.
 Angel Island Sailing Trip, 1987

"Big red barge? No worries!
 Angel Island Sailing Trip, 1987