Peninsula Yacht Club

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Home Sailing Events Corkscrewed!


That's how one of the Potter Yachters laughingly described the March 13 race through Corkscrew Slough in Redwood Creek when 6 boats got stuck in the mud as the tide went out while they were still in the shallows.

All part of a gala weekend cruise in for the Yachters, the 4th time the clubhas hosted the group, and the most ambitious event yet. Organizers turned it into a two day event including a race that circled through the twists of the slough, down Smith's Sough, past Pete's Harbor, and back to the Yacht Club.

All looked promising. The rain had stopped, and the skies had that squeaky clean splendor that follows a storm. There was even a light breeze. Perfect... Well not quite.
map of race
Map via Potters Yachter newsletter.

The morning began with a 10 AM skippers meeting over coffee and donuts in the clubhouse while Ed Stancil reviewed the course with the sailors.

The race itself got underway with a Lemans start where all the drivers ran – well ok walked briskly- towards their waiting boats and set off down the creek towards the bay.

It was high tide. How could they go wrong?

Well, for starters the breeze didn't amount to much so it took them longer than anticipated to tack their way up to the turning basin at Pete's where the creek widens. And longer to work their way down past the port to the mouth of Corkscrew Slough. And longer to work their way up the shallow slough, again tacking from bank to bank.

Unfortunately time and tides wait for no man, and by the time they hit the shallow part of the Slough the water level was dropping fast.. First one boat then another ran aground, as as others stopped to help them they fell even further behind. A few of the boats fired up their engines and powered their way through, but 6 boats found themselves immobilized.

Fortunately most were prepared. And took it all good naturedly, enjoying the sunshine and chattering on the radio, and as the day wore on an occasional nip. The cops came by perplexed, and left again when it was clear there was nothing they could do.

What is with the cops not bringing more beer? Asked Darrel. What happened to PROTECT AND SERVE ????

As darkness approached it began to get cold. But like the Boy Scouts, the Potters Yachters are prepared.

One actually got stuck the night before previewing the course, and was now stuck a second time with his buddies.. “Up went the boom tent, he said off went the wet clothes, on went the dry clothes, on went the stove, and most importantly...out came the DOUBLE vodka/ tonic/& lime!!...No Problemas!!”

Meanwhile back at PYC folks were getting concerned, but didn't know what to do about it until the tide was high enough to launch a rescue expedition. And the St. Patties day dinner party went on without them, save for an occasional radio update.

Finally with the tide rising a flotilla of zeros and dinghys set out to help. Not without a few more hitches. Ed Stancil lashed a line from his dinghy through the sailboats, and flipped his dinghy over on it's back when he hit the gas, losing a camera and cell phone along with his dignity.

But eventually a combination of tide and guides managed to herd all the boats back to the starting point where the boaters were pleased to see there was hot corned beef and cabbage and liquor and a roaring fire waiting for them and before long were laughing about the adventure.

"Well I guess we've seen the last of the Potter's Yachters", some of the PYC members speculated. "No way they are going to be back again next year."

"Well maybe not the same course", said the Pot Yachters. "And certainly not without an earlier start. But come back to the PYC? Sure why not."

"We finally made it back to PYC around midnight, said and.they STILL fed us hot corned beef & cabbage for St. Paddy's Day...AND kept the bar open!! Those PYC folks are the most gracious hosts on the San Francisco Bay!!"

Jerry Higgins even composed a ditty in honor of the event.(Sung to the theme song from Gilligan's Island)
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, That started from this Docktown Port, with many a Potter ship.

The fleet was a salty sailin' bunch, the Skippers brave and sure. They launched and set their sails that day for a three hour tour. A three hour tour.

The winds were light and shifty and The tide was at it's slack Slow progress up that Redwood Creek Meant many a wayward tack. Many a wayward tack.

The Corkscrew Slough they entered and More tacking they did do Seals watched and laughed as time ran short Some wouldn't make it through. Some wouldn't make it through.

The current started picking up, the tide was ebbing fast. If not for the power of their iron jibs Some would not make it past. Some would not make it past.

Five ships went aground in muck that day in heart of this lonely slough, Goose Gossman, Jerry Higgins too, the Montgomery, Neil and wife, Dave Kautz in his O'Day, all bored with nothin' to do.

Well, Chuck missed a turn and headed out to a very shallow Bay His keel got stuck, jumped off the pin, And there his boat did lay. And there he had to stay.

The PYC they launched that night, to search in the cold and dark, In rubber rafts and skiffs they came to find where the boats were parked.

Most boats were free by 10pm, By 12 'twas history. Corned beef and cabbage waiting hot With smiles, at PYC!

The next day after after a rousing breakfast the sailors set out on a less challenging course from which all returned in good shape.

Here's a slide show with more photos from the adventure.

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