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Thread: Three bridge fiasco 2023

  1. #1
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    Default Three bridge fiasco 2023

    It's good to see that Rick is trying to revive the time-honored tradition of competing for the oldest SSS hat. Now, how about a story about your first Fiasco? Here's mine.

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    At the end of January in 2011 I was signed up to participate in the Three Bridge Fiasco. The Fiasco is an anarchic circus of a race sponsored by the Single Handed Sailing Society. Except that a funny thing happened on my way from the start to Blackhaller. My plan was to circle Blackhaller first. How deluded I was. I watched John Foster, who was just ahead of us on his Nonesuch 22. Slowly but steadily he made his way across the mouth of the Bay. I reconsidered Blackhaller, decided to come back later and circle it at the end of the day.

    As I headed north across the mouth of the Bay my boat behaved like a magnet, headed sideways toward the dreaded south tower. How many times had I been warned, first by windsurfers and then by sailors, to stay away from the south tower? LOTS of times. In an effort to take back some control, I headed west instead of north and the ebb flushed us out very very fast. There we were, my boat and I, unexpectedly outside the Bay for the first time.

    I gathered myself and considered how I felt about the situation.
    ďJackie, how do you feel about this situation?Ē
    ďWell, Jackie, itís not raining yet. Itís not snowing. The waves arenít big. Seems do-able. Calm down.Ē
    I decided to make the best of an unexpected experience.

    I had about 3 gallons of gas left, and my 2.5 hp Suzuki outboard had reliably started right up that morning. These facts boded well for my future. I had a half dozen bottles of water and lots of granola bars. I had recharged my handheld VHF radio the night before. I had my garmin gps handheld, and a ziplock baggy full of batteries. Most importantly I was sailing my great little Cal 20. Even though she had been shoved around like balsa wood by the strong ebb current of the day, she was floating along just fine.

    And, then, whoa! That movement of water outside the bridge felt really different. Immediately! It was like being on top of a big wide field that is slowly breathing in. Then breathing out. Thank goodness there werenít any real waves. After all, I didnít have those jacklines set up. As I came within sight of the Cliff House I looked behind me and saw fog leaking through the bridge toward me. Uh oh. Although I had programmed the Olympic Circle racing marks into my gps, and the end of Treasure Island and the entrance to Berkeley Marina, I didnít have the Bridge towers programmed. What if it got really foggy?


    I wondered whether I should call in to retire from the race. I listened as the race committee continued to check in racers, most of whom hadnít even started. Starts would continue until 11:30 am. I was out the gate at 10:15. No, I decided. Better not to bother them for a while yet. They didnít want to have to worry about me. More importantly, I didnít want them to worry about me. My boat and me? We were fine. Besides, although I had my harness, flares, fog horn, etc etc onboard, I hadnít set up jacklines before going ďoffshoreĒ. Who knew I would be offshore? I had planned for a race around the bay.

    I stepped into my cabin and retrieved my waterproof chartbook of the San Francisco Bay and Delta. I guessed at the bridge tower coordinates and programmed them into my garmin. By the time I was done I was out even further and slightly nauseous. Then I looked and realized I could see up the coast. I think I saw Drakeís Bay. Iím pretty sure I saw Oregon. Then I started to worry about great white sharks. I decided I was ready to start up my engine and head back. So I did.

    It took me a long time to get back into the bay. A LONG time. That little engine puttered away, but the ebb was still strong. But the fog didnít set in hard, and on the way back in a pair of porpoises graced me with their presence, leaping together out of the water off my port stern over and over again. They were accompanying me.

    As I motored back under the bridge I decided that it could have been worse. The fog hadnít set in hard after all, and I hadnít needed those gps coordinates. At the beginning of the day I had looked forward to a slow frustrating race against the current around three marks in the bay. Instead I experienced my first trip alone outside the Gate in my little boat. That called for a celebration. I sailed into Horseshoe Cove and disembarked for lunch at the Presidio Yacht Club bar. I enjoyed Bobís Pepper Burger special, grilled by Bob himself and served with potato chips. Outside it rained all over Dura Mater. But she didnít mind a bit.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2016
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    My first time sailing The Three Bridge Fiasco was in 1985. I had shoreside obligations in 1984 that could not be ignored.

    I raced double-handed with Bob Harrison aboard Akka, a traditional 36 foot cruising boat of about 16,600 pound displacement. The PHRF rating was around 220 so we were early starters.

    The wind was light and a nice tide was flooding. Good progress was being made, thanks to the current. As we approached Aquatic Park, we realized we did not have enough sailing speed to sail away from the pier. The smart decision would have been to drop anchor and wait for wind. The anchor rode was all chain with a windlass. Anchor deployment would not be fast.

    As we approached the pilings, the boat saving alternate was to start the engine and avoid damage. The engine was started and we were oit of the race. Our efforts were recognized at the awards ceremony with the following plaque.

    Ants Uiga

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  3. #3
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    A race committee with a sense of humor!!! Delightful plaque. Thanks, Ants.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    A race committee with a sense of humor!!! Delightful plaque. Thanks, Ants.
    Peter Hogg was the commodore and had a great sense of humor. It was a pleasure to be involved with all the volunteer staff.

    Jackie - you got flushed out. I got flushed in. 3BF - fun for all!

    Ants

  5. #5
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    Here's an update regarding participation in SSS races. Credit to Ray Irvine, Mr Jibeset. ps I see you are reading, Rob T. Why don't you ever email your friends?

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    Last edited by Philpott; 01-20-2023 at 10:09 AM.

  6. #6
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    And another graph, more specific and even prettier ;-)

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    I have a bet with Ray about participation, so keep those registrations coming!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Montara, CA
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    In 2014 I did my first Fiasco and got around 2 of the marks. My goal in 2015 was to make it around all three; I made none. In 2016, I won my division. In 2017, I took this video of a line of boats completely stopped in the middle of the bay just before Treasure Island. I was singlehanding and didn't really have a good AP at the time so it's not well framed, but you can see how congested it was. Kynntana and I were still sailing along when I took the video, but as we came up to the line, I asked a boat next to me what was going on. He said, "Coast Guard dropped a chain in the water and no one can get through." I actually threw the wheel over hard left to make a bee line out of there until I realized he was joking. I'm sure he's still chuckling at that, whoever that was. Anyway, there we all sat for a while, a perfect line of Fiasco boats until the wind and current stopped fighting each other and released the fleet. This was just before a crunch of boats got a little too close to Coast Guard Island, but that's a whole'nother story.

    Last edited by Gamayun; 01-20-2023 at 09:11 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    My first Fiasco was with Ragtime! in 2003. I'd just bought her in November (2002). Rich Ray helped me install a tillerpilot for the 3BF, working under a cockpit tarp in the rain. Rich, Greg Nelsen and I were like three peas in a pod in those years, all racing singlehanded in the ULDB division.

    I was OCS (crossing stern-first in the current) and got tagged with the 20-minute penalty. Rich started after me in his faster-rated Antrim 27, but he hoisted on the starting line and was past me like a shot. I took the hint and hoisted as well. I recall trying to gybe under the Bay Bridge right next to Kame Richards. It was a mess and I was embarrassed! Approaching the rounding at YBI, Rich looked like he was heading for the Estuary. I was puzzled, then he finally gybed well south of the island. I realized how strong the ebb was and followed suit.

    I don't remember the rest of the race, except for having a lot of trouble with the kite coming back down from Red Rock. The results show I finished at 16:16:43, including the 20-minute penalty.

    https://www.sfbaysss.org/oldsite2013...bf_results.pdf

    I've started 12 3BFs and finished 7-8 of them. I can't find anything for the 2008 3BF but I know I raced in it that year.
    .
    Last edited by BobJ; 01-21-2023 at 02:36 PM.

  9. #9
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    The Fiasco represents a new year's racing w a silly premise. If we get skunked we can laugh it off, if we do well (or if we just finish!) it bodes well for the coming season. I will be sharing my Fiasco with a friend I met 45 years ago, someone who has made me laugh every time I've seen him. It doesn't get any better than that!

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