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group at Pier 15
This multi-generational group of small-boat cruisers stopped at Pier 15 in San Rafael for lunch.
©2016 Santa Rosa Sailing Club
San Rafael Creek Cruise

September 27, 2016

On Saturday, September 17, Santa Rosa Sailing Club, in their 14-ft (or so) boats sailed from Loch Lomond up the San Rafael Creek and back. We had lunch at the Pier 15 Restaurant since Terrapin Crossroads was closed for a private party — so we got to sail in and out of the San Rafael Yacht Harbor, too. Maybe "yacht" isn't quite the proper term for the tenants? We also survived passing the Giant Swan twice!

Boats the Loch Lomond dock
Santa Rosa Sailing Club boats at the Loch Lomond Launch Ramp. ©2016 Pat Broderick

While St. Francis Yacht Club's Rolex Big Boat Series took over San Francisco Bay, a small fleet of SRSC boats, joined by one Sailing Education Adventure boat, took over San Rafael Creek. Leaving Loch Lomond Marina's launch ramp at 11:00, the intrepid Santa Rosa sailors inched their way out against a gentle soutwest wind to the channel leading up to the San Rafael Creek entrance. Thirty minutes later most had navigated the first quarter mile and into the channel. Avoiding the mud flats on both sides, the boats reached their way into San Rafael Creek, some using a range marker to say within the channel for the first time.

Leaving Loch Lomond
Santa Rosa Sailing Club boats leaving Loch Lomond Marina. ©2016 Gail Cafferata

kids on boat
Elljay and Preston Broderick on San Rafael Bay. ©2016 Pat Broderick

Inside the creek the wind increased slightly, allowing periodic boat speeds of up to 2 knots as the flotilla passed creekside houses with private docks and nautically decorated backyards and patios, umerous SUPs and rowers along with several large yachts. It was high tide, providing navigation decisions for the small boat sailors. Large apartment buildings on the windward side of the creek also provided lessons in wind blockage followed by gusts funneled through the gaps between.

Sailing on the Canal
Sailing on the San Rafael Canal. ©2016 Santa Rosa Sailing Club

The giant swan that resides on a float along the north side of the canal, fancifully named boats, and numerous water birds provided entertainment and distraction. At the Grand Street Bridge, the head of navigation, the boats turned back for a lunch stop at the Pier 15 Restaurant inside the San Rafael Yacht Harbor. The rickety municipal dock adjacent to the restaurant offered a jump onto the old launch ramp — one at a time.

giant swan
Preston and Elljay sail past the big swan. ©2016 Pat Broderick

Following lunch the intrepid sailors inched their way back out of the yacht harbor past liveaboards with potted plants lining their decks and questionable boat houses, and into the creek. Business at the board shop across the canal was booming and the nearly 0 windspeed again offered challenges with numerous novice SUP pilots attempting to paddle in a straight line. But, the breeze soon filled in from the southeast and the boats began sailing back down the creek. Short tacks to the north side were followed by longer tacks across to the south side. Lots of tacks!

At the San Rafael Creek entrance the wind freshened and the final leg back to Loch Lomond Marina was a spirited romp for small boat sailors in open water. Everyone agreed it was an enjoyable adventure in a small boat.

The Santa Rosa Sailing Club sponsors several small boat cruises, including a sail at the end of October from the Petaluma Yacht Harbor up the Petaluma River, through the D Street Bridge and into the downtown Petaluma turning basin. After lunch some boats sail down to Lakeville and back if conditions are right. The club also sponsors an annual Labor Day Regatta on Tomales Bay, winter weekend racing on Tomales Bay, and several regattas on Santa Rosa area lakes. Information is available at

Pat Broderick

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