Monday, July 6, 2009

Tilted Travels: Sailing on the Bay

For a city surrounded by water, surprisingly few residents have had the chance to sail on San Francisco Bay in a real sailboat. While taking the Blue & Gold ferry for drinks/brunch at Sam's in Tiburon is nice, it's not the same experience as traveling under sail on a boat tilted 45 degrees.

Fortunately, there are several charter services available. One of which is The Ruby, run by Captain Josh Pryor. Your host recently had the chance to take part in a Sunday afternoon cruise.

For a reasonable $40 per person, you get a 2.5 hour sail around the bay, which includes a lunch of deli sandwiches, fruit, snacks, and cookies. A decent selection of beer and wine is available for $4 a glass. Captain Josh is at the helm, and his First Mate, Elizabeth, acts as bartender and helps around the boat. Josh and Elizabeth are great hosts, and will gladly share information about the boat and journey including anecdotes about past voyages. Josh has been running the Ruby for close to 30 years, and Elizabeth has been on the boat for 5. Many passengers return over and over, including one late 20's passenger on our cruise who said she has been coming since she was 7 years old.

The boat itself is interesting, as it was constructed by Captain Josh himself in the late 1970's. The 63 ft long sloop is constructed of steel, and has a handy solid railing around the edge (as compared to a metal cord like many boats have). Considering how much the boat tilts while under sail (see picture), the railing is reassuring, especially after several beers. When not under sail, the boat is powered by a small antique 1940's diesel engine. For those who wish to take refuge from the wind/spray, the interior cabin is large enough to accommodate several passengers and is nicely appointed with white wainscoting. Notice the stuffed turtle head on the wall.Like the boat, its berthing location is also unique, being behind The Ramp, which is a fun, ramshackle, waterside outdoor bar/restaurant in the Dog Patch neighborhood of San Francisco. It's an excellent place for a post-cruise beer or cocktail. In addition, for those interested in historic industrial architecture, there is a very old dry dock with cranes across the inlet.

Captain Josh sails all year round, normally once or twice a day. It's best to call ahead to make reservations, and to learn the day's sailing time(s). Routes can differ depending on the wind and currents. Our route took us out past AT&T Park, under the Bay Bridge, and around Alcatraz to Angel island and return. For those that forget their warm clothes, there are several West Marine sailing jackets available for use on the boat.


The Details:

Ruby Sailing Yacht
835 Terry Francois St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 861-2165

The Ramp Restaurant
855 Terry Francois St
(between Illinois St & Mariposa St)
San Francisco, CA 94158
(415) 621-2378

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