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Larkspur Landing
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Larkspur blows best when Crissy and Peninsula are buried in deep fog. At these times it and Sherman Island may be the only places blowing in the Bay. In years when there is little fog Larkspur can be pretty unreliable.

The beach has sharp cobblestone. Just to the left of the main launch there are some very large rocks just below the surface. Avoid this area when returning.

The wind is straight onshore and extremely light for the first 500 feet. This means you need a bigger board to get across the ferry channel than the winds outside would indicate.

You rig on compacted dirt with some grass. Do not rig for the wind you can feel. Look way outside and judge what size is being used there. Getting to the stronger winds is difficult to impossible for newcomers due to the extremlely light winds inside. Often the beach has 3-8 knots and people are ripping on 4.5 to 5.0 sails way outside. In this light wind inside you have to cross the ferry channel. Be sure to clear yourself carefully before leaving the beach. (If a ferry approaches sail or swim out of the channel fast.

Leaving the beach you first pinch and slog upwind. If the wind is too light to beach start swim your board upwind about a 100 feet and wait for a gust and make a light wind waterstart. With a smaller board the water will be over your ankles during the long slog. When you near the salt marsh across the channel do a low wind jibe or tack in about 5 knots of wind. IF you don't fall do several more upwind slog tacks until you can plane. Since you probably did fall you can wait patiently until there is a 8 knot gust and try to waterstart. Or you can wade upwind in deep clean mud towing your board.

If you find it too difficult to get across on your first visit try launching at Fat Boys near the prison gate several hundred feet to the east. At Fat Boys you have a better angle and can bear off better to get on a plane.

The few days when the winds are strong inside they will be extremely gusty and shifty outside in the 4.5 to 4.0 range. In these conditions PSQ is a better launch.

Larkspur is a good place for a couple since the less experienced sailor can stay in the lighter flatter water in the first half of the sailing area while the more experienced sailor tackles the strong wind outside. The wind can die very fast here.

The water is very muddy and the bottom, which you stand on when you blow an inside jibe or take a break, is very soft but "clean". There is no problem going barefoot once you cross the rocky beach. The water is very shallow, 1-4 feet deep, at the western end of the sailing area. At low tides you can do face mud plants when you fin hits the bottom several hundred feet from shore. The locals have marked some of the low tide hazards with red and orange buoys. Keep 10 feet away to avoid a fin break. There is steep small chop 0.5-1 feet the first half of sailing area. Good for starboard jumping since you hit it straight on. Once you are past this area there is some low swell.

The best thing about Larkspur is the wave sailing! When the tide is right and the wind is strong you can do bottom turns and cutbacks on a 2-4 foot ferry wake and ride the wave for 1/4 mile. Unfortunately the new catamaran ferries do not throw as good a wake as the mono hull ferries.

The average sail size is 5.0 to 6.5 with occasional days to 4.5 or better. On really windy days a 4.0 would be perfect but you can not get to the strong wind on this size sail.

There is not much to do here but there is a very friendly atmosphere. There are a couple of benches for watching. Interesting people at state prison nearby.

Parking can be very tight on weekends and getting in and out of parking places is dangerous if traffic is heavy. Refrain from making a left turn across the oncoming traffic lanes when driving West on Sir Francis Drake. Not only do you risk not making the turn, but also causing a rear-end crash behind you, or in the oncoming lane when some else has to jam on the brakes.

The local and state traffic authorities have been very tolerant over the years with the number vehicles parked on epic days. It would take only one nasty accident to put an end to that tolerance.

If you get there before the locals be sure to park diagonally or you will be boxed in by later cars.
Local Expert? edit Edit this Page!
Shops, Schools, Clubs, Events, Food, Lodging, More,
 Season: Mid-June to Mid-August 
 Water: Muddy, shallow 
 Ability Level: Beginner-Intermediate 
 Familiness: Shopping nearby 
 Parking: On good days very crowded 
 Launch: Cobblestones 

From: Coyote, Candlestick & 3rd. Ave Cross Golden Gate Bridge. Several miles later take the exit towards RICHMOND BRIDGE/SAN ANSELMO. Take the exit towards RICHMOND BRIDGE/US-101 NORTH. Keep RIGHT at the fork in the ramp. Merge onto SIR FRANCIS DRAKE BLVD. go I/2 mile: under railroad bridge, see ferry terminal on Right Park along gravel parking near cypress trees and rig. From East Bay and Sherman Island Cross Richmond/San Rafael Bridge Take the exit towards US-101 SOUTH. Turn on to SIR FRANCIS DRAKE BLVD. Pass Prison Go past sailing parking area Make a U-TURN as soon as possible. From Sonoma Count: Go south on Hwy 101 through San Rafael. Take SIR FRANCIS DRAKE BLVD. Off ramp and keep left. Make a left hand turn under freeway. Continue for 1/4 mile and park near cypress trees.

The wind is often stronger or lighter than indicated on the sensor. We are working on getting a better site. Generally, looking at the gust reading will give you an indication of the wind in the outer sailing area. A reported gust of 20 will probably indicate that there are good 18 MPH winds in the outer sailing area. Watch out for reports of strong midmorning wind in 20-30 MPH range. These winds will typically weaken midday then come back, perhaps a bit lighter, later in the day. The Larkspur sensor will under read during heat waves since the hot air rising from the flatlands of the salt marsh will cause the wind to lift from surface and pass above the sensor. If the sensor reads over 10 knots with gusts stronger during a heat wave there may be a local thermal with much better wind on the water. It is worth a drive if you are in the area.


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