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Joined: 01 May 1998
Posts: 442

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sailed there twice about 10-15 years ago. Definitely lighter on inside. Biggest hazard was the Vallejo Ferry - aka Cujo. Snuck up on my downwind side at 30+ knots and seemed to enjoy waiting to blow horn until last minute - all I could do was bail.

Definitely NOT a place to sail alone. Flood would be quite a challenge.

Remains to be seen if this is worth the extra shlep vs. Pt. Isabel IMHO.

But appreciate all the work and details Ross!

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Joined: 18 Mar 1997
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Gang,

Davis Pt. used to be one of my favorite places in the Bay Area for windsurfing. We would launch either from the old boat ramp or swim out from Lone Tree Cove.

After sailing half a dozen of those amazing 8 mile reaches in rock steady wind and huge glassy smooth swell we would visit the decrepit Joesph's Bar. It was a rambleshack place on a maze of pilings over jagged rocks. The tilted floor was peppered with holes revealing the bay. All the free popcorn you could eat, powerful drinks and somewhat scary waterfront characters out of the deep south novel. But they thought we were crazy and sometimes bought drinks for us. One of my best windsurfing memories was looking out one of the fly specked windows rum drink in had after a day of sailing and watching an amazing sailor, I think it was Mitch Gingrich, tearing up the swells.

The huge swell is much like The Wall or Arlington in the Gorge but with even longer distance between crests. Like those Gorge spots the swell is big enough that the wind, on good days, does not touch the water surface in the troughs. So the usual chop is absent and you are sliding down hill on glass. This means you can use a much larger board than normal due to the glassy water even in upper 20's wind. Amazing swell riding!

Don't expect many great days at Davis Pt. especially in the NW flow pattern that has been the most common pattern this last decade or so. (if not this summer).

Here are the necessary conditions to make Davis Pt. worthwhile:

1. Check that the forecast mentions SW flow. Either a marine surge or a Golden Gate eddy.

2. Very deep marine layer clouds with a slow burn off forecast.

3. Look at the satellite imagery near dawn and looks for 1 or two long streamers of fog in San Pablo Bay going almost straight northward or even curving into Sonoma. (these streamers burn off early but they tell you that the wind will be strong later in the day outside at Davis Pt.

4. Look for weaker Sherman Island AM winds than forecast and weaker wind at Sherman than you would normally expect in a SW pattern. This means energy is being diverted straight up San Pablo Bay.

5. Around 1 PM check the Larkspur sensor for SOUTH winds in at least the mid teens. The stronger the better.

6. At the same time check the Pt. Potrero Reach sensor west of Pt. Isabel. It should be roughy SOUTH

7. Then check the link below and look for upper teens or low 20's at both the San Pablo Bay sensor and the Davis Pt. Sensor. (you can find them on the image below) The San Pablo Bay sensor should be S to SSW. If it is WSW the wind may fade mid bay. You want both sensors to be at least upper teens and building.,-122.24,13,1

8. On the drive there you will ideally see fog on the ridges upwind from Larkspur and a streamer of fog that curves from the Golden Gate towards Pt. Isabel. This means almost certain Davis Pt. wind.

9. Use binoculars once at the launch site and check the white caps outside. Remember that the huge swell can mean few white caps even in strong wind.

10. At least in the past this was a high crime zone but you should be OK at the new Marina

11. There is sparse boat traffic in San Pablo Bay except for the Ferry. So bring a VHF and sail with buddies.

12. Do reality checks every run by sailing near shore and check out the wind inside. The water is very shallow here and on lower tides you may encounter breaking swell like you see at The Hatch in the Gorge. The current is weak

13. Plan your return so you can coast on a broad reach through the wind shadow to near shore.

14. At day's end walk along the shore to the east of the boat ramp and take a looks at Lone Tree Cove and the jagged rocks that once supported Josephs. Then reminisce about the old days of windsurfing.

Mike Godsey

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Last edited by windfind on Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 12 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was there once, alone before I figured out how stupid it is to go to a place like that on your own. I had an amazing session with huge glassy swell like I have seen no where else in the bay. It was almost quiet in the troughs, pretty erie being out there alone so I didn't stay long but damn! If more people would start sailing here I would start going on the regular.
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Joined: 29 Jun 2000
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live just down the street. I can see Russia from my, I mean, I can walk down the street and see the launch and the wind meter buoy.

I have been wanting to sail this spot for years but the area was so sketchy for safe parking that I just hit other spots, like one in Pinole that is in the spot that the S winds hit first. It sets up like Candlestick as it is an offshore wind.

So, now with the winery opened in Rodeo and the town becoming somewhat improved the parking and security issues seem to be fixed. And I am planning to sail there soon. Might even buy a bottle or two of wine.

The S-SW winds come through more often than Windfind is saying. This year has been a bit light, but most years passed have offered lots of days from spring until fall.

Thanks Ross and the other T.I.'ers that have recently braved these re-found waters.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The S-SW winds come through more often than Windfind is saying.

Hi Airwave,

You are right there are often light wind days. But I was focusing on the epic days that make Davis unique in the Bay Area in terms of swell. The first time you catch a Davis Pt. day like that you will realize this is a different world of windsurfing! You can even carve down swell and just release the boom and let the sail swing out in front of the board and purely surf the swell!

But like you said there are sailable winds and small swell at Davis Point the first mile or so anytime we are in a good Sherman Island pattern. But in the past, given the sketchy parking and the big water, to me it was only worth the risk on the those epic days with mid to upper 20's wind across the entire San Pablo Bay. And those day, in my experience and according to the San Pablo Bay archives, are not very common.

But if you want Pt. Isabel type sailing with smooth lower swell and upper teens to low 20's it is now practical with safer parking at Davis. But as you know if you drive across the Richmond San Rafael bay most SW days there is much weaker wind mid bridge than towards Brook's Island which means weaker wind mid San Pablo Bay which means small Davis Point swell.

For epic Davis Point sailing that makes it worth the drive you want those days when you are looking at strong winds and big swell heading below the bridge heading into San Pablo Bay.

Mike Godsey
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Joined: 06 Jun 2005
Posts: 47

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been here many times droping freinds off in outrigger canoes to do down winders to benicia, Have never sailed becuase parking was scetch, broken car window glass, tweakers with pit bulls. But there always was a few cool fisherman there, Bar near marina was closed last time i was there but guys at boat repair place were cool, Thanks for all the new info. Will check it out soon. Very Happy
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Location: Channel Marker 11

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 12:46 pm    Post subject: Davis Point Reply with quote

I would like to try Davis Point some time. But not recommended in flood tides like this afternoon, right?

I have experienced some of the biggest swell days at 3rd Ave and it's a ton of fun. But it would be cool to do something similar at another Bay venue.

Of course riding big breaking waves on the coast is thrilling, but that's a dangerous pursuit with more severe consequences.

If anybody sails Davis Point again in the near future, please post a report. Thanks.

Carve the face!
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Joined: 07 Mar 2002
Posts: 191

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:59 pm    Post subject: Davis point Reply with quote

Sign me up, if anyone is thinking of going post the day before if possible.

I'll go if I have the chance. Cool
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any one got pics of the swell?
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Joined: 29 Mar 1994
Posts: 162

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 4:20 pm    Post subject: Blast from the past Reply with quote

This goes back to the 1990s. I later sailed the gorge and was able to recognize that what I had sailed on San Pablo Bay was more like the Gorge than anything I've sailed in CA:

At the end of my second windsurfing season the addiction was strong and still growing stronger. There was no way I was going to pack the gear away if there was even the slightest chance of a windy day. My buddy Doug called me on a windy Monday in early October. Doug was very experienced windsurfer who was largely responsible for my addiction. He was also the ‘dealer’ who had outfitted me with all my windsurfing gear. Doug told me that the wind was howling at Lone Tree Point. We could go out and get a killer session and be back home in time for Monday Night Football.

I’d never been to Lone Tree Point before. I’d heard Doug’s stories about the launch that was near the refinery town of Rodeo. The launch was on the shores of San Pablo Bay, the northernmost part of the San Francisco Bay. Doug had told me how the swells could jack up when the outgoing tide moved against strong winds headed from the Golden Gate up toward the Delta.

I met Doug in the parking lot at Lone Tree Point and we rigged quickly. We could see whitecaps out in the middle of the Bay. We headed out through some light wind. As we proceeded, the wind and the swells grew. Eventually we were overpowered and riding across swells that were well overhead. I wasn’t too intimidated because the swells were widely spaced and not too steep. Even so, Doug seemed to be able to get five or six feet of air off of almost every swell he hit. I would see him up in the air and then I’d lose sight of him as he dropped back down between the swells.

We sailed for an hour before we really noticed that the current was pulling us to the south. Doug suggested that we should take one more run out and back and then head for the launch. “One more run…” I was a bit disappointed to be packing it in so soon, but the light was starting to fade. I sailed half a mile out and turned back toward shore. I scanned for Doug but couldn’t see him. At first I figured he was just hidden behind the swells, but after a minute he didn’t materialize. I knew he didn’t usually spend much time down in the water, so I figured something might be wrong.

I sailed back and forth looking for Doug. The swells were so tall that I wasn’t sure whether I’d see him even if he were up and sailing. Eventually I realized that Doug had to be down in the water somewhere. After about a dozen rides back and forth I finally spotted Doug. He was in the water alongside his gear and his mast was bent at a 90-degree angle. He clearly was not going to be sailing home. I dropped down next to Doug and we started to break down his gear. I had just started to carry a rescue pack, so I pulled out a few pieces of line and I handed Doug a flare to use in case we became separated.

I was very focused as I rolled up Doug’s sail. I didn’t want to lose it and it needed to be rolled tight so that I could lie on top of it. When I finally looked up to see what Doug was doing, I was stunned to see a large turbine powered tugboat hovering nearby. This seemed too good to be true. I secured the sail to my board and started paddling over toward Doug and the tug. As I got closer, I was surprised to see the tug heading away from us. The captain had asked if we needed help and Doug had told him that we would just tow one board in behind the other. I wasn’t sure whether I should admire Doug’s confidence or drown him on the spot. Luckily, the shallow water of San Pablo Bay were unusually warm and it seemed like our full wetsuits would keep us warm for at least a couple of hours. I know that I could have been comfortable in a shorty wetsuit during the sailing session, but now I was glad to have my full suit as a life insurance policy.

As the tug headed off toward the Benicia Bridge, we started off toward the shore to the south. I wasn’t sure exactly how far offshore we were, but I knew the distance would be measured in miles. At first the towing was very difficult. The wind was still very strong and the swells were steep. I lay on top of my board, but every few minutes the swells would roll me over. Every time Doug caught a strong puff of wind in the sail, the towing line would be yanked taught and pull him off balance. I eventually figured out that I could paddle hard as a puff hit and speed my board up so that the yanking was not so hard.

As we slowly made our way towards shore, the gray sky turned to black and the wind started to drop. Doug fought his fatigue and kept towing us closer to shore. After it had been dark for some time, I realized that I was no longer sure where our launching point was. It didn’t seem to matter much since we were going to sail whichever direction the wind favored. Doug began to struggle a bit as the wind dropped even more. To pass the time, we took turns presenting our theories as to which set of lights might be the Rodeo refinery. I thought about shooting off a flare, but then I realized that everyone in the refinery town would be comfortably planted in front of Monday Night Football by now.

As the wind dropped our progress slowed. Eventually Doug couldn’t get enough power to tow me, so I untied the towline and let Doug nurse his board toward shore under sail power while I paddled mine. It had taken us more than two hours to even get close to shore. The next day Doug would send me a chart that clearly showed that we were three miles from shore when he sent the tug on its way.

Once we were within a few hundred yards of shore, I noticed that the water was especially warm. It was comforting to know that hypothermia wasn’t going to be an issue. It seems strange that the water was so warm all of a sudden. I tentatively reached a foot down and was surprised to find that we were in three feet of water. I let Doug know and we waded in the rest of the way, leaning out weight on our boards so that we wouldn’t sink too far into the soft mud. I was thankful that I was wearing booties when I felt the soft mud rising up to my ankles. Doug, a dedicated barefoot sailor, was not so thankful.

We reached the shore and climbed up a rocky slope. Doug lagged behind as he negotiated the rough rocks in his bare feet. At the top of the slope was a rail line and behind that a barb wire fence. The barbwire fence ran as far as we could see in either direction. There was no sign of life on this barren shore. I told Doug to sit tight while I scouted for a way to head inland. I headed south, following the railroad tracks to an abandoned refinery. There was no break in the fence and the going looked even rougher on the far side of the fence. As I started heading back to talk with Doug, he started walking down the tracks to meet me. Just as Doug was joining me I noticed a light appear in the distance. At first I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. It took a second for me to recognize the sound of steel wheels riding on a steel rail. An Amtrak train was heading our way and it was definitely an express. Doug and I both looked back at our gear, which was lying about two feet away from the track but about 200 yards from us. We started a dash to save the gear. It was clear that the train was moving fast enough to blow the gear over the edge of the rocky slope. Gravity would probably take care of the rest. Doug was so in love with his board that I don’t think he even felt the damage that he was doing to his bare feet as he ran. We reached the gear just before the train passed and we threw our bodies down on top of the gear to keep it from blowing away.

The wind from the passing train buffeted us we pinned our gear to the ground. After the train passed, we composed ourselves and decided to head north and hope for the best. After hiking around the next bend we spotted a hill alongside the tracks that wasn’t walled off with barbed wire. We climbed up the hill, dragging our gear through the bushes. We were hopeful when we finally emerged in a lighted parking lot.

It was an office park. We approached the nearest building and noticed that it was the home of Bio-Rad Laboratories. We weren’t really sure what Bio-Rad was about, but we suspected that they were either into biological warfare or mutant cloning. We didn’t really care as long as they had a phone we could use. We circled the building and eventually spotted a couple of maintenance worker cleaning a hallway floor. We walked up together and knocked on the glass. The two maintenance workers took a quick look at us and then a quick look at each other. After that they each ran for the nearest doorway and disappeared. Initially this seemed like strange behavior. I looked over at Doug for his response. I noticed that he was wearing a black wetsuit, a helmet, and a harness with straps all over it. I looked at my reflection and realized that I was similarly dressed. It seemed clear to me at this point that we had been misidentified as renegade Navy SEALS bent on industrial espionage.

I figured we shouldn’t have to wait too long for the SWAT team to show up. We waited patiently, but nothing. I guess the maintenance workers were just as afraid of police officers as they were of renegade commandos. We eventually found a security guard who didn’t seem to find us nearly as intimidating as the maintenance crew. He couldn’t let us use a phone, but he pointed us toward a driveway and told us that we’d reach San Pablo Avenue if we turned left. He didn’t mention that it was nearly a half-mile away. We stashed our equipment in the bushes and headed off on foot.

After our hike to San Pablo Avenue, we tried to hitch hike for a while. I knew we weren’t going to get a ride in a car, but I fantasized that we might get a ride in the bed of a pick up. We had ditched out helmets with the gear, so I hoped we didn’t look too intimidating. Finally, a police car came around the bend. I was sure he would stop in order to give us a ride or at least cite us for hitchhiking. He rolled right on by, apparently not at all curious about the guys who were hitchhiking in wetsuits at nine o’ clock at night without a body of water anywhere in sight.

After another half mile of walking we found ourselves at the gate of a refinery. Just inside the gate, we spotted a pay phone. We dug deep into our wetsuits but couldn’t come up with the two dimes needed to make a call. Eventually the gate guard took pity on us and handed over a quarter. We called for a taxi. Then we sat down and tried to figure out how we were going to explain the wetsuits and how we were going to convince the cabbie that we really had money if he could just get us to our cars. As it turns out, he considered us to be rather tame and not at all unusual compared to the fares that he regularly picks up in Richmond. He could clearly see that there were no holsters attached to all the straps were connecting our harnesses to our bodies. He got us back to our cars where we recovered our wallets and gladly paid him.

We packed up our cars and as soon as Doug was loaded he raced out of the parking lot. His wife wasn’t due home until 10:30. If he moved quickly, he could beat her home and pretend that he hadn’t been lost at sea for hours. Doug did make it home in time and he could have avoided being grounded if he had just kept his mouth shut, but like most windsurfers, he couldn’t resist sharing the story.
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