The Bay Area Anew

The Del Viento crew discover that there's nothing quite like sailing "home."

Del Viento- Golden Gate

It ain’t like closing the loop on a circumnavigation or anything, but sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge was a big deal for the Robertson family, and especially Windy. Michael Robertson

When we searched for a boat to live aboard and cruise, we restricted our search to the west coast of the Americas. Though we spent the previous dozen years building a life on the East Coast, we both grew up in California. If we were going to be out exploring the world for a long time, it was important to Windy (and me) that we start our long-planned journey visiting friends and family along the West Coast. Nowhere is the concentration of such folks greater than in the Bay Area.

After sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, we headed straight for Horseshoe Cove (in front of the Presidio Yacht Club and practically underneath the Bridge) where we spent our first two nights at anchor. From there we headed around the corner to Richardson Bay where we anchored right off a beautiful small beach in Sausalito and used this as a base for trips inland to visit parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins, and friends that Windy’s had since grammar school.

After about a week, on a clear, hot August day, we motored about 15 miles up the narrow Petaluma River (it’s a slough). The waterway is bound by marsh and hills rise on either side. We passed slowly by vineyards. Swans and majestic egrets watched us pass. Once in Petaluma, Windy bought a couple small pairs of tennis shoes at a thrift store and enrolled the girls in a week-long sports camp with our friends’ kids. We soon learned the toll just a year of the cruising lifestyle has taken on our girls. While they can tell you about 15 different types of sea anemones, about what it’s like to play with a seahorse, and about whales feeding and breaching, my girls throw a ball about as well as a penguin and catch about as well as a tree trunk.


Meanwhile, I wasn’t up to helping them turn things around in their athletic lives as I was hard at work battling the flu. Windy enjoyed dinners and nights out with friends.

By the time we left Petaluma and motored/sailed back to San Francisco with Windy’s family aboard, my condition was deteriorating. We hit near gale-force winds in San Francisco’s famed “Slot” between Angel Island and Alcatraz before we dropped the hook in Aquatic Park and I spent the next four days in my berth wanting to die.

I ventured out once with Windy and the girls to reclaim a hot fudge sundae I was denied as a child. (My family was in Ghirardelli Square in the late 1970s and I’d done something wrong and was made to suffer the trauma and humiliation of watching my little sisters enjoy the dessert without me. Things are better now; I’m over it.)


When my fever broke and reading became possible, I finished Mike Litzow’s _South From Alaska_ and became increasingly anxious and stressed reading about his anxiety over transiting the Washington-Oregon coast aboard a sailboat with his family prior to the start of the fall gales—and they were going south. Here I was laid up, it was already mid-August, we still have a long way to go, and are planning a visit in Portland to boot.

I imagined our northward progress being thwarted by the fall gales and panic set in.

Windy announced Tuesday morning the 14th that a weather window was closing and we may get stuck in San Francisco for a spell. “It’s one o’clock now. If we pull the anchor, motor around the corner and get fuel, we can be headed under the Gate by two and the tide will be slack. Are you feeling up to it?”


“Not at all.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

And away we went.


I__n our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at