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  • Writer's pictureTwo the Horizon

Holidays on the Hook - Anchorage Hopping in San Francisco Bay

I think everyone can agree that the year of 2020 has been one for the books. With the Bay Area tightening restrictions just before the holidays, we were glad to have an excuse to escape our regular plans. Normally, the holidays are a strange mix of the consumerism pressures, heart-warming family traditions and ridiculous amounts of unhealthy food. Needless to say, we were excited to finish off the strangest year of our lives with a tranquil and quiet time at anchor.

Jack and I (Sonya) stocked up on provisions, filled up our water tanks and headed to our first pre-holiday destination: Clipper Cove. It was there that we spent the days leading up to Christmas, baking and decorating cookies, making homemade decorations while sharing the anchorage with only one other boat.

Our special Christmas gift had arrived a couple days before pushing off the dock - a new drone. We played around getting some amazing video and pictures of our floating home. This drone is going to be a huge upgrade for our video making efforts and we can't wait to fly it while we sail!

Enjoying the sunny & calm weather, we paddled our SUP boards around the shallows and saw a record amount of leopard sharks swimming just below us, as well as witnessing about a hundred cormorants that flew into the anchorage just at sunset.


After spending a couple of glorious days in Clipper, we picked up anchor and pointed our bow towards our next destination: Horseshoe Bay just at the North end of the Golden Gate Bridge. We arrived to an empty anchorage where we would spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with the best views in town simply enjoying each other's company. As a liveaboard, there's no better feeling then setting the hook in a new spot and feeling immediately at home with everything you need - all that has changed is your backyard views!

Instead of maxing out our credit cards and standing in long lines to shop for things we don't need, we exchanged just a couple of meaningful gifts (after all, space is limited on a boat!) and cooked a special lamb roast, scalloped potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Fathom our boat cat was happy to have us spending time onboard snuggling, playing fetch and even getting her out for a paddleboarding adventure! We Facetimed our family members to wish them a happy Holiday and enjoyed slowing down and lowering our exceptions of what Christmas needs to be.

With our Christmas celebrations coming to an end, we motored over to Aquatic Park Cove, anchoring there in preparation for New Years. Once again, we were the only boat in the anchorage. We were captaining a boat for a small group of open water swimmers from the Dolphin Club who wanted to celebrate the new year with a Golden Gate swim, so we moved our boat to be closer to the powerboat we would be using for this event. As sailors this experience goes against every bone in our body - always wanting to keep dry and warm, avoiding the frigid SF Bay waters at all costs.

We were astonished at these experienced swimmer's determination and excitement to jump in and swim across the entrance to the Golden Gate, celebrating the end of 2020, bringing in the New Year doing what they love. We are very grateful to have been a part of this experience and to have been able to assist them to make sure this event happened safely and smoothly.

Returning to Aquatic Park after the successful swimming event, we found Gemini to be surrounded by new neighbors, about 6 new boats had anchored in the time we had been gone. One of which was uncomfortably close to us, so we kept an eye out as the current switched and all the boats began to rotate on their hooks. As we were down below prepping lunch, we heard a strange noise coming from our bow - sounding like anchor chain rubbing on metal. Looking through a port light we saw the rig of our neighbors boat way too close for comfort. We both ran up to the bow immediately, just in time to push their stern pulpit off of our bow. We yelled as loud as we could for the owners to emerge from down below, and they stumbled around trying to maneuver their boat away from ours, before any damage was had to either vessel. Although they re-anchored farther from us, we decided to head out of the crowded anchorage, in search of a more quiet spot. We hoisted the mainsail and sailed across the Bay to anchor once again in Horseshoe Bay.

To our surprise, we were the only boat in the small bay as we set our hefty Mantus Anchor in the soft San Francisco mud. After our close call with the boat in Aquatic Park, we were relieved to have the whole place to ourselves - a perfect spot to ring in the New Year. We watched families fishing and hiking along the shoreline and around iconic Travis marina.

New Years day was grey and rainy, but we didn't let that stop us from cozying up next to the diesel heater, watching movies and baking chocolate chip cookies. As the day came to an end, we put beans to cook for homemade chili to accompany the cold weather, only to be surprised with one of the challenges of boat life - running out of supplies! Of course, our 2 large propane tanks were BOTH empty and our beans were not close to being completely cooked. So, in true boatlife fashion, we quickly pulled out ingredients for salad (no propane required!) and called it a night.

Although we had no real rush to get back to our marina, we figured the empty propane tanks were reason enough to head back to real life. Before we raised the anchor to start the trek home, we were desperate for a cup of coffee so we decided it was a perfect opportunity to experiment with heating up water on top of our diesel heater. We set our smallest pot on the cast-iron disk on the top of our Antarctic Dickinson heater, hoping for the best. We were skeptical but to our surprise and thanks to our patience, we had boiling water for our French press about one hour later. With warm coffee in hand, we raised the anchor and set off for the 2 hour motor back to the marina.

This past year has been surprisingly challenging in so many ways, but we cannot express how grateful we are to have our floating home and ever exciting San Francisco Bay to explore. Sailing has been our getaway from the chaos and hardships we've faced this year and to be able to finish off this year doing what we love most has been the best gift of them all.

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