Log of the Riptide - Tahoe Keys to Emerald Bay

Eric Zilbert (eezilbert@ucdavis.edu)
Wed, 18 Aug 1999 23:03:34 -0700 (PDT)

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Hi All - Made it safely to Tahoe and back, the story is below. Really a
great trip and a great time had by all. On recent threads - Judy - My
engine was a little erratic when starting and re-starting, the choke didn't
behave the same as down here and it seemed to have more problems at low
idle. Once it was running it performed really well. One of the problems
I've noted about my being so hard core about not running the engine is I am
always starting it for the two minutes it takes to dock, manuver etc. Also,
I can lift the tounge of my Shoreline with the 19, motor, and everything on
it - I guess there is one blessing to not having that gorgeous Baja
trailer. - Eric

Tahoe Keys to Emerald Bay

Tried to leave work by noon but it was impossible. I thought of going to
the store for a few things but decided to head straight home to see how
preparations were going. I arrived to find clothing in piles in the living
room, and the family enjoying the second half of "Enemy of the State"!

Three hours later finds us chugging up the first serious incline of the
trip. The golden brown foothills are mounded up like sand dunes. Eyeing the
temperature gauge it is hovering 3/4 of the way to hot. Speed 50 and
falling. I pull into the right lane thinking I will probably be as slow as
the semis. I slow to about 43 and she is climbing like a champ! Temp is
great, so I actually pass a truck! At the light in Placerville a fellow in
a jeep is eyeing the boat. So is a trucker in the far left lane who is
leaning out the right window to get a peek. The fellow in the Jeep says
"nice boat, where are you going" I tell him and he warns me traffic will be
slow all the way up.

As it turned out traffic was not bad once we left Placerville. With the AC
off the old Maxima never got hot. We passed the mountain towns of Meyers,
Twin Bridges and finnally Strawberry. We then topped the 7,300 foot summit
with ease. Going down into Tahoe on Higway 50 is one of the great
experiences in driving. I have done it dozens of times, but it always
catches my breath. The road from Echo summit clings to a cliff with an
initial vertical drop of over 1000 ft. The lake, surrounded by trees and
snowcapped mountains seems a miracle. And the blue is incredible. Deep,
dark, clean and clear. Blue sky, blue lake, green shores.

We lodge on Friday night with my cousin at her home on the upper Trukee
River. The following morning at 6:45 all of us are up and ready. We head
for the Tahoe Keys Marina. Arriving we see several boats in various stages
of assembly. We are lucky to find a spot close in, right in front of a van
with the plates "FORSAIL". It turns out to be Geoff, our host for the trip.
He has an exceptional tan, bushy brown hair, and a big smile. I introduced
the crew and he introduced us to his exceptional dog, curled up and
enjoying a pre-sail snooze.

We rigged, launched, parked, and found a place to wait for the others to
launch. Lisa did yoga on the dock while I went to check out six potter 19's
on the guest dock. The boys read and played with the gameboy. It's around
10:00 and everyoune is talking about leaving maybe as late as 11:00. Dave
Kautz decides he is ready to go, and, always preferring an excort of p15s
when setting sail, I accompany him out of the harbor. It should be noted
that the Tahoe Keys Marina and acompanying condo development has been
called the most evnvironmentally destructive project of the year when
constructed. It is quite lovely, though I was sad to see the nice green
lawns comming down to the water line. It takes fertilizer to get a nice
thick lawn like that, and that fertilizer is turning Tahoe green too.

The exit from the marina is a one lane affair, with boats having to take
turns to get out. It is also quite shoaly to starboard. We set out with the
working jib and and the main reefed. The wind was very strong right off
shore, but dropped off quickly when one got out on the lake. There was
about 1 ft. of chop and about a 1 ft. swell. All in all the lake is a kinda
confused surface with many little peaks, sort of like a merangue.

I note that our compass is akilter. We do a radio check and ask if anyone
else has a problem. Someone says "tap it" we tried but it was still
cockeyed. It seemed to point correctly, then I noticed a large bubble (2"
diameter) of air in it. Strange, thats new! Maybe the change in pressure
caused the unit to leak? (I checked it when we got back and I note an air
buble at the top about 1/8 inch in diameter - the air had expanded!).

We take out the reefs and sail a triangular course eventually meeting up
with John and Nancy Butte in "Spiffy". We converse for awhile and compare
notes on the shifty winds. Some of the gusts come out of nowhere at 90
degrees to its previous heading. We are forced to round-up 90 degrees or
more on several occasions to avoid a knockdown. Alternately, we are nearly
becalmed. We part on different tacks and work our way up into the slot we
must pass through to get into the bay. The wind gets really crazy near the
entrance. It sort of swirls in a circular pattern. Lots of boats go in and
out, including large paddle wheel party boats, which take up the entire
navigable area. I decide to be hard core and try to do it on the wind. We
tack several times near the entrance, then with the right shift, we go for
it. We get through and only make one or two tacks before we get to play
chicken with a paddle wheeler. Some kayakers were way out of line and right
in front of the big boat. We got to see how well it could manuver. We were
never in danger. We tacked all the way up the bay due mostly to the fact I
was enjoying making the boat work through the tacks.

The crew did an excellent job and we made it up to the end of the bay where
almost everyone else had already landed. We ran the engine to go ashore,
and forgot to pull up the rudder. It grounded firmly and it took some
effort to finally get it free.

On shore we enjoyed great company, two christenings, and a fine meal. As
darkness came boats prepared for the night. We were between "Tilly Lucy",
and "Thales" and wanted to give them both a wide birth. It took a long time
for us to anchor as I wanted a good set both fore and aft. The problem was
we could not get the stern anchor to set. It was too deep! We finally
turned the boat around and put the main anchor with 170 ft. of rode out
from shore and got a good set. The next morning we were able to see the
rapid dropoff from our dingy.

The night went well enough, except for the clinking of the cables in the
mast. I still have to do something about that.

I got up early and went ashore. Bill and Dan had landed "Thales" and were
making coffee. Dan made real cowboy coffee, boiling the grounds then adding
cold water to settle em out. It tasted great to me, complete with condensed
milk. As the morning passed everyone came ashore, various victuals were
consumed, and Judy modified her rudder. Lisa went for a swim, I chickened
out. Evan rowed to the island in the dingy, and we followed with the boat.
Climbing to the old tea-house on the islands peak, I am overwhelmed with
the setting. Mountains loom above us, around us trees, granite, snow. And
out to the east a gateway to an incredible blueness. The wind is starting
to come up and I can see the ripples on the water, like ribbons blowing in
the wind. The air meanders across the bay's surface, snakelike. I decide we
should stick to the southern side and make short tacks (yes, the wind
shifted 180 degrees from the previous afternoon).

We left the island and headed out. David wanted to be towed in the dingy. I
let him hang for about a half hour and was about to pull him in when Evan
says, Dad, look at David, he's loose! Sure enough, the painter on the dingy
has come untied and we are pulling away from him. He is oblivious to his
situation. Shades on, hands behind his head, hat over his eyes.

We rouse him and he begins to row. We rescue him in short order and begin
tacking up the bay. I note the time and our progress and decide to fire up
the Nissan and go at least out the entrance. We do this and find the lake
to have considerably more wind and set out for the marina on a broad reach.
We sail downwind without any mishaps, going with the main and jib on the
same side, but using a whisker pole. Lisa makes lunch and we arrive in the
harbor at about 1:00 p.m.

Lisa decides to back the car down while I bring up the boat. She has never
done this and has not been very successful backing the trailer into the
driveway. Nonetheless, she executes the move perfectly and in fact puts the
trailer in the exact depth needed for retrieval.

We packed up and headed home by traveling north along the western shore of
the lake. We arrived safely at Lisa's folks near Auburn at about 5:30. The
first thing the kids did was turn on the T.V.

We tried to say goodby to all, but I'm sure we missed some. To all who
went, we really enjoyed your company, to those who couldn't go, see you
next time!

Eric, Lisa, Evan and David
P19 #621 "Riptide"
Davis, not by the sea, California

Eric Zilbert
Davis, California