a dark and stormy night

My friend Geoff, Captain of the sailing vessel (s/v) Alchemy, took a few friends out on his 37′ Tayana for a sail around the bay for a perfect view of the lights on the Bay bridge. The “Bay Lights” project was finally having its official debut after several years of planning, having funding issues, not enough media coverage, etc. A storm was moving in from the south. The winds were expected to be from 10-15 knots.┬áThis was quite an evening.

When I came up to the boat at Pier 1.5 in the city, I knew we were in for a bumpy ride. “You don’t get sea sick, do you?” I texted my friend who was on his way to meet me there. “No” he said. Phew!! Here’s a video of what I saw. You can see the masts dancing…

So, seven of us piled on to Alchemy and we decided which route we were going to take before the 9 pm light show started. Sailing around Treasure Island seemed the most appropriate, and it was really pretty nice… for 45 minutes or so. Suddenly I felt a few raindrops. The wind started picking up, and the swells got even bigger. Soon we were in the middle of the storm as the heeling of the boat got more pronounced. One unfortunate person suddenly became ill from the bumpy ride. She spent more than enough time bent over the side of the boat. The rain began stinging as it hit your skin. Somehow, a strong gust of wind tore one of the head sails, which had to be taken down. “We are experiencing 27 knot winds,” a guy said after looking up the weather info on a nautical phone app. It wasn’t ideal, and Geoff kept his cool the entire time.

I found a comfy spot and didn’t budge unless the Captain needed me to get out of the way to tighten or loosen the main sail. The sights of the Bay Bridge and the city fully lit up behind it were truly beautiful. It was difficult to get a steady picture, but that’s what memories are for!

The only other boat out there besides the occasional ferry was one of our neighbors from Berkeley. “How is Pier 40?” the Captain yelled/asked. “It’s OK!” they yelled back. Pier 1.5 was out of the question because the swells were too large and would have created a dangerous situation for us and the boat.

Slowly we made our way towards Pier 40 where we could hopefully find calmer waters to be able to dock the boat. As we made our way South, we could hear people along the pier cheering, lined up for the big event. I was admiring what a beautiful and stormy front row seat we had, and wondering just how many people were waiting just like we were for this virtual light show, but on land. Suddenly I looked over towards the bridge, and the lights had come on. It was so beautiful! Being a total lighting nerd, I really admired the uniformity of the lights and color temperature, the perfect color to mix well with the street lights already illuminating the bridge, not to mention that the lights were dimming ever so softly. Some patterns of the lights made it look like waves of the bay, some looked like the raindrops falling aimlessly around us. Other patterns were geometrically random, and all were simple, and breathtaking.

We eventually made it to Peir 40, soaking wet, cold, and tired. My friend and I had to make our way back to the East Bay, so we didn’t stick around long. As we were pulling in, however, Geoff said that he had chosen the wrong drink to make that night. He had chosen to make a ginger beer, called “Dark and Stormy.” He said “next time, it’s going to be a ‘Sex on the Beach!'”

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