On a dark and stormy Friday night.....Actually on a balmy, breezy Friday night (5/25) I had an opportunity to watch (from shore) Fleet 76 take to the choppy, briny waters of the Carquinez Straits. The Carquinez Strait is the main shipping channel for humongous tankers cruising from distant ports around the world. They travel all the way from the Pacific Ocean to SF Bay to Benicia, to Sacramento and inland to Stockton California. There are watercraft of all kinds that frequent the popular channel in addition to the wayward whales that occupy the news.
Fleet 76 is a group of hardy, seasoned and not so seasoned sailors. Their mode of transportation is a unibody sail boat referred to Vanguard 15. Let me preface the rest of my story with I know nothing about sailing other than I love to watch them flit across the choppy waters. Any reference to sailing terms does not mean I know them or understand them!
These sailboats are 15 feet long and are supposed to hold no more than 360 lbs of pure muscle, athletic-type people. (this is what I am told and/or take the liberty to elaborate) Fleet 76 has about 8 boats and try to get out every Friday evening from the Benicia Marina to race and learn. Fleet 76 is continuing to organize and hope to get more people involved.
From the safety of the shore I watched the boats glide atop the water, sometimes looking like graceful swans and other times like they might crash into each other. No motors, small boats, chilly water, fast current, huge tanker, tugboats...I liked my place of observation post on land. Often they would look like they would flip over...then two people would be straining way over the side almost touching the water to make them sail flat. I suppose if you were not careful you might get a nose flush. Again, just my observation.
IF you want a free show and relaxing Friday eveningtravel down Fifth St in Benicia and keep going, going, going around to a parking lot, keep going to the end. You will find parking, walking trails, beachy scenes, picnic tables, benches, ducks, assorted people, and the perfect spot to see Fleet 76 perform ballet!! Show starts Friday evenings around 6PM or later. Look for the white sails, two people leaning way over as the boats take flight, tankers and tugs in the background and sun setting over the Carquinez Bridge to your right.