When we talk about our rowing on the Bay we’ll often refer to familiar places and points by name. It is not strictly vital to know the names of the places you row past, but it is a big help.
We’ll review some of the most important landmarks, channel marks and other points of interest here.
1. Spinnaker Restaurant:
This large restaurant marks the entrance to the Sausalito Channel and is easily visible from most of Richardson Bay (and beyond). The glass walled building can appear black from the water, but this, and it’s size, makes it easy to pick-out against the mass of Sausalito buildings. Even on the return leg from Angel Island, you can spot the Spinnaker and use it to guide you back.
2. Cone Rock:
This rock really is vaguely cone-shaped, about 500 meters off the shore of Belvedere. The rock is topped by a prominent marker and a perpetual crowd of cormorants. Cone Rock is easily visible and well-placed as a turning point for rowers.
3. Sewage Plant:
The Sausalito Sewage plant is 300 meters south of the last houses on the Sausalito shoreline. The large drab-green building can be seen from a distance and smelled if you get close. The Plant is important to rowers as the southern boundary of the safe-zone for novice rowers, and it is a familiar landmark to use to gauge your distance.
4. #2 Channel Mark
This tall group of three pilings is technically the outer marker of the Sausalito Channel, and also the point where the shallow bottom of Richardson Bay drops steeply into the central section of SF Bay. The mark is topped with an orange triangle symbol (with the number “2”). Tidal currents beyond this point are stronger, so this is a good place for novices to turn back.
5. Strawberry Point:
This prominent point in the north end of Richardson, lined with homes, is well known to OWRC rowers. Some of the most dependable calm water is on either side of the point, and for many rowers this area is their regular haunt. Watch for rocks right close to shore.
Raccoon Strait – North Side of Angel Island
6. Belvedere Point – #3 (green) mark
Belvedere Island ends in the south in a sharp and steep bluff. Rowers entering or exiting Raccoon Strait will round this point, and the vigorous tidal flow though the Strait must do the same, kicking-up some challenging rips and rough-water. There is a rock about 20 meters off the point that is just barely visible above high-tide, but easily seen at other times. Round outside of this rock. About 100 meters beyond the point is a green mark numbered “3”. You can pass inside this mark or outside as you prefer, just don’t run into it.
The tidal rip here can be strong but small in extent and close to safe water in Richardson, so this is a good place for new rough-water certified rowers to practice, especially on an ebb tide, which will carry you back towards home.
7. Point Stuart – #4 (red) mark
One kilometer across the entrance to Raccoon Strait is Pt. Stuart on Angel Island. This spot is very similar to Belvedere Point across the way in form and water conditions, except that it faces the other way (and the mark is colored Red). If you are rounding Point Stuart stay 20 meters or more off the bluff. There is a shelf of rock extending out towards the red mark that is visible only at very low tide.
8. Corinthian Yacht Club
This large white building at the west end of downtown Tiburon is useful to rowers as a visual guide. If you are fighting an ebb flow into Raccoon, point your bow at the Corinthian and you will gradually reach easier waters. The clubhouse is easy to spot from a distance and makes a good point of reference.
9. Ayala Cove on Angel Island
This beautiful cove, the “entrance” to the Angel Island State Park, is a great rowing destination, or a rest-stop on the way around the island. The cove is calm and protected from currents, and popular with boaters and harbor seals too. Watch out for the ferries bringing visitors to the park.
10. Pt Campbell.
This steep bluff on the northeast corner of Angel Island marks the eastern end of Raccoon. On bigger ebb tides the waters here can get rough and particularly “swirly”, especially on the ramp-up to peak ebb. Most of the time, however, it is calm here and the north-facing slope gives off a blast of noticeably cool air.
Angel Island – Other prominent points
One nice feature of Angel is a series of somewhat regularly spaced “points”, about one kilometer apart, separated by pleasant bays that give the rower marks to gauge your pace (split-times) and break up the long row.
Rowers will most frequently refer to four places, beyond those mentioned above.
11. China Cove.
This very pretty, and historic, cove sits just around Pt. Campbell. Like Ayala Cove it is a great destination or rest spot. On summer weekends boats will anchor off the beach, so watch for those.
12. Quarry Point & Quarry Beach:
This broad, rounded point marks the half-way point in a row around Angel. The large beach just south of the point is a haven for rowers. Usually neither winds nor current reaches in towards the beach area, so this is a perfect place to rest up, get a drink from your water bottle and plan the rest of the row.
13. Point Blunt
The southeast corner of Angel Island is a long point that ends in a group of tall rocks shaped much like hay-stacks, and a series of lower and broader rocks. Off the point is a green mark for the shipping traffic. Around that green buoy the tides create a big, broad area of particularly nasty conditions, especially when a wind is present, and it often is.
Rowers (and kayakers) have discovered that the point can be rounded in safety and relative comfort by slipping inside of the outermost rock. There are some “tricks” to this passage, so we’ve created a special guide to rounding Pt. Blunt.
There is also a wind gauge on Pt. Blunt that is reported on the web… very helpful!
14. Pt Knox.
While not the most important spot on the south/west side of the island for rowers, this point has a name and a large, old-fashioned bell on it, so it gets referred to a lot in conversation.
Western Shoreline and the Golden Gate
15. Yellow Bluff
As your eye follows the shoreline south from Sausalito towards the GG Bridge, past the Sewage Plant, the shore appears to end at a small, eroding bluff that has a light tone in the morning sunlight. This is Yellow Bluff, a very popular destination for OWRC rowers. The bluff marks a turn in the shoreline west towards the Golden Gate, and it also marks a distinct change in the currents, especially during an ebb flow. Know what the tides are doing before you venture beyond Yellow Bluff.
16. Pt. Cavallo, Horseshoe Bay and Lime Point
Just south of Yellow Bluff the shoreline comes to a distinct point known as Pt. Cavallo. There are usually fisherman here casting into the waters close to shore. Around this point is a small bay bounded on the north by the marina at Ft. Baker and on the west by the approaches to the Golden Gate bridge. This bay can be calm in a flood tide, and moving fast in an ebb.
The Marin shoreline ends abruptly at Lime Point, marked by an old lighthouse dwarfed by the North Tower of the Bridge.