Winston29

What's the significance of the SF Bay Potato Patch?

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While I've never "sailed" the SF Bay (I've been on a fishing boat a few times for funerals), I'm a Bay Area native and have heard the name "Potato Patch" (Edited to replace the word "Pumpkin") used to describe an area of the bay, somewhere, I think, near the Golden Gate Bridge.  

So what's the deal?  What is it?  What causes it?  Is it dangerous?  

 

I'd delete this thread, but that doesn't seem to be an option.  

 

 

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Pumpkin patch??

grzll4xsjbby.jpg

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You're thinking of the Potato Patch, just off the Marin Headlands.  A place to avoid when there's a lot of breeze and the stream going against it.  

As Hobot's pic shows, the Bar can get especially gnarly too.

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12 minutes ago, P_Wop said:

You're thinking of the Potato Patch

Oh Hell, I knew that!  Duh!  Is it too late to edit my question? :lol:  

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Great photo of it. Go to the Marin Headlands during a winter storm with big swell. It’s impressive. Scary.

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2 hours ago, Winston29 said:

While I've never "sailed" the SF Bay (I've been on a fishing boat a few times for funerals), I'm a Bay Area native and have heard the name "Potato Patch" (Edited to replace the word "Pumpkin") used to describe an area of the bay, somewhere, I think, near the Golden Gate Bridge.  

So what's the deal?  What is it?  What causes it?  Is it dangerous?  

 

I'd delete this thread, but that doesn't seem to be an option.  

 

 

You can hide a thread. See Moderator Options bottom right, if I recall.

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4 hours ago, hobot said:

Pumpkin patch??

grzll4xsjbby.jpg

I'd heard of this phenomenon, but this picture really puts in in perspective. Yikes!

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Is that just tide/current sea state or is that patch a huge shallows/reef?

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16 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

Is that just tide/current sea state or is that patch a huge shallows/reef?

Yes, yes, and yes.   But not shallow enough to run aground.  If you go by local folklore and some of the cruising guides anyone who enters the potato patch will die immediately regardless of conditions.  In reality it's usually just a nuisance to sail through except in more extreme conditions.  Legend has it the potato patch was named for the many potato farms north in Bolinas in the 19th century that shipped it's products to markets in San Francisco. Occasionally a potato boat would capsize on the sand bar, spilling its load,” described Doris Sloan of Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region.

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The San Francisco entrance is a big river bar.  The Four Fathom Bank ("Potato Patch") is on the upper left in the photo and the south bar is just out of the photo on the right.  The deep water channel is narrow and runs down the middle.  On the day that photo was taken, it was even breaking in the channel.  Not a good day for a run out to the Farallones.

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If the Patch is off the Marin Headlands, it's the breaking waves just under the wing...

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Even more daunting and scary than the potato patch is the South Tower Demon.  Any local sailor can confirm the South Tower Demon is 100% real and lethal.  Rumor has it the local sailmakers give the demon 50% commission on every kite that blows up under the bridge.  He lives in the most expensive house in the most expensive neighborhood of SF.

 

39132783288994683261.jpg

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10 minutes ago, psycho tiller said:

But not shallow enough to run aground.

Heh, having sailed in SF bay (and a whole lot of other places), that's something I'm still "learning" about Puget Sound.

In SF Bay, for example, the rock at the west end of Alcatraz will show a "boil" in a big flood, and lets you know it's there.  Worth paying attention to.

There are all kinds of places up here where a "boil" on the surface also telegraphs a rock under the surface.  But the rock is, like, 400 feet down (in the case of Cattle Pass, in the San Juans).  There's just so much water going through there that it "looks" like there is a rock just under the surface....  s

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7 minutes ago, psycho tiller said:

Even more daunting and scary than the potato patch is the South Tower Demon.  Any local sailor can confirm the South Tower Demon is 100% real and lethal.  Rumor has it the local sailmakers give the demon 50% commission on every kite that blows up under the bridge.  He lives in the most expensive house in the most expensive neighborhood of SF.

 

39132783288994683261.jpg

That fucker got me last time I went by, but he waited just a bit till we relaxed our guard and jibed to the St Fancy.  BAM! on our ear.

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2 minutes ago, Raz'r said:

That fucker got me last time I went by, but he waited just a bit till we relaxed our guard and jibed to the St Fancy.  BAM! on our ear.

Every. Fucking. Time!!!! :lol:  There's always that 5 second moment inside the wind shadow where everything goes calm and silent.  You know it's coming, you just don't know how horrible it's gonna be this time.  Then there's always that moment of denial just outside the gate where you think "Maybe it won't be that bad this time".  No, it's always that bad.

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24 minutes ago, psycho tiller said:

Any local sailor can confirm the South Tower Demon is 100% real and lethal.  

Where's the video of the small sailboat (Ranger 22?) coming in under the South Tower and getting trashed by a wave?

Always a crowd-pleaser....

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9 minutes ago, sledracr said:

Where's the video of the small sailboat (Ranger 22?) coming in under the South Tower and getting trashed by a wave?

Always a crowd-pleaser....

Classic video!  I tried to find that a few years ago but I think it's gone.  I think it was a Santana 22.  Never a good idea to sail where people are surfing.  Good surfing=bad sailing.  "Dude, Bro, you and your fricken sailboat just snaked my wave!"

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But they sailed past the surfers inside the south tower.

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Just now, SloopJonB said:

But they sailed past the surfers inside the south tower.

That was just plain dim-witted.

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56 minutes ago, psycho tiller said:

Yes, yes, and yes.   But not shallow enough to run aground.  If you go by local folklore and some of the cruising guides anyone who enters the potato patch will die immediately regardless of conditions.  In reality it's usually just a nuisance to sail through except in more extreme conditions.  Legend has it the potato patch was named for the many potato farms north in Bolinas in the 19th century that shipped it's products to markets in San Francisco. Occasionally a potato boat would capsize on the sand bar, spilling its load,” described Doris Sloan of Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region.

Maybe.....but I have found that "potato patch" is used to describe a particularly rough area of water in many places all over the world.  We have one here near the west end of Santa Cruz Island.  

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35 minutes ago, unShirley said:

Maybe.....but I have found that "potato patch" is used to describe a particularly rough area of water in many places all over the world.  We have one here near the west end of Santa Cruz Island.  

Interesting.  I've seen the story regarding the potato patch shoal in a few different sources over the years, including Mehaffys' "SF Cruising Guide" (page 30) but that doesn't necessarily mean it's accurate, could just be a good story passed down through the ages (Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!).  Curious where else you've come across potato patch shoals.  Perhaps the potato patch in the Channel Islands was named after the SF PP shoal?

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1 hour ago, psycho tiller said:

Classic video!  I tried to find that a few years ago but I think it's gone.  

Yeah, the video seems to be gone, but there are a couple of stills out there on the InterWebs…

santana-01.png.b6108749d426efedca9cb3aecab2663a.png

santana-02.jpg.b41a6bc2af512bab16b22ba661609719.jpg

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Raced back through the Potato Patch a few times in an Express 37, lightish winds, huge steep smooth swells where the boat behind you disappears, or you get 2 boats on the front and back of the same trough lunging back and forth,  its really cool 

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2 hours ago, psycho tiller said:

Every. Fucking. Time!!!! :lol:  There's always that 5 second moment inside the wind shadow where everything goes calm and silent.  You know it's coming, you just don't know how horrible it's gonna be this time.  Then there's always that moment of denial just outside the gate where you think "Maybe it won't be that bad this time".  No, it's always that bad.

Funny thing was I had swapped spots with my 16 year old rockstar bow dude. We’re on our side, I look back and he’s wide-eyed with the wheel just spinning. I scamper back, releasing the vang on the way, bark a couple orders and we’re on our way. About this time my crew look at me and do the “wait, weren’t you on the bow? How’d you get back there?”

Well, while you guys were all navel gazing....

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If waves are breaking or you see white water then don't go sailing out there. 

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3 hours ago, psycho tiller said:

Yes, yes, and yes.   But not shallow enough to run aground.  If you go by local folklore and some of the cruising guides anyone who enters the potato patch will die immediately regardless of conditions.  In reality it's usually just a nuisance to sail through except in more extreme conditions.  Legend has it the potato patch was named for the many potato farms north in Bolinas in the 19th century that shipped it's products to markets in San Francisco. Occasionally a potato boat would capsize on the sand bar, spilling its load,” described Doris Sloan of Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region.

Potato Patch is way less specific than that. It is used to describe any tract of water with markedly rougher surface conditions than the surrounding water. Named after the agricultural fields where potatoes are grown with particularly steep and deep furrows compared to other crops.

In other locales I've heard similar conditions called "The Popcorn Machine".

potato_patch.thumb.jpg.f66b9b7451a3c5f6e311a1a99caee771.jpg

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3 hours ago, psycho tiller said:

Every. Fucking. Time!!!! :lol:  There's always that 5 second moment inside the wind shadow where everything goes calm and silent.  You know it's coming, you just don't know how horrible it's gonna be this time.  Then there's always that moment of denial just outside the gate where you think "Maybe it won't be that bad this time".  No, it's always that bad.

best ever South Tower demon photo

image.png.1ee350b063ac871f22d2e8195f1d42b4.png

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1 hour ago, Raz'r said:

best ever South Tower demon photo

image.png.1ee350b063ac871f22d2e8195f1d42b4.png

That looks about right.

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Did a lot of research on it before my one trip out the Gate. The Coast Pilot recommends timing the exit so you are at the Golden Gate at slack water from ebb to flood and never try it with a NW swell on an ebb tide. Worked for me but maybe I just got lucky. For sure it's a lot trickier up there than good old 'Dago.

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7 minutes ago, solosailor said:

Funny, most races to the Farallones try to start on the ebb.

Yep. We just aim for the middle if it's ugly, which usually means the occasional green water down the deck, but a lot of boats go up the north channel and go across the north side of the shoal.

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3 hours ago, sledracr said:

Yeah, the video seems to be gone, but there are a couple of stills out there on the InterWebs…

santana-01.png.b6108749d426efedca9cb3aecab2663a.png

santana-02.jpg.b41a6bc2af512bab16b22ba661609719.jpg

That's the one!  He could have surfed that wave had he left the tiller, went up on foredeck and laid down on his belly and started paddling. I mean, not paddling to catch a wave is just laziness. The boats not gonna surf itself!

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19 minutes ago, Kenny Dumas said:

Hoot’s got about a foot of freeboard left with that hatch open. 

I did that once as a guest trimmer one day for the Cal Maritime guys.  We started to wobble then fell down, just like hoot. And stayed there. boat jibed, and still we stayed there. It seemed pretty well balanced by the weight of the water in the kite and the keel. Most of the college kids were in the water, hanging on to the mast or cabin top. eventually we popped up and the kite was half through the upper-spreader / standing rigging and the mast. We had to send a guy up to untangle it all. I think we started about even with the St Fancy, and were down by TI when we were clean. Except for the weed streaming off the mast head.

So, even though we were down for awhile, and I had a good view of the water, it never really looked like we were going to swamp. It just reminded me to always have those hatches in and closed when offshore. Although sinking there woulda sucked as well.

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4 hours ago, sledracr said:

Yeah, the video seems to be gone, but there are a couple of stills out there on the InterWebs…

santana-01.png.b6108749d426efedca9cb3aecab2663a.png

 

Actual footage of that surfer in the water (Hey, you scratched my anchor!!):

k53fNuj.gif

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The few times I've sailed out the gate on a lead mine it was very tame...

 

The South Tower demon strikes windsurfers too!

I was wave sailing inside the south tower with a buddy a couple of decades ago. He carried a wave a little too far in and bottom turned onto a rock!

He ended up with a whole lot of stitches in his chest.

His wet suit mostly survived... it was his car key on a necklace around his neck and under the suit that ground against his sternum and tore him open...

 

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We took way too long setting up a double pole jibe before Tatoosh so Neptune did it for us. District image of Skipper sideways in the companionway while the throw cushion floated away as we blew the preventer and guy. Yay bridgedecks!

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Maybe this is a bit of a drift but I happened to be reading the Feb 2020 issue of Latitude 38 last night and Max Ebb on page 78 had a great explanation of tide rips.  I've always wondered about these around the Salish Sea but never looked into their actual cause other than "tide".  It is very interesting to learn the mechanism that causes them.  Maybe it applies to the Potato Patch.  I couldn't figure out how to link the specific issue & page but its easy to navigate to it.

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8 hours ago, Windward said:

in the 60's there was supposed to be some surfer who would paddle a long board out to the Potato Patch and surf it.

So the story went...

 

****** Edit  https://www.surfer.com/features/stuff-of-legend/

Ha cool! That is a loooooong paddle! He had the balls to paddle out there by himself after his friends gave up. That provides me enough evidence he is not making the story up.

 

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On ‎10‎/‎19‎/‎2020 at 4:24 PM, psycho tiller said:

He could have surfed that wave had he left the tiller, went up on foredeck and laid down on his belly and started paddling.

So.... you're saying he could have invented a new hybrid-version of "tow-in surfing"?

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That Santana 22 vid has been discussed over and over. Really a stupid beginner mistake. First thing you will be told when you start to sail in the bay: don't go South of the South tower...

 

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45 minutes ago, AnotherSailor said:

That Santana 22 vid has been discussed over and over. Really a stupid beginner mistake. First thing you will be told when you start to sail in the bay: don't go South of the South tower...

 

The South Tower was not a restricted area when I started doing ocean races in the 70's.  Danforth Series and MORA races had boats in there frequently. 

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1 hour ago, Nick G said:

The South Tower was not a restricted area when I started doing ocean races in the 70's.  Danforth Series and MORA races had boats in there frequently. 

The Danforth Series was just cruel. If I remember correctly, one was Duxbury to port, Farallons to port, Monterey Entrance Buoy to port then Lightship to starboard. Seriously? In oilskins?

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2 minutes ago, SF Woody Sailor said:

The Danforth Series was just cruel. If I remember correctly, one was Duxbury to port, Farallons to port, Monterey Entrance Buoy to port then Lightship to starboard. Seriously? In oilskins?

I’d do that race. Not too much different than the Spinnaker cup “turn and burn” used as a pac cup or TPac qualifier.

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Just now, Raz'r said:

I’d do that race. Not too much different than the Spinnaker cup “turn and burn” used as a pac cup or TPac qualifier.

Except the beat back from Monterey was done on the rail in 1960's era foul weather gear.

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On 10/19/2020 at 10:07 AM, sledracr said:

In SF Bay, for example, the rock at the west end of Alcatraz will show a "boil" in a big flood, and lets you know it's there.  Worth paying attention to.

There are all kinds of places up here where a "boil" on the surface also telegraphs a rock under the surface.  But the rock is, like, 400 feet down (in the case of Cattle Pass, in the San Juans).  There's just so much water going through there that it "looks" like there is a rock just under the surface....  s

Do you mean this one? It is not very deep and pretty easy to hit. It is called Little Alcatraz for a reason...

Atop Little Alcatraz.jpg

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2 hours ago, SF Woody Sailor said:

The Danforth Series was just cruel. If I remember correctly, one was Duxbury to port, Farallons to port, Monterey Entrance Buoy to port then Lightship to starboard. Seriously? In oilskins?

You refer to the Waterhouse Race. A Cal 39 forgot to take the Davenport reef to stbd. one year, ended up with a rather large hole in the side. Soon after, that race was left off the YRA schedule.

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21 minutes ago, jhc said:

You refer to the Waterhouse Race. A Cal 39 forgot to take the Davenport reef to stbd. one year, ended up with a rather large hole in the side. Soon after, that race was left off the YRA schedule.

I started one Waterhouse Race on Tinsley Light - Got too windy to even attempt the beat back north so it turned into the delivery for the Tahiti Race instead. Epic surfing all night with a poled out #3. Probably the best conditions for that beast as it really didn't do anything else very well. 

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2 minutes ago, Nick G said:

I started one Waterhouse Race on Tinsley Light - Got too windy to even attempt the beat back north so it turned into the delivery for the Tahiti Race instead. Epic surfing all night with a poled out #3. Probably the best conditions for that beast as it really didn't do anything else very well. 

If Californians were crazy, like Ausies, we would be racing from SF to Portland in June. 

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3 hours ago, Nick G said:

I started one Waterhouse Race on Tinsley Light - Got too windy to even attempt the beat back north so it turned into the delivery for the Tahiti Race instead. Epic surfing all night with a poled out #3. Probably the best conditions for that beast as it really didn't do anything else very well. 

Was that '76? Which Tinsley Light? The Mull 36? I remember a Santana 35  Tinsley Light in the SFYC harbor if I recall with sort of multihued orange stripes. Pretty sure there was a Whaler or something by that name (I am assuming that one did not have a poled out #3). And an Olson 30. Maybe a Scanmar 33 later? A Wyliecat 30 somewhere in there?

Have known Hank for a long, long time. Dave G did bow for us for a while on an Express 37. 

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Setting zoom level from remote satellite to 1000X reveals the cause: Trumptards in the Bay

 

FQQ77TB3KNE5LNS5NFKYQG4TWE.jpg

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52 minutes ago, SF Woody Sailor said:

Was that '76? Which Tinsley Light? The Mull 36? I remember a Santana 35  Tinsley Light in the SFYC harbor if I recall with sort of multihued orange stripes. Pretty sure there was a Whaler or something by that name (I am assuming that one did not have a poled out #3). And an Olson 30. Maybe a Scanmar 33 later? A Wyliecat 30 somewhere in there?

Have known Hank for a long, long time. Dave G did bow for us for a while on an Express 37. 

It was the Mull 36 post - tumblehome bumps. In the end I bailed on the '76 Tahiti Race. There were a number of drama events that scared this 17 year old out of the deal.

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The only thing I know is that when they say 'small craft advisories for hazardous seas' in the area they actually mean it.

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2 hours ago, JimBowie said:

Setting zoom level from remote satellite to 1000X reveals the cause: Trumptards in the Bay

 

FQQ77TB3KNE5LNS5NFKYQG4TWE.jpg

It will all be over with soon.

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5 hours ago, Varan said:

It will all be over with soon.

Let's hope so, but these people won't just disappear when their Dear Leader does...

 

 

I know I know take it to PA blah blah

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On 10/19/2020 at 10:06 AM, psycho tiller said:

Even more daunting and scary than the potato patch is the South Tower Demon.  Any local sailor can confirm the South Tower Demon is 100% real and lethal.

 

He must not like kite or sail-boarders either.  

A few years ago I watched a kite-boarder catch a big wave, get some serious air, and then proceed to slam himself into the south tower.  It didn't end well and the Coast Guard was soon on hand to scrape him off the metal.  

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