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

Winston29

Member
411
109
SF Bay Area
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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hobot

Super Anarchist
Pumpkin patch??

grzll4xsjbby.jpg

 
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P_Wop

Super Anarchist
6,289
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Bay Area, CA
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.

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
59,419
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De Nile
Great photo of it. Go to the Marin Headlands during a winter storm with big swell. It’s impressive. Scary.

 

Ishmael

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48,170
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Fuctifino
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.

 
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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BobJ

Super Anarchist
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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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Liquid

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

 
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

 

sledracr

Super Anarchist
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PNW, ex-SoCal
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

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
59,419
4,438
De Nile
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.

View attachment 399720
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.

 
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.

 
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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