Click here for Part 1.

The Coast Guard arrive. Their boat is big and steel and this concerns me.

There are three crew plus the driver. The crew are busy readying fenders and without any radio communication the boat veers towards me.

They can not be wanting to come alongside, says the voice in my head.
Oh yes they can.

I throw my tow line to one of the crew, who catches it but just stands there seemingly not knowing what to do with it.

The cutter is alongside lurching port to starboard, their huge black fenders ride up and down against my boat, which is also bopping port to starboard. I am now in a frenzy to fend off.

“You’re going to rip off my oarlocks!”

Two of the crew try to help using their feet. Now I am fending off the cutter and fending off big black boots!

The driver leans out of the wheel house and says, “Please get off your boat!”

“No!” I say. “I am not getting off my boat.”

Rule #1 of being a captain: never get off your boat.

He says again. “Please get off your boat!”

“No way!” I say. “I am not getting off my boat!”

Time drags on. I hate this, says the voice in my head.

“Please throw me my line back!” I ask the man holding my line. He remains immobile. He is young. He is waiting for orders.

“Please throw me my line back!” I ask again. “I am perfectly happy now going back out to sea.”

More time passes.

If they were anyone else but the Coast Guard, at this point I would have been tempted to cut my line.

The man with my line finally moves to the back of the boat and they begin to set up the tow.

We get underway and my boat starts to surf, almost past their stern. The cutter slows down and they add another line to my line and we get underway again at a more reasonable speed.

In our kerfuffle we had collectively drifted beyond Point Bonita.

My track (white arrows) show how I basically hit a wall: the tide has turned. Red arrows show my drift during my interchange with the Coast Guard. Black arrows, I’m under tow.

As we pass under the gate I start to get concerned that they are towing me somewhere other than Horseshoe Cove. I get on the radio and we have some trouble establishing contact on a channel other than VHF 16. It turns out this was an issue with my European-issue radio being on another frequency.

“When we release the tow, you will row to the Coast Guard dock, do you understand?”

I explain that I am going to anchor for the night right beside their station.

“When we release the tow, you will row to the Coast Guard dock, do you understand?”

Somewhat unwillingly I acquiesce.

At the Coast Guard dock everyone is much cheerier, including myself.

For the next however-long-it-takes, I am fishing around for harness, life-raft, whistles, throw-rope, flares to satisfy their inspection. It is 02:35 AM. By this stage in the adventure I have gone beyond desperately tired into an otherworldly-state of being.

The driver of the cutter comes to join us and crouches down by my bow.

“I just wanted to give you some feedback,” he says. “in case you have further dealings with the Coast Guard in the future.” “When we came alongside, you were openly hostile.”

I smile. I want to laugh.

I wouldn’t have chosen those exact words, but I would certainly agree that I was less than happy with how our interchange was going at that point.

“To be fair,” I reply, “there was no radio communication beforehand as to your intentions.”

I thank everyone and row away grateful.

Grateful for the experience.


I would like to formerly thank the U.S Coast Guard sector San Francisco for their prompt response, professionalism and willingness to tow me.I apologise for being less cooperative than desired. I appreciate your service. Thank you.