I’m happy to report that Captain Sweetie has survived both his bilateral knee replacement surgery and the assassination attempts by his evil resident nurse. He is still a little stiff, but that is to be expected.
So, with a little time on our hands before he has to return to work, we decided to take the boat up the Napa River for a few days. I contacted Bill Newton of the Napa Valley Yacht Club (NVYC) requesting accommodations at their dock. Bill was out of town, but referred me to Kurt Starr, the new Port Captain, who made all of the necessary arrangements.
Prior to leaving for this trip, Sweetie ordered a pair of folding bicycles. The twin Schwinn’s arrived in the nick of time and, with a little help from our good neighbor Turk, were assembled with a minimum of fuss. There was a minor kafuffle about folding the handlebars, but a quick glance at the instructions redeemed an otherwise ugly situation. Why is it that men never want to consult the instruction manual?
Speaking of Turk, his boat, Land’s End, had to be towed last weekend due to a faulty starter motor. Heck, these things happen unless you never use your boat. Other than the starter incident, his fishing trip was an outstanding success.
And while on the subject of repairs – Dean Altschuller has finally located a replacement transmission for his Bayliner 38, Fellowship. It is a new, in-the-box unit that comes with a two-year warranty and costs far less than originally anticipated. With retirement looming in Dean’s immediate future, I’m thinking that Turk will have some fierce competition in the hallowed halibut fishing grounds south of Hunter’s Point.
With the bicycles folded and stowed and provisions enough for an Arctic Tundra Expedition, we cast off from Oyster Cove on a blustery Sunday morning. We rode the tide as far as Treasure Island and then fought the remainder of the ebb under the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge to finally drop the bowling trophy in the shallow waters of the anchorage at China Camp State Park.
That beautiful Nordhavn was anchored there again. He seems to like to hang on the hook as much as we do. I wonder if he keeps his boat at Marin Yacht Club, around the corner from Loch Lomand? It’s always a treat to see a familiar boat.
Once the anchor was set and the big Isuzu engines were shut down, Miss Eartha appeared from her hidey hole to do an inspection of the deck and flying bridge before returning inside to beg for a treat. Business before pleasure is Miss Eartha’s motto.
The anchorage was calm, which is unusual during the summer months. Sometimes, especially when the wind is over the tide, that anchorage can get quite boisterous; however, we love the wide-open vista afforded at China Camp and frequently anchor in the shallow water near the beach, just north of the fishing pier. The holding is good – mud and broken shell – and because of the swift current the anchor usually comes up fairly clean.
We settled the boat, fed Miss Kitt and then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening reading our Kindles, which I’m enjoying more and more. You merely have to think of a book you’d like to read and, presto!, it’s downloaded. I found “The Complete Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer” for only 89 cents at amazon.com. Sweetie downloaded “Treasure Island” and has been saying “AAARRRRrrrr” quite a bit lately.
The way we know when it’s time to depart the China Camp anchorage in the morning is whether the sun is coming through the port window or the starboard window. If starboard, the current is ebbing and we can stay in bed for a while longer. If port, it’s time to get up, make coffee and get underway!
There had been a full moon during the night and the tide was flooding hard. Our trip across San Pablo Bay was painless and brief. We encountered very little traffic with the exception of the Vallejo Ferry, which sets us to rolling from gunnel to gunnel every single time we cross its path, which is frequent because we are slow and they are swift.
Once inside the Mare Island Channel I hailed the bridge tender at the Mare Island Causeway on channel 13 requesting a lift. Oh, the power of being able to stop traffic! It goes to my head every time. There was some kind of maintenance being performed on the highway bridge, which I thought was interesting and wanted to share with you with the accompanying photo. Imagine being in that bucket.
The channel markers above the bridge and below the mouth of the Napa River are almost nonexistent. No wonder so many of my friends have run aground in that wide, shallow area of the river. It looks as if the Army Corps of Engineers has been busy opening the salt ponds to return them to marsh, which will also help with flood control. We saw many birds standing up to their knees in water, which reminded us to stay smack-dab in the center of the channel.
The water gained depth once we made the turn into the Napa River; however, it’s still important to keep a close watch on the depthfinder, especially when rounding corners. I let Sweetie do that essential task while I enjoyed the riverfront homes and docks as we motored along.
Further upstream, the famous Carneros wine-growing region is visible from the river. Many superior champagne and chardonnay grapes come from that rich, alluvial soil.
When we reached the new Imola Bridge, I gave Kurt Starr a call on my cell phone. He lives in nearby River Park and it was just a short hop for him to meet us at the Napa Valley Yacht Club dock with a gate key. We started chatting about growing up in Napa and found that Kurt was also a native Napan. We also discovered that he grew up next door to Sweetie on Glenwood Drive. Small world…
Kurt left us and we settled into full vacation mode. The dock at NVYC has a rural feeling. Although located only a few blocks from downtown Napa, the yacht club is surrounded by lush vegetation and has an unsurpassed view of the new Imola Bridge.
Eartha was enchanted with the activity of the nearby boat ramp. She spent hours sitting in the cockpit watching the action. The ramp is an old concrete structure that was built in the 1950s to accommodate the boat club members. These days locals gather there to fish and enjoy the view. There were a few rowdy fellows who came down to drink beer and curse, but they were quickly replaced by local families who just wanted a restful spot near the water.
Geese, ducks, diving birds, crows, pigeons and black birds kept Eartha entertained. She was especially interested in a big, black buzzard that perched on the piling right outside the cockpit.
Our good friend Miss Yvonne came by for a visit the following day. She loves to watch the traffic and wildlife on the river as much as we do. While Yvonne and I caught up on old times, Sweetie borrowed her car and drove to Lawler’s Liquor Store on Jefferson Street to purchase a few dozen malfatti and ravioli for a late lunch/early dinner.
So far as we know, Napa is the only place you can find malfatti. They were created back in the 1950s by a chef who didn’t want to waste the remaining dough and filling after making a batch of ravioli and so combined and rolled the remains of both into 3-inch cylinders, calling them malfatti or, in Italian, “badly made.” They are very tender and have more flavor than regular ravioli.
After lunch, we found Bill Newton at the clubhouse. Coincidentally, he and Miss Yvonne are on the same bocce ball team. Napa is still a small town where people know their neighbors.
There was an old cabin cruiser anchored just off the NVYC dock. Not a member of a reciprocal club, he had been tied up at the dock until asked to leave. He left, but didn’t go very far, anchoring only a few yards away from the dock. Unfortunately, at low tide he was left high and dry. At least he was able to inspect his anchor twice a day. Like other popular places, the Napa River has a 72-hour anchoring limit that is enforced by the local police.
Miss Yvonne’s Delights
Yvonne Gray is always a welcome visitor on Dancing Dragon and not just because she is a merry soul. Every time she visits she brings some amazing goodie. Delicacies with names such as “Fudgy Froggers,” “Swamp” and “Fuzzy Navel Cake” are all eagerly consumed by her grateful fans. This time she brought something she called “Cracker.” She shares her recipe with us all.
There was a full moon during our visit to Napa and the temperature was comfortably warm, unlike South City. I went up onto the flying bridge late at night and basked in the mild climate, brilliant stars and bright moon. While I sat in my reclining chair, I thought how lucky I was to be able to enjoy this life with good friends, a wonderful husband and a solid old boat to carry me to beautiful places. We can’t really take advantage of the flying bridge in South City because of the wind and fog.
We had been planning to stay in Napa a few days longer, but the following day an old friend, who had been invited, arrived early in the morning and stayed until very late in the afternoon. She has limited mobility and because of her disability she wasn’t able to get up to the flying bridge where the view and the weather are best. So, she and I sat in the warm cabin talking of old times. She seemed to enjoy herself, but honestly, I would rather have been out riding my little bicycle or reading on the flying bridge, both activities Sweetie participated in while I was trapped below.
I sound like a horrible person and I truly love this gal. She is a very good friend, but when she started to plan our itinerary for the rest of our stay, I watched as Sweetie’s eyes narrowed in silent disagreement. The moment she left, he told me he wanted to leave the following morning. So, without much fanfare, we left our friends in Napa and headed downstream.
We ducked into River Park on our way out of town to look at the waterfront homes. The River Park development was built in the early 1960s and most of the homes there have docks. It is located on the south side of the new Imola Bridge. Kurt Starr and his wife Dominique came out of their beautiful home to wave goodbye as we passed.
The weather was changing quickly so perhaps it was a good thing we left a few days early. We crossed San Pablo Bay against a flood tide which, in spite of gulping down gallons of additional fuel, was OK because it was very windy. If the tide had been ebbing, we would have had wind over tide, which makes for a very bumpy ride. San Pablo Bay can get quite snotty at times. It was fairly lumpy anyway and slow going because we were fighting the full moon flood. It’s amazing how much difference it makes in fuel consumption when you ride with the tide as opposed to going against it. We know better, but wanted to put some distance between our Social Director and us.
We stopped at China Camp again and were happy to finally get the anchor down and settle the boat after a long trip. Although it was mid-week, a few more boats came in and anchored, including the mysterious Nordhavn.
There was a very strange wake that rolled through the anchorage late in the afternoon. It arrived with the change of tide and hit us on the beam. We wallowed around for about 15 minutes until the water finally settled down and flattened out.
The next morning we stayed in bed until the sun came streaming in the starboard side windows, indicating the ebb had begun. We made coffee, pulled up the anchor and headed toward Treasure Island. Because we were riding the tide this time, we made an easy 10 knots (according to the GPS) across the bottom. The current was running so hard that the channel marker buoys were creating wakes. It must have something to do with the snow melt in the mountains and increased water flow. I’ll bet the water in the Delta is cold this summer.
We arrived at Treasure Island early and settled ourselves in the “Hole.” It was protected from the wind and pleasantly warm. I made breakfast as Sweetie got the boat settled, switching off the big Isuzu engines, turning off the blower fan and electric windlass and making a final anchor check to see that it was well set.
While we were there we watched as a boat snagged one of the many cables that snake across the bottom of Clipper Cove. The capable boater was able to use his boat hook to grab and hold the cable, then the guy who was manning the windlass dropped the anchor slightly until the flukes were free. The boat hook guy then let go of the cable, while the windlass guy pulled up the anchor and, voila!, they went on their merry way. I love happy endings! If it ever happens to you, that is how it should be done.
I like to read Pat Carson’s column in our magazine. He seems to be a very competent and knowledgeable boater. It reminds me that I am merely a recreational boater and that there are many good folks out there who know much more than I ever will. I’ll endeavor to stay on my side of the channel markers and out of everybody’s way.
America’s Cup Update
Although it is more than two years away, things are heating up in the America’s Cup world. The Oracle boat has been seen flaunting her speed on the Bay. With Russell Coutts at the helm, a recent cartwheel and capsize was posted on the internet for the whole world to see. If you don’t use them, they don’t break. This rule applies no matter how much they cost.
Plans are currently being drawn for the America’s Cup Village, which will be built on Piers 27/29 along the waterfront. The city of San Francisco hopes to get a new cruise ship terminal out of the deal, which would be a very good thing, especially if you have ever had to board a ship from the old facility.
Regatta Director Iain Murray presented eight of the nine international competing teams at a posh event at the Ferry Building. Racing sailors from China, Italy and Sweden were among those on hand.
It takes many people working together to pull off a spectacle of this magnitude. Richard Worth has been appointed Chairman of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). He is responsible for the commercial, media and televised aspects of the upcoming races. Craig Thompson has been appointed as CEO of the organization and will work closely with Mr. Worth. Each of these gentlemen has worked with the management team of the Olympic Games Committee and is familiar with organizing and managing an event of this size and status.
Who pays for it all? That’s the big question. Details are being hammered out while the teams gather and strut. Stay tuned – you are going to see sailing like you’ve never seen before…
And on a more personal note: The illustrious co-publisher of Bay & Delta Yachtsman is a young boater named Ty Mellott (who is newly married – congratulations!). Ty had 3 sets of lines with one of them being a substantial length of quality black braid line that was taking up precious storage space. He took all the lines over to Blue Pelican Marine Nautical Consignments, located at Grand Marina in Alameda, to sell. It didn’t take long to sell them all. The next time Ty dropped by the shop, Tom Bliss, the owner of Blue Pelican, handed Ty a check for nearly $400.
According to Tom, the one lengthy amount of black Mega-Braid line sold to a gentleman named William Erkelens who, among other duties, is in charge of securing Larry Ellison’s past America’s Cup champion race boat USA 17, outside of the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores.
According to William, “The rope he [Ty] had was pre-owned but not used so it was the same as if I had bought it new, only much less expensive!”
According to Tom Bliss, the motto of Blue Pelican is: Recycle, Re-use, Re-think!
So, there is a little bit of our very own Yachtsman magazine attached to the BMW Oracle Racing Team. Good luck in 2013!
Contact Blue Pelican Marine Nautical Consignments at 510/769-4858 or visit their website at www.bluepelicanmarine.com to find your own marine items.
My friend Rich Evans, who keeps his Skookum 57, Sheba Star, over in Brisbane Marina, says he is having terrific luck with a product called Bird-B-Gone™. Rich lives out of state and was having a terrible problem with pigeons perching in the rigging and pooping all over his decks until he found this great device. Rich claims that Bird-B-Gone has rendered the pigeon problem nil. He says that several of his marina neighbors have purchased the product and all are more than satisfied with the results.
Rich is thinking of selling Sheba and purchasing a new Nordhavn 86. His slip in Brisbane is 88 feet long and he wants to get his money’s worth.
For more information on the bird thing, visit www.birdbgone.com or call 800/392-6915.
Orange Coast Yachts Northern California has a new Sales Manager.
Jason Smith, who had an extensive background in sales dealing with the investment real estate market, decided about 5 years ago to combine that experience and his love of boats to make a career change to follow his passion.
Since then, Jason has been with Orange Coast Yachts as a salesman. Three months ago he was promoted to Orange Coast Yachts Northern California Sales Manager.
Jason has been a boater his whole life and lived aboard a 58-foot Hatteras in Sausalito. A member of the St. Francis Yacht Club for the past 8 years, Jason not only spends some of his off time at the club in San Francisco but also at Tinsley Island where he is seen running around the Delta in his 19-foot Mastercraft.
With his broad knowledge of boats and his professional low pressure sales approach, Jason strives to make his new and repeat clientele feel comfortable with their boat-buying experience from start to delivery. Jason works hard to make even the most difficult of deals seem easy to the customer. His latest signed, sealed and delivered yacht was a beautiful brand new 60-foot Ocean Alexander that he sold to a local repeat customer of his.
One of Jason’s first tasks when he became Sales Manager was to find a replacement for the position he once held as a salesman. The replacement that he found was Capt. Dean Hanson.
Dean Hanson is a Southern California native and like many in our business grew up boating as well. Working as a 6-Pac charter captain on Lake Mead during his college days gave Dean plenty of experience handling and working larger boats. Dean has since acquired the coveted 100 Ton USCG Captains License.
Over the years, Capt. Dean Hanson has worked in the RV and vehicle sales area as well as the aviation and real estate development fields. Some in the Delta may even know Dean as the former owner of a marina on Sandmound on Bethel Island where he also owned Golden Princess, a 40-foot Pleasure Craft that he also kept on Bethel Island. He currently owns a 51-foot Bluewater named Half-Note that he keeps at Fortman Marina in Alameda.
With Dean’s prior sales background and wonderful personality, Jason thought Dean would be a great addition to the Northern California Orange Coast Yachts sales team. Dean Hanson, along with Stephen Stuckey who has been with Orange Coast Yachts for the past 8 years, are eager and willing to help with your new or used boat purchase.
For more info on Orange Coast Yachts or the boats they offer, you can call 510/523-2628 or visit www.orangecoastyachts.com
Oceanic Yacht Sales Has New Salesperson
Rick Peterson is the new boat broker at Oceanic Yacht Sales in Sausalito. Rick brings with him over 30 years of sales experience with the past seven as a licensed boat broker here in the state of California. When I spoke with him, Rick said, “An opportunity arose to put roots down in the most beautiful city in the world, working with a fantastic guy and selling some of the best boats ever made. Who could say no?
“Being a partner with John Baier, in the best location in the Bay, plus being the only big boat dealership left in the Bay Area, what can I say, I had to make the move. John asked me how I felt about selling Grand Banks in Sausalito. I said, ‘Are you crazy? Grand Banks are great yachts with a stellar reputation, and Sausalito is the best location in the Bay for selling boats. Where do I sign?’
“My true love is cruising. There is no other activity that challenges the freedom, fun and excitement that exploring in your yacht provides. And Grand Banks are state-of-the-art traditional cruising yachts that give you access to that wonderful world. So my plan is to assist as many people as I can to find that perfect cruising yacht, so they can live their dreams, too! Oceanic is the place for me to do just that!”
Oceanic Yachts is the exclusive Northern California and Nevada dealer for the Grand Banks line. Rick can be reached at the office at 415/331-0533 or anytime on his cell at 650/722-2782. His e-mail is Rick@OceanicYachts.com or visit www.oceanicyachts.com to view their complete line of boats offered.
Ouija Boards And Turtles
Now that you know what I look like naked (see last month’s magazine), I guess you should know that I am also very superstitious. I come from a long line of women who, in past centuries, would have been burned as witches. My aunt Dorothy worked a Ouija Board to find answers to “those” kinds of questions and my mom wouldn’t begin her day without reading her fortune from the wooden box of Cho Cho sticks.
My grandmother used a pendulum made from a dime tied to a length of thread to tell the sex of the birds she sold. If the dime went round and round when held above a particular bird, it was female. If the dime went back and forth, it was a male.
I’m not saying these spirit-world things are valid in our modern culture. I’m just telling you that the women who I grew up with believed in them.
Anyway, whenever I find a coin on the ground I pick it up to pay the “Bay Tax.” Here’s how it works (in my mind, at least): Whenever we are getting ready to depart on a trip, I toss one of my found coins into the Bay as a way of asking the spirits for a safe journey. When we reach our destination safely, I toss in another coin to say “thanks.” If it was a particularly hair-raising trip, I will throw a coin of a larger denomination, a quarter being the largest.
These coins live in a little handcrafted wooden bowl that Sweetie and I purchased while visiting Victoria, B.C. The bowl contains the lucky found money, a collection of small turtles and is surrounded by larger turtles, all facing inward. Turtles represent prosperity and long life in some cultures. I like them because they carry their homes with them wherever they go, sort of like Sweetie and me. It’s silly, I know, but there it is.
That about wraps me up for this month. Sweetie has received a one-month reprieve from his doctor, so perhaps we will be able to steal away to the Delta. Dean is retiring soon and Sweetie wishes he could, too. Time moves so quickly these days that his turn will come soon enough.
Until then, you can contact me with questions, comments or photos of your own boat at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy the rest of the summer; it passes so quickly!