An engine room is a small space in which to work. Various-sized equipment is crowded into an area designed for maximum output with a minimum footprint. This is part of the reason poor old Sweetie avoids the cramped quarters below decks like it was a QAnon rally. Also, now that we are both older, we find that our agility is on the wane.
Consequently, almost all of our engine maintenance these days is performed by professional marine mechanics. Currently we are lucky enough to have the experienced technicians from Fathom Marine keeping us moving through the water. They do a fantastic job and Super Mechanic Isaac Crawford is a wiz at diagnosing and improvising. However, Isaac is a big lad, standing at least 6-foot 4-inches in his stocking feet. I believe it would be impossible for a fellow of his size to work in a crowded space without having a foot, shoulder or elbow bump into something in the confined space.
We usually find after a large engine service something invariably goes wrong. For example, the vent hose for our forced air diesel furnace has accidentally been disconnected several times by a large foot looking to gain purchase in tight quarters. This time it was the water heater that took the hit.
I suppose the water heater was crowded against something the boys were working on down there because it wasn’t more than a few hours after they left that we noticed the water from the tap not quite as hot as it should be. By the time the dinner dishes had been washed we knew for sure that Sweetie was destined for a trip into the bilge.
After locating and perusing the Isotherm Marine Water Heater manual from the ship’s library, Sweetie decided to go for the least invasive fix first. There is a reset button on the water heater and he gave that a push and was rewarded with a hopeful burst of tepid water. Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long. More perusing, another magic button and viola, there was still no hot water.
Boating is a lot like camping and living on a boat is a little like living in a camp environment. We try to make it as comfortable and as First World as possible, but in reality we are living marginally. So consequently, when there was no hot water it presented only a very minor problem and we made due. Heating water with the electric teapot to wash dishes was easy. It made me think of all the millions of people who do not have the simple luxury of running water and I count my blessings yet again. Also, I knew that Sweetie would eventually get tired of washing his perfect hair in cold water and a solution to our less than hot mess found. Sure enough, upon Sweetie’s third trip into the bowels of the boat he used his considerable skills learned as 30 years working as a copier technician to diagnose a tiny external problem. A wire had become separated from its connector. Something so simple but it would take someone with an eye trained in diagnosing electrical problems to find the problem. Sweetie replaced the connector and the wire with some tinned marine wire he had on hand, plugged it in and in less than an hour we had hot water again. Okay, not a very exciting story I confess, but if you had lived through the disappointment of the first few failed attempts, the perplexing diagnosis or the stream of colorful words, you might find it at least entertaining.
For some reason our little marina here in Oyster Cove stays clean and free from trash and floating debris. I have never noticed anyone cleaning the shore line here and I am happy to report it stays fairly pristine. We have a regular group of local fishermen who enjoy the park-like shore along the east side of our tiny peninsula. They are the most fastidious group of fishermen I have ever encountered.
Early in my working career I was employed by the City of Napa Parks Department. One of the parks I maintained was Kennedy which is a large tract of land located along the river south of town. I would drive my city pick-up truck along the levee road to tidy the picnic areas, empty the garbage bins and pick up the litter. If I was lucky I would have an intern to help, but often I was on my own. Because the park was isolated and large it was a favorite hangout of wild kids and rowdy fishermen. I don’t know which group was worse. The kids broke bottles and lit fires. Those fishermen left me all of their smelly bait bags, Medusas heads of tangled fishing line and beer bottles by the hundreds to clean up. Halcyon days indeed. I like to think that in more recent times people are far more conscience of their environment.
With the massive construction project going on over at Oyster Point we have experienced an influx of wild life. The developer has knocked down the eucalyptus where the owls and herons nested and have completely graded the grassy fields where the Canada Geese found respite. This year we had only 3 baby geese appear behind the boat. I have not seen the owls since their nests were destroyed but the herons seem to have been able to resettle nearby. The night heron population has doubled from one to two, so hopefully that means we will be seeing more of these elegant birds in the future.
The Great Blue Heron babies are skinny and awkward but are able to feed themselves with the abundant bait fish that have moved into our tiny bay. Sweetie’s solar powered dock light has been attracting little fish by the millions so hopefully that is helping our local heron population too.
Our new Harbormaster, Jason Kokoulis, has been making some positive changes here in Oyster Cove. Our current live-aboard population will be minimized by attrition. No more Extended-Stay permits will be issued and as the folks who currently hold that status leave the marina the slots will not be replaced. As of right now the waiting list for a live-aboard slip in Oyster Cove Marina is 5 years. I still miss my second husband, Dean Altschuler, but I have to admit that it has been very nice not having a neighbor so close that they can hear you belching or snoring for goodness sake!
The Dancing Dragon is at long last ready to go. The major engine service has the old Isuzu’s running cool and clean. Waiting for parts was the main contributing factor to our aqua-free hiatus but I hope to make up for lost time. The big maintenance job combined with the recent bottom cleaning has left me poor but eager to see new vistas. All we need to do now is to top off the diesel tanks, just a minor cha ching in a long list.
At last, there is a proper chandlery on the Bay. Svendsen’s has joined forces with Bay Ship and is now Svendsen’s Marine and Industrial Supply. The new Alameda chandlery is a boaters’ dream come true. I attended the grand opening of the new facility and I can say with all honesty that the new, updated Svendsen’s is exactly what the doctor ordered.
When we first arrived we were greeted by the vendors set up outside the impressive new facility. The Treasure Island Training Center was on hand to promote youth sailing on the bay. I congratulated Program Manager Laura DeFelice on the recent victory at Clipper Cove. The Board of Supervisors have determined the waters in the protected cove between Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands is far too valuable a resource to be used only to house mega yachts for the super rich. Score one for San Francisco! We love to anchor in Clipper Cove and watch all the activity. The youth sailing program is extremely popular as are the swim events.
Remember back in the 1980’s and 90’s when West Marine bought up all the mom and pop chandleries and everything was good for a while? Then West Marine stopped stocking the shelves with the stuff that boaters actually use and need and instead filled their stores with expensive, trendy clothing and frilly accessories. Finally, West Marine began closing stores because business was dropping off and many boaters were left high and dry with no place to go for paint, hoses, pumps and all the bits and pieces that are required to keep old tubs like mine afloat.
Svendsen’s Marine and Industrial Supply to the rescue! The new facility offers the largest selection of marine products on the Bay. The well-stocked warehouse reminds me of the old Golden State Diesel shop over in Oakland, only on steroids. Barbara, the proprietor there, knew her stock inside and out and with her help, you could find anything imaginable pertaining to a boat. Ah, the good old days just may be returning.
In addition to the new chandlery in Alameda, Svendsen’s Bay Marine in Richmond is now their new boat yard facility servicing pleasure boats up to 100 tons. Bay Ship, which is still located on the Estuary in Alameda, will service the commercial vessels and larger pleasure yachts. So as respects hauling your boat, it is business as usual in the new yard except for an improved, updated pricing program. Before your boat is hauled out of the water you will receive a detailed invoice of all upcoming charges. I love having no surprises, especially when it comes to big ticket items like haul-outs. Improvements of any kind are always welcome.
Svendsen’s Marine and Industrial Supply is a bit difficult to find if you are not familiar with Alameda so use the GPS on your phone to get you there. Once you have arrived, parking is ample and you will find plenty of qualified, knowledgeable staff on hand to assist.
You will find Svendsen’s Marine and Industrial Supply at 2900 Main Street, #1900, Alameda, CA. 510/522-7860 or visit the web site www.svendsens.com
SS Red Oak Victory
We have a genuine war hero in our midst. After spending 28 years in the Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, the SS Red Oak Victory is now a living museum ship berthed in Richmond near the Rosie Museum. Originally commissioned as a “Victory Ship,” the USS Red Oak Victory is one of the few ships of her class that eventually became a Naval commissioned vessel. Commissioned in the Kaiser Ship Yard in Richmond, CA (she’s a local girl!) on December 5, 1944 as a U.S. Naval Vessel the SS Red Oak Victory was originally designated as AK class (Auxiliary Cargo Ship) and after her launch headed directly to the Pacific Theatre where she carried ammunition to supply the Pacific Fleet during World War II. She is 455-feet long and like all Victory Class ships, not intended to last very long. However, her welds are holding strong to this day and she is still considered seaworthy.
SS Red Oak Victory supplied cargo and ammunition to the fleet at Pearl Harbor and then sailed to the Western Pacific where she supplied ammunition for the invasion of Okinawa. Her next stop was Leyte Gulf where she supported operations in the Philippines until the end of the war. All of these sites saw heavy action during World War II and SS Red Oak Victory was right in the middle of it all.
After the war was over she sailed back to the United States. In 1946 she was turned over to the U.S. Maritime Commission and re-designated as SS Red Oak Victory where she saw service in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Korea. Her final years of service were spent in Vietnam from 1965 through 1968 where she was one of 100 WWII Victory Ships used by the Military Sealift Command. She was due to be scrapped but came to the attention of the Richmond Museum Association which moved the valiant vessel to her current home in 1998. Work has been ongoing and for the first time in over 50 years, the SS Red Oak Victory has been lighting off her engines, making her the first American WWII ship to become operational in over 40 years. The SS Red Oak Victory accumulated a proud record of service and now, as a Museum Ship, maintains that service by educating visitors from all over the world and acting as a tribute to all who served on her. If you are planning a visit, keep in mind that flat, comfortable shoes are best.
As a side note; the SS Red Oak Victory is a beneficiary of The Women’s Propeller Club whose continued fund raising efforts contribute to her support.
You can visit the Richmond History Museum at 1337 Canal Boulevard, Richmond, CA 94804. Please go to richmondmuseum.org for more information. While you are there plan a visit to the Rosie the Riveter Museum as well! Both attractions are well worth your time.
Fall is upon us and with it comes some of the best boating weather of the year. Get out on the water whenever possible and enjoy all that our beautiful San Francisco Bay and Delta have to offer.
If you have questions, comments or contributions please contact me at kim@yachts manmagazine.com. Until next month, be joyful but above all be safe! H