About The Bay - April 2019

So, my friend Bill Wells nominated me to enter the 39th Annual Frozen Bun Run. I wish he would have told me, I am well insulated against frigid water and have the necessary extra padding where it counts, specifically for this particular event. At the very least it would give folks up in the Delta something to talk about for years to come.

Now that spring has arrived the bird population has gone a little nutty here in Oyster Cove. Nearby construction has resulted in both the loss of habitat and traditional nesting sites. It seems that the Canadian geese are staking claim to any flat surface including the roof of the houseboat across the way. I think a pair that we have named the Loudens are making the move for our cockpit. It would not be so bad if they did not insist on yelling all the time, hence the name Louden.

The brazen goose in the cockpit makes Eartha Kitt, our resident boat cat, twitch and chatter. When that nervy goose finally gets down to Eartha′s one, last nerve she makes her mad dash. There is the gratifying sound of flapping and honking as the goose makes good his escape from the rare and exotic puffy-tailed boat panther. Oh yes, it is all go around here now that spring has arrived.

A brand-new month and the boat is ready to go. Me too, for that matter. The fuel tanks are full, the engines all seem to be cooperating and the days are getting longer. You will be glad to know that my electric sander is still in the dock box. I don′t see any sense in rushing into a never-ending project, especially since it never ends. No, the sanding can wait until I am anchored someplace lovely and need to escape the annoying drone of the generator.

Farewell, Old Friend!

After almost 30 years of faithful service my favorite deck brush has gone missing. I just cannot imagine what happened to it, one minute it was resting in its regular spot and the next moment it was gone! Perhaps it jumped ship.

My favorite deck brush was one of those expensive stainless-steel extendable-handle beauties with a lovely soft blue brush on the business end. Together that brush and I have washed acres of teak and miles of deck. Years ago, I accidentally dropped my precious brush over the side and had to pay my diver a small fortune to retrieve it from a watery grave. The brush had been a cherished and hard-working member of the crew and it will be sorely missed. I wonder if they still even make them? A drive over to Svendsen′s chandlery in Alameda may be in order, especially since Sweetie′s Canadian geese think that our boat is the Ritz Hotel, complete with room and maid service. The deck brush is an extremely necessary piece of equipment, especially when my messy hotel guests do not know how to find the darned bathroom.

I poked around on Amazon and found the comparable replacement for only, wait for it, $120! For a deck brush? Hopefully Svendsen′s will be having a sale very soon.

I know what it is like to live in fear. I turned 70 in March and, as you may not realize if you are still young and juicy, the DMV requires that everybody retake the written drivers test when they reach this particular milestone. Between studying for the new California′s Boaters License and the DMV Drivers Test I feel like I am back in high school, perish the thought! The salon table has been littered with pamphlets, booklets and practice tests for weeks now. Honestly, my brain is a bit stiff for forced marches of this variety but if the testing keeps me rolling and floating then, mission accomplished!

I am sad to report the passing of Whit Newton, a long-time boater and co-founder of American Marine, the creator of the Grand Banks trawlers.

In the very early 1960′s, in the new territories of Hong Kong, Whit and his partners conceived and built the first Grand Banks motor yacht which changed the way we think of motor boating. Whit and his team wanted to create a long-range vessel sturdy enough to cruise the oceans of the globe. The endeavor was so successful that the factory soon expanded to Singapore and built a labor force of over 2,000 highly skilled employees. The reputation held by the Grand Banks name is thanks to the integrity and expertise of Whit and his team.

Whit was not only a visionary, but also a kind man who was willing to help. To me, Whit was a valuable source of information, always taking the extra step to help me find a correct answer. I liked Whit and found him to be a gentle man with a keen sense of honor. At the time of his passing Whit had been working with Richard Boland Yachts. Those of us who knew him mourn his passing.

The 102nd Annual Opening Day on the Bay is set for Sunday, April 28, 2019. Hosted by the Pacific Inter Club Yacht Association, this year′s theme is Holidays on the Bay leaving plenty of room for interpretation and creativity for those wishing to participate in the Decorated Boat Contest. If you do not want to take your own boat out into the fracas you can always reserve a spot on one of the excellent local commercial tour boats. The sailing schooner, Freda, will be carrying passengers out of Sausalito and the Hornblower fleet will be carrying passengers on their fabulous champagne buffet cruise, the experience made all the better by the pageantry of the occasion.

Opening Day on the Bay has a long history. More than 100 yacht clubs come together under the PICYA umbrella and in the spirit of fun to celebrate the opening of the summer boating season. The fact that this has been a local tradition for the past 101 years should tell you something about the popularity of the event.

Let us say, just for grins and giggles, that you are new to boating. First things first; everything is better when shared with friends. Invite a few adventurous pals to join you for a long day on the water, and, because you are providing the venue and the fuel, request that your guests bring lunch. Friends who have boating experience are preferred, but not necessary. A willing spirit and cheerful attitude go a long way when on the water.

The Blessing of the Fleet is tradition that many boaters feel is the essence of Opening Day. Historically the blessing was made for the fishing fleet asking for a bountiful catch and safe travels. The official blessing ceremony takes place early in the day, usually beginning at 10:00 a.m. If you want to have your vessel blessed, you will need to determine how long it will take to travel from your home port to the blessing area in Raccoon Straight and plan your guests′ arrival accordingly.

Okay, everybody is on board, the lunch is stowed, and the beer is on ice. A short run-down from the captain explaining safety procedures and the operation of the head and away you go! Hopefully the weather will be perfect, as it often is in late April, but there are some years when the weather just doesn′t cooperate. I find that keeping ginger ale, ginger snaps and any kind of ginger candy on board helps tremendously with a tippy tummy if the Bay decides to play rough.

Once you locate the Blessing Ship, fall in with the line of vessels and be patient. Boaters who try to cut into the line are annoying and just plain dangerous. Opening Day is one of the few days when many less experienced boaters take their vessels out on the water. Giving every boat in line plenty of room to maneuver will make the day safer and happier for everybody concerned.

Once your boat has been blessed you have a couple of choices; muster with your yacht club group near the Golden Gate to join the decorated boat parade or head off on your own to find a place to enjoy lunch. Ayala Cove at Angel Island is always a popular destination, especially so on Opening Day. It is worth a shot to cruise through the Cove just to see if there is an available mooring ball or an open space at the dock. Richardson Bay is another good spot to anchor because it provides a panoramic view of the festivities. Heavy boat traffic can make the water rough so remind your guests to guard their beverages!

The important thing is to be safe and to have fun. For more information about Opening Day on the Bay visit www.picya.org

April also means taxes, which I would rather not talk about this year. All I can say is as official low-income seniors, we are in good company among the working wounded.

A trip over to Half Moon Bay was in order to obliterate the pain of having to fork over a huge chunk of cash for taxes. Lunch with friends in beautiful surroundings is as much of a tonic as a visit to the shrink, and much less expensive and stressful.

Our local crab season is in full swing and will continue through June 30, 2019. Although there does not seem to be as many crabs as last year′s record harvest, there are still plenty available, especially if you are willing to make the drive over to the coast. Freshly caught fish and crab are sold directly off-the-boat and are available to the public 7 days a week. I watched as a gentleman purchased 4 large, lively Dungeness crabs for $32, which seemed like a bargain to me.

The harbor at Pillar Point is divided into two parts; the commercial docks and the recreational boat berths. If you are in search of fish or crab it is the commercial side of the marina that you want. It is easy to see which of the commercial fishing boats are selling crab because they fly a colorful crab flag, making them easy to target on the docks. Keep in mind that cash is king when purchasing a fresh catch directly from the skipper. Make his life easier by carrying a variety of bills in different denominations so making change is unnecessary. After all, who wants stinky crabby fingers in their pockets?

Pillar Point Harbor also offers a public fishing pier, a RV lot and a 6-lane launch ramp. For more information visit www.smharbor.com/pillarpoint/

The Heater Is Dead, Long Live The Heater!

Desperation leads to innovation, or at the very least, the spending of large chunks of cash. After a winter of shivering in the cold and trying to keep the boat warm without the help of forced air heat, I was forced into an act of desperation finally calling in a professional, although it turned out to be a waste of time and money.

My poor Sweetie had been battling the beast since it crapped out in mid-November, so not only was he cold he had a crabby, snapping wife nipping at his heels. Packing the unit off for repair in Seattle left us poorer and still cold. The heater came back and still did not work. Usually when you send something in for repair, and the repair facility indicates that it is working, you take their word. Unfortunately, the damn thing refused to fire up, so Sweetie threw new fuel pumps, fuel lines, filters, and battery connections at it. He was at his wits end so I made the call to the heater specialist.

The guy came out right away, I′ll say that for him. He was in the engine room and had the heater unit deinstalled in a very short time. We tried to tell him that the repair facility in Seattle had given us a clean bill of health for the unit and that the problem probably was elsewhere in the system. He would not hear what we were saying and told us he would return on Friday, but probably our best bet would be to buy an entirely new system, from him, of course.

Honestly, I thought I had seen the end of both the repair guy and the heater. Good riddance to the heater was my initial sentiment. Sweetie and I discussed our options. We could; 1. stay cold, 2. buy a new system, 3. cross our fingers and hope this guy could offer the magic bullet that would make the old heater work. Our solution was, 4. None of the Above.

Sweetie did an Internet search and found that a replacement unit was available from Amazon for only $300, complete with everything, including diesel tank. Two-day delivery was offered, and so Sweetie bit the bullet and bought it. Sure enough, it arrived on time and the installation wasn′t too difficult, especially given the ducting and wiring was already in place.

There was a horrible moment when the heater parts were spread all around the cabin that I wondered what I had gotten myself into, however, the initial start-up rewarded my Sweetie with buckets full of delicious, warm air! Our new knock-off heater is not marine grade but at this price, who cares? The darned thing is practically disposable! Stopped working? Recycle and replace! Plus, get this, it came with a muffler! The old heater sounded like a jet plane taking off while our new heater purred like Eartha Kitt. So, not only is the wife warm, but also happy, two things that make for a happy home life.

Amazingly, the heater repair guy showed up only a day late saying that he had found a great deal for a replacement heater and that he would be happy to install it for only $700, on top of the $120 that I had already paid him for removing the old unit. I didn′t mention to him that the new replacement was hard at work keeping the cabin warm and cozy at that very moment.

All was well and warm for two days when, suddenly, the new, disposable heater crapped out. I was hoping it would last at least a little longer than two days. Poor Sweetie was so very disappointed. It was later that evening as I was lying in bed that I had an epiphany. Back in November I had filled my old Mercedes 240D with diesel, filling the two jerry jugs that we use for the heater at the same time. A few days later my car began to cough and sputter. I drove it over to my mechanic and had the fuel filters changed which took care of the problem. I didn′t connect the heater dying with the clogged fuel filters in my car, perhaps because the foul fuel wasn′t added to the heater tank for a few weeks after the fact. I mentioned my suspicions to Sweetie and sure enough, a quick inspection inside of the fuel tank revealed a gummy, sticky mess. As my grandmother always said, “too soon old, too late smart.” Had my bee-bee brain made the connection earlier I could have saved us hundreds of dollars, months of shivering and the old Webasto an undignified and untimely burial in the dumpster. If there was a lesson here, I missed it, but thankfully the entire crew of the Dancing Dragon is finally warm, and just in time for summer!

So, on this happy note, I leave you until next month. Questions or comments can be directed to me at kim@yachts manmagazine.com H


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