Winter Water Wonders
I love the crystal, clear days of late December and January! The blue skies are especially welcome after the choking haze we experienced during the weeks of the horrific Butte County fires. The air has been scrubbed clean and it is if I can almost see the leaves on the trees of Mt. Diablo from here in South San Francisco. As I can barely see the Big E on the eye test chart, that visual phenomena will most likely never come to pass, but it is always fun to dream.
Clear, cool winter days make for ideal boating. The water is flat and the winds are calm, which is a very good thing if you are not a sailor. If you are a sailor, be patient, your turn is coming. During the winter, vessel traffic is light, even on weekends, so finding that elusive guest slip is much easier. Plus, there is the added benefit of being able to dress in fashionable layers. Also, do not forget hot chocolate is much improved with a hearty splash of Irish Cream. Oh yes, there are many good things about winter.
Staying warm while on board can be a challenge, especially if you are planning to overnight at one of our beautiful anchorages here on the Bay. I am going to share a few of the cabin heating techniques that we have experimented with over the years. I am not recommending that you try any of these methods for yourself. I am simply only saying these are the various ways we have tried to stay warm while on the water, some effective, some not so much. Our first desperate attempt to keep the cabin warm was using clean clay flower pot turned upside down and secured to the cook stove by means of fiddles. The flower pot method will produce an amazing amount of heat because the clay both holds and radiates the heat. The flower pot method works best in smaller, well ventilated cabin spaces, we used one for several years on our Catalina 27, Yes, Dear. If your boat has an oven you can fire it up and set the temperature on low, leaving the oven door propped open to allow the heat to escape into the cabin. It is a mandatory safety and common sense demand, that there ALWAYS be adequate ventilation for any kind of heating device you use in enclosed spaces.
When we first bought the Catalina 36, we used a portable propane heater with varying degrees of success. We kept the forward and aft hatches propped open, as well as a galley hatch that was located under the dodger. The portable propane heater kept the cabin either too hot or too cold, with no comfort zone in between. A secure, flat space to put a portable space heater is also mandatory. Make sure that any portable heater you select has a safety “Kill” switch in case it inadvertently gets knocked over and never, ever, leave it unattended.
After trying our hand with the various portables, we moved on to a wall mounted kerosene heater. It was an attractive little brass unit but unfortunately it didn′t put out much heat, it was just another pretty face. We then moved on to the more expensive forced air furnaces as we utilize the boat all year and we like to be comfortable. My favorite heater was the little Wallace Forced Air Furnace that we had on the Catalina 36. It was about the size of a briefcase, so the installation was quite simple. The Wallace was quiet, and it had a rheostat so that I could adjust the temperature and just leave the heater running on its own, almost without supervision. FYI: Never leave any heater unattended or running overnight. Currently, on the trawler, we have a big diesel forced air furnace that has behaved well recently. It was a balky beast for the first few years we had it on board. Repairs on this heater are required to be made in Seattle so every time it threw a hissy fit Sweetie would have to uninstall the damn thing, pack it up in a big box and ship it off. The shipping cost was a significant part of the repair bill. Of course, a heater never breaks down in the summer when you don′t need it. We could almost count on the fact that if we shipped the heater to Seattle in December it “might” be back by March, depending on how busy the shop was. Another thing about the diesel furnace, it′s incredibly noisy, sounding more like a jet engine than a furnace, but it does the job and that is the important thing.
Because we can keep the cabin almost warm, we took her over to the Brisbane Fishing Pier to watch the moon rise over the East Bay hills. It′s just a short hop but still long enough to get the engines hot. A hot engine is another way to heat your cabin, especially if your engines are made of cast iron like our big Isuzu′s. Golly, they seem to hold heat forever, a good in the winter but lousy in the summer.
We waited patiently as the sun set and the moon made her leisurely appearance over the East Bay hills. A breeze had kicked up and we could see fog pouring in over Mt. San Bruno, through the Daly City Gap and flowing past the Sales Force Tower in the City. The moon had only topped the hills when it was obscured by the high fog layer, occasionally making a dramatic appearance between the layers of clouds. When we woke the following morning, the entire world had vanished! The fog was socked in thicker than Malt-O-Meal. Sweetie made coffee, we switched on the heater and waited in warm comfort until the fog lifted. It was just a short overnight trip, but one that was especially welcome during the mad crush of holidays.
I spoke with Whit Newton recently. He has recently closed Whit Newton Yachts in Redwood City and has joined forces with Richard Boland Yachts. Whit felt he could not do enough for his listings regarding the advertising. Richard Boland manages that portion of his business extremely well. Congratulations Whit, and to Mr. Boland, you are very lucky to have such a qualified and pleasant yachtsman on your staff!
Whit brought me up to date on the ongoing fracas at Westpoint Harbor. A final settlement between Mark Sanders, owner of Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City, and the Bay Conservation Development Commission (BCDC) is very close to being reached. The dispute between Sanders and the BCDC has been ongoing on since 2011 when the BCDC alleged several permit violations related to plan approval. There are also conflicts with other agencies over access requirements. Over time the allegations mushroomed to more than fifty. Of the twelve permits held by Westpoint Harbor, no other agency, other than the BCDC, has brought up any mention of a permit violation. According to Mark Sanders, owner of Westpoint Harbor, the alleged violations were mostly based on a badly written permit and conflicts with other agency requirements: for example, BCDC alleged that berthing police boats, fire boats and all public agency vessels are illegal in the marina. The original BCDC permit did not state that the marina was for recreational use only. Even personal watercraft and boat lifts were considered violations by the Commission. The BCDC does not have authority to discriminate against any type of boat owner or vessel.
Regarding the dispute over public access, Redwood City, as part of the original building permit, required all construction areas to be restricted from public access until the city determined it safe and issued an Occupancy Permit. The City regularly inspected the harbor and as each area was completed it was opened. BCDC claimed “we are the senior agency and override the City, even on matters of public safety” and decided “all public access is required before the first boat is allowed in the harbor.” One allegation of violation was for a fire truck illegally parking in the marina parking lot, and another for doggy bag dispensers on the Bay Trail!
The original permit from the BCDC was obtained by Sanders in 2003. The dispute, despite procuring all the necessary permits from the BCDC prior to construction, has to do with public access and wildlife protection. The current amount in fines for the backlog of minor violations total more than $500,000.
The settlement agreement between BCDC and Westpoint Harbor states that the BCDC will cease all enforcement actions and withdraw all allegations of permit violation, penalty claims and enforcement actions against Sanders. In return, Sanders has agreed to withdraw a Public Records Act lawsuit against the BCDC for refusing to produce records of communications regarding the allegations and claims.
According to Sanders, Westpoint is not the only marina being harassed by the BCDC. Currently the BCDC has 485 permits issued around the Bay and has Outstanding Enforcement Actions against almost half of those.
In August of this year an audit was called on the BCDC by a bipartisan group of State of California Assembly members due the “questionable enforcement methods” used by the agency. Previous court trials have described the BCDC′s enforcement tactics as “vindictive.” One of the reasons for the audit is the State of California is concerned that the BCDC is becoming a for profit agency to fund staff expansion. Complaints ranging from inconsistent application processes to changing permit requirements compelled legislators to seek resolution to the compounding issue. Assemblyman Kevin Mullin of South San Francisco was joined by Assembly Minority Floor Leader, Marie Waldron, state Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblyman Marc Bermman to approve the audit of the BCDC unanimously. Mullin is hoping the audit will incite the BCDC to make any internal changes necessary to prepare for the potentially unpopular decisions it will be required to make as sea level rise intensifies as that will challenge the agency′s role in protecting the Bay.
Has the BCDC lost sight of their original purpose? Are the commission members trying to justify their positions by building false claims and bogus fines against marina owners who don′t have the resources to fight back? After a quick search I found that the salaries of the various Commission members range between $4,500-7,000 per month. We would all be better served if the members of the BCDC would stick to the original purpose of protecting the San Francisco Bay from pollution and over-development.
And speaking of sea level rise, “Global Warming? No such thing…”, access to the Harbormaster office in Oyster Point Marina is restricted at high tide. Not only the harbor office, but the walkways that lead to the gates and the parking lots are also flooded, and it is not going to get any better. With all the construction going on over there I imagine that the issue will need to be addressed sooner or later. Barricades are currently being installed to divert the water elsewhere, but to where?
I ride an elderly Raleigh bicycle for short trips between the three marinas, Oyster Cove, Oyster Point and Brisbane. The well-maintained Bay Trail conveniently links the marinas together, so biking is a pleasure. As I was peddling back from Oyster Point Marina, I caught sight of what I presumed was a short toddler wearing a puffy hat coming toward me on the bicycle path. A second, closer, look revealed not a child, but a very large skunk, tail held high, coming right toward me at a brisk trot. We both stopped, looked at each other and it was then that I decided retreat would be my best option. I took one last, respectful look at the retreating skunk, admired his beautiful puffy tail and beat feet back to Oyster Cove!
So many winter birds this year! It seems that their timing is a bit off, but the numbers and variety of species are especially bountiful. The cormorants seem to be catching bigger fish than in years past. Here in Oyster Cove we are surrounded by large biotech companies, Genentech is right next door. Who knows what kind of experiments take place over there? I only hope the new, larger fish don′t start glowing in the dark. You think I might be reading too much sci fi?
Boating is the great equalizer. Think about all the interesting people you have met on the water, folks with the common interest in boating but from every different walk of life. The bonding influence must have to do with being on, or near, the water bringing different minded people together on neutral territory. Our years spent on the water have provided us with so many wonderful friendships. For example; we were on vacation in the Delta and enjoying an afternoon cocktail in the cockpit of our second boat, the Yes, Dear, when a couple rowed past in their dinghy. I called out that I admired the hat the gentleman was wearing and the next thing you know, the amiable couple had joined us on board for a glass of wine. They were also on a boating vacation and we were all surprised to find that they lived in Brisbane. That was over 40 years ago and the Grebanier′s are still close friends, although they have recently sold their boat.
Just when you think you′ve seen it all, my Sweetie picks up a paintbrush and goes a little nutty. I′m not sure when the owl first appeared on dock 3 but it was intended as a joke. It was originally set on the dock box of whichever neighbor was celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other milestone event. The owl′s stealthy movement was always under the cover of darkness, so we had no idea who might be the responsible party. It had been a fixture on dock 3 for well over a year, moving from boat to boat when my Sweetie came up with the brilliant idea to enhance it. Allow me to clarify that my fine big fellow does not have one artistic bone in his body, but that didn′t slow him down. He went out and bought the paints and brushes and created his “masterpiece” with no supervision or assistance.
That is all I can think of to tell you about this month, except that one of my paintings is soon to become a wooden Artifact Puzzle! Visit www.artifactpuzzles.com for more information.
If you have comments, questions or contributions please contact me at kim@yachtsman magazine.com Until next month, keep your propellers spinning! H