“Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful, But Inside It′s So Delightful...”
Over the 35 years that we have lived onboard, my wonderful Sweetie has installed a total of five diesel forced air furnaces on the two boats which have served as our home.
The first heater, a Wallace, was the very best of the bunch. It was about the size of a briefcase, was installed inside a vented wet locker and worked brilliantly for the entire 20 years we owned the Catalina 36 sailboat.
When we moved to the trawler, we were used to having a reliable source of heat so Sweetie, bless his heart, purchased and installed a Webasto diesel forced air furnace in the engine room. Installing the ducting, wires and hoses on the trawler was much more complicated than on the sailboat, but he persevered and we were eventually rewarded with buckets full of blissful warmth.
The Webasto proved to be not only noisy, but also a finicky beast which required frequent trips to Scan Marine in Seattle for adjustments and replacement parts. Shipping the unit usually cost more than the repair. Plus, the damn thing seemed to poop out at the most disadvantageous times, always when the temperature outside was hovering just above freezing. Eventually the Webasto succumbed and gummed up due to a tank full of fouled diesel fuel, and had to be replaced.
Enter heaters number 3, 4 and 5, all from China and all inexpensive imitations of the Webasto designed to fit perfectly into the more expensive heater′s footprint. Heater 3 worked well for one season, but when we called on it for the first really cold spell, it had done an Elvis, and left the building.
Heater 4 was the replacement for heater 3, however it came from the manufacturer with a defect in the fan and had to be sent back immediately. Unfortunately, Sweetie does not have a work bench or shop where he could have tested the unit prior to installation. Number 4 was boxed up and returned while number 5 was in route!
Number 5 has now been installed and is hard at work in our dreadful bilge pumping out blissful heat. Hopefully it will remain online for a few more months and at least get us through the winter. Honestly, the price of these knock-off units is so low that they are practically disposable, and certainly less expensive than buying electricity from the marina to run an electric heater. Our electric bill was over $100 per month!
I have yet another confession. I am the Weird Crow Lady of Oyster Cove. Think of Alfred Hitchcock′s famous thriller, “The Birds”, when you envision me walking anywhere in the marina these days. There is usually a half dozen or more crows whirling and twirling around my head, sometimes even making contact. It′s a creepy feeling. The crows even follow my car as I drive up Oyster Point Boulevard, frantically flapping and squawking and glaring at me through the driver′s side window trying to get my undivided attention for just one more peanut. Eartha, our boat cat, thinks the bird show is fabulous and performed for her benefit and amusement. According to my sweet neighbor, Marlyse, who shares my affection for the crows, there are a few people on the dock who don′t care for the intelligent Corvus population that has taken me under their wings, literally.
My darling neighbor, Mrs. Harper, and I are the same age, coloring and build, so we inadvertently confuse the crows. The crows think Mrs. Harper is me and often follow her in their confusion. The crows are perplexed to the point of sitting on Mrs. Harper′s car hood and looking in through the windshield at her.
I usually wear my good sun hat when I am dealing with the crafty crows. It is said that they have an uncanny knack for identifying faces, and will remember people who have treated them kindly or otherwise, for many years. My big sun hat isn′t much of a disguise, and they have since learned to recognize me whether I′m wearing it or not.
Which brings me to the subject of my good hat. As a boater and professional gardener for many, many years, I am way overdrawn in the Sun Bank. I always try to shade my body parts whenever I′m outdoors. My good sun hat came to me when I was still producing the garden show for KRON-TV. The hat was delivered to me as a perk from a vendor, hopefully to be featured in one of our garden show segments. I liked the broad brim and lightweight fabric so much that I invented and produced a garden fashion segment, complete with edgy runway music and chic and trendy models, to feature a few of my favorite gardening garments, the hat included. My favorite hat is made by Sunday Afternoons, and has a wide brim and broad flap in the back to shade my neck. You′ve probably seen these types of sun hats around. It′s a bit silly looking, but extremely comfortable and has been with me for over 15 years now, with the exception of a short hiatus when the hat had an adventure all on its own and went missing for an entire summer.
Here′s what happened: I was sanding on a warm afternoon which eventually became too warm, so I took off my hat and set it beside me on the dock. When I turned around to retrieve it, low and behold, it had vanished! I looked everywhere for that hat. Although the day was not windy, I assumed it had blown off the dock and floated away. I walked up and down the docks and fairways, but couldn′t see it floating anywhere. As you can imagine, I was disappointed because I like my hat very much. At the time of the disappearance it was sporting a large purple silk pansy on the brim. I eventually gave up my search and went back to sanding.
It was a few months later when my neighbor, Karleen, came by with my Sunday Afternoons hat in her hand, complete with pansy. Karleen told me that she had found my precious chapeau floating in the water near her boat. It couldn′t have been in the Bay for the entire time it had been missing because the pansy was still pristine. I said thank you, rinsed it off in fresh water and it has been my favorite good hat ever since, although I did have to replace the silk pansy because the fastener eventually rusted. The hat now sports a cheerful, bright pink, fleece rose, hopefully making it easier to spot in the water should it decide to defect again.
Que Lastima! I have an upcoming cruise scheduled and the last time we were out on the boat the house batteries went on strike. It′s absolutely time to replace the entire bank of batteries on board our boat, don′t leave home without them. We don′t ever seem to get more than about 5 years out of a suite of batteries, probably because they have to work for living here on Dancing Dragon. I′m hoping that Peninsula Battery, nearby on South Airport Boulevard will deliver, install and take away the old, tired batteries. Hopefully all I will need to do is write the check!
Here is a simple head maintenance tip from my neighbor, Steve. He has a manual Jabsco head onboard his Willard 33 trawler, Rattler, that has served faithful duty for over 15 years without a rebuild. His secret? A few drops of peanut oil every few flushes. Unlike olive oil, peanut oil does not solidify and gum up the delicate internal workings of the pump. Steve claims everything works smooth as silk using this simple tip.
The construction surrounding us continues to advance as the pile drivers pound out their monotone tunes. The pile drivers begin at 8:00 a.m., and don′t stop until 4:30 p.m. Can you even imagine how awful it would be to be a professional pile driving machine operator? Talk about no escape, the construction is going on in Brisbane and also to the south of us at Oyster Point, so we are surrounded and a captive audience here in Oyster Cove. The Brisbane pile drivers hammer at a steady pace of approximately once per second, while the Oyster Point pile drivers are beating out the rapid-fire tattoo of a machine gun. Combine that with the unrelenting cacophony of the jets taking off from the nearby airport, the train yard and freeway, both of which are less than a mile away, and you will get some idea of my decibel dilemma. Late in the night everything goes eerily silent, almost as if the world was standing still. I find peace in the silence of my dark salon. Eartha, our resident boat cat, keeps me company as I tune my ears and listen hard to the blissful sound of nothing.
When we first moved to the Bay Area in the early 80′s, there was very little out here on Oyster Point Boulevard. Train tracks lead to the abandoned steel mill. The cult film classic, “Harold and Maude” was shot out here, if you are curious about how it looked back then. The old Oyster Point Yacht Club and Marina was the destination at the end of the road.
Fast forward 40 years to the daily traffic jam on Oyster Point Boulevard, proving without a doubt that the biotech boom is centered here. I only wonder if our resident fish glow in the dark.
The check has been written and the batteries have been installed. The new owner of Peninsula Battery came and installed them himself, a huge task. Engine rooms, at least mine, are not designed for any type of heavy labor or lifting. Because I am not the person doing the lifting, connecting and maintaining, my wish was for the big Gel batteries that do not require any attention or maintenance. You would think that because I was willing to write the big check that I might get exactly what I desired. Not the case this time. Sweetie offered to split the cost of the batteries if I would agree to the smaller, more manageable golf cart batteries. Heck, who am I to stand in the way of improved working conditions, especially when a substantial saving is involved? Eight new golf cart batteries now reside directly under my feet, welcome Team Killywinkle!
After a large project like this where things have been disconnected and disturbed, I always expect something to go wrong. I hope I′m not a jinx. Only time will tell and once we are disconnected from shore power, the proof will be in the pudding. I′ll keep a flashlight handy.
Big news over in Point Richmond: Keefe Kaplan Maritime, Inc. (KKMI) has announced their plans to offer its 5.1-acre waterfront property in Point Richmond for sale on a long-term leaseback, as part of their plans to redevelop the property. Located on the Santa Fe Channel, this deep-water nautical cul-de-sac will serve to become the Bay′s largest and most environmentally advanced marine center in California.
In addition to KKMI continuing its service and repair operations in Point Richmond and Sausalito, the Marine Center in Point Richmond will include a 10,000 square-foot marine supply store, workshops for the marine trades and boat/yacht sales offices. Plans also include construction of a 400-ton capacity mobile shipyard crane, capable of servicing the local high-speed ferries.
Paul Kaplan, co-founder of KKMI commented, “With continued urbanization, particularly with waterfront properties, it′s rare, if not impossible to find a property that′s more ideal than where KKMI is located.” Adding, “KKMI′s commitment to providing a great service experience includes our world-class facilities. With KKMI′s environmental leadership and serving as the anchor tenant at the Maritime Centre, our future is secure for decades to come.” For more information visit www.kkmi.com
In some very exciting South Bay news as taken from the November issue of the MRA′s Nautical News:
The West Coast USA based Marine Recreation Association (MRA) and the Marina Industries Association (MIA) based in Australia have entered into a collaborative agreement to launch the Global Gold Anchor program in North America.
Gold Anchor was first developed in the United Kingdom in 1988 by The Yacht Harbours Association (TYHA). In 2009 the MIA launched its own program and in 2013 the two associations launched the single Global Gold Anchor program. The program is analogous with star ratings for accommodation with a strong focus on customer service.
The first two California marinas are already participating. Westpoint Harbor Marina San Francisco and Safe Harbor Cabrillo Isle San Diego are now Gold Anchor accredited marinas and a half-dozen more are in line for assessment. Over the next two years there are expected to be a steady stream of marinas entering the program and a pool of trained assessors to deliver the program.
MIA President Andrew Chapman said the collaboration is a particularly exciting development for the global industry. “MIA and TYHA are very pleased to have MRA providing the structure to expand the program into the US and beyond. MIA will be working closely with MRA and participating members over the coming two years to ensure the program is successfully rolled out and fully aligned with the global program that is established across 27 countries.”
MRA President Scott Robertson said the recent MRA Educational and Trade Conference in La Jolla, California provided an excellent platform to promote the program. “We have both coastal and in-land marinas wishing to participate. MRA recognise the many industry development and promotional benefits the Gold Anchor program can deliver for our industry.”
TYHA General Manager Jonathan White commented that the involvement of MRA will fast track a truly global roll-out of the program. “From Gold Anchors infancy back in 1988, it is very pleasing to now have this plan that will ensure rapid expansion of this already well-established accreditation program beyond UK/Europe; the Middle East, Asia, South Pacific and the Caribbean.”
With the opening of The Club At Westpoint and the recent Gold Anchor status I am happy to see Mark Sanders getting the recognition he and the harbor deserves.
I drove over to Half Moon Bay this week because my deadline for this column was looming and I was just a few hundred words short. The opening for commercial crab fishing season had been set back due to concerns of environmentalists over whales becoming entangled in the crab traps.
It was a beautiful day, and the first thing I noticed when we entered Pillar Point Harbor was that the crab fishermen are all set to go! Stacks of crab pots ready to be splashed filled any available spaces in the ample parking area. Commercial boats were piled high with the bulky wire traps while the fishermen were busy tweaking their boats to assure a fast get away from the dock the moment they get the green light that the crab season has officially opened.
I walked down the dock and spoke with the crew of Northern Light. They were an amiable group of young fellows who were eagerly anticipating the first big catch. They happily answered my questions about the postponed opening of the crab fishing season. In the course of the conversation, I asked if they knew John Z., the mechanic who rebuilt our port engine a few years ago. John does a lot of work in Pillar Point, and I thought I would stop and say hey if he was working nearby.
The jolly fishermen shouted down to me “John is in Kansas.”
“John is in Kansas?” was my startled reply. “What′s he doing there? Everybody knows there aren′t many boats in Kansas.”
My fishermen shouted back, “John is in Kansas? I just saw him the other day.” A bit more back and forth between us revealed that John was NOT in Kansas, but that his last name is Zapantis, which sounds a lot like Kansas when shouted over the thrumming sound of boat engines. We all were having a good laugh when I noticed that the water was so clear that I could see the rudder of fishing vessel Helen Ruth which was docked next to Northern Light. I said, “Hey, I can see your rudder! And your propeller too!” The water was that clear.
The Australian fisherman from across the dock said, “He′s got a big propeller too.” I don′t know what got into me but I replied, “Oh, I just love that in a man!” which brought on a major laugh riot from all my new friends. Always one to know when to make an exit, I bid the fishermen farewell and good luck. I just can′t wait to sink my teeth into the fruits of their labors.
I hope the New Year brings you joy and prosperity. Until next month, please feel free to send your questions, comments or contributions to email@example.com. Until then, be safe, stay warm and be kind! H