If it is March, then the wind must be blowing here in Oyster Cove. The brief respite we enjoy from our ferocious prevailing winds is coming to a close as the Central Valley begins to heat up. I do not mind the wind except when I am trying to bring the boat into our cross-wind slip. Sweetie is not shy behind the throttles, so he is usually in charge of docking while I am merely the resident deck hand. My days of being deck fluff are long past.
Rough landings are to be expected occasionally. One of our neighbors had a crash course in humility, most likely during one of our famous South City Hurricanes, as evidenced by a major dock repair that took place recently.
I have made my share of rough landings and certainly understand how easy it is to lose control when multiple forces are working against you. Crashing is much easier when the only evil force working against me is me. Evidence of my failure as a helmsman is clearly visible in two spots; the broken dock across the fairway as well as the bent bronze strut that supports my swim platform. If it isn′t broken, you haven′t been boating, seems to be my motto lately.
Back to the dock repair; the long piece of pressure treated lumber that supports the entire length of the concrete finger pier directly across the dock from us was broken. I do not know how or when it happened, but it made for uneven footing for our good neighbor Morgan, and as we all know, safety comes first. Happily, we have new marina managers here in Oyster Cove who are sinking some money into much-needed infrastructure repair. I observed as three extremely capable workers removed and replaced that broken 40-foot support beam. It was not an easy task as the dock has been in place since the marina was built back in the late ′70s. Bolts and other bits of metal marine hardware become balky over time, especially if they are in close proximity to salt water. The bolts from the broken support beam needed to be loosened and removed from under the concrete finger pier, meaning that the workers were bent over and fighting the stubborn corroded mess until every one of those balky bolts eventually broke free and could be driven under the dock with a large sledge for removal and replacement. It took most of the day to remove the broken wood beam, replace it with the new one and then thread those same long bolts back through the eye of the needle on both sides of the finger pier. I was very much impressed with the work they did especially considering the enormity and awkwardness of the task.
Bellingham Marine is the company doing the work repairing the elderly docks here in Oyster Cove. According to our excellent Harbormaster, Jason Koulouris, Bellingham Marine has a reputation for excellence and it was not that long ago they were also considered the highest priced among their competitors. When taking bids for the marina upgrade Jason says that Bellingham came in priced right to get the job. We are very lucky to have them. The corner plywood pieces under dock boxes that are directly connected to water or electricity are all being replaced. The job entails emptying the dock boxes, removing or replacing all the hardware, wiring and plumbing, then lifting the box out of the way to finally replace the old plywood pads with composite material and then put everything back.
Of course the electricity and water on the dock had to be turned off for a project of this magnitude. Unfortunately, that same day coincided with a visit from my favorite Marine Super Mechanic, Isaac Crawford, who was scheduled to flush the cooling system on our Isuzu diesel engines before the summer boating season begins. Timing is everything and because there was no water available on the dock, Isaac was not able to complete the task at hand. His company, Fathom Marine, is working from a long list of customers that is about 3 months out. I am hoping we do not have to go back to the bottom of that list before Isaac gets back to us.
The upgraded infrastructure is coming with a price. The tenants here in Oyster Cove received a letter from the new marina managers saying that according to our original rental agreement all vessels must be seaworthy and able to leave the dock under their own propulsion. I spend almost all disposable income keeping my old tub moving under her own steam but that is no guarantee that she will fire up simply on the request of someone in authority. The aforementioned letter did not outline the consequences of non-compliance. This same letter has caused no end of grief for our dear Harbormaster Jason who is being besieged with questions from tenants regarding the testing schedules and potential penalties. The marina is alive with the sounds of tired old engines being encouraged, beaten and coaxed back into service. A few of the boats here have no engines. I do not know what will become of them, but I will be sure to keep you posted.
The transient nature of boats mean that we are continuously entertained by new neighbors, and sometimes by old neighbors taking a new, more convenient, slip assignment. Such was the case on a recent windless morning. Neighbor Beat (pronounced Bay-Yacht) is a confident boater who never hesitates to take on any larger-than-life job. This time it was to move the large motor yacht belonging to his friend Michael from the far end of dock three to a slip assignment closer to the gate. The morning was calm so Beat simply untied the dock lines and towed the behemoth to her new slip. Helping hands on the other end of the journey made short work of the move. Why is it that some folks just make life look so easy?
We have a few boats anchored outside of our marina. I suppose people are trying to save money on slip fees but unfortunately, sometimes these boats break free and cause trouble. Recently Beat used the same tow and go method to rescue a boat that had drifted onto the shore in nearby Brisbane. He simply waited for the tide to rise, slipped a line on the stranded vessel and towed her to a waiting trailer at the Oyster Point Marina launch ramp. Beat says that the key to success is waiting for windless conditions. I am not recommending his method, only saying it works for Beat. With boating, there is never a dull moment.
Brisbane Marina is now accepting applications for live aboard slips. There will be an additional $400 live-aboard surcharge on top of regular slip fees and potential renters must pass a rigorous inspection from the Harbormaster before being approved. It is always good when an alternative life style is accepted and allowed. Brisbane is currently pursuing the necessary permits from the BCDC.
We have lived on board since September of 1984. I still feel it is a great privilege and one that I appreciate for many reasons. Many people have dreams of living on a boat and possibly even sailing away into the sunset. Those people would never know if this unique lifestyle would suit them unless someone in authority said yes. Good for Brisbane Marina for keeping the dream alive.
Living onboard is not for everybody. There is a lot of schlepping involved; the fact that the parking lot is at least a football field away from my slip means that everything must be carried a fair distance. Also, the fact that space is extremely limited means that collectors are probably not going to be happy living on a boat. Neither is a clothes-horse/style-maven. Maintaining a wardrobe is not nearly as easy where hanging storage is limited to 3 or 5 items. A chef probably would enjoy the challenge of cooking on board for a while but then grow weary of always needing something that is directly beneath where he/she is set up to work. Our meals are purposely kept simple except on special occasions and forward planning is mandatory.
I like to say that we live in a gated, waterfront community and to my mind the benefits far outweigh the downfalls. Living this close to nature is bliss, who else do you know who has jellyfish and bat rays for neighbors? Also, I confess to being somewhat of a survivalist. My water tanks are always filled twice a week, in the event of an earthquake I will be prepared. We had been living onboard our sailboat in Brisbane Marina for a little over 4 years when the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake struck. Mary Buckman, our neighbor even way back then, had been sanding on her masts when the boat began bucking and she had to hang on for dear life. Next, the power went off. It took only moments to realize that we were so much better off than our land-dwelling friends who lost power, in some cases for days! Our minimal power requirements were provided by a Honda 650-watt portable generator, so we were able to keep up with the who, what, where and when during those crucial first hours after the quake struck. And Mary, bless her heart, was able to get back to sanding her masts with the help of that little generator, which still runs like a champion to this very day!
Hooray! Isaac′s schedule allowed him to come back and finish flushing the cooling system and thankfully Bellingham Marine had completed the work on our dock, so the water was turned on. The engines sound great, thanks to my friends at Fathom Marine. I love being ready to roll out at a moment′s notice and always fret when the boat is down for any reason. Perhaps it is that survival thing.
If you will remember, we have a little brown tabby boat cat named Eartha Kitt. In Oyster Cove all animals are required to be on a leash and mischievous cats roaming free on the docks are not only frowned upon but considered an absolute no-no. Neighbors Divine Esther, Dean and I used to have supervised afternoon pussy parties on the dock, where our collection of cats was allowed out to hiss and throw rocks at each other. We are lucky that Eartha is a scaredy cat and stays onboard, content to watch the world through the scuppers. Neighbor Lisa is not so lucky with her cat Naomi, who is an adventurer and a bit of a bully. The fact that Naomi is black and almost invisible gives her the advantage so far as her amazing escape act is concerned and Lisa must remain ever vigilant. Once free, Naomi beats feet down to our boat to glare at Eartha through the windows and shout rude things in cat language.
Last year a new law went into effect requiring boaters under 20 years of age to carry a boater′s card to operate a vessel in California waters. The new law requirements will gradually expand to apply to all boaters by 2025. To obtain this card you must pass an approved boating safety examination. Mary Buckman has been encouraging me to get my California Boaters Card. The Bay View Boat Club (as well as other clubs around the Bay) has a study group one night a week to help the members comply with the new mandatory requirement.
www.californiaboatercard.com has all the information you need to get yourself set up. There are many ways to take the test, BoatUS and boat-ed.com, for example, have everything necessary to meet the requirements before your appointed deadline.
The 60 question, multiple choice test mainly covers safety and common sense, with a few rules of the road questions thrown in. Education is the key to keeping people safe on the water. I am not a fan of government intervention and mandatory licensing but driving a boat is very similar to driving an automobile. There are rules of the road that must be followed if everyone is to remain safe on the water.
So, one afternoon, Mary and I pulled out the books, poured ourselves a couple of invigorating brandy and sodas and went through the study guide question by question, looking up the answers that we were not 100% sure. It only took us a couple of hours to answer all 60 questions, even with the verbal disagreements, bantering and brandy refills. All I have left to do now is to mail my completed test into the State. More information is available at www.BoatCalifornia.com
One of my favorite boating destinations, even if it is via asphalt cruiser, is a visit to Half Moon Bay. Visiting this little fishing town is always a treat for the eyes but especially when the coastal hills are dressed in bright spring green. The brilliant yellow mustard is blooming all along Highway 1. Barbara′s Fish Trap is probably the most popular waterfront dining establishment in Half Moon Bay, but there are dozens of equally fine restaurants that offer magnificent views and great food. I heartily recommend Nick′s Cove in Rockaway Beach or Mezza Luna just down the road from Barbara′s. If you do make the drive to Half Moon Bay, may I suggest taking the short drive out to the point, then take the easy walk along the service road to where the Maverick′s surf contest is held each winter. At low tide the exposed reef is teeming with life.
The boat is running well, the fuel tanks are full so I′m going boating! Feel free to contact me with comments or contributions at kim@yachts manmagazine.com. Until next month, Via Con Queso! H