About The Bay - May 2019

A Very Nice Surprise

I was a very happily surprised last week when I visited our post office box and found a letter from the bank which holds the lien on our boat. According to Bank of the West, our boat loan is now paid in full. The surprise part was because I thought the loan was not paid off until December 2019.

We had a boat that was paid off once before and I can tell you it is a wonderful feeling, a bit like getting a big pay raise. I sure hope Sweetie does not get the new boat twitch again.

The long days of summer dangle before me like a carrot on a string. By 05:00 strong sunlight is streaming into my bunk and shouting at me to get up, already!

I have a guilty confession to make; my boat is absolutely filthy! I do not usually like to display the dirty underbelly of my lazy nature, but it is hanging out there for all to see. For many months the non-stop rain was my excuse not to put my luxurious new deck brush to work. The dirt that was once hidden in dim shadows by overcast skies and minimum daylight is now all too evident for the world, and my neighbors, to see. I have no option except to begin scrubbing this old tub from the top of the dodger and work my way down to the waterline. Somehow, I must get myself motivated.

Spring Cleaning

At least mine is not the only winter-weary boat in the marina. There are other vessels wearing black speckles of jet fuel, compliments of SFO, combined with whatever schmutz is flying on the wind from the nearby freeway and the half dozen construction projects going full tilt all around us. All that I require to perform my cleaning magic is a warm day, a bucket, my elegant new deck brush and plenty of Earth-friendly soap.

As we live so close to nature, I do not use harsh cleaning products. Dawn dishwashing liquid and white vinegar is about as caustic as I get these days. Too many years of working with toxic chemicals as a professional gardener has left me with a healthy respect for household chemicals and an okay is good enough attitude regarding cleanliness. Besides, my old Mum is gone now and with her, forever, the dreaded white glove test.

A Scotch Bright pad will take care of any hard-to-eliminate scuffs and those tenacious black marks that resist effort can stay as far as I am concerned. It would be lovely to have a Bristol yacht with varnish that gleams wetly and a hull that is polished like a mirror, but, honestly, I am just not motivated to expend that kind of energy for the sake of temporary cleanliness. Unfortunately for us, we have an immediate neighbor who keeps his boat spotlessly gleaming and polished. Comparison is the enemy of sloth and because the lovely Catalina 34 sailboat, Moonchild, is decades newer that our 1979 trawler, she sets a very bad example. It is like living next to a beautiful young filly, hard not to compare her to the old mare at home in the stable. There is no way to erase the passing years from our hull, but I at least can do something about all that darned dirt.

The construction site at Oyster Point is massive. The Oyster Point peninsula was once the dump site for the City of San Francisco. All the soil from the site had to be trucked away to God knows where. Every morning a dozen or so semi-trucks with trailers are lined up to collect load after load of contaminated soil. A street sweeping machine works full time to remove as much mud from the roadway as possible. It has been a mucky mess with no end in sight and this is just phase one of the development project. Eventually more bio tech businesses will go in with a grand hotel on the eastern most end of the property. Who knows what they have planned for our portion of the project?

My darling Sweetie turns seventy years old on May Day. He followed me to this milestone by a mere matter of weeks, but he never lets me forget that he married an older woman. You get what you pay for is my cheeky reply.

I am glad, even at our advanced age, that we are still able to use our boat to get out to enjoy the Bay and surrounding waters. We had excellent mentors in Laurie and Betty Davidson who were Grand Banks boaters, through and through. I would not be surprised if Laurie and Betty had been acquainted with Whit Newton, co-founder of American Marine and creator of the Grand Banks line of motor yachts, although sadly all of these fine folks have now passed on.

Laurie and Betty were active boaters well into their 80′s. They owned two Grand Banks, both bought new and both named Kompira. The Grand Banks 32 Kompira was purchased new in 1972. I do not remember her hull number, but it was a single digit. She was built from mahogany and Laurie kept her purring and gleaming, as any a proud Scotsman would. When Laurie and Betty decided to move up to a larger boat the little 32 sold within a few days of going on the market. Laurie always kept both boats in Bristol condition, even going so far as to polish the copper tubing in the engine rooms. The Grand Banks 36 Kompira was purchased new in 1986 and it was a proud day for my octogenarian friends when they took delivery. Laurie was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery the day that big Kompira was delivered. Betty and I were with him in the hospital immediately after the surgery, cautiously keeping an eye on the monitors surrounding the little Scotsman as they hummed and beeped with a slow, steady rhythm. “How are you feeling Laurie?” Betty, his wife of over 50 years, inquired when he finally showed signs of life. Beep, beep, beep said the machines that were monitoring his heart rate and blood pressure. A feeble “Okay” issued from the stalwart Scotsman. Beep, beep, beep the machines continued. “Nurses treating you well?” I asked. “They have been very nice” Laurie replied.

Beep, beep, beep. Betty then delivered the bomb, “The new boat was delivered today.”

“WHAT?” said Laurie, sitting straight up in bed and setting the machines to a cacophony that brought a herd of nurses running. Talk about motivation; It didn′t take our dear friend more than a couple of weeks to make a full recovery from open-heart surgery and to beat feet down to the sales dock to take delivery of his brand-new pride and joy.

Sweetie and I were frequent guests on board both Kompiras because we were willing and able crew who helped with docking and always stayed to help clean up the boat after a cruise. The Davidsons kept a slip in Sausalito that they used during the winter months and also owned a waterfront property on Bethel Island which was home to Kompira from April through November. Laurie had decades worth of local knowledge of the waters around both the Bay and Delta which he was more than willing to share. Many of our favorite anchorages came from trips on Kompira. Laurie was a competent navigator who was confident, capable and open to suggestion. He was never one of those stubborn skippers who heed only their own advice.

We shared many an outing with our dear friends on both big and little Kompira. Because Laurie and Betty were in charge of the Northern California Grand Banks Cruising Group, Kompira would lead the flotilla of Grand Banks Yachts, all lined up according to size, flags flying and in perfect formation to whatever event awaited the group.

With Laurie and Betty, we learned that trawler boating was dry, stable and very much easier on older body parts than our sail boat. After one particularly snotty Opening Day on board Kompira, we were headed back to Sausalito from Clipper Cove, where the GB Cruising Group had gathered after the blessing and the decorated boat parade. The usual afternoon hurricane was from the west at a steady 30 knots, gusting higher and we were headed straight into its teeth. Sweetie and I were with Laurie on the flying bridge while the non-boating guests were staying warm and enjoying a pre-happy hour libation in the comfortable salon.

Grand Banks is famous for its Plumb Bow which looks gorgeous but doesn′t do much to displace water while underway, tossing the chop straight up instead of to the side. A wide, flared bow like our PT 38 does the opposite, throwing water to the side rather than straight up. A matter of preference or perhaps a nautical engineering miracle, who knows? On this particular trip, Sweetie and I commented that although the water splashing from the rough chop was at least as high as the cabin top, not even one drop of water reached us on the flying bridge. It was at that moment, after years of submarine sailing that we decided trawler boating was for us. Honestly, the decision to switch from sail to power is the only bit of forward thinking we have ever done. Whether or not it was the right decision is beside the point. Although the bloom of youth has faded from our collective cheeks, we are still able to use our boat and, more importantly, enjoy the experience. Low freeboard, wide side decks and the swim platform make getting on and off the boat very easy on my old knees. Oh yes, we are forever grateful to Laurie, Betty and both Kompiras.

Book Report

Reading for pleasure, I feel, is a best done on a boat. The subtle movement, the play of light on the overhead, the solitude, all combine to make reading on board a very pleasant pastime. My most recent book was West With the Night, an autobiography by Beryl Markham, a renown aviatrix who flew over Africa in the early part of the 20th century. In one passage Ms. Markham refers to the navigational charts used for aviation and compares them to nautical charts. She commented on how the charts showed the depth and shoals, ravines and passages, however there was one important thing missing from these invaluable tools, the stories of how the dangerous passages were charted and mapped. Someone had to go there first to create a safe passage for those of us who followed.

Speaking of going there first; as I write this it is raining, windy and cold but by golly my neighbor is outside washing his boat! Oh, the shame.

Speaking Of The Neighborhood

As the buildings surrounding Oyster Cove Marina become vacant in anticipation of the upcoming construction there is sometimes treasure to be found. Such was the case with a collection of black plastic boxes that surfaced recently. All sorts of guesses were made as to their purpose including a nautical coffin delivery service. Actually, the boxes are specifically for transporting audio video equipment and were left behind by a now-defunct AV company.

Non-operational boats are being towed out of Oyster Cove with increasing frequency. Every week we lose a few more neighbors and vacant slips are becoming more plentiful. Harbormaster Jason Koulouris is tasked with asking non-compliant boaters to leave the marina if the engines in their boats do not run. I do not envy him in this role.

What Have You Been Doing With Yourself?

I like to think that I am an organized person so when it was time to head to the DMV to renew my California driver′s license, I was well prepared. My study guides, new eye glasses and every piece of required documentation for the new State of California Real ID were all tidily contained in a manila envelope. Gathering the documentation involved a bit more than visiting the safe deposit box but eventually everything was collected and ready as the date of my DMV appointment drew near.

On the Sunday prior to my scheduled DMV appointment we had guests on board. I made the boat as tidy as possible for their arrival, stacking loose items, and a few things that were destined for Salvation Army, out of sight.

It wasn′t until the night before my DMV appointment that I noticed the envelope containing every important life document was missing. The new Real ID requires that you not only take the driver′s test but provide proof of U.S. citizenship. In the missing envelope were my; U.S. Passport, birth certificate, proof of residence address, Social Security Card, a bank check made out to the DMV and my notarized marriage certificate. It seems I had accidentally donated the envelope, including the above-mentioned documents including my brand new eye glasses, to the local Salvation Army.

The moment I realized my mistake I panicked as you hear so much about identity theft.

My first trip was to the bank to change passwords and account numbers. Next stop; Salvation Army which was absolutely no help at all, barely willing to provide a phone number so that I might contact their distribution center. Replacing my Social Security Card was probably the easiest task as I only had to wait in a long line, although the ride to Napa to pick up a replacement birth certificate was a pleasant excursion. The nice lady in the passport office told me that my valid, U.S. Passport was worth about $40,000 on the Black Market. I sincerely hope that whoever got this important piece of documentation needed it to either join their family or improve their life.

I arrived at my scheduled appointment at DMV without the necessary documentation for the Real ID, instead simply renewing my existing license.

How long has it been since you have visited a DMV? If this is the state of our government, we are in serious trouble. The Daly City DMV is poorly organized and staffed by unhappy, surly employees. In all I made three miserable visits to the DMV, eventually getting the bloody Real ID, not that I ever plan to fly again. After weeks of chasing my tail and collecting the necessary replacement documents my new U.S. Passport finally arrived. Now I can put all these documents back into the safe deposit box where they will never, ever, again see the light of day. At least I have my California Boaters License.

So that is what I have been doing this month instead of boating. Tempers on board the Dancing Dragon have been stretched thin due to our confined living space and the non-stop rain. Honestly, I love my Sweetie with all my heart, but even the best marriages need a break now and then. Sometimes a girl just needs to run away from home for a while. A quick road trip to see the tall ships docked in Redwood City was just the diversion I needed.

That is about all I have to report for this month. The boat is running well, the heater is still working, and we are grateful for all that we have. If you have questions, comments or contributions please feel free to contact me at kim@yachtsman magazine.com H


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