And The Battle Of The Heater Continues
In the does it seem cold to you in here file, I thought we had finally addressed the issue of forced-air heat on board once and for all, but it seems that the saga continues. If you will recall, after many expensive trips back and forth to the repair facility in Seattle, the old Webasto heater was declared officially dead and commissioned to the dumpster, having been replaced with an inexpensive Chinese knock-off. In defense of the Webasto, it did provide 18 years of iffy service.
By golly, that little Chinese heater that replaced the defunct Webasto pumped out sweet heat all spring, summer and into the fall but on the first really cold morning I flipped the switch and nothing. “Ah,” thinks me, “I’ll put Sweetie on the job!” It’s been a couple of weeks now and no solution has been forthcoming. Why are these issues never easy?
After much inspecting, testing and cursing, the problem of the balky heater was determined NOT to be a blown fuse, flat batteries, loose wires or contaminated fuel. What next? An exorcism? Am I destined to remain cold every winter until my time on earth comes to a shivering conclusion?
I’m not the only crew member who is missing the comfort of forced-air heat. Eartha, our boat cat, still cuddles up next to the now-defunct heater vent with longing and expectation in her eyes. I know just how she feels. For now, we will simply designate the heater problem to the fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll think about that tomorrow file.
In the, oh no I didn’t know that was leaking file, here is a quick tip on how to restore leather that has inadvertently become mildewed. While searching through the bottom of my hanging locker for a handbag large enough to accommodate my new phone I came across one of the live-aboard boaters’ ongoing battles, mildew. Moisture will accumulate when a locker or cabinet does not have adequate ventilation. It is not uncommon to come upon green, fuzzy life forms that were once a favored pair of shoes or a beloved handbag.
Google to the rescue! I love being able to find the answer to anything, any time. A quick search told me that either white vinegar or plain rubbing alcohol applied in solution will take care of the mildew problem. Full strength rubbing alcohol worked perfectly. The ultimate answer is to keep those lockers aired and open, at least until winter has come and gone.
Although the days are short, fall boating season is in full swing. Sailboats are decked out in their largest, usually colorful, sails to catch what little wind is available. The local anchorages are mostly empty and, who knows, you might even be able to secure an empty dock space at one of our many fine waterside dining establishments. Scot’s Seafood fabulous Sunday Brunch in Oakland comes immediately to mind! The long guest dock in front of that fine restaurant is one of the more easily maneuvered tie-ups available. An excursion up the Oakland/Alameda Estuary will reveal all sorts of delicious options.
In the funny you should mention that file, the lack of the ambient summer wind opens the window for yet another opportunity, boating lessons. If you feel uncomfortable behind the helm of your vessel, fall is the ideal time to engage a professional instructor and brush up on your boat-handling skills simply because it is not so darned windy.
One of the givens of on-board living is that long walk up to the parking lot, rain or shine. This morning, I was followed up the ramp by our newest neighbor who had spent the previous day under the tutorage of a professional boating instructor. As we walked companionably together, I asked him how his lessons went. “They were great,” he replied. “It’s so much easier when you learn how to do this stuff on your own boat.” I agreed and asked who his instructor was. “He’s the guy who writes for your magazine, Pat Carson.” You could have knocked me down with a goose feather! Pat Carson was right here in my very own marina and I didn’t even get to buy him a drink? They were practicing maneuvers directly behind my boat, up and down the narrow fairway, spinning doughnuts, back and forth, for several hours and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even recognize everyone’s favorite, Captain! Pat, Old darling, I owe you one.
Mary Buckman recently hosted a group from Friends of the Children and had a flock of inner-city children on board her Cheoy Lee Clipper Ketch, Shantung, for a visit. These are kids who, despite living in one of the most famous waterfront destinations in the world, have had no personal contact with boats. As guests of the Bay View Boat Club these first and second graders were invited to experience the motion of the water by being pushed out in sailing dinghies that were attached to the dock by long lines. The children also spent time splashing about in the water near the launch ramp, made colorful model sail boats inside the clubhouse and then visited Shantung where the kids had the opportunity for a quick cuddle with Mary’s boat cat, Charlie. While on board Shantung the children learned stepping and holding or the importance of keeping one hand on the boat at all times. The young ladies also learned how to play a chord on the ukulele, they read the Children’s Boat Book out loud together and everybody sang along with a rousing sea chanty. A good time was had by all and I predict that many happy memories were made.
Do you remember your first boating experience? Mary Buckman told me that she vividly remembers her first time in a boat. She was just a little girl, about 7 years old and dressed in her little white church frock with matching hat, gloves, socks and shoes. Unbeknownst to Mary’s Grammy, her grandfather decided to take his darling granddaughter for a row across the Columbia River to visit his brother who lived on the other side. Grampy was a thoroughly experienced boater and the Captain of a survey boat for the U.S. Corps of Engineers on the Columbia River. Mary was thrilled by the experience, partly because of its clandestine nature, and it instilled in her a life-long love of boating and the water.
My first boating experience was terrifying, at least to me. Please keep in mind that I am the original chicken of the sea. I was about the same age as Mary, maybe a little younger. Our neighbor had just bought a snazzy looking 18-foot runabout on a trailer and wanted to take us out for an excursion on the Napa River. He launched the boat at the old Napa Valley Boat Club ramp where all 7 of us piled on board. The two families were packed into the little boat like sardines and it didn’t take long for Harry, the skipper, to find a shoal to get us stranded. Of course, the tide was falling. As I vividly recall, we had to wait several hours for the tide to return and float us free. The picnic lunch was but a distant memory and bladders bursting by the time we were floating again.
One of my dad’s favorite sayings was; “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!” I have always taken his sage advice literally and did even back in those days. Grounding was certainly cause for wailing and moaning, especially when combined with having to wear a smelly old kapok life vest and zinc oxide on my nose. Is there anything worse than being confined next to a wailing child for hours on end? I like to think that I take things more in stride these days, but those tears are never far from the surface, ready to bubble up at a moment’s notice. Once a chicken, always a chicken.
We have a neighbor who, unbelievably, has passed the dreaded marina inspection. This fellow has a vintage, extremely tired, wooden sailboat. The wooden mast is broken and has been patched with lengths of 2 x 4’s held in place with plastic tie wraps. Rumor has it that the owner is on his way to Berkeley to make further repairs to the old boat before returning here to Oyster Cove. Last night, well after dark, I observed this same fellow trying to set the balky sail at the dock. I have no idea how the sail is supposed to run up the track with the tie wraps in the way but perhaps he had figured that out. Anyway, this morning the boat left her slip. This is a boat that hasn’t moved in the 20 years that we have lived in Oyster Cove and never has a diver seen her bottom, so far as I can tell. The poor old boat was wearing a massive hula skirt of marine growth. Unfortunately, on this voyage, the boat didn’t move under her own power more than a few hundred feet. In a pinch the owner settled the boat in the slip left vacant by 5K Firm, another sinker that was forced to leave the marina. Miraculously, the following morning the boat was gone. It’s all a go here in Oyster Cove!
November is the official beginning to the holiday season, never mind that the commercial retailers would like you to believe it begins in September. The long Thanksgiving weekend has always been one of my favorite times to go boating. Angel Island or Clipper Cove are my preferred Thanksgiving venues but I’m not fussy. The hardest part about a Thanksgiving cruise-out is stowing all the cold food items, boat refrigerators being notoriously miniscule in size. My darling Sweetie takes the galley provisioning seriously. God forbid we should be anchored somewhere and run out of radishes or some other culinary ingredient equally as vital. He does his provisioning over a period of several days, filling every inch of room in the freezer and fridge so that it takes a shoehorn to retrieve anything from the burgeoning space. By the end of most of our cruises however, the refrigerator has miraculously emptied itself.
Brisbane Marina is pleased to welcome a new harbormaster on board. Andrew Rehberg has moved from RiverPoint Landing Marina-Resort in the Delta where he was harbormaster for 8 years to take over the 580 slip Municipal marina in Brisbane. Andrew has had an extensive and varied water-based career uniquely qualifying him for the harbormaster position. His resume includes ownership of his own yacht detailing business, 2 years as clubhouse manager at the Stockton Sailing Club and 4 years in the General Manager’s office of West Marine.
Andrew is a native Californian who was born and raised in Stockton. He graduated from San Joaquin Delta College and San Francisco State Universities. He is married with two high school aged children. Harbormaster Andrew is currently staying on board his 43-foot Californian trawler, Against The Wind, at the marina and commutes to his home in Stockton on weekends where he is greeted happily by his family and three rescue dogs.
RiverPoint Landing Marina-Resort, where Andrew was harbormaster for 8 years, is a large property on 13 acres, with 135 slips, 164 dry storage spaces, 4 maintenance workers, 1 bookkeeper and 1 person holding down the fort in the front office. Brisbane Marina has 580 slips and they are currently enjoying an 87% occupancy rate. Including my friend Teresa who manages the office, there are 4 full-time members of staff. Brisbane Marina offers WiFi and more importantly, protection from the summer wind by Mt. San Bruno. Curious how such a short distance can make such a big difference in the weather. The wind screams through Oyster Cove during the summer months while Brisbane remains balmy and calm. Brisbane Marina is located seven nautical miles south of the Bay Bridge. The permit process with the Bay Conservation Development Commission (BCDC) to allow live-aboard boaters has been finalized. There are still a few legal live aboard slips available in Brisbane. Feel free to contact them at 650/583.6975 or via the website; www.brisbaneca.org
Because I was working on this column when I visited the Brisbane Marina, I asked Harbormaster Andrew if he could remember his first boating experience. He didn’t hesitate for a second. He told me that he was only 4 years old at the time and remembers vividly the launching of a slippery looking wooden waterski boat at Ladd’s Marina before going for his very first boat ride on the river. Andrew also told me that over the course of his short life he has owned over 40 boats. Please don’t mention that to my Sweetie!
Please feel free to contact me with your questions, comments or contributions. I can be reached at kim@yachtman magazine.com. Until next month please check your dock lines and cockpit drains, winter is nearly upon us!