September 25th-October 14th, 2008: Sausalito, California

September25-October  14th : Sausalito, California
Now we are moored in Sausalito, and it’s taken a while to recover from all those months (years!) of prep and the trip itself. The members of the Yacht Club here have been extremely warm and welcoming. We have explored this part of Sausalito on foot, checking out the little stores and picnicking in the park.
One day, David Lovine (Shanteyman from Lady Washington) came over on the ferry, bringing us goodies from the bakery and a wonderful phone to use while in the US, as well as a little survival package of bus/ferry information, including a bus card and a Peet’s Coffee card. What a welcome! It felt great to sit with David in sunny Sausalito and picnic while watching the boat on her mooring.
The first Saturday night, we took the ferry over to the Hyde St. Pier to attend a concert (Geoff Kauffman, from Mystic Seaport). Many thanks to the Holdstocks who left us tickets. The ferry ride takes an hour, and there is one stop along the way, at Tiberon (home, rumour has it, of some of the best high-end consignment stores in town). Then it goes by Alcatraz. We were reminded, on this trip, of the climate here. It gets quite warm in the daytime (up to 85F) and then gets very cold at night (down to 50F).
Getting off the ferry in San Francisco, we found ourselves in the middle of a frantic, noisy, busy, tourist area. Wall to wall people, scam artists, hustlers, buskers of every description. Fast food, fast souvenirs, fast music, fast talkers.
Then, waiting outside the gates at the Hyde  St. Pier, we began to meet some of the folkies lined up for the concert. Within a few minutes we had two offers of a ride home (the ferries stop early and we were planning to take the bus). The concert took place on board Balclutha, an old square-rigger, the original inspiration for Tony’s song “Kings of the Western Ocean”. We enjoyed Geoff’s concert, which afforded lots of chorus opportunities, with some familiar songs and some we had never heard before. Geoff has lots of historical info. about the songs, and uses bones and concertina and guitar to accompany himself. We were also pleased to meet Peter Kasin, the park ranger who organizes the music at Hyde St. Pier, and to meet some of the other folkies at the concert (JD, Cara says “hi”). The whole Pier is a must-see for anyone interested in Tall Ships and the lives of traditional sailors. There are a number of priceless vessels preserved at the docks. (check out the website).
On the drive home from the concert we chatted with our new friend, who told us that there had, a few years ago, been a wonderful event at the Hyde St. Pier for his father-in-law, a sea song researcher. Turns out that his father-in-law was Doerflinger, a source mentioned often in Hugill’s books!
We have spent some time here researching places to leave the boat for the winter while we head out to Aus. for Xmas. The Yacht Club allows 7-10 days on their moorings. It’s been great because we also can be online most of the time, the members and staff are great, and the showers are excellent. There is always something happening at the club, and cruisers are made most welcome. One afternoon we were hanging around the club getting to know many of the fascinating folks there. Afternoon turned to evening and then there was a BBQ happening, and it was long after dark before we got back to the boat.
On Sunday, Maltese Falcon made her grand entrance into San Francisco Bay (See Ship’s Blog for more details). There were hundreds of boats sailing and motoring around the Bay to welcome her. ( as it turns out, one got a little too close!) The Yacht Club was packed and cameras were flashing. Craig and Vicky from the schooner Magic joined us for a picnic in the park. Then we all had drinks on the Yacht Club patio waiting for the big boat. She arrived, fashionably late, and presented quite a sight as she circled the Bay and then anchored close by. The view out the ports right now is boats from the USA, Canada and Holland, the San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the ferry terminal, the Yacht Club and Maltese Falcon.
On Monday night, Forbes arrived from Nevada City in his camper van. We’ve been enjoying having him close by for a few days. Yesterday we all walked down to see the Bay Model. This is a huge working model of San Francisco Bay. Seems it was originally built to test peoples’ ideas of what should be done to manage the huge watershed that feeds the Bay area. There is real water in it, and it simulates the water movement in the entire watershed, both fresh and salt. It is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and you could spend days going through it and learning about water management and conservation. We have been told that local sailors check out the Bay Model when they are planning a race.
The following days in Sausalito passed all too quickly, filled with “chores” such as checking out places to leave the boat, continuing to clean up and organize on-board, finding where to do banking and laundry and grocery shopping, and learning about San Francisco.
One day, we had a San Francisco Public Transportation Tutorial with David LoVine. We took a different ferry to the Ferry Terminal. The Terminal Building was full of activity – shops and food and a farmer’s market and Peet’s Coffee. “Great place to window- shop”, we were advised, “But don’t buy anything there-it’s too expensive.”
After sampling Peet’s wares, we walked up the street and learned how to use the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). You have to understand a slightly complicated process for paying your money and getting your change and using your ticket. The BART took us all the way to the airport (a dry run for next month’s trip). The BART left us just a few feet away from the right terminal. On the train, we enjoyed the view and the many creative outfits people were wearing to the Bluegrass Festival, Lovefest, Octoberfest, and the many other events San Francisco seems to offer on a regular basis. We returned to the Terminal area and took a couple of different buses through Chinatown and Little Italy. Dinner in an Irish Pub was followed by a trip to Ghiardelli’s, an over-the-top chocolate and ice cream heaven. It’s an entertaining event just to go into the Ice Cream Parlour and watch everyone getting his or her treats. We had Hot Fudge Sundaes and watched the chocolate being made in huge vats.
Then we headed over to Hyde Street Pier to attend the monthly Chantey Sing on Balclutha. This time, instead of a concert, about 70 or 80 folks attended to share shanties. Peter Kasin, the park ranger, expertly hosts this evening and we had a great time. Peter and the “regulars” there know a lot of chanteys and are extremely well informed about the history and function of these working songs of the tall ships. We especially enjoyed the many opportunities to harmonize and to learn some brand-new songs. We each led a few songs, and Tony was thrilled to be able to sing “Kings of the Western Ocean” on board the ship. Many thanks to David for facilitating such a fun-filled, action-packed day in SF.
On Monday, Craig (Schooner Magic) kindly picked us up and drove us out to sort out a place to leave the boat for a few months at a safe and secure dock. Then he took us home with him to Sonoma. We loved seeing the desert landscape and driving through wine country. A tour of downtown Sonoma with Craig and Vicky delighted us—many historic buildings including some intriguing old barracks dating back to the first Spanish involvement with the area. We stopped at “The Patch” for fresh organic veggies for dinner. The Patch is a community-operated vegetable garden that provides both jobs and fresh local vegetables in the area. We also got to taste some more interesting and delicious (you guessed it) ice-cream-this time it was Mexican Freeze pops a bit like fudgecicles, and very tasty), to fossick around a Thrift Shop, and to watch a great bunch of kids rehearsing a dance number in an old-style, beautiful theatre.
Craig & Vicky are staying at the home of Craig’s sister, Barbara. An interior designer of significant talent, Barbara has built a magnificent home with tons of recycled real old barn wood. Her solar power arrangements put electricity back into the grid!
The days are passing all too quickly with lots of business (plans to leave the boat, banking and all the mundane everyday chores that become more like adventures when you are in a new place). We’ve also had several different tours of Sausalito, with Lee and with Rod (both of whom we met at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival). We saw a number of interesting boats with Lee, and met some fascinating people who live and play on their boats here. Heard lots of history of the area—some of which would not be found in official history books. With Rod, we toured the Spaulding Wooden Boat Centre and were most impressed with the staff and volunteers, and all the work they are doing to restore and maintain classic boats and to keep them on the water. The volunteers at this centre get lots of chances to sail! We appreciated very much these “inside” tours of the area, as we saw and learned things we would never have seen on our own.
We also spent some more time at the Hyde St. Pier, enjoying a Living History event (people taking on 1901 personae, dressed as ship’s captains, suffragettes, etc.) tasting a typical meal from a 1901 ship (officer’s mess, so actually quite delicious, lobscouse is not that bad!), and at the same time, watching the Airshow (Canadian Snowbirds and American Blue Angels). The Airshow was just one part of Fleet Week (when the Military comes to town) and the town was buzzing. Traffic jams everywhere and zillions of sailboats on the Bay.
Because of high winds and another Airshow over the Bay, we postponed a planned sailing day on Sunday, taking a quiet day on the boat instead (although it was anything but quiet with all the wakes from the many powerboats taking people out to watch the Airshow).
Life is never dull in Sausalito—at least, not in the harbour. One night we took the boat in to the Yacht Club dock for a couple of hours, as a number of the members had expressed an interest in seeing the interior. (No one stays at the dock long—it’s far too rolly there and you are allowed two hours max.). We had a lovely time visiting with folks and enjoying  yet another Thursday night BBQ. Then it got a bit crazy as the wind piped up just as we were leaving. We were fully occupied picking up the mooring in the dark, and managed to sustain a wee bit of damage to the bulwarks in the process. At the same time, another Canadian boat dragged anchor and bumped into the catamaran (Puddytat), then headed off, sans crew, in the direction of Maltese Falcon. Since the owners of the stray boat were not aboard, the Puddytat  crew had called the Coast Guard, but the owners managed to row out and catch their elusive vessel just before the Coast Guard arrived. All was well in the end, as it appears there was no damage done. That was a good thing, because at least three boats had dragged that night. Local wisdom calls for multiple anchors a la Bahamian mooring.
The next night, we awoke about midnight to find a horrific and awesome sight—Angel Island, just across the Bay, was engulfed in flames - a most surreal spectacle, with flames leaping into the sky all the way to the top of the small mountain in the centre. Luckily, Angel Island is uninhabited, having once housed an old military base. It’s historic buildings remained undamaged by the fire, which burned into the next day. Sunrise infused a fiery hue behind the blanket of smoke around the Island. For most of the day the mountain continued to glow like the coals in a campfire, while helicopters dropped water and flame retardant into the smoke. This was a light show we’d rather not have witnessed.
We spent the next day touring by bus again with David Lovine. This time we ventured north to Marin County and San Rafael. Checked out some thrift shops, enjoyed the different scenery and houses, visited an outdoor theatre where David had performed in “Under Milkwood” last summer. It’s good to see the haunts of long-time friends, and this very unusual historic garden theatre was another example of places we’d never have found on our own.
There is not enough time or room to share all the great moments in Sausalito. We would love to have been able to follow up and visit with many of the folks we met there.
But it was soon time to head out to our winter berth for the next stage of the adventure.

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