South Beach weekend liveaboard

One of the many advantages to boat ownership is having a floating condominium here in the Bay Area.  A few months ago my husband was invited to an all day event in the city, including a really nice dinner with an overnight stay.  I suggested we skip the overnight stay in the hotel and just sail over to South Beach for the weekend and stay on the boat.

South Beach is right below the ballpark, it’s perfect for the ballgames.  While he was at his event, I got to be San Francisco tourist.  I come to the city all the time, I worked out here for a start up with the drones at SkyCatch then one of my biggest clients is Ford GoBike.  I know every sidewalk out here from that job.  This time I just walked past the old SkyCatch building to SFMOMA for the first time.

That was worth seeing, I’ve been to museums all over the world except for where I actually live.  The top floor was a little disturbing, it was some rape exhibit that I wasn’t sure I needed to see??  It had a warning that it would be disturbing.  Still, I was a little repulsed by it because I was expecting “art” not a lesson in rape culture.

The rest of the museum was art in various forms.  I came out of there thinking those Ford GoBike stations I’ve been submitting are a work of art, along with some of the other things I do.  How do people get from one point to another with it?  Obviously I’ve never figured that out in writing or art, who gets to be a known artist when there’s so many talented people out there?  There was a photography floor in particular that made me think of it.  I follow several photographers on Instagram, I get to see some incredible shots seconds after the picture is taken.  In that regard, it almost makes a whole museum floor dedicated to photography obsolete.

Maybe I think of myself as a better photographer than I actually am too??  I donated this one panoramic I had printed months ago, it was never displayed.  After about a month I said I didn’t meant to push it on them, if there wasn’t space for it please let me know and I’ll take it back.  They said they definitely wanted it, it still isn’t up.  I went ahead and ordered another one for myself, I love that shot!  This time it cost me $50 to print, the cost one woman told me I could sell them for when she saw it.

I’ll just have to write it off as another lesson learned.  Free work leads to more free work, donated stuff has no value type of thing.  Story of my life really.  When my kids were little on swim team I made this super cute reversible skirt with seahorses on one side (the mascot).  The first thing someone said was I should make a bunch to donate to the auction.

Back to my weekend here, get off that tangent!!  They had races in the Bay this weekend, SailGP on the city front on smaller versions of the America’s Cup boats.  I’m on this Women Who Sail FB page, a woman posted that she works in both LA and SF and was looking to get into sailing.  At first I didn’t respond, my dock mate told me he gets about 50% of bogus inquiries.  She seemed sincere so I replied to that thread.

We spent the day out there, the only thing that went wrong was my timing of watching the races.  My sail plan was to leave here, city front, jam down raccoon straights downwind, lunch behind Angel Island protecting us from the winds, reef back there to head back up for the races prepared for 30 knot gusts.  It all went well except for Raccoon straights, there was more of an eddie in there than the downwind with 2 knot flood tide I was anticipating to jam us through.  Instead it was no wind, no boats attempting that eddie and I had to turn the motor back on to get through.  That screwed us to get back up there for the races, we could see them from a distance.

It was a perfect sailing day regardless, she took the helm for most of the day while I told her about how unique the Bay is as opposed to SoCal.  I’m so glad I reached out, it’s nice to have some sailing friends who seem to really know what they’re doing instinctually instead of stressing me out.

Heading back today, need to be home and showered by GOT’s (Game of Thrones).

I got this shot from Embarcadero, couldn’t get any water shots of the race while I was focused on sailing.

Sail Outs

Every other Friday, weather permitting, we have a sail out to a destination for lunch.  This was supposed to be a way for me to meet other sailor friends and have some fun.  The people available on Friday’s are retired, and in the Bay Area retired means 80 years old.  OK, nothing wrong with that, except I don’t have able crew and am responsible for them in what was 30 knot winds yesterday.

Our day started out with one guy coming really late.  We waited, then ended up condensing the boats because all of my “crew” was late.  While we determining which boat to take out, we got a call saying my crew was all there.  The one guy, who usually just naps below, was with his girlfriend who brought her dog.  He came, she took the dog for a walk and then decided she didn’t want to leave the dog in the car so she left him with a 50 pound backpack he couldn’t carry and she took off.  We left over an hour later than our start time.

That’s how the day started and it really didn’t get better (besides the sailing part).  The one boat going out told me to put my com radio on 71 frequency for docking.  How we arrange docking is according to able crew, whoever has able crew is the one who docks first then helps the rest.  Without double checking, I asked someone to put it on 71 to communicate with the other boats.  That particular boat had a build up in their exhaust and the engine overheated, they never made it.  I would have known that if it wasn’t for the fact that my radio stations on the stereo were tuned into 710, I was wondering why my music was off?  The com radio was still on 16.

The comedy of errors continued, we sailed out fine with a good wind but when we got to Angel Island I called the other boat and they were docked ready to help.  Because of the late comers, we were coming into a 2 knot current moving the boat sideways.  I asked what side to dock, he said starboard, we had the lines set up.  As I pulled into the 50′ slip he was waving me off yelling to go around?  I was going to dock anyway, he just kept waving at me like something was wrong with the dock.  Not trusting my instinct because he seemed frantic about it, I went around to the downwind, shorter dock.

Several things about this pissed me off after we docked, especially once I found out he waved me away from the 50′  upwind dock to come around to the shallow end to a 30′ dock.  There was NO WAY I would have been able to dock with my crew, no one could get off the boat.  My boat was too long, we all had to sit down and go sideways to reach the dock.    When we came back from our picnic, people had a really hard time getting back on with one woman almost falling off.

The other thing that mad me mad was I suggested we go to Sausalito to Fish, which is an easy protected docking.  Angel Island’s docks are broken, the current was fast and I knew it.  I was told that there were complaints about Fish, we couldn’t go.  Alright, I love Angel Island it’s just not easy to dock there with no crew.  And someone complained???  I hope they were forced to Uber home, the only thing I could think of was they had to pay for their own drinks – usually we split the bill and I have to pay $50 for my half of a sandwich.  Did I forget to mention everyone was tipsy when we got back on??

The third boat didn’t make it with the engine problems.  We took off just fine, the currents were at slack.  My sail plan for high winds when I’m out there is to motor up to the West side of Angel Island, take out the jib to head downwind.  I did just that, it was gusting to 30 but we had a comfortable ride.  Since it’s going across the incoming tide it took some muscle to keep on course.  To get to my marina I have to make sure I’m between the Berkeley pier and Treasure Island.  One woman kept asking to take the helm, she said she had pretty much sailed around the world.  When she took the helm on the way out she kept aiming towards the Richmond bridge, not Angel Island.  I figured if she was such a master sailor, she would at least know where to aim?  With those winds I just couldn’t take the chance of her not getting us through those points.  She took the helm while I was starting the motor (I usually put it in auto) and immediately started into an accidental jibe.  I took over before that happened.

More excitement docking, really I should have just self docked.  I rigged it for the easiest possible docking, just put the loop on the cleat on the boat.  The person I designated to do that tried to get off before we were even at the dock, he had the line in his hand then fell.   In the meantime, the master sailor had the stern line and brought it it so tight the bow went the opposite direction meaning when the guy got back up the boat was too far away for him to put the loop on it.  I told her to push the stern out so the bow would come around, then I looked up to see 3 people had gone up to the bow to “help.”  We got it, it just looked like a shitty docking by me when it was too many cooks in the kitchen.

Everyone pretty much ran off my boat with their stuff to the other boat for the party while I hosed down and cleaned up myself, it was then I noticed my music was tuned into 710 and we never heard the calls of the third boat.  Really, I was so exhausted I just wanted to cry.  How we got in without anyone getting hurt or falling off was a miracle!!

I looked at my Garmin watch stress day…a 70!!  If I must admit, docking is one of my forte’s and that Angel Island docking in the 50′ upwind slip would have been a breeze.  Why he waved me away (or why we couldn’t have gone to Fish) is beyond me.  I found out later that night that when he docked he totally missed the slip and someone ran down the dock to help him come in.  That’s easy to do with the currents we wouldn’t have had to deal with if that couple wouldn’t have made us late.

I’ve been doing this for about a year, I consider it volunteer.  On an individual level, I actually like the people.  They might not like me after yesterday, where F-bombs were flying while I docked.  I just don’t know if I can do it anymore?  Really, yesterday was a test of everything and I’m responsible for everyone.  I totally get that when I’m that age, I’d love it if someone sailed me out to lunch.  When I took my 82 year old mom to Sam’s she absolutely loved it.  My son was with me though, making it a very easy sail.

Going out with people who assume your husband bought you a boat and they’re going to teach you how to sail it is a whole other dangerous scenario.  Going to rest today, that was hard.  I’ll have to make some sailing friends close to my age that can either crew on these Fridays or we can go to Fish 🙂

Happy New Year!!

Past Winter Solstice, made it through Christmas, now to look forward to longer days and a really long drive!!  Kicking the New Year off with a drive back to New Mexico, as soon as the car is fixed.  The NYE plan was to anchor by Treasure Island to watch the San Francisco fireworks until I saw the forecast of 50mph winds.  No thanks on being cold, miserable, then losing anchorage in the middle of the night.  Took a bath after dinner and woke up when the dogs started barking at the fireworks.

I’ll be on the road most of January, kind of like my MIA in May except for without my truck.  I’ll have my nice camera with me, try to get some shots in between driving all over the SouthWest again.

This is really the first time in my life I’ve had a lot of freedom… Last year I was still working with my drone business up until maybe March?  I never really feel like I can get away, something always comes up.  2018 was all about the engagement and wedding (which we still haven’t had, besides the quick courthouse wedding).  Then they moved back in, so I had to adjust to that and switch gears from new carpets to a Bissell pet stain remover for the dog.  December has been all about dog chaos at our house with 2 dogs here.

I’ll say one thing about the dogs, especially my son’s dog, she needs walks.  When I’m in New Mexico she knocks my second cup of coffee out of my hand for her walk and doesn’t back down until we’re out the door.  Her favorite walk here is the Lafayette reservoir, we’ve been trying to take her a few times a week.

Can’t complain though, even if I didn’t do much traveling I did a lot of sailing.  Was probably out on the boat twice a week with 30 knot plus winds all summer.  Have to do some calculations, but I should be pretty close to having my days in for my captains license.  Learned about fuel calculations, replacing a fuel sender, replacing an anchor line, filters, fuel leaks, what do do in a split second when there’s no rudder and the bow goes downwind in the marina, how to react in a split second when someone throws you the line attached to the boat while you’re tying up the other side on the dock, what to say to someone who insists you don’t have the sails trimmed and the boat is going backwards when it’s actually all good they just want to question your ability.  Lots of sailing lessons!!

Looking forward to more sailing, maybe to SoCal to spend time with my mom (and have a reprieve if I need it).  That I will need able crew for, don’t trust that I won’t be barfing the whole way.  Supposedly even if you don’t get sea sick, the swells will nail you.

Be off-line for about a week while I road trip…

Happy New Year!!!


Another birthday rolled around, climbing the life ladder.  In an effort to thank my mom for giving birth, I had her come up.  I’m glad I did, even though it was a tough week psychologically for me.  I was born up here, she was a Stewardess in the late 50’s out of SFO.  One of the things her crowd of pilots & stews used to do was sail the Bay.  She hadn’t sailed  here since I was born, so I thought a day of sailing to Sam’s in Tiberon where  I was born would be perfect.

It’s an hour flight from L.A., usually I wouldn’t let her hop on a plane by herself but I really figured an hour isn’t bad?  My friend drove her to the airport and for the first time in her whole life she missed her flight.  Memories of that woman in Seattle freaked me out, I was hoping she wouldn’t suffer the same fate.  She made it on the next flight no problem, disaster averted.

We set up the sail with my husband in Tiberon with a car just in case she got sick and couldn’t make it back.  My son and I sailed over with her, it was a perfect day!!  No wind in the morning, we motored over.  My husband met us at the dock at Sam’s, we got our lunch/latte in and she wanted to sail back with us.  Before we left, she stared at the restaurant for a long time wondering if she’d ever see it again?  Maybe just past memories of there and the time that’s gone by.  Legend has it that they brought me there after I was born, there’s a picture somewhere of Sam holding my thumb when I was a baby.  You can’t tell, it’s just someone holding my thumb that they said was Sam my whole life.

The sail back was perfect winds for a smooth sail back to the dock.  I was so glad to be able to finally take my mom out on the boat, her last sailing experience was coming back in the middle of the night from Catalina with no fuel, no wind after not being able to anchor properly (courtesy of my dad).  It’s one of the reasons I got fully certified for sailing, my dad isn’t the only one out there who had no idea what he was doing.  I’m all about making it from A to B in a reasonable amount of comfort.  That Catalina trip was in the mid-70’s, it was a traumatic experience for us all.  I did love the sailing part though, watching the jellyfish come up as I went up and down on the bow.  I don’t get sea sick, I could sit up on the bow the whole trip moving with the swells.

Before her flight out we went to breakfast downtown here and in the booth next to us was a man I recognized somewhat, couldn’t remember from where.  My mom started talking about my dad (That’s going to be an Oprah book of the month if I ever write it).  She dug in on her usual stuff, making me feel like shit and I just wanted to tell her to shut up.  One thing about my mom, it’s all about her.  Why my dad was even mentioned is beyond me??  They’ve been divorced forever… thank God!!  She feels it’s her right to bring it up and bring down the house.  It was then when I recognized the man in the booth, he was my therapist from about 20 years ago.  She went on & on while I said nothing just wondering if this man had recognized me and was listening?  Should I go back to him to get the rundown on the (one sided) conversation that was transpiring?

If he was listening and recognized me, I’m sure he was wondering how I turned out even remotely sane.

One positive thing she did say was about my math and spelling skills.  I’m pretty logical, like Spock on Star Trek.  Life is a big problem waiting to be solved.  So far, so good.

Wimping out

The winds here have been hectic, it’s really hard to justify getting out there to fly or sail at the expense of, well, my life.  I was supposed to fly the plane up for an oil change about an hour from here until I saw the 30knot forecast, then I sent a txt to my CFI who asked me to wait for a day.  They got someone else to fly it.

High winds and big waves are not my idea of a good time.  My friend, Cheyenne, is on her adventure sailing around the world.  She has a great blog (she’s an amazing writer) called “Sailing Pristine” where she writes about just getting to Monterey this week.  She’s WAY braver than I am!!  I met her racing, she has the best attitude ever and is pretty fearless.  I consider myself somewhat fearless, with a great respect for mother nature and my aging brain/body.

Honestly, I couldn’t do the sail around the world thing and don’t even have the desire to.  Maybe one day I’ll sail to Mexico along the coast, my boat is perfect for that actually.  Otherwise, staring at the ocean for days on end going 5 mph is not my idea of a good time.  The planning involved on a trip like that is not my forte either, I can barely fill up my Yeti thermos with a latte before I get out.  Basically, my planning skills would leave me the first one eaten if the going got tough.

I suppose it’s good to know your limits, pushing them was fine when I was younger.  Now I’m all about not getting injured (or killed).  The MLC phase of my life is over, unless I live to be 110.  There’s also kind of a relief to not having to prove myself anymore, not doing everything for the competitiveness of it.  I’m tired of competing, although I’m actually pretty competitive.  That “proving them wrong” about me drive is fading.  Just feel lucky I still have better hand eye and reaction speed still.

I’ll just have to live vicariously through Cheyenne’s blog…

Back on the Bay

It’s been a month since I took the boat out, that’s the longest she’s ever sat there.  The winds on my trip were hectic, it’s been small craft advisory ever since I’ve been back.  We decided to head out early to Angel Island to make sure we got a dock for hiking since it’s Memorial weekend.  It’s always packed there weekends, hard to get a spot or a mooring.  Before we went, I checked out the dock sizes on Google Earth, the last time I docked there was on a J-24 years ago.  I’ve moored there with my boat a few times, either for mooring practice, we did spend one night there.

The sail over was really easy, there was just enough wind to sail the whole way.  The wind was  from the South that I didn’t have to worry about the Berkeley pier, I come out of Emeryville.  We were the first ones at the docks, around 10:30a?  It’s a $15 park fee, then a 4.5 mile hike around the perimeter.

The fun didn’t start until I tried to leave the dock…

I’m really good about reading currents and checking tides, seeing the slack tide was about 5:30p.  The guy in the brand new Beneteau 35 pulled out about an hour before I did and smacked his boat hard against the wood piling, leaving a nasty scratch on the side.  He had a little girl and maybe her dad do the dock lines, they couldn’t get on the boat from the dock.  He had to pull the boat back in, they both did a running jump and luckily made it before the boat smacked the wood pilings.  I should have helped them, it’s a tough call.  Some people are happy to have you help, others consider it “advice” so I kept my mouth shut the whole time.  My plan was to keep us on the boat and flick the boat lines off the dock cleats.

Walking back up to the snack bar to grab an ice cream, it was hard not to notice people struggling with docking.  The most common mistake is people bring the bow line in tight, then the stern swings out and no one can get off the boat.  Definitely took note of people struggling to get in and out of there when we went back to rig the boat to take off.  The first thought was people don’t know how to dock, the next thought was maybe it’s the water moving?  It was both.

We spent some time rigging it, I looked for traffic because the ferries create quite a wake going in & out of there…all clear.  Backed out and the guy two docks down backed out at the exact same time.  The way the docks are situated, there’s a curve on my dock so that if I went straight out I’d back right into him.  I tried to go back in the dock, the water moving and now the prop walk turned the bow to starboard – now I was the crappy docker!  I had no choice, I needed speed for rudder and had to back out or smack that wood piling if I hesitated.  I backed out.  The other boat blocked me from doing too much, I couldn’t turn or get out of there, he was just looking at me backing into him with the water moving me right to him.

Then it got kind of blurry, I remember my husband yelling commands and I couldn’t listen to him because I was at the helm and know the boat.  I couldn’t turn the boat yet, there wasn’t enough room with the water moving and going backwards wasn’t enough power to get through that sideways current.  The second I have room to flip the boat around, I gunned it forward to get away from the other boat.  The water was then moving me towards the docks again and the other boats on the dock.  Pretty sure there was about a foot to spare when I gunned it in forward to turn the boat and get out of there!

I learn something every time I sail, this one was one more look for traffic before I shove off and take note of other boaters struggling.  When I got home and looked up Angel Island, it’s pretty notorious for poor etiquette and nasty sideways currents.  What did I think would happen on Memorial weekend?

The sail back was super easy, motored out to the West tip of Angel Island to take out the jib.  With 20knot gusts what I generally do is just take out the jib (depending on my crew, I’d take out the main too) & go downwind from there.  If I have the right point of sail, I never have to gybe and get in between the Berkley pier and Treasure Island easily.  Besides the 5 minutes of sheer terror, it was pretty relaxing.

Boat Ownership

Got the boat back before the big storm, it ended up being a perfect sailing day on the way back.  This is the first boat I’ve owned, it was a lifetime in the making.  We had a boat when I was a kid for a few years, my favorite thing to do was sail to Catalina from Redondo Beach.  Unfortunately, my dad never really learned how to sail and we never had a drama free trip.  I do remember loving it, I just love being out on the water.

Before I met my husband, I started sailing again out of Marina Del Rey.  We met within that year so I gave it up again for 20 years and became suburban mom up here in NorCal.  As I sailed back with my oldest son yesterday, I just looked at him in all his storm gear and beard at the helm and had such a mom moment.  If I was a great writer, I could put that into words.  It’s just that moment when you’ve realized all your hard work has paid off, your child has become this amazing man who is at the helm now while I’m still nursing my back.  I just felt like we could sail away forever like that?  We booked too!  Perfect winds and we were the only ones out there on the San Francisco Bay.

Easiest people for me to sail with are my brother and my son, it makes me feel calm.  I cherish those moments, they’re far apart with my brother.

When the boys were old enough, I went through OCSC in Berkeley and got bareboat certified through them to charter anywhere in the world.  I would say it’s the best training, especially because of the conditions of the Bay.  I chartered for years before I finally bit the bullet and put in an offer on my boat.   They rejected it, then I got it months later for less.  Good thing too!  The price of my original offer is about what I’ve poured into it for everything you’d expect to go wrong with a 15 year old boat with everything being original.

I’ll save my female boat buying experience for another day…