The Air Shows!

Now we are set for the 2 days of airshows, Saturday and Sunday, with a group of people each day.

Saturday is Pam, Paul, the Andys, Susan and Daryl.  That morning we pop over to the grocery for the usual snacky foodstuffs and expect everyone around 10am.

Once everyone is on board and the snacks are stashed (and instructions for the potty given), we head over to our planned anchoring spot.  The weather is fantastic, gorgeous and clear.  Wearing a jacket is fine, no need to bundle up like crazy.

We have 1 casualty, Pam.  She is getting seasick and takes some Dramamine to help.  In spite of the non-drowsy pill, she ends up taking a nap at the bow, while the rest of us watch the show.  She is a real trouper for sticking it out.  Everyone else had a great time!


Pam (don’t tease her) looking miserable, Andrea and Paul.  That’s Susan’s head behind the bags of snacks.  I’m bummed I didn’t get a pic of the entire group.

During the course of the afternoon more and more boats showed up on the bay to watch the different shows – Canadian Snow Birds – very striking colors, a couple acrobatic bi-planes, the Patriots (GO Patriots!  They are out of Byron, which is in our neck of the woods), the United 747 being retired (sponsors of the show), and finally, the stars of the show, the Blue Angels.  By the time the Blue Angels were there it was pretty crowded.


Stunt paratrooper inside the acrobatic bi-plane swirls

We were all mostly anchored and swinging at the mercy of the current and waves.  Once in awhile someone came close enough to us – or vice versa – and it was pandemonium.  There would be a scurry of activity as we rushed to push another boat out of our way or toss fenders over the rail to cushion the blow.


If it weren’t for the smoke trails you’d have no idea what this pic was about!



Snow Birds in action

Once the show was over we pulled up anchor and made our way back to the marina – along with a hundred other boats of all shapes and sizes.  AND during this entire time, the Rocket Boat, the ferries and the tour boats were doing their thing.  Contributing to the mayhem.  Their wakes are really wakey…



Check out that sharp turn!


They are actually orange and white and so striking!

It was incredibly wavey.  I mean BOUNCY like we’d rarely seen before.  We had drawers and cabinets slamming open and shut and, yes, Pam still trying valiantly to keep her composure with all the up and down and side to side and up and down and up and down and…well, you get the picture… Pam’s a boater from the Delta, we didn’t consider the difference between Delta and Bay boating.

When the boat really started rocking, I picked up a tray of food and handed it to my sister, Susan, to hold…she turned white and shook her head.  She was ‘this close’ to losing her lunch, too.  I am a bad sister, I hadn’t even noticed.  She was able to keep it together, though.

Andrew had stayed up top on the flybridge.  The boat was rockin’ side to side, he guesstimated about a 30 degree angle.   I was trying not to think about my first-born son (and father of my future grandchildren) up there, all alone, hangin’ on for dear life!

So many of us all headed in the basically same direction, with the ferry and tour boats are stuck waiting for the parade of boats to get out of their way.

Once we got back to shore we went to dinner with the Andys (our son Andrew and d-i-l Andrea, the Andys, get it?).  So nice and relaxing and we were able to sit outside, in San Francisco, in October!  OK, there might have been an outdoor heater in the area, but still.

The 2nd day was much like the 1st day, but with a different group of people.  Rick’s brother Ron and parents, Harvey and Jan.


Harvey, Jan, Ron, Rick


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Oh, we did learn from the day before and didn’t head back to the marina right after the end of the show.  That made a huge difference in the size of the waves so the ride back wasn’t so rocky.  Then we went to dinner at Ron’s house, with its fantastic views of the city and Ron’s excellent cooking!  His wife, Ingrid, couldn’t come that day cuz she was out of town, darn it.  I can always count on her taking terrific pictures, much better than mine.  She uses a real camera!


This is crowded, honest…



The next day we we woke up to this:


The smoke from the horrible fires in Napa and Sonoma had covered the bay.

Later we discovered Mom and Dad had left some things on board, so we boated over to Benicia and met them there.  What took them an hour took us 2.5 hours!  But we had more fun!


Then we stopped in Pittsburg again for gas, to pump out the holding tank and to return the gate/restroom key we accidentally stole a few days before.


It was a mostly uneventful trip except for a little shortcut that took us by a dock where a couple men came running out of their work sheds yelling at us!  At just that moment we saw a sign on the dock that said Restricted Area.  We weren’t stopping at the dock so who cared, honestly, but apparently, that entire slough is restricted because of ammunition being stored there?  Funny, no signs or mention of it on the chart.  Oh well, it was exciting for them, I’m sure.  Something unusual happened that day!


Dredging is an ongoing job, keeping the channels open for container ships.

So that’s our week, Fleet Week.  Fun, friends, family, food, adventure.  Hmmm, I need a word for adventure that begins with F in order to keep that alliterative phrase going.  Got one for me?  😉



Bye-Bye Sausalito

Another beautiful day has dawned and we shove off headed to South Beach Harbor Marina.  But we simply MUST detour under the Golden Gate Bridge.  We’ve done that on other sailboats and catamarans and now its with Ms Maggie…


There’s the bridge through the windshield…so artistic, right?

We are accompanied by Harbor Dolphins (maybe porpoises).  Its fun to see them, apparently they came back a few years ago after a 65 year absence!  Here’s an interesting article by KQED about the group,  Golden Gate Cetacean Research, that is studying them.

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Photo by Bill Keener, from the KQED website.  

Another artsy photo:


Rick’s always saying ‘hold your phone straight!’

Its certainly a lot easier to go under the Gate via Ms Maggie.  Sailboats have to struggle because the wind seems always to be coming through the gate.  Its tack and tack and tack and tack to get through.  But, once you turn around, the wind is at your back and its a (relatively) peaceful ride back into the bay.

The unfortunate thing about this particular area of the bay is that its uber-popular with wind surfers and the yacht clubs have their regattas here, too.  So we’re always on the lookout for and trying to avoid those crazy people smaller craft.

Last year I was at the helm of the sailboat and no matter where I aimed, I was headed right smack in the middle of a group of windsurfers.  Maybe a ‘wing’ of windsurfers?  They just did what they do and didn’t care that I was on their tail.  I came mighty close to clipping a couple of them.


The Blue Angels are supposed to do some runs today so we cruise along to the place where we hope to anchor on Saturday and Sunday, to get the lay of the land, er, water.



That guy was out every day we were there, wearing only a swimsuit!  Brrr…. I think I’d need a wetsuit, cuz, damn, that water be coooold.

Evidently, the entire air show was flying today.  Since we are coming back Saturday and Sunday, we decide not to hang around for all of it.  We want to get into our spot before dark so we make our way to the South Beach Harbor Marina.

That makes me feel disrespectful somehow, to leave…which is silly, I know.


Over Alcatraz

Turns out we are a tourist attraction, too!  There are people on one of the piers taking our picture…funny tourists!  I looked around to see if there was something else of interest but no, it was us!  Rick wouldn’t let me stop to sign autographs.

Around Crissy Field, Fort Mason, the Maritime Museum & Historical Park – with a variety of historic boats you can visit –  Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, The Exploratorium (that’s a fantastic place to go, kids or no kids.  They even have an adults-only night called After Dark where you don’t have to share the exhibits with annoying inquisitive, curious kids.


This beauty was also watching the show.

We pass the rehabilitated Ferry Building .  It has places to eat food, places to buy food, places to buy books about food,  skin and body care products, lovely glass candleholders, CHEESE!, wine, the famous Heath Ceramics, tea, kitchen necessities.  And, oh, right, they also sell tickets for an actual ferry!  A seriously fun place to visit – is that an oxymoron?  Seriously fun?

I almost forgot they have a farmers market, too!

Since its Fleet Week, there are ships at port that we don’t normally see.


Part of me feels ridiculously patriotic looking at military ships.  Another part of me is horrified that we need them.


I’d caption this but I have no idea what it is other than U.S. (see the flag?)


I know there was a Canadian ship, around here, but is this it?  Ummm…



Look how tiny those people are!

And there is South Beach Harbor Marina.  In we go and find our spot, right near the front.  And there’s no crazy waveage here!


Ahhh, life is good 😉

The America’s Cup

When Rick heard that the America’s Cup would be held in the San Francisco Bay he decided he would see it from the water.

When we purchased the sailboat Rick had given himself a deadline that we’d have enough done to be able to be out on the water for the America’s Cup.  At the time, the race was a year and a half away, plenty of time!  But we barely made it.

Being fed up with the old motor (purchased second hand anyway, screw being frugal) Rick went to the Oakland outboard shop and purchased a branch new 15 horse Mercury kicker motor – called a kicker because it is specifically designed with high torque pushing a heavy boat using a small engine.  Hmmm, maybe it should be called a ‘pusher’ instead?

We installed it using all the same hookups as the old Merc had but now it was New and Dependable!

Rick and I took it out sailing a few times to get a feel for the boat, how it handled in chop and how it floundered around when there’s no breeze (give up and motor, already!)

America’s Cup was in September so Rick invited some family members, including his parents to come along with us.  Rick’s mom loves sailing and insisted on dragging Dad with her.  We headed out.  We motored around to the City side of Treasure Island and decided that now was not a good time to try to sail.  The crush of boats was incredible.  We all had the same idea.  Even ski boats were out there trying to catch some of the race.  We motored over to the Turn 2 buoy (southeast of Alcatraz Island) … where we puttered around very slowly like every other boat in the crowd, trying to avoid each other while staying in position.  Well, most of us tried to avoid the rest of us.



Our best example of a close call was when a 50’ plus sailboat under full sail, UNDER FULL SAIL!, going about 10 knots sailed through the spectator fleet expecting everyone to get out of his way because we are “under power” and he is “sailing”.  He missed other boats by maybe 5’ with all the other captains screaming and honking at him as he went by – and he barely looked in our direction!  (This happened again when we went out to see the Blue Angels – tons of boats, all motoring at the slowest speed possible, basically staying in one spot’ish and some jerk sails through us.  Keep in mind we were hunkered out of the way as close to the sea walls as we could be and he has to be sailing right there…where we are…jerk…)


This is how qualified that guy was to hold a steering wheel in his hand!

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Side note:  Look how cool the Blue Angels look against the Golden Gate Bridge!



All in all it was great fun to watch those big America’s Cup boats come flying around the Number 2 buoy, staying up on their hydrofoils around the turn going as fast as an offshore power boat.  You can see the guys on board leaning into the turn like they’re in a sports car.  Wow.

It was one of those once in a lifetime events that we were glad to be able to see in person.

Rick can check off another item on his Bucket List 😉


On The Hard

That’s what they call it when a boat is dry-docked.  And our little budget yacht is finally ‘on the hard’.

A couple weeks ago, Monday, Rick and Austin motored the Susurrus up the Napa River to the Napa River Marina.  And great news!  The motor didn’t conk out!  More great news!  There was enough gas in the tank to make it all the way without getting towed!  Until the turn from the Sacramento River into the Napa River they were fighting against the tide and it was extremely slow going…at that point, they were sure it would take 4 hours to get there!  But after the turn they started going with the tide and they flew, if by ‘flew’ you understand that they were going about 3.5 miles an hour – the GPS system gives MPH, too.

I drove up to get them and drive back to Glen Cove for the truck, then home again, home again, jiggity-jig.  The very next day Rick was back on the road because they’d scheduled the haul-out to be at 3pm on Tuesday.  Lots of miles getting put on Rick’s CNG pick-up.  Thank heaven CNG is way less than $3/gal…yeah, it is, really…PLUS he has a carpool sticker!

Now Rick has been up there on Saturday and Monday of the Labor Day weekend!  Sunday we went to San Francisco to watch the America’s Cup Series and the Blue Angels (fantastic, btw, we had a wonderful time – took BART up there, and walked to the America’s Cup Village – well, we did take a pedi-cab for a bit – and saw the Series’ awards ceremony and the Blue Angels, then walked back to Cioppino’s for dinner and took a trolley to the BART station, then homeward with the crowds and crowds of happy people).  It was a perfect day, actually.  The weather was so lovely everyone was in a terrific mood.  There were tons of people but we were always able to find a seat or a viewing spot and the City of San Francisco really knows how to direct crowds and cars and even puts out plenty of Port-a-Potties (which is, frankly, one of my main concerns).

We couldn’t see the race very well, as it was on the other side of a pier.  But we had high enough seats to be able to watch the big sails going back and forth.  And the mass of boats on the water!  Talk about crowded!  It was shore-to-shore with boats of all sizes – tugboats, fireboats, ferries, sailboats big and small, mega-yachts, fishing boats.  A carpet of boats on the water watching the race and waiting for the Angels.

Back to the haul-out…here is a plethora of pictures.  The marina has a long trailer that you push the boat onto and the trailer has a hydraulic lift which raises the boat out of the water.  Then they drive the trailer over to the boat’s storage spot and maneuver it into place – the Susurrus looks dinky between two 50’ boats – set up the supports, chain the supports together for safety (yet still looking very precarious to me) and VOILA!  It’s ‘on the hard’.  Why do sailors have so many goofy names for things?  Ropes are sheets – or lines, just to be even more confusing – the potty is the head, cockpit storage is a lazarette, port is left, starboard is right and such like that.

When the boat was on the trailer they gave it a quick power wash and all the slimy stuff came off, leaving only a growth of mussels along the keel which you can see in the last picture above.

They told Rick that the hull looked pretty good, no big blisters in the fiberglass or visible damage anywhere.  That’s a relief since we didn’t get a survey when we bought our cheapie little project.  Rick was also worried that the propeller might be bent.  Particularly since whoever owned Susurrus before were obviously not that great at taking care of it.  But, its ship-shape (pun thoroughly intended)!

When Rick is working on the boat, picture him standing 4’ in the air on a homemade scaffold consisting of ladders and boards or scraping old caulking from around the windows and various bits of woodwork at least 12’ off the ground – with all the side rails, aka stanchions, removed (!!!).  He’s driving 90 minutes up and back at least 1 day a week, usually Saturday.  Sometimes he’ll be able to spend the night and work on Sunday, too.

He ordered the paint a few days ago.  He figured that he’d buy the cheaper stuff since he’s doing the job himself and he’s never done it before – plus the fact that it’s a dusty environment and won’t be the best of paint jobs from the get-go.  And if you see it, you will exclaim with enthusiasm how beautiful and well-done the paint job is…won’t you…yes, you will…

We are going with deep blue body and a yellow pinstripe, with dark red at the bottom.  We can’t use light blue, psychologically, because that was the color of all boats we rented down in Newport when Rick was in college and, again, when we were getting certified to sail at Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City.  And we see plain ol’ white boats everywhere so we wanted to do a different color.  The topside will still be white – bright, glaring white.  I’d rather have a dark green hull with a beige top but Rick talked me out of it.  I can’t remember why but it’s his project, so it seems only fair that he gets to choose the color – well, within reason…

Our budget yacht is a lot of work but Rick is happy as a clam and we are both excited to think (hope) that by the time Fleet Week rolls around next year, we will be ON the water watching – and trying to avoid getting run over by the mega-yachts 😉