Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sausalito, Back to the Birthplace of a Sailing Dream...

[Kyle]After Maryanne and I sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, we headed to a very specific spot in Richardson Bay off Sausalito. I was pleased and surprised to find it unoccupied as well as most of the waterfront on either side. Most of the other boats were moored or anchored further into the bay by the marinas and the public dinghy docks. Maryanne quickly checked again to be sure we hadn’t missed some harbor rule about anchoring where we were. Our spot was a government anchorage available for use by private boats for up to 72 hours if not being used by government boats. There were none, so we were okay there.

As we were maneuvering around checking depths and getting our position right for our swing, we ran afoul of the Fishing Police. Some guy on shore whistled at us with one of those loud whistles some people can do by putting two fingers in their mouth. We looked over to see if that was meant for us. It was. He was waving at us to get back; very rudely in my opinion. I shrugged my shoulders melodramatically so my gesture could be seen over the distance. He held up his fishing pole in answer. Oh puh-leez, we happen to be able to measure our distance to shore quite accurately with the radar, which was on. We were 450 feet from the rock on which he was standing – about two city blocks. There was NO way anybody on shore had fishing lines near the surface that far out, especially since the strong current would have swept it away. I pointed Begonia into the wind and Maryanne dropped the anchor while we backed down. The guy kept trying to wave us off, apparently unaware that his jurisdiction did not apply to the government anchorage. Nevertheless, I decided that if he could hit ANY part of the boat with a lucky cast, I would leave without argument. He never even made it a third of the way. Even funnier was watching all of the ferries and tour boats that passed between the shore and us on their route past the Sausalito waterfront.

The next day, we did what I had come here to do: Have a meal at the Trident restaurant. The Trident is not particularly special. It is a medium upscale waterfront restaurant of the type that are a dime a dozen in these parts. The food is pretty good and the service is adequate and you pay about double what either are worth because of the great view of the bay, with Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline in the distance.

The reason I wanted to go to the Trident specifically and the reason Begonia was anchored in front of it, instead of the equally nice restaurant next door had to do with a piece of my history whose importance I didn’t fully appreciate until years after it happened.

Many, many, many years ago, I got a vague idea in my head that it would be cool to live on a boat. This was unusual for a kid growing up in Denver, where the only boats you see are small ones on trailers. I think the idea first snuck into my head from a TV show called “Quincy M.E.” Quincy, the main character, lived on a boat. There was almost nothing made of it in the plot and the only hint of it was in the fast-edit title scenes. It wasn’t even until I’d seen about twenty episodes that I figured it out. I knew absolutely nothing about boats, but the idea had a strange hold on me.

Once I had seen San Francisco, with its beautiful bay and its relatively big boats, the idea seemed slightly more possible. I still had no idea how to go about doing it, so it remained a very vague, “someday it would be nice…” kind of a dream.

When I finished college and flying school and could finally move somewhere by choice, rather than necessity, the only place I thought of was San Francisco. The boat thing wasn’t even forefront in my mind. I just knew I liked it a lot and I really wanted to be there. My then new wife (not Maryanne) and I moved out there before we even had jobs.

It was while wandering the docks at Pier 39 a few months later that I saw a sign next to a boat detailing the various levels of sailing instruction available. Maybe that’s how I’d get started, I thought, still below a conscious level.

About a year later, which is now half a lifetime ago, my equally young wife and I took the ferry over for a day in Sausalito. We walked the docks at the marina with all of its pretty little boats. There my dream was ignited again.

We walked along the waterfront and popped into a restaurant. It turned out to be the Trident. While we sat there, I looked out over the water at a boat anchored nearby. There was a guy sitting in the cockpit looking at the city. Every now and then, he’d saunter up to the bow, fiddle with something, and then returned to enjoy the view. I was suddenly filled with envy. I wanted to be that guy SO badly.

I pointed the boat out and said, “Man, doesn’t that look like the life?” My wife at the time however was petrified at the thought of sailing, definitely NOT interested, and it was clear I’d never change her mind.

So, sailing was pretty much out. My vague, unformed dream was over before it even had a chance to take shape. Like Douglas Adams would have said: I put it in a sub basement in a locked filing cabinet with a sign on it saying, “Beware the Leopard”. I never expected it to come up again and busied myself with a life in the suburbs.

It wasn’t until many years later, after that marriage had ended, that I dusted off my old dream and brought it into the light of day for a look. It was a few years after that before I bought my first boat for $2,900 cash. THEN I learned how to sail so I knew what all of the ropes on my boat were supposed to be for.

That was the little 25-foot monohull (Baby Cakes) that Maryanne and I lived aboard for our first summer together. We’ve been liveaboard sailors the whole time we’ve known each other. It’s been many years and we’ve sailed tens of thousands of miles together since then. The sailing life that I thought would have started in San Francisco has taken me more places than I would have dared to dream back then. Instead of beginning the journey here, we’re passing through, as is our way now, sailing from one beautiful place to another.

Still, the first thing I wanted to do when I got here was anchor in front of the Trident, get a table on the balcony, and look out at my boat, remembering a world of places we have been and dreaming of a world yet to come. I still can’t believe it’s actually real.

Kyle finally has a boat anchored off the Trident - the dream is reality - we enjoy a meal in sight of Begonia and reminiscing about the lifestyle we have been lucky enough to share!

While we were there, lots of people who hadn’t seen us dinghy over were snapping pictures of Begonia, or of each other with Begonia in the background. We did it, too. For some, it was just scenery. For others, I saw a certain far-away look on their faces as they gazed out over the water.

Yeah, I know what that is.

The Trident said we could leave our dinghy there for a while, so we had a walk around the town. We looked up the hill and found the other side of the room where we stayed on our first night of marriage. We walked the docks and I still felt like I wished I had a boat that I could take places. Strange. What’s it been, a day?

Sailboats and houseboats are a major feature of Sausalito and some are very grand indeed!

We walked past all sorts of different craft, most notably a giant houseboat modeled after the Taj Mahal that was being repainted. As we continued on, the boats and marinas seemed to get more derelict. We found each of the town’s two proper non-Trident docks way on the north side and then turned to walk home along Bridgeway, the main road.

We returned to Begonia for an evening in the cockpit with not only the Trident’s fantastic views of the city, but also of Sausalito as well. This really is the life…

Pretty little town
[Maryanne]My biggest connection with Sausalito is as the place we spent our honeymoon night (a wonderful wedding gift). We arrived late, but managed to get up in time to explore the waterfront the following day before having to head off to the airport. It's a pretty town built into a hillside overlooking the San Francisco Bay and full or artists and other tourist attractions. It will always be a special place for the two of us and it is wonderful that we now live so close and can visit often. After dining at the Trident we again walked the waterfront, found ice cream, etc.. and eventually returned to Begonia to enjoy a drink in the cockpit for sunset. Beautiful.


Mommy Carla said...

It's a tender story, Kyle, full of sweet memories. I'm glad you made it back to the beginning just to touch home plate and have a moment, as we say. A moment. It's one of those times when emotions kind of run away with you and a tear of sheer appreciation can surprise you.
I'm wondering when the bug bit Maryanne.

kate rodenhouse said...

A sweet dream realized. What a lovely story, I hadn't known it before. So happy you could return and savor that memory!

Unknown said...

Hey guys! My name is Omar. My wife and I own Gemni #1115. Exploring stories of the capability of a Gemini some time ago, I found your blog. I have been going to bed on most nights reading about that adventure you call your lives. I am saddened by running out of bedtime reading since I just finished reading your last blog entry, for now. Also saddened by realizing you were probably in San Francisco during my last visit with my wife in March when we attended a professional conference there and even had dinner at The Spinnaker while enjoying the view to San Francisco and Alcatraz. So close to you guys and the place of the beginning of your dream (now reality) and current life. I would have loved to meet you guys and take you out for a meal as a thank you for sharing on your experiences. Hopefully, one day we can make good that invitation.
Best regards,

SV-Footprint said...

Hi Omar - what wonderful kind words. We love to meet with fellow boaters and truely loved our Gemini and all it allowed us to do. Please do connect if you find yourself in the same area as us again. We travel quite a bit too - so let us know where you are based and we'll buzz you if we find ourselves in your area. Maryanne