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