About The Bay
I love birds. I think it is their ability to fly that enchants me so, but I also take great pleasure in simply watching them. The other morning as I was doling out a meager breakfast to our group of regulars; 6 Canada geese, one seagull (mom, is that you?), 2 coots and a new addition and friend, Bruce the crow, swooped past.
An Osprey! Once common around the Oyster Point Peninsula, they have been as scarce as chicken teeth since the early 1970′s. Harbormaster Jason Koulouris had mentioned to me that he had seen an Osprey around the marina, but I never thought I would be lucky enough to observe one for myself.
Every one of the group of my regulars froze in place as the Osprey cruised slowly overhead. It seems that the Osprey was just checking and left my birds unruffled and unscathed, this time.
It is the end of another year and all the hoopla and hullabaloo that goes with it has arrived and always so much sooner than expected. How is it that the holidays manage to sneak up on me every single year? Let′s see, from somewhere deep within my pockets, I need to come up with enough cash to cover my yacht club dues, the boat insurance and of course Christmas. Abracadabra! My mother always told me to trust that the Universe would provide, because she certainly wasn′t volunteering.
I like the holidays. The combination of all the parties, food, decorations and the invasive cacophony of Christmas music everywhere you go makes this festive time of year impossible to ignore. May as well enjoy it, right? Why yes, I′d love another eggnog, thank you very much.
I love the quality of light in the winter, the way the angles of the shadows deepen as the sun moves toward its zenith on the equator. I love the long cold nights when the trawler lamp provides not just the illusion of warmth but the real deal. Around the summer solstice it is mandatory to wait until dark before retiring to quarters, no matter how wearying the day might have been. The long days of summer mean that full darkness doesn′t occur until after 9:30 but oh glory! In December light has faded by 5:30 and however shameful it is to admit, sometimes I′m in my jammies by 7:00 reveling in the warmth and comfort of our cozy aquatic home. Oh yes, it is possible to make the world go away, especially in the winter.
There have been no major changes here in Oyster Cove, the boat is running well, the diesel forced air heater is working, we are both feeling healthy and energetic so, with nothing to complain about, I will move onto broader subjects.
Painting the boat was on the agenda for the last warm days of fall. I had painted the companionway doors, window frames and the ladder on the stern of the boat earlier in the summer. I guess I had already forgotten about how painful the painting process was because I decided to tackle the front windows since they face south and take a beating from the sun. Don′t you find that maintenance jobs are always more painful than originally anticipated?
The prep work, including sanding, is an important part of the maintenance process and one that I′m always glad to get behind me. Happily, Sweetie offered to help this time around so, with two electric sanders disturbing the peace, the sanding portion went quickly. Luckily, I had opted to do only a small portion of the boat because I was pooped after only a few hours of gripping the sander. After putting all the tools away and clearing the deck I washed the area that was to be painted with soapy water and a soft brush, rinsed it well and left it to dry. The windows still needed to be taped and covered once everything was dry. With that job to look forward to I went below to open up.
Sanding is a messy business. I dislike the insidious gritty dust that seems to find its way into everything, so closing all the ports and hatches is the first thing I attend to when tackling any sanding job. Although the bronze ports in the head had all been dogged down tightly and double checked, the ports in the bedroom had not. Dang! All I could do was laugh when I first saw what was waiting for me down below. It was as if hurricane Michael had dropped in for a quick splash.
Everything on the starboard side was wringing wet. The down comforter, the pillows, my straw hat, even my little jewelry boxes were full of water, not to mention the carpet which needed a good scrub anyway. It took me as long to clean up the mess from the water as it did to sand the front of the boat! All the bedding had to be carried outside and dried in the sun. Yes, I was tired by the time it was finished and yes, I will be more careful next time, maybe. The south facing windows have been painted and hopefully by next spring I will have forgotten the pain and suffering and move on to the next area in need of my attention.
SS Red Oak Victory
The Women′s Propeller Club, of which I am a member, had a very special Sunday Brunch scheduled aboard the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond. I wrote about the Red Oak Victory in a recent column. She is one of the few remaining Victory ships and is part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park located in Richmond, CA.
The Women′s Propeller Club was to present their annual donation to the old Victory Ship at 10:00 a.m., so an early start from South City was mandatory. Teeth brushed, and coffee gulped, I was on the road before the traffic had a chance to know it was Sunday. Finding the old ship was easy, simply take the Canal Blvd. exit and follow it all the way to the end. Mike Chapman, long-time friend and my main contact at the Women′s Propeller Club, had mentioned that if I arrived early we might get a personal, private tour. I was parked and ready by 8:15, and as I was getting out of my car, camera in hand, I thought I saw Mike headed up the gang plank. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would see Mike, or any other member of the Women′s Propeller, Club that morning.
I boarded the ship and was greeted by the volunteer crew. I could smell the promising odors of bacon and coffee coming from the galley but thought I would check in with my group first. I walked around the entire main deck, searching for signs of my friends.
I easily found the bar, not for me thanks, just a bit too early, I found the dining area, each table with its own bottle of maple syrup, I found plenty of people with more arriving every moment, but not one glimpse of a fellow Propeller Club member. When I asked the volunteers if they knew where we were gathering they told me possibly below decks. Down, down, down I went, into the bowels of the ship, only to encounter the Ukulele Group who were busy, en masse, tuning up before breakfast. Back up the narrow, steep Navy steps to continue my search on the Bridge Deck.
My self-guided tour was extensive and covered every deck. Still no sign of the elusive Propeller Women. I did notice however that all the volunteers on board the ship were smiling and laughing and obviously enjoying themselves. It is a wonderful thing to be able to share what you love with others. Old guys dressed in Navy dungarees and tight-fitting sailor uniforms were on hand to answer questions. The queue for the famous pancake breakfast was growing longer with each turn of the deck that I made. Up, down, around, behind, under, I had honestly run out of places to look. I tried a new tactic and remained in place, hoping that perhaps someone from the Women′s Propeller Club might find me. No such luck.
Exploring the ship on my own was as fascinating as it was challenging. Although Red Oak Victory was built to be a temporary part of the war effort during WWII she has defied all odds and is holding up well, I only wish I could claim the same. Her welds remain strong to this day, a lasting tribute to the teams of men and women who built her.
At 10:30, realizing that I had missed the presentation that I had come all this way to record, I gave up. By the time I got on the road traffic had found its teeth and the trip home was arduous.
I have a new pet. He/she is a crow that I have named Bruce, after the crow in the Farley comic strip. Bruce found me in the parking lot here in Oyster Cove. I sometimes carry birdseed in the trunk of my car to feed to the wild birds. Just a handful scattered on the ground makes me feel benevolent and, who knows, maybe I′ve saved a tiny sparrow from starving. Sweetie feeds the geese, I feed the lone seagull that visits behind our boat because I think she might be the reincarnation of my mother and I′m afraid if I don′t feed her she will haunt me and taunt me in the way that seagulls flying overhead are famous for.
The word must have gotten around Birdland that the Haworth′s are an easy meal ticket because one day a large crow began following me to my car. He flew very close to my shoulder, then landed right in front of me. He hopped a few paces, then flew again, then more hopping, as if to make sure I noticed him. Who could not notice with all that fluttering and flapping? I talked a few words of crow to him, all that I knew anyway, just to be polite. I happened to have a few rejected cat treats in the trunk of my car which I laid out on the ground for the gregarious crow to enjoy. I didn′t think another thing about it until the next day when the crow was waiting for me where I had spread the treats the day before. I knew crows were smart, but this guy is an Einstein! Of course, I rewarded him, this time with some stale almonds from the pantry. It was fun to watch him try to pick up as many of the nuts as possible in his beak, like a squirrel. He was obviously having a moral struggle between his greedy nature and the awkward shape of the almonds. Bird etiquette demands that you never look a bird directly in the eye, so my observation was from a distance and always with an indirect gaze.
Bruce now follows me almost daily from the parking lot to the boat, and vice versa, perching on the rail of the ramp and as many bow pulpits as it takes for me to notice and praise him for his lofty intelligence and Avian beauty, and, of course, the treats. My darling neighbor, Mrs. Harper, who looks more than just a little bit like me, was surprised to be greeted in the parking lot by a hopping, squawking crow.
The Lighted Boat Parades are a fun way to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family. There are so many scheduled around the Bay that one is sure to be happening close to you.
The Oakland Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade will kick off the season on the Alameda Estuary on December 1. The Sausalito Chamber of Commerce has scheduled their parade and fireworks display for December 8, Fisherman′s Wharf Community and the St. Francis Yacht Club celebrates with their oldest and largest Lighted Boat Parade on December 14, Marin Yacht Club sponsors the Mammy Jammy of all Lighted Boat Parades along the San Rafael Canal on Saturday, December 15, and sadly, Petaluma has cancelled their annual Festival of Lights in the turning basin this year.
Watching a lighted boat parade is fun but participating is even more so. Hot chocolate is famous for lubricating the vocal cords on a chilly evening. Check with your yacht club to see when, where and how you can light up the night.
I have the ultimate Holiday gift suggestion for the boater on your list. Glen Cove Marina in Vallejo is offering Dockominiums in one of the most charming little marinas around the Bay. Sweetie and I have our names on the waiting list for a live-aboard slip there. Located at the foot of the Carquinez Bridge, 40 minutes from San Francisco, 25 minutes from Napa and directly across from the old C&H Sugar plant, Glen Cove Marina is both convenient and secure.
A Dockominium is the purchase of an individual boat slip for private ownership where you can also enjoy the common areas in the marina including the outdoor patio, restroom facilities and parking lot. The Glen Cove Marina dockominiums are unique as they come with fee simple title and are not subject to a ground lease hence your rights never expire. Owners may dock their own boats or lease their slip to another boater for monthly income. In speaking with the owner, I learned that all the slips are for sale and that 10% sold within the first week on the market.
Prices range from $900-$1200 per linear foot or approximately $21,600 - $67,200, depending on location, covered/uncovered and the size and width of the individual slip. Live Aboard status is available for some owners; however, status does not attach to individual slips and are governed by the Harbor Master, Owner′s Association and BCDC Permit. Periodic overnight and weekend occupancy is permitted at Glen Cove Marina.
That′s a wrap for me this month. Stay warm, have a magical Christmas filled with love and joy, but mostly please be safe when you are on the water!
Questions, comments and contributions can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org H