I love the early fall weather with the cool nights and breathlessly hot days, especially when we are in the Delta. Being able to slip my big, sweaty self into blissfully cool water is a gift and one that I will never take for granted.
Here in our little marina no one ever goes for a swim. I have considered it but have never actually taken the plunge from dockside. Maybe it is because it rarely gets warm enough here in South San Francisco, but there are those occasional 90 degree days when a dip in cool water would feel very refreshing. The reason no one swims here can’t be because the water is dirty as we have a good exchange of water in Oyster Cove. The entire North side of the marina is open to the channel that leads directly into South Bay. I see little fishes swimming, seals and the occasional jelly fish so it must be okay, right? Maybe next time we get a heat wave I will jump in and see if I can start a movement. We don’t have a lot of boat traffic here in the marina that could potentially run me over and besides, I would wear my bright pink swim cap for safety.
Staying cool is a priority of mine. I don’t like the heat, especially when I have to move and function. South San Francisco is the ideal location for a shade-loving flower such as me.
In order to keep cool during hot weather we have portable fans, both 12 volt and the AC variety, white shade cloths that we drape over the sunny side of the boat and also use to cover the forward looking windows.
Years ago, when I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Sweetie’s brother, Lovely, presented us with a portable air conditioner as a gift to make my life easier as I waded through the chemo treatments. As I mentioned, it rarely gets hot enough here in South City to get the thing out of the dock box and set it up, but when the temperatures soar above 90 it is a very welcome addition to the equipment list. It is barely large enough to cool the captain’s cabin, but any refuge from the heat is a welcome one. It is also noisy and drips, but these faults can be easily forgiven for the blessed relief it provides.
When it is abnormally hot we often leave the dock to anchor near the Brisbane Fishing Pier just so we can catch any cooling breeze that might happen by, however the boat is currently out of commission. We are waiting for the arrival of a gasket for the port side engine thermostat. How can such a small thing cause so much trouble?
On those blisteringly hot days when you just cannot escape the unrelenting heat, our secret weapon is this; massive amounts of alcohol in the form of frozen fruit daiquiri’s. Bananas, strawberries or pineapple all make refreshing heat quenchers. Use fresh, canned or frozen fruit it makes no difference especially after you have had a couple of these kick-ass coolers. The key to heat beating is the rum, and my advice is to use plenty of it. I’m telling you, after a few of these blended beauties you won’t care if the world comes to an end. Hot? Who knows? Who cares? The hottest and most miserable night I ever spent on board was in Pittsburgh Marina. We love the town of Pittsburgh and especially the well-maintained marina and stop there frequently on our way to and from the Delta. This particular time we had stopped for fuel on our way downriver and decided to take a guest slip and to have dinner in town. It was a beastly hot day and we spent as little time in the sun as possible. After a delightful meal and a refreshing shower in Pittsburg Marina’s excellent facilities, we retired back to the boat which had been sitting in full, direct sun all day. The cabin was like an oven and even though we turned on all the fans and opened every available port, screen, hatch, window and door we just couldn’t cool the inside of the boat down. Sweating and sleeping are not mutually compatible. As I recall, after a miserable night spent tossing, turning and drenching the sheets we got up before the sun, made coffee and headed downriver to anchor at China Camp where it was about 15 degrees cooler.
As we are still waiting on parts and cannot get the boat out of the slip just yet, we took a road trip up to Richmond to visit the Rosie the Riveter Museum. I had heard about this delightful destination for years and I am so glad we finally made it! I had no idea how much WWII changed the fabric of the Bay Area until we visited the Rosie Museum.
When the United States finally entered World War II, the men were sent off to fight. Women were left behind to keep home and hearth together and also to supply our fighting men overseas with everything they could possibly need including ships, jeeps, munitions, uniforms, parachutes, basically everything.
Shipyards went up all around the Bay in record breaking time. Henry Kaiser built his empire in Richmond and Oakland, but there were also yards in Hunters Point, Vallejo and Sausalito. There was even a steel production facility located right here in Oyster Cove. The word went out that workers were needed to fill the thousands of available positions. People came from all over the United States to work in the lucrative ship yards. Housing was almost non-existent for the thousands of new laborers who poured into the area and many people necessarily split a single bed into work shifts. There was plenty of work, the money rolled in and life was good for everyone except those poor guys fighting at the front.
Fast forward to the end of the war when our guys came home, the shipyards closed down, thousands of workers who had moved here to support the war effort found themselves without a job or any kind of income. Where the shipyard towns once thrived and boomed, soon became ghettos and slums.
The women who had been working the manufacturing jobs found that they missed the stimulation and income from working outside the home. Was Rosie at the forefront of the modern women’s movement? Nobody can say for sure, but things have never been the same since that devastating time when women stepped up to the plate and made a difference in the outcome of the war effort.
I had no idea I was going to find a story here, but after being delighted by the interactive exhibits and learning fascinating things about shipbuilding, women in the workforce and local history I just had to share Rosie with you!
The Rosie the Riveter Museum is part of our National Park Service and offers free admission, ample parking, is located right on the water in Richmond and is part of the old Ford Assembly Plant industrial area where these civilians who made such a huge contribution to the war effort lived and worked. For more information, directions and hours please visit www.nps.gov and search for Rosie the Riveter. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.
Isaac came by with the part and got the old Dragon up and running at long last! Poor Isaac, even though he had the engine serial numbers taken directly off the engine blocks the folks at Isuzu were baffled by his request for the thermostat gasket. Isaac would talk to one person in the morning of who knew the stock and was willing to help and after lunch he would have to start all over again with someone who told him the serial numbers just did not exist. Patience and tenacity are two traits necessary in a competent marine mechanic. Patience won out and Isaac got the necessary parts, hooray for team Isaac!
The generator is running, the engines have fresh everything and so it was an almost ceremonial occasion as we pulled out of the slip after having spent a captive few months trapped here. Isaac added some miracle cooling system cleaning fluid and requested that we run the engines under a load for several hours to make sure that the magic elixir had circulated throughout and has done its job. Gladly!
So off we went for an excursion to the Estuary. The day was fine with very little wind for the leaving-of-the-slip portion of our journey. Slips in Oyster Cove are all cross wind, obviously designed by a naval architect with a sick and perverted sense of humor. The engines sounded fine as we headed up the channel and into South Bay.
Here’s a note of interest; remember all the abandoned boats that used to be anchored in Clipper Cove? Well a large portion of them are now anchored outside of the Brisbane Marina. A particularly neglected old Grand Banks 36 is part of that fleet.
It had been so long since we have been out on the water that I forgot to lay the galley knife block on its side. Of course it came crashing down with a clatter, but otherwise everything else rode well. This little shakedown cruise was a precursor to a trip up the Napa River and points beyond and I’m happy to report that all is “green” on board the Dancing Dragon, at least temporarily.
There were plenty of boats out and this particular day happened to coincide with the Bay View Boat Club’s Plastic Classic. I had intended to be working with the galley crew to serve up delicious vittles but when it comes time to choose between working in the kitchen or going for a boat ride, you might be able to guess which I’m going to select. I did feel guilty though, does that count?
As we entered the Estuary one of the first things I noticed was that Balclutha was on the hard at Bay Ship and Yacht. A reputable yard for a remarkable vessel!
The Oakland Alameda Estuary is always a fun place to promenade, which reminds me of the derogatory French term for power boaters, promonde coullion, which translates loosely to promenading moron. Hey, that’s me!
There is always something interesting to see on the Estuary and waterside restaurants abound on both sides if you are so inclined. We didn’t stop this trip because we were on a maintenance mission but we did consider stopping for fuel. This dirty deed needs to be done soon, but a task as painful as filling a trawler’s diesel tanks is better done after the Social Security checks have arrived. Come on, third Wednesday!
We enjoyed the sites and motored slowly down as far as the USCG Station where we turned around. We had been riding an ebb all the way from South City, fighting it in the Estuary, so when we made our turn for home I was surprised how much ground we covered in a very short period of time. We were lucky also because it was a short ebb and we were able to catch a ride home on a slack tide and then a flood. I would much rather be lucky than rich.
The Bay became a bit bouncy when the wind picked up in the afternoon. Docking in a cross wind is an adventure but any landing you can walk away from is a good one. We have a new neighbor who insists on keeping his free-standing barbecue on our side of the dock finger. It almost took the float test but lived to tell the tale this time around. As Scarlett O’Hara says, “Tomorrow is another day.”
All in all, it was a great day on the water, everything worked well and I’m looking forward to venturing further afield in the coming weeks. Pat Carson and Bill Wells, brush off your best stories because we are going to have ourselves a party! Mai Tai’s, anyone? The Isuzu engines have all new belts, hoses, impellers and juice. Last summer I gave all my savings to our wonderful marine craftsman, Jose Rodriguez, who repaired the spongy deck on the flying bridge for us. This year an almost equal amount went to Isaac (and worth every single penny, I might add). I wonder what surprises next summer might bring? In the mean time I had better keep saving those scheckels.
Captain Sweetie and I will both be turning 70 next year. Friends have been asking us where we are planning to live out our days and have we been making plans to move ashore.
Actually, I have been looking around for low-income senior housing but we make about $88 over the income limit to qualify. Happily however, the redevelopment project here at Oyster Cove has been put on hold so we don’t have to make any major life changing decision just yet. I love my gated community here on the water, the natural wonders that come to visit daily and my wonderful neighbors.
So what’s to change? Besides, filling out all the required Government forms bores me to sobs. And, we live right next to the airport which will most likely be Ground-Zero after the Golden Gate Bridge, so making plans may be just a monumental waste of time! Fiddle-Dee-Dee! What, me Worry?
Speaking of natural wonders; there is an old wooden barge on the other side of our breakwater wall that is home to many birds. Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, Greater and also Lesser Egrets and a few others find the location secure enough for nesting. The Great Blue Heron has just hatched a clutch of babies. In order to help the mother heron teach her babies to fish for themselves, Sweetie has set up a solar powered light on the dock that shines directly into the water. After dark the light attracts the bait fish, which attracts the herons. Hopefully the young birds will make it through their adolescence now that Sweetie’s new restaurant is open for business. I know Eartha, our boat cat, is immensely entertained by the gigantic birds fishing right outside her window!
That’s a wrap for me this month, if you have questions, comments or contributions please send them my way to firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next month keep those propellers spinning! H