Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tomales Bay


White Gulch

August 26, 2016

Marshall Beach, Tomales Bay

After a few days at South Beach Harbor, San Francisco, our new friends/crew joined us to help bring the boat to one of our favorite places, Tomales Bay.  Laura & Rich and Julie & Lee will crew for us during the Baja Ha Ha Rally in October. This Tomales trip was to be a warm up cruise. Michael & I had some concerns about having 6 people on board, but as we got underway, the concerns soon evaporated. Unfortunately, the wind was light and on the nose, so we motored all the way, stopping one night in Drake’s Bay in order to time our arrival into Tomales with the high tide. Soon after we anchored at Drake’s, Lee began making the rum punch and the party was on. We all rose the next day slowly and mildly grumpy, prepared to raise anchor and head to the mouth of Tomales Bay by 2:00. Raising the anchor proved challenging, as gigantic seaweed was wrapped around our chain. Valiantly, Lee & Michael cleaned the seaweed away as I raised the anchor and we were free to proceed. The mouth of Tomales Bay can be tricky, but we timed it right and Michael smoothly brought her in with no issues. We anchored at White Gulch and enjoyed one more night together, refraining from the rum punch. Our friends departed the next day to return to their busy lives on land. Michael and I immediately settled in with a long boat nap. Happy to be here!


Day 4 anchored in Tomales Bay.  What a place. Serene, desolate, foggy, misty, cold for August. Just me, Michael and Footloose. There are teams of kayakers, and small boat fisherman, occasional sailboats in the distance, but for the most part, we are alone. It’s quiet here. I can really hear the birds sing, the fish splash, the power of the pelican flight.  Quite a place to get into the flow of cruising life.


We endured two days without wifi in White Gulch before moving to Marshall Beach & taking the dinghy to “town” in Marshall. We picked up our general delivery mail and went to the restaurant to eat and plug in. We needed to take care of some business online and had some pending texts & emails anxiously awaiting delivery.  The Wifi, bandwidth challenges will be part of the experience I suppose. I’m learning that I can take a connectivity break once in awhile. I don’t feel the constant urge to be with my phone as I once did. I can leave it behind to go out on my SUP board without a pang.


When preparing to cruise, common questions from friends were about boredom, loneliness, small space, being scared. I know it’s only been a couple weeks and four days, but I assure you I am not bored!  I won’t bore you with the minutia of daily routines, but here are some insights. There is no schedule, only plans that unfold or delay or surprise. I’m enjoying watching the birds and reading about their migratory routes. I’m trying recipes and planning meals for a couple days out, which is enjoyable when the day is mine. I’m talking with Michael about boat parts (still), philosophy, travel, family, science, life. I’ve taken to my Stand Up Paddle Board for a great workout and some meditative alone time. I’m learning something new all the time. Currently, I’m learning about my VHF radio and writing a communication guide for the boat’s procedure manual. We are taking care of Footloose, which is more like a small city than a boat. Every day we monitor our energy (amps), our water (2 tanks), our holding tanks (sewage), our need for showers (hot water). All the things you take for granted for the most part on land are an intricate part of your daily awareness on water. Today we are abuzz charging all systems, making water, making heat, making amps (Gen-Set).  So, it’s not boring. It’s not scary. It’s not lonely. It’s different here.

Next Stop

Planning is another big part of cruising. Where will you go next, when will you leave, what route will you take? We will be in Tomales Bay for 2 weeks and a bit before beginning our route south. Tomales Bay feels like home in a way. Michael spent many years sailing here. There is the annual Labor Day Regatta hosted by the Santa Rosa Sailing Club. Michael and his friends from the Marconi Cove Yacht Club will race one more time aboard Mark’s boat. There will be the annual “Bachelor Party” at Marshall this weekend, a 25 + year tradition. So, this departure will be bittersweet. It will also begin a new wondrous chapter as we will leave the Golden Gate and head south to Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay, then on towards Point Conception, sometimes referred to as the Cape Horn of the Pacific.

Cruising the bay.. What a great place to live.


We started with a 1 hour cruise to Ayala Cove, and spent 2 days on the mooring balls there.  First day, we were in shock, wow we had finally thrown off the dock lines.  Tired we sat around all day doing not much more than discussing the techniques other boats used to suspend themselves between two mooring balls.  Second day we had a great walk on the perimeter trail. With amazing vistas of the city and bay.  A walk through history; Angel has been the home of immigrants and soldiers.  Legs were tired after that one.

Then another short motor to Sausaulito, where we tied up at Schoonmaker Marina.  Windy was the key word.  The boat was at cruising RPMs just to stay even with the dock to tie up….  We rode our bikes downtown.  Sausalito was a festival of food.   Lunch at Napa Valley Burger Company.  Dinner at Le Garage, just a few steps from our boat.  Breakfast at Fred’s.  Yum.

I also fulfilled a decades old desire to visit the Bay Model.  An amazing place used to model large scale changes to the bay, like dredging and making new channels.  Originally it was used to test the Reber Plan which involved damming the bay to stop salt water incursion into the central valley.  The North bay would have been one large fresh water reservoir.  Really enjoyed the Marinship display, and listening to interviews with old timers who helped turn out ships for WWII. They really were the greatest generation.

Anchored off of China camp in Marin.  Ahhh it’s warm.  There is a little fetch when the ebb fights the wind but great evenings on the porch watching the sun go down.  We did some boat work rigging up a wringer for hand wash when there are no laundromats.  New gasket for the refrigerator.   Lisa is working on a provisioning work sheet.  She is getting used to her inflatable SUP board by paddling against the chop and current.. It takes about ten times longer to get back to the boat than it does to get downwind.   Looks like hard work to me.   We launched the Kayak and went sailing for an hour and a half.  Great sailing through the chop and fairly warm water of China camp.  Lisa is testing out new recipes.  Ham and beans in the pressure cooker.  Delhi chicken and rice. Last night boxed brownies while we watched Netflix.

That was our seventh day of cruising.  At anchor the days seem to pass easily, we are busy with projects, but the whole thing lacks the incessant urgency of the work world.  Before you know it, it’s time to watch another sunset.  Seven days is only a short vacation but we don’t have that nagging feeling of having to be back to work next week.  Or as a self-employed guy that sense that your overhead meter was flying along furiously while you are pretending to be relaxed.

Now tied up at South Beach Harbor.  It feels kind of rushed.  Wish we had allowed a few more days. With provisioning (boaty term for grocery shopping) and Laundry, we feel like there is no time to play tourist in our own town.

We met Carol and Charlie for Dinner at Delancy Street.  Delancy is a half-way house for recovering addicts and others facing personal challenges.  As part of their operation they provide job training and experience.  They have a moving company and a white table cloth restaurant.  The food was great with reasonable prices and charming wait staff.

Afterwards, we put the running lights on the dingy and took a quick trip to ATT Park (the ball park in San Francisco) where the Giants were playing.  It’s a little bit of a San Francisco thing to take your boat to McCovey Cove, where you can’t actually watch the game but you can see the lights and the people and hear the roar of the crowd.  People on big boats keep an eye on the TV while they enjoy refreshments. When Bonds was hitting long ones out of the park, people in kayaks would race to get the home run balls.


For our last night out we ate at Boulevard with Felecia and Paul.  Great food as usual.  This was one of our favorite places to eat out.

Empty Key Chains….We are cruising now.

Cast off

It started last weekend with Kathy picking up Lisa’s Green VW beetle convertible “Margarita”. down to just one key. No house key only the key to the boat. Later that day I ask for the keys to run a short errand and oops, no Margarita.

I leave the key to the truck and the key to its shell in the glove box for my friend Doug who is taking over after 25 years of ownership. Only the boat key a beer opener and strangely a golf ball key card for Chuck Corrica Driving range are left. Monday morning we move out of our slip at Ballena Isle Marina and onto the fuel dock. 136 gallons and we are ready to go. Next tank will be in San Diego.

We motor in light air to Ayala cove on Angel Island and tie up to two mooring balls with minimum drama.  As willi waws from the building breeze in the slot blow over Mount Livermore, we sit in silence, completely zoned out. We are exhausted, It’s been a non stop four years selling two houses and a business, getting married, a year and a half of full time boat work.

After a life time of wanting this moment, I sit in silence on a worn park bench looking out over the cove at our boat floating on its mooring.  Will we be strong enough, smart enough, brave enough?

We are about to find out. One Day at a Time.