CHAPTER 9       





            The election of officers for Sierra Point yacht club's 1989 season would be held during the general meeting in January. Though not official yet, I started assuming the role of Fleet Captain before the election. I developed a questionnaire to pass out after the elections. When the member’s votes were tallied, Marion Stratton became the next Commodore. All other positions were filled by the sole nominees. My questionnaire had questions about what kind of activities they wanted to see this season, 1) How many events per season would you like to see, 2) What were the past successful events that you would like to see again, 3) Any new ideas?

            People eagerly filled out the forms. The results were as follows: 1) Events per year? 3 votes for 3, 8 votes for 6, 3 votes for 9, and 1 vote for 12. 2) Successful events? Mystery Cruise = 10, Poker Rally = 9, Delta raft up = 3, Dinghy race = 1. 3) New ideas? Overnight cruise to other yacht clubs = 6, Treasure Island raft up = 4, Angle Island picnic = 3, Sea Cruises: Drakes Bay = 4, Half Moon Bay = 3, Tomalas Bay = 1, Longer (Southern California) = 1, Dinner cruises = 3, Benicia cruise = 1, Petaluma cruise = 1, and Fishing trip = 1. People offered other ideas as well. Since I didn't see non boating ideas as something a fleet captain should be concerned with, I summarized these results into a separate category. 4) What, non-fleet events would you like to see occur? Flea market = 3, Open House = 2, Halloween Party = 2, Christmas/Holiday party = 2, Speakers for general meetings = 2, Boating classes (navigation, electrical systems, etc.) = 1, Instruct a model ship construction class = 1, Russian river canoe trip = 1, Raft trip = 1, Raffles at meetings = 1, Work on club house = 1, Membership drive = 1, Bareboat Caribbean charter = 1.

Figure 65: Potluck dinner before general meeting

            Mary Carlson of Char Mar suggested the Sequoia yacht club because they put on a good dinner and had a band and dancing on Saturday night. Marty Rosenthal wanted to invent a Bingo Rally. Shirley Warren suggested Treasure Island as being fun. Marsha and I felt we could create a new event with a Treasure Hunt/Pirates night theme. I wanted some of the events to end up back at the clubhouse for a barbecue, now that we had one such as it was. I asked for people to help out for events that required committee boats. No matter what the event list would turn out to be, it was clear it was going to be a considerable amount of work to accomplish it successfully.

            We began by building a database on Marsha's personal computer containing all the yacht clubs in the Bay area. The data came from Bald Eagle Enterprise's, "The Boater's Guide to San Francisco Bay Area Delta and Coast Harbors and Marinas". This book contains an alphabetical listing of all the marinas and harbors with all the contact information for any yacht clubs, as well as sketches of the layout of each marina. My strategy was to send a letter introducing SPYC to the entire Bay Area, then follow up with phone calls to a few of them for reservations. I submitted the compiled results to Marsha to be included in the club's newsletter. To date, the Spyglass came out on a erratic schedule. Months could go by without hearing a word from the club. Marsha's goal as the new Secretary was to start getting the newsletter out on a monthly basis.

            The installation dinner was a blue blazer and white turtleneck affair in the banquet room of North Beach Cafe in San Francisco. Because it was a rainy evening, only 20 people showed up for the dinner. Not much ceremony was involved, but people did take turns standing and speaking. There was a discussion about raising funds for the club. Fred Avery, the newly elected Rear Commodore was rambling on about people donating money. I suggested raising money by the events we sponsored. Larry Goodwin agreed with me. I was feeling support in my attempts to fill the Fleet Captain's role. I was however, corrected in my words. I mentioned sailing events, the correct wording should be boating events. The person that corrected me owned a powerboat. Marsha and I were presented with the Secretary's and Fleet Captain's burgees. These were to be flown along with the SPYC burgee while on official outings. The dinner was good, but the club really got stung. As the new Rear Commodore, Fred had arranged the dinner reservations and committed for a party of 30. We had to pay for the 10 unused dinners. The Rear Commodore's job is to serve as consultant to the board of directors concerning the club's entertainment and activities, purchase all bar supplies, and recruit bartenders from the membership. Fred was taking more and more flack for delaying work on the club's bar. He had asked that the club front him $1,000 for supplies needed to do the work. The club did, but the work wasn't getting done. Now he had cost the club a few hundred more dollars. The club's total assets at the time were less than $10,000.00.

            I was committed to doing the Fleet Captain’s work , but putting together a plan for the years boating activities sounded like fun. I had organized tow successful charters, so I had experience planning activities in advance. First I printed a calendar from one of the PC graphics software packages, and then made a straw man schedule of activities. I aimed for one a month, trying as best as possible to have overnight activities occur when there was a full moon. I then started contacting the Port Captains of the clubs that people had mentioned they would like to visit the most. I learned I was getting a late start on the year. Most clubs are signing up for time slots for the next year by November and December. I was able to make good headway with one Saturday afternoon of making phone calls, and follow up calls over the next week. It took some juggling and many conversations but I finally worked out the following schedule for the season: April 8 - Poker Rally, May 20-21 - Encinal yacht club, June 17-18 - Treasure Island yacht club, July 1-3 - Petaluma yacht club, July 4 - Dinghy Race, July 15 - Flea Market, July 29-30 - Benicia yacht club, August 19 - Bingo Rally, August 26 - September 4 - Delta Raft-up, September 16-17 - Drakes Bay Cruise, September 23-24 - Mystery Cruise, October 7-8 - Sequoia yacht club, and October 28 Treasure Hunt/Pirates night.

            The yacht clubs I called wanted to know how many people and boats will be coming because they want to have enough provisions. This would involve shepherding work to get people that intended on joining an event to sign up and sometimes pay in advance for dinner. I developed a habit of having as many of the details as possible regarding any event established and included in the Spyglass at least 2 months prior to the event's date. This was the right amount of lead-time for members to make their plans.

            Certain events were traditions of some of the members. Alan Karsevar always ran the Dinghy race on July 4th. Marion Stratton always led the Flea Market effort, and Jeff and Jayne Eastman owned the Mystery Cruise. The Delta raft-up had become a club tradition over Labor Day. I would need help from other members, so I created a document containing as much information as possible describing each event in order. After each event, I listed the jobs I thought would need to be done. Next to each job description, I listed the name of individuals if I already had volunteers, or blank lines if not.

            The club was advertising an open house for March 12 to kick off the beginning of the season. There were hopes that this would be a motivation date to get work done on the clubhouse as people were losing faith in Fred's ability to deliver a bar. Though his approach to things was sometimes off the wall, he had been enthusiastic and willing to contribute. Something in his life was changing. Since botching things up with the installation dinner, he had been losing interest. It now looked as if the $1,000.00 front money was in jeopardy of being a total loss. Larry Goodwin was starting to get more involved in leading the clubhouse effort. The bar finally did get roughed in. The interior walls were textured and painted, and a large mirror with glass shelves was mounted behind the bar in time for the open house. It was amazing to see the difference in appearance the paint and textured walls made.

Figure 66: SPYC's open house

            Glen and Geri Gollihur of the trawler vessel Geri Glen had a similar experience to ours, both being asked to hold positions on the board of directors. Glen had a financial background and was asked to be the club's Treasurer. The Treasurer is the chief financial officer in charge of handling the money and financial records. Geri was asked to be the Vice Commodore. The Vice Commodore's job is to fill in for the Commodore as needed. The Commodore is the president and general manager of the club, presiding over its meetings, activities, etc. The Vice Commodore is also in charge of the club newsletter, although this year Marsha had volunteered to do that job as well as taking the meeting minutes as Secretary.

            I brought a print out of my job list to the open house and one by one approached members and got them to sign up for the unfilled positions. I marked all the events on the club's calendar. Meanwhile, Glen was busy keeping one eye peeled for prospective new members. He would make sure they would meet the Commodore, other members, then bring them over to me standing by the club calendar. I would explain the events we had planned for the year. He would then walk them over to Robby Flynn who had become the Membership Chairman, a new position created in an attempt to finally make it easy to join the club. Robby would have them filling out applications and Glen would get them to write checks. The one time initiation fee was $100.00 and the membership dues were $10.00 monthly payable one year in advance. They all walked away with a club burgee and a smile. Our efforts were looking like the beginning of a growing concern. With the year's activities established, we could focus our attention on organizing the Poker Rally. This seemed to be a traditional event, except there was no organizer associated with the tradition so I became the coordinator.


Figure 67: Working the calendar



            There were no rules or procedures written down, but since I had participated in last year's rally, I remembered how it was supposed to work. Participants showed up at the club for registrations and paid $5.00 per hand. They would pick up their first card and instructions for the day while munching complimentary donuts and drinking coffee. A unique identification number is assigned to each hand. Players had to figure out the location of 3 committee boats from nautical navigational instructions, and then go pick up their next 3 cards by rafting along side. The last instruction was to go back to the clubhouse for the 5th card and to find out who wins during an afternoon barbecue. This year I planned it so the committee boats were only obligated to be in position for a fixed period of time so they could also participate. Marsha and I would run the registration and get everyone started. Lee Mosher of Good Turn, Jeff Eastman of Del Cielo, and Larry Dulmage of Mary Anne were the three committee boats. On the morning of the event, we printed out decorative banners to pin up in the clubhouse and bought plenty of donuts. The navigational rules we made up were simple if you had any experience with charts as follows:


            - Committee Boat Number 1, 2nd Card, Time: 1200 - 1430: Navigate your vessel to latitude 37 degrees 48 minutes N, longitude 122 degrees 22.5 minutes W, then proceed 4 nautical miles on a course of 330 degrees T.
            - Committee Boat Number 2, 3rd Card, Time 1300 - 1530: Locate this position by plotting a course of 118 degrees M for 3.58 nautical miles from location number one. Don't travel this course however, you might hurt your boat. Get there however you want.
            - Committee Boat Number 3, 4th Card, Time 1330 - 1600: To determine the position of this vessel, subtract 0 degrees 1.5 minutes of latitude and subtract 0 degrees 1.45 minutes of longitude from the coordinates of the second vessel's position.
            - 5th Card, Time 1700 - 1800: At the clubhouse.

            Because nobody pre-registered as we had asked, we had no idea how many people to expect so we brought plenty of card decks. Each committee boat needed a few decks and a clipboard with a form for recording which card was drawn for each hand's id number. A total of 13 boats participated, consuming 104 poker hands and grossing $520.00. Half of the money was to go towards prizes, the other half to the yacht club building fund, less expenses. At registration we recorded the boat name, person's name, hand id number and first card for each entry. The committee boat locations were #1 on the south lee side of Angel Island, #2 in Clipper Cove behind Treasure Island, and #3 south of the Alameda Channel entrance. Marsha gave the committee boats blue, green, and white balloons to make them easier to spot.

            It turned out to be a gorgeous day, sunny with light wind. Moonshot had a full crew consisting of the Callans, the Knapps, and the Alberts. Each person purchased two hands. Marsha had to be coerced into buying a second one, which was id number 100. Once all the boats were under way, we motored towards boat #1 until we got past the city front, then sailed gently across the slot to find the Mary Anne. We picked up our cards and shoved off. It was a reach over to TI. This was a perfect opportunity to try out the cruising spinnaker. I got it rigged and ready to hoist. It needed one person tailing the jib sheet as the sock went up. There was much room for getting lines tangled between the tack line, sheets, and dousing line. Lewis raised the sock. Once the sail was filled with wind Moonshot was sailing beautifully. Marcy was having fun trimming the sail. Everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves.

            As we were drifting across the slot to the lee side of Treasure Island, we could hear traffic on channel 68 between some of the participants of the Poker Rally discussing where they might find the committee boats. I couldn't help but laugh because I thought I had made the instructions simple. As it was getting close to time to take the sails down to approach boat #2, Lewis went forward to prepare to douse the drifter. Standing on the Frederick, he looked puzzled, then looked up and let out a big "Aw Shit!". He had mistakenly released a shackle that connected one end of the drawstring to the other. The end he needed to douse the sail was 30 feet above the deck blowing in the wind. The look on his face when seeing his mistake was more humorous than the situation was serious. As Lewis lowered the jib halyard, people lined up on the port side to bunch the sailcloth on deck, preventing it from going in the water. There was enough crew and the winds were light so it was no problem.

            It was an easy task of pulling along side Good Turn. We picked up our third cards and continued. Marsha had a pair of aces in one hand, the rest of us weren't getting good cards. We jib sailed to Del Cielo. Jayne was wearing a scanty bikini while handing out the cards. We were beginning to see a definite trend in why people keep coming back to this event. We picked up our 4th cards and trimmed the sails for Brisbane. It was a gorgeous afternoon with mellow, warm, firm winds. Everybody was having a great time.

            As we were approaching Hunters Point, we noticed a man in a inflatable dingy. It appeared his motor had conked out and a sailboat was along side. The skipper of the sailboat threw him a line and proceeded to give him a tow. As we were cruising along, we saw another sailboat cross our bow. Two people were in its cockpit laying back enjoying the unusually mellow conditions and admiring how well their autopilot was sailing their boat. A few more minutes went by when all of a sudden we heard a loud SMACK. Moonshot's crew all looked back to see the aftermath of the two sailboats colliding. We saw them both vibrating while standing still. Neither skipper had been paying attention. The worse for the wear from the collision was the dingy skipper being towed. Though we were not involved, you learn something from such incidents, like “PAY ATTENTION, YOU DON'T OWN THE WATER!!!”

            Nobody appeared to be hurt so we continued on our way. Once back at the club we found Shirley Warren doing the best she could at administering the fifth card. I jumped in to help. The hardest part was sorting out who was the winner. Our crew was dispersing among the crowd towards the burgers on the grill. Shirley and I worked the numbers until we had the results sorted. Marsha won first prize with hand #100, 3 aces. There was no way to cheat so it wasn’t disputed. In addition there were 4 door prizes for recipients of Jokers. Lewis won a door prize. With the administration out of the way, I also melted into the crowd. The proceeds from the Poker Rally half funded a new television for the clubhouse. The season had been kicked off to a great start with a great party.



            In conversations over the past year with both Joe Rockmore and friends from work, where I made mention of wanting to go cruising but not being ready financially, they commented independently "You ought to get into racing." I hadn't thought much about it, mainly because Marsha had raced before we met. She had broken her tailbone twice and wasn't interested in it any more. I also didn't know anything about it. One day, Joe asked me to fill in as crew on Nick Klusnick's 34' Wile Coyote. Nick is a serious competitor. He was upset with Joe for not giving me more instruction ahead of time and for talking too much. I think he was being polite in not directing his frustration at my ignorance of racing. This was another opportunity to be on a sailboat flying a spinnaker. I learned all the spinnaker control lines this time.

            There is a halyard and a sheet similar to a jib. There are also several control lines that maintain the position of the end of the spinnaker pole opposite the end attached to the mast. This end is where the sail’s tack is connected. There are 3 control lines that form a tripod. The pole lift comes down from some point on the mast to do just that, keep the pole from dropping to the deck. There is a foreguy, which is used for keeping the pole down when forces from the full sail want to lift the pole. There is an after guy used to control the angle of the pole with respect to the centerline of the boat. The idea is to keep the pole's angle perpendicular to the apparent wind direction. When you jibe a spinnaker, the sheet and after guy swap roles. I don't think I'd ever want to rig Moonshot with a spinnaker but it was fun and challenging to comprehend. I got into position to adjust the control lines on the skippers command during the down wind leg.

            Nick did a great job at the start, the most confusing and stressful part of sailboat racing. He was the first boat over the line after the gun went off. The first mark was a port tack to the birdcage, a lighted platform just offshore from the San Francisco Airport. As we rounded the cage, my job was to trim the jib so it kept full of wind as much as possible through the turn until the spinnaker was launched. Joe prides himself as being a foredeck man, always in charge of the spinnaker. Nick never leaves the helm. Things went without glitches for the rest of the race. We flew to the next mark with the spinnaker, and then rounded the mark for a starboard tack to the finish. We were first across the finish line. Coyote's main competitor for the day was a Catalina 38. Nick placed either first or second depending on the handicapping. It was fun leading the pack on one of the winning boats.

            My next racing experience was with Joy on her new boyfriend's 28' Hawkfarm, Nighthawk. Hawkfarms have an active one-design race fleet. A one-design race is where all boats have the same handicap, are of the same design, and have restrictions on how the design may be modified. John kept his boat in Santa Cruz harbor for the winter and in the Berkeley marina for the summer race series. Joy invited Marsha and I to participate. John sent us the schedule, we were to mark off which races we couldn't make. This scheduling task was taking place at the same time I had been scheduling the season for the yacht club. There were a few conflicts I couldn't avoid which I marked off. Too coincidental, two things were happening to me at once that required committing weekends months ahead of time. I felt uncomfortable having so many commitments in advance. One of the things I've enjoyed most about sailing is the spontaneous unplanned occurrence. We'd give it a try though.

            The first race with Nighthawk was a practice handicap race out of Santa Cruz. We would be staying over with David and Marcy at their beach house the night before because Marcy was having a birthday party and invited people to stay. It was a coat and tie affair with a catered dinner. We ended up staying overnight at Joy's house because so many people decided to stay. The trouble started when Lewis and I brought out the ice shavers, a block of ice, and margarita fixings. It worked well at the SPYC New Years Day party but we were apprehensive that it wasn't the right time and place here. But we did it anyway, giving demonstrations and trying to talk David into some marketing scheme involving distribution of the ice shavers. People did get a kick out of it.

            The next day I was hung over, which was the worst thing to mix with sailing on the ocean. We made it in time to explore. It was difficult getting on the boat and once on there weren't many things to hang on to, the deck was slippery. There were no cruising considerations, this was a purely racing boat. To make matters worse, it started raining when we got out, with little wind. We made it around the course, but I was green, hanging over the rail most of the time when I wasn't needed to tug on some line. John was worried I wouldn't be capable crew, but I was able to blame the ice shaver. We went to the Santa Cruz yacht club afterwards to see the results.

            When we got the results sheet, John had some questions. I was able to help him with the handicap calculations as I had learned how the system worked from Joe. The handicapping system is called PHRF, which stands for Northern California's Performance Handicap Racing Fleet. John's boat has a handicap rating of 168. What that means is he gets 168 seconds per mile of the racecourse. Put another way, John would have 168 more seconds to go a mile than a boat with a 0 handicap rating. If the course was one mile and John took 167 seconds longer, John would still win. We didn't win.



            We signed up for the second day of the two-day race to Vallejo and back, so we met up with the Nighthawk crew in Vallejo. The marina was packed with 400 extra boats in every inch of waterway. Eventually, we spotted John and Joy and climbed over several other boats to get to theirs. Different classes of boats would be peeling off the huge raft up at different times, then going out to the starting area in the Mare Island Straight. We met the rest of the crew and started learning our jobs as crew. It was clear there was a pecking order and the rest of the crew had been racing with John for some time so we were the "fresh rail meat"' which is lower on the ladder than winch meat. The others in the crew were Clay - tactician, and Mark - primary winch grinder. Joy did the foredeck work because of her light weight.

            The crew talked about having a great race the day before, mostly broad reaching and then a great barbecue and party at the Vallejo yacht club. It must have been interesting seeing the boats get packed into the marina. This was the largest race event of the year on San Francisco Bay. John and Joy were busy getting the boat ready. John disconnected the life ring bracket and threw it away, extra weight removed. The Hawkfarms were designed purely for racing and smart weight distribution was essential to good performance. Marsha was going to be the forward most person on the rail, traversing across the deck in front of the mast during a tack. I would be the next person on the rail traversing the deck over the companionway entrance under the boom. Crew from the cockpit would join us on the rail aft of my body when their other jobs were completed. There would be many tacks during the race back to Tiburon.

            Boats were peeling off the back of the pile closer and closer to us. We were advised to don our wet gear and start focusing our thoughts on the race. The straight was full of boats. We tacked back and forth to the bridge until the signal flags for our class were displayed on the committee boat. We were in a class that also included Birds, older wooden boats with 2 person crews. Prior to the start, one of the Bird's skippers was getting close to us and asked for room. Clay told him, “not our problem”. He told me it really helped to know the right of way rules. You need to be able to rattle off the basic right of way rules from the top of your head. Starboard tack has the right of way over a port tack. A starboard tack is sailing in a direction with the wind coming over your starboard rail. If two sailboats are on the same tack, the windward boat gives way because the other boat isn't free to tack. The windward boat is the one closest to the wind. Sailboats under sail have the right of way over powerboats. Stay out of the way of freighters no matter who you think you are.

            The start occurred and we were under way. It was a long race involving about 50 tacks altogether. John explained that feathering was the fastest way to make headway to windward. Feathering is where the sails are trimmed in as flat as possible and you are sailing as close to the wind direction as possible without pinching, or heading too close to the wind such that the main starts to luff. You can sail in strong wind with this technique and not experience too much heel angle. We were prey to the phrase "helm down", which meant get your butt over to the high side. Don't move too soon, don't move too late, you needed to be on the centerline of the boat when the boom was crossing to the other side or it would be harder work to get there and you would be messing up the boat's balance. Boats were everywhere around us. At one point we almost collided with an old timer single handing a 38 foot Nonsuch, which is a cat boat with a single large mainsail controlled with a wishbone like wind surfers use. We had tacked many times already coming out into and crossing San Pablo Bay. Our ability to deal with reality had been totally lost to the slavery of our commitment to this race, all we could do was scramble across the slippery deck on command. No don't move yet, go go go...

            Another term that got ingrained in our brains was lift. Anytime a header wind shift would allow the boat to go more to windward, John and Clay would shout "Lift, Lift, Lift" like how bowlers move their body while watching a ball roll down the alley as if the effort would make it move more in the right direction. Yet another phrase we kept hearing frequently was "cheeks out". This meant scoot your butt out past the toe rail as far as you could. They should rename the toe rail the cheek rail or butt bar.

            I had been flopping back and forth across the deck quite a few times to the point where my muscles were turning into putty. On one particular tack, I decided to try moving my body across differently. As I was passing the centerline, I lost my footing on the slippery deck and did a somersault back into the low end. I landed such that my body was parallel to the centerline of the boat, laying back first along the lower second lifeline. I was half way in the water and couldn't move. I heard John holler, "Where's Steve?". I was glad to hear that he was thinking about me. "I'm down here, I'm OK." Slowly I recovered crawling up the deck back to the high side. Marsha was having a hard time moving about. If she didn't make it to the high side quickly enough, she would get pinned to the mast with the jib sheet and have to peel out of the line. She was getting number than I was but still hanging in there. Every once in a while she would utter something about remembering why she hated racing. I was starting to hope it would be over soon.

            No more blunders for the next few tacks until we started making our way around Point San Pablo, inside the Brothers, Whiting, and Invincible rocks, a bottleneck many boats were trying to tack through. It was a madhouse. John did a good job of getting through, but he had to perform one emergency maneuver. We were in position on the high side and he had to tack to avoid a collision with another boat, presumably with the right of way. He didn't have time to inform the rail meat. After the boat tacked, Marsha and I were on the low side and just started floating away. It was a feeling of weightlessness with your life passing before your eyes, totally out of control. I grabbed the lifeline, Marsha grabbed the stanchion in front of her. John hollered, "Hang on!". We caught ourselves just in time to prevent our numb bodies from floating off the boat. John tacked, we were on the high side again. The wet gear, jacket, overalls, and boots, managed to keep us dry while under water.

            When we made it past the rocks and on to the San Rafael Bridge, the wind died and many boats were left drifting. Of all the competitors on the water, John and Clay seemed most concerned with the Hawkfarm Animal Eye. It's skipper used to crew on Nighthawk. He had named his recently purchased Hawkfarm Animal Eye because the term Hawkfarm came from the combined terms Hawkeye and Animal Farm. It was becoming clear that they were competing for next to last place in their one design class. Many of the Hawkfarms had professional crews. Some Profession!!!

Figure 68: Nighthawk

            It wasn't too long before we got wind again and made our way south towards the finish line north of Angel Island. As we got well past the bridge, we saw an interesting phenomenon with a few sailboats between land and us. Several boats had full sails but we were blowing past them. They had run aground. With the race mentality we were witnessing, it could have been any one of many boats that would do the same thing, it just took one leader not paying close attention to the charts.

            Eventually we made it across the finish line and we did beat Animal Eye. The boat that irked me the most was the old guy on the Nonsuch. He beat us with no rail meat at all. I had no feeling of being a winner. I had no feeling at all, except fear when John and Clay started talking about flying the spinnaker to get back across the bay to the Berkeley Marina. They wanted to give Mark more experience as a foredeck person in training. Mark couldn't believe it. In amazement, his body started going through the motions. It was a heavy 1-1/2 ounce spinnaker, the winds were picking up to between 15 and 20 knots. The spinnaker was popping and jerking the boat about, but it was a sled ride back. John let me take the helm, which seemed to make the pain go away for a while. Clay drove me back to Vallejo to get the car, we just wanted to get home and soak in the hot tub. I collected Marsha's body on the way back and we said good-by. The next day we were extremely sore, bruised black and blue.



            The next yacht club event coming up in the very near future was the Encinal yacht club dinner cruise. As the event approached, Marsha had come down with some kind of flu bug. My crew for the trip over was Bernie and the family of a friend he had met during his travels in India. They would not be able to make the trip back though. Lewis had ended up as part of John crew for two races that day, but agreed to crew with me on the way back that evening. It was a full moon, as I had planned. Lewis had not been night sailing yet.

            It was a gorgeous sunny sail over to and down the Alameda Channel. A total of 13 boats attended. Encinal is one of the oldest yacht clubs in the Bay area. Their facility is large, equipped with an Olympic sized swimming pool and a sauna. The Port Captain greeting us was Carol, a slender blond woman lying on the front lawn sunning in a bikini. She made some inquires about not recognizing our burgee. I mentioned our application was currently being accepted by the PICYA, the Pacific Inter Coastal Yachting Association and we would become associate members in September. Marty Rosenthal had spearheaded the approvals from the board and did the paperwork while the Commodore was in the Philippines. There was a clear dissension among the SPYC ranks, two factions were developing. Many of the newer members wanted to see the club grow and become real. Some of the charter members were resistant and wanted to keep things loose and informal. Carol accepted my statements and welcomed us as if we were official enough to be their guests. She stated she also worked with the newspaper Longitude 122, as well as running the youth sailing program for EYC. She offered to get an article about our club published. I thought I would take here up on the idea. Bernie and his friend said good-by and I mingled with the SPYC people and explored EYC's facility.

            Soon Lewis arrived bruised and worn out from racing. It had been a great day for them. Mark had flipped out hollering at John and raging off in a fury, quit the crew after the second race. Fortunately EYC would be serving some of the best food I've had in a while for dinner. That and a couple of beers before would help Lewis recover for the sail back to Brisbane. Though it was an overnight affair for the folks that come by boat, some people drove their cars and left after dinner. It's painful driving through traffic to a yacht club outing, but some people usually do it for one reason or another, bent boat, no crew, etc. Lewis and I left the activity around 10:00. One thing we learned was coming home from the city at night with a full moon brought extreme flood tides. We were making great time. I was getting the feeling Lewis was over dosing on sailing for the day though. He had gotten beat up on John's race boat that afternoon. This had been one of the race days we hadn't signed up for because of the yacht club function. John and Joy had talked Lewis into filling in but Barbara couldn't make it.

            This was a good opportunity to listen to the new stereo system I had just installed. I had seen the Cybernet cassette player during radar day on Poquito. I had heard Cybernet was going out of business for some reason and ended up getting a good price on a system from West Marine. I had recently installed a teak folding table in the cockpit where the stereo used to reside, and the handle on the portable had broken so it was time to move up. Instead of rigidly mounting the speakers in the cockpit, I used a design I had seen in Cruising World magazine. The idea was to mount the speakers on a board that was the same size as the lower of the three boards that make up the door in the companionway entrance. It worked great. I could face the speakers either into the cockpit or salon, and then store them inside, protected from the weather. The music, full moon light, and fast ride made it a fun night sail home.

            This event seemed to go as well as the poker rally with good weather and attendance. Meanwhile, Larry and Carol Goodwin had been taking over leading the clubhouse committee. Fred Avery had resigned and we still saw no sign of the $1,000. Larry and Carol came up with a good idea for getting new chairs and tables to replace the totally odds and ends we had been using. By contributing $75.00, a member could have their name engraved on a bronze plaque and attached to a table, chair or barstool. They managed to get the furniture totally funded, purchasing 6 bar stools, 12 tables and 48 captain's chairs. Out with the old. The club was really moving forward now, with plans for a galley and carpeting and finish work for the roughed out bar. The momentum was picking up. The events were happening regularly. Marsha was diligently getting the Spyglass mailed monthly with a "Welcome new members" section in each issue.



            Still dealing with two schedules, the next race was upon us, the City Front race. Though I was hesitant about participating, Marsha was up for it so we drove to the Berkeley marina. The crew for the day besides John, Joy, and us were Clay and his girlfriend. Our positions for this race were the same as the Vallejo race except when flying the spinnaker down wind. Then I would position myself in the companionway entrance in the center of the boat, as I would be responsible for the lines controlling the spinnaker. Weight going down wind needed to be equally balanced side to side.

            The thought of getting out on the rail and tacking brought a self-preserving feeling of fear to my mind. John was running late and had to hustle to make the start near the city front. We were sailing up wind, and had to tack frequently. Motoring directly to the start, for some reason was out of the question. There were 5 other Hawkfarms in the one design race. We barely made the start in time and were partially worn from the trip across the bay. The course went first to a mark off Ft. Mason near the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, then over to a mark near Angel Island and back to the start, twice around. By the time we reached the first mark, John and Animal Eye were competing for last place again.
            Marsha got hung up on the mast rounding it on one of the tacks. She was hanging on to the mast with both arms, one foot was hardly touching the deck and her other foot and most of her body was flailing in mid air at an angle of about 30 degrees above the deck. It looked as if she was just going to fly off the boat. I moved forward to help her get around. John just stared in anger. He had commented earlier that he was surprised to see her today, after the beating we took on the Vallejo race. She just wanted to bounce back, not running away in fear.

            John and Clay were like cowboys on the loose, storming the city front as if it were theirs. One tack took us all the way into Aquatic Park before tacking back out. Not all the people fishing off the dock got their lines out of the way in time. Made no difference. After rounding the first mark, we flew the spinnaker to Angel Island. Learning the spinnaker control lines was easy because they were different colors. Joy was a veteran at stuffing the spinnaker back in the bag after the tack, so she taught me how it worked. It has to be ready to go the next time it's needed. John had us alternate jibs depending on the wind strength on the third leg, switching between the 110% Lapper and the 90% Blade.

            The Hawkfarms ahead of us were broadening their lead on the second lap. It was disheartening seeing the other boats pull away. We enjoyed the rest of the day at the Berkeley yacht club afterwards, but this was becoming the series of events to be jettisoned from our over booked schedule. Racing might be different if I had control of the helm. It was different crewing for Nick when we were competing for first place. OK, ease off on the schedule and get ready for the Treasure Island yacht club outing. “Sorry John and Joy, no hard feelings. Good luck breaking”, I mean, “breaking in new crew”.



            Administrating the cruise to TI was the largest tasks of any of the overnight cruise dinners. I had to write to the Commanding Officer of the Naval Base, coordinate with the yacht club Commodore and marina manager, and visit the Catering Manager of the Casa de le Vista Officers Club. One of the hardest parts of the Fleet Captain's job, until you develop a sense of humor about it is being able to tell the place you are visiting how much food to have on hand. It is a balancing act between their club wanting an exact head count ahead of time and our members not wanting to commit. Invariably, people would either cancel or call wanting to attend at the last minute. Unlike restaurants, yacht clubs in the business of entertaining cruise-ins know this happens and usually plan for a 5 to 10% variation.

            It turned out to be a fun event. Clipper Cove is a pleasant destination from Sierra Point. You can leave Brisbane around noon and get there in plenty of time to hang out, visit with the other boaters and the yacht club, or sail a dinghy around the cove and explore the small beach before getting ready for the evening's dinner party. The marina had room for at least 8 boats in slips, most with shore power. The power boaters like that as most of their appliances run on 110 volts. Overflow were expected to anchor, but they ended up accommodation all of us. The TI yacht club lived in a converted trailer. They had the right idea with beer being available from a robot bartender, an old Coke machine. The marina was run by the military, and all the boats in permanent slips belonged to active or retired military people. The dinner that evening was advertised as a boat formal event so the yachties arrived in their blue blazers and white turtlenecks.

            The restaurant offered a great view of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge, which was spectacular that evening because of the sunset. I was beginning to think the weather gods had been blessing me as I sorted the event schedule. Norm and Nancy Kaufman hosted an after dinner party on their trawler NK's Heart Throb. They were fun hosts and people engaged in conversations until it was time to crawl back to their respective berths. The TIYC left a box of donuts and a pot of coffer on the counter in their clubhouse the next morning for people to wake up to if they hadn't brought their own. Most of the attendees toured the museum on the Naval Base before departing.



            The minutes of the June SPYC general meeting's Fleet Captain's report read, "Don't forget the July 4th Petaluma yacht club cruise and of course the annual dinghy race at the marina. Beer Can Races may be in the club's future. Steve is investigating how to get these started here."

            After digesting the two fairly hard core racing events with John and Joy, the thought occurred to me: "If I can't be out cruising long term because I'm here working, I might as well do Beer Can Races." The problem with cruising is that the only way to actualize your goal to go is to have the perfect boat rigged and ready, quit your job or take a long leave of absence, have an adequate cruising kitty set aside, and sell, store, or give away all of your land based possessions. If the time isn't right, you are almost in a limbo dream state of "someday." I just wonder how many people harbor that dream verses how many actually make it happen. It was a ways off, but the idea of getting a few boats out for an informal race using a handicap system so any boat could play sounded like fun. As Joy had explained to me, the folks in Santa Cruz were testifying to that every Wednesday night through the summer season.

            All I knew about Beer Can Racing was that it was informal and any boat could participate. Whether this club could do such a thing or how and was anybody else interested were all questions that would have to be answered. In the mean time, there was still a busy schedule of events for the rest of this season. One thing I did want to know was what Moonshot's handicap was. I contacted YRA, the Yacht Racing Association in San Francisco, the organization responsible for assigning a PHRF rating to any boat. They had never handicapped a Watkins before. They sent me the necessary forms which when completed provided dimensional and other statistics about the hull, sails, etc. They met once a month to update or assign handicaps. It cost $20.00 initially, then $10.00 per year to maintain a valid handicap certificate. I sent everything in and got Watkins 27's handicapped. Moonshot's turned out to be 237.

            The next SPYC events were the Petaluma Cruise and the Dinghy race. I delegated the Fleet Captains duties to Lee Mosher of Good Turn for the Petaluma Cruise. Other events were to be run by other people as well. Alan Karsevar of the Sultana felt committed to running the Dinghy race on the 4th of July. Lee agreed to take on the Delta Raft-up as well. Larry Dulmage agreed to coordinate the Benicia cruise. This left me with the Drakes Bay cruise, the Sequoia yacht club cruise, and a new event Marsha and I were still trying to invent, a Treasure Hunt/Pirates night. Our idea for the event was inspired by the night on a Cancun vacation where we took a boat ride to a party on the Isle of Women. As soon as we boarded the boat, we were given loose pirate garb to wear over our clothes. Wearing the simple costumes had made people loosen up and become friendlier. We decided not to join Lee for the Petaluma Cruise. There is a narrow channel 12 miles long to get through to reach Petaluma. For Moonshot, this would mean over 2 hours of motoring. This was our anniversary weekend and we didn't feel like spending that much time motoring each way. We also passed on the Dinghy race, opting for a private weekend on the boat for a change.



            We took a vacation day to have 3 days to enjoy the cruise to Benicia. Benicia is a couple of miles inland from San Pablo Bay on the Carquinez Strait, past Vallejo. Some folks were planning on traveling up on Saturday but most opted for the extra day to arrive on Friday. There's good reason to spend an extra day there. The weather is much warmer than in the bay area, more like the Sacramento Delta. We noticed the weather improve north Tiburon. We tried catching fish by trolling on the way, but had no luck. Once on the approach to the river, it was wing on wing down wind sailing the rest of the way. Our group was berthed on the opposite side of the marina from the yacht club, so many people deployed their dinghies. This worked fine except for the splinters that got into our hands from climbing up on to the wooden docks. Marty Rosenthal enlightened us to the fact it wasn't necessary to bother putting in floorboards for this kind of short hopping. That took two thirds of the hassle out of using our inflatable.

            Benicia used to be the Capitol of California, long ago. Now it was a quiet small town with a few restaurant options, a theater, a supermarket and stores along an old fashioned main street. There are many good antique stores. We dined in town Friday evening and enjoyed breakfast with a strolling tour Saturday morning. It was a lazy afternoon visiting other boats, socializing and munching on appetizers just hanging out in the marina. As evening approached, everyone made it to the BYC in time for happy hour before dinner. They have a large facility and served us a great dinner. Many stayed after for dancing in the lounge. I learned about a potentially hazardous drink called a Rusty Nail, a combination of Scotch and Drambuie on the rocks. I made a major blunder leaving the club on the way back to the dinghy. For some unknown reason I decided the right thing to do was get a running start to be able to leap into our dinghy. I bounced on the tube in the wrong direction past the dinghy into the water. I remember going down, coming back up and laughing while crawling back into the dinghy. There were many witnesses, I was afraid this wouldn't die for some time, Fleet Captain falls off dock. It got pretty cold before I finally made it back to Moonshot, wet wallet and all.

            The next day was an early start back, we got underway shortly after 9:00. Coming back across San Pablo Bay can be a rough trip, as we learned on the recent Vallejo race. We were bucking an incoming tide getting out of the river. I remember seeing Moonshot's bow come up then go way down to the point the following wave came over the bow. Marsha wasn't looking until it was too late. It looked like a tidal wave coming over the deck. It splashed on the front of the dodger, with many gallons of water coming underneath it. Marsha got drenched and water went into the cabin.

            This was a good test for the new television installation we had just completed. We had designed a custom shelf that fit in the nose of the V berth such that the new Sony 9" Color TV could be strapped to it. Our feet fit underneath the shelf when we were sleeping, and it could be easily removed if we needed access to the anchor locker. There was also extra shelf space on each side of the TV for candles, kleenex, etc. This ride back across the bay would tell us if the shelf design was strong enough and if the TV would withstand the motion. Both survived, but it was a windy sail home. We were down to our second reef in the mainsail. We made it back to the marina just fine though. We talked to Marty when we arrived. He stated it was so rough he found fish in the back end of Poquito. It had been another successful event.



            Marsha and I brainstormed with Marty to work out the details of the Bingo Rally. There was always motivation to raise money for the club, as many things were still needed. The Poker Rally had been a moneymaker so there was hope the Bingo Rally would be too. We worked up a format similar to the Poker Rally that started in the club house with snacks, coffee and registration, then navigational puzzles to learn where to find 3 committee boats located somewhere on the bay, and ending at the club house for a barbecue where winners would be determined. We cut the bingo cards into 5 strips. B would be handed out during registration, $5.00 per card. The committee boats would pass out the I, N, and G strips, and the final O strip would be picked up back at home base. Contestants would then tape their strips together and Marty would call out the numbers until Bingo resulted. This turned out to be much easier to administer than the Poker Rally. It didn't matter which I strip went with which B strip so we didn't have to keep track of it.

            Marsha and I served as one of the committee boats. We didn't have the boats actually raft to us. While the contestant boat was a few yards away, we would discuss how many cards each had purchased, then with a close pin fastened to the end of a boat hook with duck tape, we would pass that many I's over. This event did make money. Marty ended up having a couple of trial bingo hands at the general meeting and played a few bonus rounds for $1.00 per card after the actual event round. It wasn't long before the club house had a VHS video player sitting underneath the television.

            We passed on the Delta Raft-up because it would take more days than we could afford to get away at the time. It takes Moonshot 2 great days of down wind sailing to get there and a hard two days to get back. It usually is a 10-day event during the last week in August through the Labor Day weekend. A few boats did go and reported having a good time hanging out in the warm weather.



            We were looking forward to our next event, the Drakes Bay Cruise. Jim and Joanne Callan and Lewis and Barbara Knapp were anxious for a cruising fix because Mexico had been months ago. Six people are a crowd for Moonshot, but we had six people over night stay in Stillwater Cove. We would have to remove anything not necessary for the event from Moonshot and manage space meticulously.

            I noticed a location where I could fit a shelf underneath the long thing shelf. I fit a long piece of teak plywood into the space by screwing one side into the bottom of the cockpit floor. The other side rested on a wooden strip mounted to the inner hull liner. I also installed a manual bilge pump that could be operated by the helmsman and a sea water pump for the galley sink. I finally brought the "Scotty" Koolatron refrigerator Marsha had given me last Christmas. I installed web strapping to the cabin bulkhead to secure it in place. We could rely on cold beverages waiting for us any time, a great investment. Other enhancements made prior to the trip included self-tailing #16 primary winches to replace the #8 winches that came with the boat, leather wrapping for the steering wheel, new motor mounts for the engine, a flexible coupling between the engine and drive shaft to reduce engine vibration, and a solar powered vent for air circulation in the main cabin.

            While I was installing the new winches, Hank and Polly stopped by our dock to say hello. They had flown up from Mexico to take care of personal business while Shellback stayed at anchor. When they were leaving on their cruise, Polly's comment was, "We'll give it a year and see how it goes." Now she had a good tan, a relaxed look on her face, and commented, "We'll give it another year and see how it goes." Thinking about catching fish on the way, I installed rod holders like the ones on the Periwinkle, PVC tubing attached to the stern pulpit with hose clamps. I also installed a piece of the tubing on one side of the binnacle rail to keep the fish net handy. It would appear to be in the middle of things but in fact, wouldn't prevent anyone from grabbing or hanging onto the rail, they would just need to grab a hand full of net as well. That was all we could do to ready the boat for 6 people for 3 days and nights off shore.

            The enthusiasm for the trip among the yacht club members was growing. More people were signing up for this trip than any other event to date. Fifteen skippers were on tap, all prepared to check in on channel 68 at 8:00 PM Friday evening. We decided to sail Moonshot to South Beach Marina after work. Many of the other skippers were also positioning their boats somewhere near the city, either anchored or in a marina. Jim and Joanne made the trip to South Beach with us. Lewis and Barbara planned to meet us there early Saturday morning. It was a beautiful night sail to South Beach, though we were hearing there was a 30% chance of rain the next day on the marine weather radio which was starting to cause me concern.

            The Knapps met us on time and we began the packing job. Our clothes were in our canvas pouches. The four other duffels fit underneath and on top of the chart table. The food needed to be packed in the icebox and refrigerator in the order it would be eaten. We had divided up meals. Dry food recipes were encouraged. Lewis strung a hanging net between the starboard handrails over the galley for storing fruits and dried foods. The mariners had been checking in through the night and were talking on the radio in the morning. The weather was taking a turn for the worse even thought the reports were still saying only a 30% chance of rain. Marty volunteered to take Poquito out past the Golden Gate early to scout through the fog bank with his radar. Many of the others were reporting they intended to sit tight and wait to see if things were going to clear. Clipper Cove was reportedly socked in with drizzly fog but we were seeing billowy white clouds overhead with open spots of blue sky.

            We finished our first round of coffee and got Moonshot underway, along with Howard and Janet Hill aboard Teasel. Dave and Eliza Mills were reporting engine problems aboard Take It Easy from Sausalito. Lee Mosher motored Good Turn over to help them claiming he would catch up with us. Jim and Cheryl Davi had left early aboard the Cheryl-D II and were out with the fishing fleet trying to catch salmon. Marty came back saying it wasn't much different out there but was willing to go for a while and see if it would clear up. We could come back to Sausalito as a back up plan. Poquito, Teasel, and Moonshot were the remains of the fleet heading out the gate in the drizzle. There was no wind yet, so we were all motoring.

            We navigated through the Bonita Channel, inside the Potato Patch. We raised our sails half way through the channel, and got our fishing lines in the water. The pressure was back on the Fish Killer, otherwise one of the dinners was going to be noodles. The rain came and went periodically, but I was happy to have the sails washed. Not everyone had wet gear, so the ones without went below. We were sticking it out but watching Teasel closely. Ahead, off Duxbury point we saw the fishing fleet. We could hear Jim Davi reporting on the radio of not much luck. We sailed through the middle of a fleet of about 70 fishing boats, dragging our two fishing lines behind us without a nibble. People were starting to get discouraged, we were half way there with no blue sky to be seen. Finally Teasel had the good judgment to say sorry guys, were turning back. We tacked and Marty turned around as well. Normally it's a safe bet in September or October that the morning overcast will burn off, but this day wasn't behaving. The weather Gods had turned against me. The crew started moving their thinking towards Sausalito and lunch. Lewis made a delicious oriental soup that was handed up from the galley in styrofoam cups, piping hot. The Fish Killer is only as good as his last catch and that had been months ago. We weren't even smelling fish.

            It kept raining intermittently. Barbara was getting good helm time in as we sailed wing on wing back through the gate. Marty had gone on ahead and was reporting on the radio that we could get slips at Schoonmacker Marina. Even though it was raining, the crew's spirits were still up and no one intended on going home early or back to work on Monday. We were assigned our slip by radio, close to Poquito and Teasel. The rain was coming down steady now. We checked in with the harbormaster, then the crew from all three boats piled into Marty's salon to dry out and have appetizers. There was talk of eating out but we had brought along 3 days worth of food. Later, we set up a tent over Moonshot's boom to keep the rain out of the cockpit, and then proceeded to make dinner.

Figure 69: Soggy Drakes Bay crew

            The rain was easing up for a while, so we inflated the dinghy and took turns going on tours of the various boats and derelicts in Richardson Bay. The strangest was Forbes Island. It was a vessel covered with dirt, Palm trees, etc. to look like an island. The owner sold tours and dinners on board. Lewis and I ventured to one of the derelict vessels just as it was starting to get dark. We noticed a woman was climbing into her dinghy from the wreck as we approached. We couldn't see the details of her face but we talked with her for a couple of minutes. She had been living there for over nine years. She took off sculling with a single oar off the transom. Her wrist motion looked unusual but natural for her. She moved away swiftly. Back on Moonshot, we arranged things to be as comfortable as possible, given we had 6 wet people, wet wet gear, etc. A shore party emerged consisting of the folks that wanted to explore the local pubs for an after dinner drink. When we returned, Marsha and Joanne were laughing out of control having destroyed a bottle of blackberry brandy in our absence. Everyone slept well in spite of our conditions.

            The next day brought more rain, too much for us to go anywhere. Marty was equipped to make the trip home with an indoor helm and radar. Howard and Janet had to get back for work on Monday, so they planned on following Marty's boat. Our crew was taking turns going to the showers on shore after breakfast. We could see the beginnings of a canoe and outrigger race on the beach. As the afternoon progressed, we watched the canoe race start and the various divisions head out disappearing into the fog. The racecourse was around Alcatraz, Angel Island and back. It wasn't too long after the start when we started hearing traffic on channel 16 about rescuing kayakers. Marty was in the middle of it. He and a well-known racing sailboat were piling kayakers aboard as fast as they could. They had to drop some off on Alcatraz, against the Coast Guard's orders. The Coast Guard wasn't there yet. Poquito saved a few lives, bringing them back to Schoonmacker's. That event made the local news that evening, but somehow the Coast Guard was getting all the credit for the rescue. Marty's name wasn't mentioned. It would be in the Spyglass write up on the Drakes Bay cruise because we knew better.

            Lewis's oriental noodles turned out to be a great dinner, thanks to the lack of fish. The weather finally cleared the next day. Though it was cool, we would at least have a good sail back to Brisbane. It was a quiet sail home, we had learned how sardines feel. Drakes Bay would have to wait for sometime in the future.



            The third annual Mystery Cruise was rapidly approaching and again Moonshot was going to be a committee boat. Jeff and Jayne were doing a good job of making the style of mystery change each year to keep things interesting. Mt. Tamalpais was one of the reference points for this year's mystery, on purpose. So was a green water tank that used to be conspicuous but had recently been removed from the Richmond area. One of the other clues involved the phone number on the sign displayed on the Brothers Island. If you knew or could find the number, you didn't have to go there. Moonshot was stationed near a platform midway between Angel Island and Richmond. The instructions clued people in on how to find us. We would pass out a sheet with additional instructions and clues on where to go next. Clipper Cove was an interim destination where the boats were to rendezvous until Jeff and Jayne showed up to lead the fleet to the eventual mystery destination.

            Once anchored in our mystery spot, it was hilarious listening to the participants discuss solutions to the mysteries over the radio. Some of them weren't getting everything correctly. Once again I was using the clothespin on the end of the boat hook trick, except it wasn't working with Larry and Carol Goodwin's boat, Pau Hanna. Larry made 3 attempts at getting close enough to Moonshot and each time almost resulted in disaster. Maybe it just wasn't cut out to be their day. Finally I duct taped the page of instructions to a dock line and threw it to Carol. This worked and they were on their way. When all the known boats had meet up with us, we headed to Clipper Cove and rafted up to the Geri Glen. It wasn't long before Del Cielo came sailing through the cove to round up the skippers for the approach to the final destination, the Oakland yacht club. Del Cielo looked grand flying through the water. We caravanned down the Oakland Estuary, the sailboats racing down wind. Jerry and Carol McDaniel on C Bear never over took us, so we were happy about our performance. The diver must have just cleaned Moonshot's hull.

            Two boats didn't show up with the rest of the fleet, Pau Hanna and Mary Anne, both because of errors. Larry Dulmage's error was not starting early enough to get the mystery instructions and therefore had to follow somebody else, which turned out to be Pau Hanna. Larry Goodwin made a wrong assumption about one of the clues and ended up heading towards Benicia. Eventually Pau Hanna ran out of gas and the Mary Anne had to tow them back to a fuel dock in Richmond. By then, the location of the group became known over the radio. Eventually they did show up. The Goodwin's had a rough time making it into a tight slip. I helped them in. Larry Dulmage made it in OK but was steaming. I brought him a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and heard him muttering something about never again. A few drinks later with all boats secure, everyone mellowed out. The sun finally came out and the event was declared a success. Dinner and breakfast the next morning were fine and the sail home was smooth.

            Sunday, we passed by Bill and Ilene Caugrin on the vessel Lorien on the way home. Bill does outrageous sailing things, like heading for Santa Cruz right after getting his first boat. His family had deserted him in Half Moon Bay on that trip. We connected on channel 16. Instead of switching to another channel, he described how he had interpreted the clues incorrectly and ended up staying over night in Petaluma. I responded with a brief message. Someone else piped in and said "you jerks get off 16." We were in the wrong. During the prior evening, some people made comments about how I was doing such a good job as Fleet Captain and that I should do it again next year. Fat chance! I was getting to the point where I was anxious for this tour of duty to be over. I had no time to spend researching how to get Beer Can Racing started, it would have to wait until this season ended. I wanted to narrow my commitment as a community servant and focus on one thing. Who would be the next Fleet Captain?



            All the paperwork had cleared and SPYC was going to be sworn in as associate members at the September Pacific Inter Coastal Yachting Association general meeting. PICYA takes July and August off, and then meets at various yacht clubs in Northern California monthly for the rest of the year. This meeting was going to be held at the Discovery Bay yacht club and our club wanted to have a few representatives on hand for the event. The attending SPYC members were Marion Stratton, Shirley Warren, Marty and Betty Rosenthal, and myself. I rode to DBYC with Marion and Shirley. Marion made some mention about me running for Commodore for the next year. I stated I was flattered and would think about it. My ego was stroked but I wasn’t interested in another year of commitment as an officer.

            DBYC was close to the Delta. They had solicited many new members to be able to fund their new building. I had never seen so many blue blazers and white turtlenecks in one place. This was the meeting forum for the Grand Pu-bas of Northern California yachting. There were many people walking around displaying a scrambled egg like insignia on their sleeves. They were members of the Past Commodore's Club. To be a member, you had to have served as a Commodore of a yacht club that had been incorporated for at least 10 years. There was a representative from the Pacific Cup yacht club passing out posters for the next Pacific Cup race to Hawaii. It was a gorgeous poster advertising 2071 miles of the best downwind sailing you'll ever experience. There was a race to Hawaii each summer, alternating between the TransPac, a highly competitive race, and the Pacific Cup, a fun race. The poster advertised the race as for boats 24' and up in length. That started me thinking.

            The format was dinner first, then the meeting. The meeting started with obituaries from the summer, then reports from the officers. When the officers were through with their reports, the Commodore took role call from the visiting yacht clubs. This was an opportunity for each of the representatives to introduce guests, make any reports of general interest, or at least make the announcement "Present and no report." Most of the representatives would do just that, announce present and no report when their club name was called. Margot Brown of Oyster Point yacht club made reports on several pieces of legislation in process with local and federal governments that effected boaters. She was deep into the organized boating scene. I had spoken with Margot before, she was referred to me by the skipper of Moonshot's neighbor, Carl Ballard. He had given me her name as someone to talk to about racing. The main point in her conversation was it is imperative to have event insurance before ever sponsoring Beer Can Racing. I said hello to her later. She remembered me, probably because the OPYC folks thought SPYC were the people holed up over in Brisbane's utility shed. More formalities occurred until finally the new members were sworn in. Marion did the honors of accepting for SPYC. We left when the meeting ended, for the long drive home. I had to think more about this being Commodore thing.

            The next PICYA meeting was held much closer, at the Half Moon Bay yacht club, or more correctly in the banquet room of the nearby Princeton Inn. I had signed up Marsha and myself to attend, Alan Karsevar was also planning on going. When the meeting time came, Marsha couldn't make it so Lewis Knapp joined me. A PICYA meeting is something that I felt he needed to witness. He was also interested in talking more with Alan. This meeting took less time than before because they weren't trying to catch up from a summer off. We mingled for cocktails, introduced SPYC, and sat with many different people for dinner. Everyone was very friendly towards us.

            It was getting close to the end of the meeting and it was becoming clear SPYC had been left off the roll call. When they reached the end, I stood up and stated, "Excuse me, you left off Sierra Point yacht club from the roll call." The Commodore grimaced, I wasn't sure if he wanted to see us disappear or was just embarrassed. I continued to speak saying, "And I would just like to say," this phrase had a stern tone in my voice, almost reprimanding. I paused for a few seconds then continued, "Present" and paused for a few more seconds while starting to smile. I finished by stating, "And no report." My timing was perfect, the entire audience either started laughing or applauding. I sat down. Lewis commented that I had just put SPYC on the face of the map. The rest of the meeting was OK, we had fun and went home. That was the last time I served as a PICYA representative, but I felt as if I had helped to get SPYC over the hurdle. In December, SPYC became full-fledged members, having been incorporated for 5 years.



            The next SPYC outing I would lead would be on over night dinner cruise to the Sequoia yacht club located almost all the way up Redwood Creek. We had to plan our trip such that we were traveling up the creek near high tide as it gets very shallow during low tide. Many boats get grounded and have to wait for the tide cycle to change to float free. It was a fun sail up the channel.

            As it turned out, there had been sour politics going on with the SYC. Two factions had developed over some global differences of opinion and the faction that was organizing the band had split off, left the club and was planning on starting a completely different club nearby. Though they were gracious, we could tell the people hosting us were feeling like slave labor. The club was staffed by volunteers through a lottery system. To be a member you had to take your turn working the club, which meant bar tending, etc. They had a guy they would pay $50.00 to purchase the food required for the evening, set it out and get the grill started. You got to cook your own food, just the way you liked it. Their jukebox was broken, so there was no music to back up the evening's conversations or to dance to.

            The high point of the trip was Sunday brunch at Charley Brown's restaurant near by. The weather was good that weekend, so it's hard to not have a good time boating. Clubs change, it might have just been a bad day for them.



            The last event of the season was the Treasure Hunt/Pirates Night that Marsha and I were still trying to design. I had noticed that the Oakland yacht club had a perpetual trophy in their case for an Angel Island Treasure Hunt. I called them to find out who knew the details of how it worked. I couldn't find anyone that knew any more than they do some kind of raft up. Through conversations at our club's general meeting, the idea to make it some kind of scavenger hunt started evolving and we started taking people's suggestions for items to be on the list of things to go fetch, items like 6 inches of rhumb line, a cup of prop wash, an ounce of relative bearing grease, a St. Francis yacht club burgee, two feet of water line, and a way point. It was starting to come together. I was making up the flyer, telling people about it, and deciding on various locations in the marina to hide things, though the plan still needed some work. The pirate's night aspect was supposed to inspire the costume theme for the Halloween party the club was sponsoring in the evening.

            October 17th came along and caused a ripple in the Northern California psyche, the earthquake of 1989. It was 5:00 PM and I had just prepared to leave work. I stepped into my boss's office to say I was leaving early to watch the World Series baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's. This was promising to be an interesting game with the east and west bay teams battling it out for the championship. That's when the earthquake hit. At first it seemed like just another earthquake. They are almost fun. All of a sudden, this time it was as if it shifted into high gear. We saw bookshelves falling in the hallway, fluorescent lights shattering with glass falling to the floor. Soon it was over and everyone in the building raced to get outside. The water in the fountain in the courtyard was still moving about like jello. Some people went back inside to wait for the power to come back so they could watch the game on TV. I left to try to make it home as fast as I could. Not all radio stations were broadcasting, some were coming on the air with emergency power systems. KGO, 810 AM was quick to get back on the air. The big question at first was how long this would delay the start of the World Series. I made it through town, the traffic lights were out but traffic was proceeding well. Drivers were treating intersections as 4 way stops. Soon I was on highway 280 rocketing home. There wasn't much traffic and I figured the highway patrol would have their hands full, too full to worry about speeders.

            The discussions on the radio were starting to get tenser when suddenly they reported a rumor had come in that the Oakland Bridge had collapsed. Everything changed. From then on terrible reports were being broadcast continually about destruction the earthquake had caused. I saw a house close to the expressway burning and started feeling like I was participating in a disaster movie. Soon, traffic backed up. I started worrying about Marsha but thought she would hang out at her company until things settled down. I worried about Cindy and the house. I was almost tempted to turn around and try to going to the boat instead of home. There had always been comfort in having a boat with the constant promise of "The Big One" coming someday, we would just cut loose until things settled down. By now Moonshot was fairly self sustaining with solar power and fishing gear. It still didn't have a water maker though. I kept driving towards home. If things were bad enough, maybe we could get back to the boat by bicycle.

            When I arrived home, the garage door wouldn't open because the power was still out. I saw one of my neighbors several units down walking up the sidewalk with a glazed look in her eyes. She asked me, "Have you been inside yet?". I went in to find things a shambles. Broken glass was everywhere. I didn't smell gas, but the water heater was leaning. I propped it up with a 2" x 4 ". The upstairs was in the worst shape. A wall length bookshelf and our television had fallen over into one big heap in the center of the room. The cupboards downstairs had emptied, pictures had fallen off the wall and broken. I got busy locating every candle, flashlight, and battery I could before the daylight disappeared. The phones were out. I started worrying more about Marsha, but she got home an hour later. We communed with our neighbors outside as everyone vented their frustrations over the damage. We were hit less than others. China cabinets positioned 90 degrees from ours all went flying.

            Fortunately we had a Coleman stove and fuel for cooking outside. We swept a path through the glass to the rooms we would need to be moving between. We spent the entire next day cleaning up, still without power. We made a trip to the local 7-11 to buy ice and batteries. The store was a stinking mess with only one isle cleared for traffic. They still had ice, but no batteries. We found batteries at another nearby party store, also a stinking mess. The radio stations were covering the tragedy constantly. Santa Cruz and Watsonville on the other side of the hill were devastated. The double decker bridge off Cypress Street in Oakland had collapsed crushing cars and many people. The marina district in San Francisco was still ablaze. That is all we heard about all day. The phones were getting through occasionally, after waiting minutes for a dial tone. I called one of the liveaboards in Brisbane we knew to see what was happening in the marina. No major damage. Cars had bounced around in the parking lot and waves had splashed water onto the docks, but no boats had been damaged.

            We spent that evening in the driveway sitting in the Van. I set one of the broken shelves from the upstairs shelf unit between its front seats and plugged the 5" black and white television we weren't using on Moonshot anymore into the cigarette lighter. We sat in the center seats watching our first glimpse of the images of destruction. We couldn't sleep in our waterbed that night, too much heat had been lost from the water to be safe. Instead, we slept on the floor in the living room in front of a fire in the fireplace. The after shocks were driving Cindy crazy. She had broken the doggy door several times racing in and out of the garage. Everyone that experienced the quake became shell shocked, fearing another big one at every slightest tremble. We had to repeat our story many times to friends all over the country as their phone calls gradually made it through the trunks. It was going to take a while for our world to get back to normal. We decided to go for a day sail the following Saturday, to witness the damage to the Bay bridge first hand, but it wasn't an enjoyable experience knowing so much devastation surrounded us.

Figure 70: Broken Bay bridge

            As it turned out, a quake relief effort preempted our Treasure Hunt event. The trawlers were planning a caravan to Oakland delivering food, clothing, and blankets. I was just as well pleased. I didn't feel confident we had come up with a new idea with enough pazzazz. That evening, there were two conflicting Halloween parties. One at the clubhouse and one on Alan Karsevar's Sultana, and almost everybody was invited to both. It seemed as though there were two political parties. Alan's was made up of some of the earlier members, mostly liveaboards that got the club started in the first place. The clubhouse party was run by the soon to be next regime. I don't fully understand why it had to be that way. What was happening with the development of the club seemed like a natural evolution and sequence of event. Maybe it was over who got to decide what ended up being what color and how the furniture was arranged.

            We felt neutral on matters and tried to enjoy both parties. We tied Moonshot to the guest dock in-between so we could walk back and forth as we pleased. We started at the clubhouse but its momentum seemed to be dragging its heels. Soon we migrated to the Sultana, which had a livelier party underway. Alan stated it was his 13th annual Halloween party. There had been some words between members of each group about why have two parties, you could sense the tension in the air. The day seemed to go that way and thus the end of the season's fleet activities.

            I had thought more about running for Commodore. Both Alan and Marion had talked to me about it again, but I finally decided that though I felt capable of the task, I would rather do something like that when I was older and grayer. I still wanted to focus on just one thing which I still hadn't had the time to do, Beer Can Racing. I strongly urged them to talk to Geri Gollihur. Glen and Geri were retired so Geri would have the time to be Commodore and I felt she would enjoy making the contribution.



            We had seen boats decorated with Christmas tree lights in past seasons, especially the Sultana. Alan Karsevar had his traditions and decorating the Sultana with many lights at Christmas was one of them. This year, the SPYC was cosponsoring the first of what they hoped would be an annual boat decorating contest. The city of Brisbane was also sponsoring the event. Brisbane was known as the City of Stars during the Christmas Season because of the number of 5' stars covered with lights that appeared all over the hillside town. The stars were visible from highway 101. They sell plans and kits for the stars out of the local hardware store.

            We decided to join in this year with a modest plan. We purchased four sets of outdoor lights and a timer. Bernie and his friend Christine joined us for the last of the year. After we returned to the marina, we proceeded to string the lights on Moonshot. I connected all four strings using duct tape to fasten them to the main halyard, then hoisted the lights to the top of the mast. We then ran one string along the forestay, one along the backstay and one along both the port and starboard center shrouds. We then ran the left over lights back to the mast just above the boom and down to the deck so it formed a Christmas tree shape. It was simple, but from any viewing angle, it looked like the skeleton of a Christmas tree. We left it at that and set the timer for the lights to be on between 5:00 and 11:00 PM.

            Judging would occur before the Christmas Party where the results and awards would be presented. More boats than normal participated this year, mostly powerboats. We didn't think we stood much of a chance at winning a prize because there were artists at work. As it turned out, we were awarded third place. Alan Karsevar won first place and got his name on the first slot of the perpetual plaque for the contest. It was a fun party and a great way to end SPYC's first year in the new clubhouse.

Figure 71: SPYC rings in the New Year

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Keys to the Golden Gate, Copyright © 2002 by Steve Sears