Blog Neglect

Clark September 16th, 2008

It’s been a long time because I’ve been so busy…adjusting to shore-based life?

In the mean time San Francisco has world class sailing, and slowly but surely I’m exploring every nook and cranny of the Bay. One caveat though: It’s a windy place, or at least it’s usually very windy in ‘The Slot,’ where Condesa is moored, so it’s pretty much right into the firing line from the moment I leave the dock. The main has been double-reefed all summer long.

While I’ve been at the general task of getting my shore-based life back together and figuring out what to do with my life, I’ve still been flogging magazine articles (see the September SAIL for an article on Peru) and doing some boat repair work both on Condesa and on other boats…I’m just so good at it.

Begin Commercial-Your boat may not be circumnavigating, but I’ll treat it as if it were. Electrical, plumbing, mechanical, diesel repair, painting and varnishing, rigging and rope work. Attention to detail. No job too small. Bay Area only, unless you want to fly me someplace beautiful. Inquire within.-End Commercial

Condesa has made countless sorties directly across the bay to Angel Island and Tiburon, where the legendary Sam’s has public dock space right in front of the most expensive bar on the Bay. Let’s hope the coast guard doesn’t start enforcing the drunk boating laws.

She’s made two other more significant voyages into the heart of wine country, one up the Napa River to Napa, another up the Petaluma River to Petaluma. In Petaluma, unfortunately, our voyage ended at the D Street bridge, which is closed for repairs until November. On the Napa River, the voyage almost ended unfortunately when the Mare Island Drawbridge nearly closed on Condesa, which would have necessitated many repairs, which would have run long past November…

I was solo sailing up the narrow Mare Island Strait, riding a two-knot current. I sailed close enough to the bridge to write down the bridge keeper’s phone number, tacked against the current, and then a friend called on my mobile phone. While I was talking to him I heard ‘ding ding ding’ and the bridge started to open. I assumed the bridge keeper saw me waiting and opened the bridge for me. I said a quick goodbye to my friend, rolled the genoa all the way out, jibed, and resumed riding that two-knot current at a good clip right toward the gap in the bridge-I didn’t want to keep all those cars waiting too long. As I neared the bridge a power boat came through the other way and ‘ding ding ding’ the bridge began to close. I made the crash tack of all crash tacks, rolled up that genoa, got the engine started and floored it. Condesa was about thirty feet from the bridge and finally started creeping upstream just as the bridge got to about the height where it would have taken Condesa’s mast off at the spreaders. Or maybe it would have come down on TOP of Condesa’s mast, and God knows what that would have done.

When I called the bridge keeper he was obviously flustered, and I don’t think I needed to remind him that it was important to look BOTH WAYS before closing the bridge.

After that I ghosted up the Napa River, wing and wing, as topless maidens leaned over the banks to feed me pinot grapes and top my goblet with the vineyard’s finest. It is a little known fact that there is deep water up to within four blocks of the eateries and tasting rooms in downtown Napa. There I met up with Condesa record-holding crewmember and container ship accident veteran Ian Blake, his girlfriend Lauren, and her friend Carrie, who were all up there to run the Sonoma Half Marathon. I did not run the Sonoma Half Marathon. We all sailed back to San Francisco together a few days later, and this time gave the bridge keeper plenty of notice.

The jubilant and blistered half-marathoners:

The voyage up the Petaluma River was a bit shorter, the water a bit deeper (the Napa had some dicey spots), and the Petaluma was maybe a bit more scenic. This time it was with my mom and my Aunt Carole from Phoenix, who were mutinous and unruly:

Mom with Carole behind the wheel:

This weekend it’s up into the Delta, a galaxy of cruising that we’ll only be able to scratch on a long weekend.

Some typical Central California riverfront scenery:

So on shore-based life, everything is going swimmingly except for that pesky job/income/what to do with my life thing. I have no desire to sail around the world again any time soon, and all the things I’ve been missing out on all these years are pretty nice: community, companionship, volleyball every Wednesday, and a nice Thursday tradition too.

I carry a device in my pocket that can call anywhere in the world, show me maps of the world and where I am on it, take pictures and videos, send and receive emails, tell me tides and currents, and surf the web. I knew all these technologies existed independently, but to have them all in a device the size of a pack of cigarettes was a bit of a shock. The first time a friend showed me such a device I demanded he return to his planet with his magic box. How long have I been away, a hundred years?

To close, here is a picture of some cute little ducklings:

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Comment by Fjorder
2008-09-17 05:31:53

Good to hear form you Clark. Sail is the sister magazine to Power & Motoryacht, where I used to work before I decided that flying around the country and the world to sea trial million-dollar babies was not for me (!!!). Great group of people at both publications—I hope to see your bylines in Sail for the foreseeable future…

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