Post 10: More Unplanned Twists

Connecting the dots all the way into the San Francisco Bay!  Our boat has ARRIVED!
Connecting the dots all the way into the San Francisco Bay! Our boat has ARRIVED!

-JD-

The rest of the trip went well for Captain Mike and his crew.  They motored on up the coast, made good time and used very little diesel. Meanwhile, I had arranged for Friday off of work as I had a small checklist of things that I needed to get accomplished, which included:

  • Go to the DMV to deal with one of our vehicle registration issues.
  • Go get one of my suits for work dry cleaned.
  • Turn in application and pick out slip at Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael
  • Go to West Marine to return Ruby’s PFD (Personal Flotation Device – Life Jacket)
  • Meet Jen and Ruby in the afternoon, then go pick up our friend Brad so we could get some pics of the boat coming into the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge. (Estimated for a 4pm arrival).

Pretty simple stuff, right?

Yehhh, NOPE.  The suit wouldn’t be ready in the timeframe I needed it.  I kind of expected that.  I’ll admit to procrastinating from time to time.  DMV took forever. This was no surprise whatsoever.  The real surprise came though when I went to Loch Lomond to pick out a slip.  They were super nice and very helpful there.  However, apparently the tide was in a really low phase right now and the channel to get in and out of the marina is not as deep as it used to be.  It used to be dredged to about 8ft but now it can be as low as 4ft when the tide is low.  Well, that IS a problem.  Our boat has a keel depth (draft) of 6ft, 7 in. meaning we’ll have to wait for the next high tide.  Turns out the next high tide is around 9am the following morning.  “Tell him he’ll have to drop a hook and come in tomorrow” was the advice I got from the nice lady in the office as she pointed out the recent charts indicating the current depth around their marina.

I shot a text off to Mike, letting him know about the information I discovered.  I knew this was bad news as he was planning on getting off the boat, tying off and immediately catching a ride to the airport for the next flight to Los Angeles.  He had a boat christening of his own to get to the next morning.  He (understandably), exclaimed that it was just not possible to wait until tomorrow to drop the boat.  I quickly let him know I understood and asked him his thoughts on me taking the boat over from another point in the bay the next morning.  Although I hadn’t ever been in control of this vessel or anything nearly as large before.  I have had some pretty extensive water experience.  Albiet, white water rafting and some limited power boating over the years.  Oh, and Jen and I had just taken a full day boating safety course put on by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.  (More than many people out there can say).  We’d be alright, right?  Captain Mike agreed that he could walk me through things and he began working on getting us a slip.

Now, this is where Jen and I will have very different ideals and emotions.  I, very excitedly, welcomed this turn of events.  It meant a lot of scrambling around to work out the logistics and it meant the pressure was on.  This is an environment in which I can shine!  I was stoked!  I went into uber planning mode.  Work shit out.  Get this done.  I called Jen, knowing all too well that she would feel anxious and rushed into a situation that she had not been able to properly prepare for.  In an attempt to try to relate to what she might feel about the situation I toned down my excitement a bit and focussed on the logistics.

We now had to figure out how to get to the boat, then get the car back the next day.  I had to work at 2pm and it would take at least 3-4 hours to get the boat moved and docked.  We had to make it into Loch Lomond at precisely 9:48 for the least chance of running out new boat aground in the shallow channel.  I had to go buy charts, I had to study my navigational rules of the road, I had to study tides and currents, which are very strong in the San Francisco Bay.  Awesome!

Now, there is the issue of Ruby being on the boat which would hinder the amount of help Jen could lend to docking the boat the next day.  A point of contention in my head as I had never docked a sailboat before in my life.  I’d take all the help I could get.  Enter Brad Johnson!  A long time friend and one of my mentors for all things adventure.  Who better to invite along for our maiden voyage?  I called him, told him our viewing from the bridge plan may have changed, explained the situation and asked him if he wanted to help us bring the boat across the bay.  Some cajoling ensued and the classic response of “Wellll, I don’t know…you’re first time in the boat…and uh…” etc. etc.  He agreed to come along and I began the long process of getting my new to do list completed.

Headed into SF under the Golden Gate Bridge
Headed into SF under the Golden Gate Bridge

We all got together, Jen Ruby, Brad and myself and headed down to meet the captain and crew.  They had already made their way into the bay, under the bridge and were just tying off as we were pulling into the San Francisco City Harbor.  We went over his list of observations about our boat from his trip and went over all of the basic things I needed to know about taking the boat over to our marina the next morning.

We all loaded up in the van again, Jen, Ruby, Brad, Captain Mike and Crew Natasha.  The plan was to take Mike to the airport, drop Natasha off in Alameda, take the van back to Loch Lomond, catch a ferry back across the bay and share a bottle of wine and dinner aboard our boat in the San Francisco Bay!

Yehhh, NOPE.  We got stuck in traffic, the van overheated, Natasha opted to catch a bus, we organized an airport shuttle for the good captain and I took Jen, Ruby and Brad back to the boat and proceeded to go try to catch the ferry on my own.  This boat buying drama just does not relent!

Celebratory Lagunitas aboard the Larkspur ferry after a very long day.
Celebratory Lagunitas aboard the Larkspur ferry after a very long day.

I made the last ferry with 5 minutes to spare!  Thanks for being so cool Mr. Taxi driver who I chased down in the car and asked to follow me to a parking spot then get me to the ferry 15 minutes away asap.  You made my night!  By the time I got back to the boat, Brad was asleep in the V berth, Ruby was asleep in the aft cabin and Jen had a glass of wine waiting for me.  She stayed up long enough to make a toast to our first night in the bay, then went to sleep.  I stayed up for a bit to  study charts, navigational rules of the road, tides and currents.  I’m so excited to learn all about this new world.  Life on the water begins now!

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