Post 42: Petaluma River Run – Part 2: There & Back


I’m two days back to work now, from Petaluma. I’m readjusted and motivated, but damn I can’t stop thinking of the great weekend with our sailing buddies. My racoon eyes are shining pretty bright on my morning subway rides. I catch people taking glances at my silly looking face and smile at them. My bike rides to work are awesome. I climb out of the boat, step down onto the dock, greet the bay good morning and head to West Oakland. I hop on BART, dive down under the the water and emerge near the ferry building. Almost the entire bike ride from there is along the water. It keeps my mind on the sailin’ and the sailin’ on my mind!

Back to the river trip.

Our three boats creeped on up into San Pablo Bay until we spotted the wide channel markers leading us into the Petaluma River. There’s an old train track with a bridge that stays open all of the time now. Andy, of s/v Sierra, got a great picture of the little guard house that sits right up top of the swivel bridge. Really neat to think of a day long gone when that train used to carry all sorts of things from Marin county up into the delta toward Sacramento. Trains seem to be making a comeback in the US, but i don’t think this particular bridge will ever see action again. It sits right near an old settlement of ramshackle stilt houses that popped into sight from behind the bend as we near the bridge. Some of them are still inhabited but many are run down and deteriorating into history.

Old Houses

The next ten miles of river was mostly uneventful, relaxing and very pleasant. Jen and I took turns at the helm and playing with Ruby. We snapped photos, talked about our weekend plans and enjoyed the sunshine. No problem getting under the Hwy 37 bridge and the depth of the water was never an issue.

Up the River
Up the River

We used to live in Petaluma so we had both driven Hwy 101 dozens of times. It can be a pretty frustrating drive with all of the traffic. Our current commute was a whole different world though. There’s something really amazing about moving through life at 4 – 6 miles per hour. I love it.

Ruby got quite excited by the horses we saw. Toward the upper end of the river all three of the little boats in our party had a questionable pass to navigate with a curmudgiony old power boat that was covered in tarps. All made it though. As we approached the large hwy 101 bridge at the south end of town we heard thunder and the rain started to come down. It rained hard and I couldn’t help but sneer/smile at my two sailing buds that have hardtop, enclosed dodgers, as I sat out in the cold rain like a hound dog. Definitely more smile than sneer though. It was actually pretty exhilarating and we need that rain bad in California!

As we meandered our way through town, we neared the drawbridge and wondered if our scheduled time would be honored for it to open. We were a bit early and Christian, in s/v Shawnigan, was about to toss anchor when we heard the horn blast and the bridge started to raise.

As we entered under the bridge, we looked up to see people yelling out of the windows at us. It was our friends from our old job who had a new office overlooking the river. Pretty dam cool feeling being greeted so well. It mixed nicely with the excitement of arriving at our destination. Thanks for the greetings Ashley, Connor & crew!

Petaluma Turning Basin. We were among the first few boats in, then came the boat clubs.  Nice people.
Petaluma Turning Basin. We were among the first few boats in, then came the boat clubs. Nice people.
Petaluma Yacht Club
Petaluma Yacht Club

We were also treated really well by David at the Petaluma Yacht Club. He opened up    the club just for us and let our kids run around the place and climb up onto the  viewing deck outside. He even fired up the popcorn machine for them, and outfitted  our whole crew with drinks beside the fireplace.  They have a helpful link on their  website for  anyone who is interested in visiting the area as well.

Easy people to hang with!
The musicians
The musicians. Love these kiddos!
Ruby's Dockside Pedi
Ruby’s Dockside Pedi
Happy Birthday Josie & Gordon!
Happy Birthday Josie & Gordon!

We had a frikken blast celebrating Josie’s birthday. We were easily and often reminded of Gordon & fam from s/v Kaizen. It also happened to be his birthday. Our buddy Chris McDeedlesworth came down from Santa Rosa and he brought us a whole dish of eggplant lasagne to throw in the oven. Nor-Cal Jason dropped by and sprinkled our little party with quotes from Deliverance and Slingblade, (both special and deeply meaningful movies to my family), while Andy and I took turns bouncing some of the funniest shit ever off of each other late into the night. Good times on a boat yawl! Oh, and Jen got a new tattoo. What the hell? Keep it coming, sailing life.

Low Tide in the Petaluma Turning Basin
Low Tide in the Petaluma Turning Basin
Leaving Petaluma
Leaving Petaluma

After a swell weekend, swinging with the kids in the hammock, playing in the park, partying with my peeps and talking about boats, I have to say that one of the memories that is sticking with me the most is from sailing back across the bay on the way home.

We split off from our buddies, who were headed to anchor at China Camp, and made or way under sail toward the Richmond bridge. Jen went down below to pop the lasagne into the oven while Ruby and I sat in the cockpit singing songs. We have her harness set up and fitting pretty well now. It keeps her in a fairly small radius and she seemed to like it. She became really comfortable sitting on the high side of the boat and the wind was blowing steady at about 10 knots. Ruby would go between making up the words to her very own song, to just kind of staring off into the distance humming, then she would pipe up again, giggling and singing with me. This is it! This is what I spent so much time imagining about what life on a boat would be. It just keeps getting better.

Giggles McGee
Giggles McGee

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