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Life as a California Boat Bum  

August 23, 2000

We’re tan, really tan, and we’re blond, really blond. We live on a boat in Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. We wear grubby shorts and sandals. Sometimes we’re mall rats. We try to sample all the local wines that come our way. We even went to a country and western concert. Mostly, we just hang out. Guess we’ve become California Boat Bums — in just three weeks!

People ask us what the cruising life is like, so here are some observations. Mornings we get to sleep in – and not feel guilty! Sometimes we walk or jog the waterfront, which has a direct andSan Francisco from Sausalito 2 (49K) spectacular view of San Francisco across the Bay. Sausalito in the morning has been all sparkly water, bright sunshine and no tourist buses — yet. Coffee drinkers are hanging out at the local Starbuck’s, reading newspapers in the sun. We resist the temptation (and the other temptation of mixed berry pancakes at the Lighthouse Café, our favorite greasy spoon.) Our own deck in the sun is pretty hard to beat. Jan buys the papers, counterbalancing the Wall Street Journal on the right with the San Francisco Chronicle way out on the left. Only in California: a full page ad for the new Banana Republic Store opening at Union Square, with “valet parking, concierge service for packages, and cell phone recharging while you shop.”

Welcome to Sausalito (50K)Sausalito is indeed an interesting place. Here’s Signe with the two ‘welcome’ signs at the ferry dock (click on it to see the full version). Now, we know what they mean by a ‘nuclear free zone’ (the town has a foreign policy), but what on earth is a ‘cholesterol-free zone’??

Along about 11 o’clock, we contemplate which projects we will accomplish or which errands we will run, or bag it all and go exploring. The latter wins out pretty consistently for Signe. Jan actually seems to enjoy being covered in grease while holding a socket wrench in his hand, so he tries to complete a couple of projects every day. Exploring has included: numerous drive-bys of Paul and Michelle’s new house in Mill Valley, ten minutes away from us (settlement on September 8th!), shopping for wedding invitations with Michelle, a walking tour of Victorian houses, a craft show, lots of farmer’s markets, lots of gorgeous ferry rides into San Francisco (the ferry dock is three blocks away), Jan's merlot-in-the-raw (71K)a couple Drank the wine, got the T-shirt (53K)of trips to the Sonoma Valley for wine-tasting (Napa is next!), and dinner with Signe’s childhood friend who lives in a home with a panoramic view of Muir Beach. There’s also plenty of history if we start feeling too decadent.

The weather for the first two weeks was low cloud in the mornings, with San Francisco completely covered by fog, followed by sun and high winds in the afternoon. I must say, there was something sort of peaceful about hearing the foghorn on the Golden Gate Bridge each night. Now we seem to have moved into the more typical late summer pattern of hot weather (here in Sunny Sausalito anyway) with gentle breezes. The microclimates of the Bay are fascinating. The weather report each morning gives daily high temperature ranges of 30 or 40 degrees, depending on the locale. San Francisco is always cool. We are in the middle. Livermore, where Michelle is from is hot — in the 90’s yesterday. We went to a Dwight Yoakam concert at Wente Vineyards in Livermore the other night. Full moon, balmy breezes, very good food and wine. Just your average Monday night in California! Other festive events – there is a Friday night concert each week in the local waterfront park. People bring their picnic baskets, their blankets, their “adult beverages”, and their friends and hang out listening to the music until the sun goes down over Mt. Tamalpais. Not a bad way to go.

Another night we had a sunset cruise and wine tasting aboard Raven with Christine Wente, who introduced Paul and Michelle,Wine tasting evening on the Bay (38K) plus lots of their friends. The twenty-somethings are giving us basic lessons in “how to hang out.” We’ve also done some weekend sailing days and barbecues at the dock with the Young Things. TheJan & Paul at wine-tasting (46K) guys are enjoying going for personal best speed records across the mouth of The Gate. (11.7 knots so far, and that’s with the mainsail reefed!) The winds here are pretty impressive, with 25 knots being low-average for the afternoon. Paul and Michelle have taken to staying here some weekends, since Michelle is the “tech” (sound, lights, cues) for a play in Marin on weekends. Life on a boat, even if it only stays in the marina, is still better than life in a small apartment in town.

The people-watching on the dock is always good. We have an endless flow of tourists during the day, especially Italians and Japanese. Of our two immediate neighbors (large boats on both sides), one is a photographer for the Chronicle, and on the other side is a terrifically helpful family who are taking their son back East to start at MIT. There are a few young families juggling strollers and dock carts; more power to ‘em. There are huge, glamorous yachts, as well as derelict boats that look like they are going to go “glub,glub” and sink any minute. Most people have bikes to simplify the walk to parking and to shops. Our neighbor on one side has a little kid’s bike spray painted pink and yellow with a clown horn on the handlebars. He tells us he is the bike’s third proud owner in the marina, and it has never been locked. We also have a resident blue heron and a seal that naps on our dock.

Yes, we’re having fun. Hope you are all savoring the last weeks of summer. We’d love to hear from you when you have a chance.

Love, Signe

PS: Our marina has provided three new listings for our world-famous collection of tacky boat names: Dot Calm, Com.Seas, and Ms. Conduct.

PPS: By the way, the sun down here sure beats the rain last summer in Alaska!

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