Our first two weeks in the Bay area have been very busy and very social. We are lucky to have our friends Sylvia and Barry living here in Sausalito to show us around. We first met when they were cruising on their beautiful yacht Iolani in Tahiti and we travelled with them on and off for a year through French Polynesia and Hawaii. Now they are back home and they invited us on board Iolani for dinner the night we first arrived. It was brilliant to catch up on their news and reminisce on tales from the Pacific islands.
We spent my birthday with other friends Nancy and Warwick Tompkins who we also met in Tahiti on board their yacht Flashgirl. They drove us up to the Mountain Home Inn, a lovely restaurant on Mount Tamalpais with an amazing view of the Bay on one side and the Pacific on the other. We had a good chat and a great meal and then they brought out a very rich, goey chocolate birthday cake – a fabulous surprise!
Sylvia works for an organisation named Educational Tall Ship based in Sausalito. They are building a wooden tall ship from scratch right down to milling the planks themselves from douglas fir. Much of the ship-building work is done by a team of loyal volunteers so Neil and I signed up for a day’s work. First off we were on the ship sanding between the deck planks in preparation for caulking. Then we moved into the work tent to sand the main mast. By mid-afternoon we were worn out, but it was a pleasure to work with the wood, learn skills from crew and share lunch in the sunshine. The ship is named Matthew Turner, check it out on line – it’s a great place to work!
The next week, after all that hard slog and hectic socializing, we crossed the Bay to the City (their capitals not mine!) We tied up in South Beach Marina, right in the heart of San Francisco where we met up with Lisa and Michael – some old friends from Jakarta who are now back in the States. They stayed with us on board for a few days and we really hit the tourist trail; we rode a cable car up Russian Hill and walked the Crooked Street down the other side, we lunched at Fisherman’s Wharf, visited Alcatraz, hung out in Haight Ashbury, and even managed to squeeze in a meal with Shannon, another old mate from Jakarta. Fantastic that we could all cross paths again!
While touristing we learnt a couple of tips really improved the SF experience: first of all you don’t need to queue for an hour at Powell to get on a cable car. You can walk up the street a couple of blocks and get on there; they always keep a few seats free for people hopping on. Secondly getting tickets for a trip to Alcatraz Island seems to be impossible, which is crazy considering we live on a boat. The tours are booked weeks in advance but, if you get up early and are at the ticket office by 7:30, they reserve about a hundred tickets for sale on the day. It’s a bit of a queue but better than waiting six weeks!
The weather here in the Bay has surprised us. We’d heard about the Slot in the centre of the bay where the inland low pressure system sucks the wind and the fog in under the gate. It’s amazing to watch it billowing in and rolling over the hills. In Sausalito the days are bright and sunny but still windy, making it chilly out in the anchorage when it’s balmy on shore.
We are anchored close to the mouth of Richardson’s Bay, on the edge of the channel into Sausalito and close to the ferry dock so it is often quite rolly here with the swell from passing vessels. Having said that we have a top class view of Alcatraz Island and the top of the Golden Gate bridge with the Bay Bridge and San Francisco waterfront in the background – when it’s not foggy.
I forgot to mention while hanging around in Haight Ashbury we took a walk across the Golden Gate Park to the de Young Museum where they were showing a “Summer of Love” exhibition. The space was filled with crochet dresses, psychedelic posters and more tassles than you could shake your booty at. I was really impressed with the creativity of the posters and the hand written poems from people who were there – an amzing vibe which we’re still feeling the effects from.