Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finally Under the Golden Gate Bridge

After arriving under the Golden Gate Bridge, our first job was to figure out where we could go to get some repairs.  Since we had no idea, we decided to anchor in Clipper Cove on Treasure Island to do a little bit of research.  Before leaving, my folks had leant me their Verizon wireless hotspot and I can’t tell you how amazing that thing has been.  We plugged in and got online and shortly had phone numbers and reviews for people that could meet our repair needs.  We also had a place to stay!

Alameda Marina is located exactly where you would expect – in the heart of the marine district on Alameda Island.  It is part of a huge complex of buildings that covers about 5 city blocks, all owned by the Svendsen family.  This is also where (surprise!) the Svendsen chandlery is, along with the Svendsen boat yard, which can pretty much do anything under the sun that you need done.  Also on the property is every marine business you can think of, plus a few more – a perfect spot for us to get our repairs! 

The marina harbormaster is Brock de Lappe and what an absolute delight he was!  When he found out we were newly arrived from Seattle and needed some repairs and groceries, he promptly gave us a tour in his car of all of the businesses that might be able to help.  He then told us to come back at 5pm (when he would be off work) and that he would drive us to the grocery store.  Not only did he take us there, he insisted on waiting for us to take us back so we wouldn’t have to walk the 2 miles with all of our stuff.  Now that is service!  Thank you very much Brock – it’s service like this that keeps people coming back.

And so you may ask, what repairs did we need?  Well, first off we had a 16” tear in our main sail on the luff, just below the 2nd reef point.  This was a critical repair and we chose Doyle Sailmakers to do it.  They were excellent to work with – coming to the boat to pick up and drop off the sail so that we didn’t have to figure out a way to haul the heavy thing across about 4 blocks of blacktop.  The repair they did was excellent plus they only charged us $85 and turned it around in TWO days!  How great is that???

The next repair was to our dodger, which had a bunch of seems blow out during the trip down.  Some I can repair myself, but the two front windows needed to be done by an expert as there was too much material to fit in my machine.  To the rescue was Jeff from Alameda Canvas.  Jeff also came right down to the boat and since we were just passing through, he put aside his other jobs and got ours done in ONE DAY!  Jeff did the repairs and re-stitched the entire dodger with Teflon thread that is basically bullet proof.  He convinced me it was the only way to go as all other threads (even UV protected) will only last about 2 years in the heat and sun of Mexico and beyond.  I’ve ordered some myself (that stuff is EXPENSIVE – you’d think it was gold!) from Sailrite.com to reinforce the rest of our dodger/bimini and for all other upcoming canvas projects.  Big thanks to Jeff for doing such a great job in a quick timeframe!

Shuttle Endeavor Flyover
While staying at Alameda Marina something unexpected happened.  We were coming back from our morning showers when we noticed that a crowd had gathered nearby, holding cameras and all looking expectantly in the same direction.  What could this be we asked ourselves (having not read a paper or watched any news for a VERY long time).  Turns out it was a flyover by the shuttle Endeavor, which was on its way to its final home at the Exposition Park museum in Los Angeles.  We were amazed and delighted when it flew DIRECTLY overhead, likely to pass over the Coast Guard boats which were moored right across the way from us with all hands on deck saluting.  Now I’m not exactly super patriotic (just an average American), but I have to admit it brought a tear to my eye and made my skin go all goose bumpy to see the CG salute a piece of American history going by.

The final repair was kind of two-fold.  Our alternator belt had virtually exploded on the way down, leaving bits and pieces all over the engine room.  When Brett installed a new belt he noticed it got really hot, way to quick.  Something was not right.  He also noticed we had a new, very small oil leak at the head of the main engine shaft, which is behind the main engine pulley.  His (and Pat’s) theory was that engine shaft seal developed a leak when a piece of the belt got lodged into it.  So now we needed a new gasket and we needed to figure out why the alternator had gotten so hot…

After doing more research, Brett discovered the most highly recommended alternator guy in California actually had his shop in the same complex we were in – about 3 blocks down!  Liem Dao of L.T.D. Marine came right over after a phone call and figured out that the bearing s were starting to go on our alternator.  Really?  It’s only like 17 years old!  We had bought a spare, but if we used that spare, there would be no more spare!  No worries, Liem had an identical replacement in stock, so we were good to go!  Liem was excellent to work with and I would highly recommend him if you need any electrical help in the area.

After we ordered the needed gasket from Svendsen’s it was time to journey on while we waited for it to arrive.  It turns out that just down the way was the Oakland Yacht Club, where we could stay one night for free and then just $10 a night after that. So there we stayed for the next 5 nights.  The club is great and the members are super friendly.  After walking the docks, pet-starved Stacey insisted on talking to a couple with a beautiful green parrot.  Dan and Carol (owners of the parrot) quickly invited us on board and after chatting for about 30 minutes, invited us to be their guests to dine at the club that night – wow!   The food at the club was fantastic and the company was great too.  We met several other couples while there, including one that also had a Hylas on the docks, so of course tours of our boats were undertaken and much discussed before we called it a night.

While staying at OYC, we had a nice visit with our friend Patty, who drove a good 40 minutes to spend time with us in Alameda.  She took us into the heart of Alameda where we found a wonderfully quaint little place for breakfast and also happened upon a great farmers market – one where everything was actually reasonably priced instead of 3 times the rate in the super market.  It was great to see Patty and to stock up on some excellent vegies for a good price.

Wine Tasting with Sophia
Wine and cheese with Ted

The following day we decided to take a major foray into the local transit system to get ourselves out to Livermore to visit with my mom’s oldest and dearest friend.  After doing more research (there sure seems to be a lot of research going on!), we found a bus stop within walking distance, with a bus that would take us to a Bart station that would take us to Livermore, where Sophia and Ted live.  After successfully transiting all of that (over 2 hours), we arrived and were immediately whisked away to do some excellent wine tasting for the afternoon.  Then it was back to their house for a lovely steak dinner – what a treat!  After spending a fabulous day and night at their very nice house, we reversed our original transit and successfully arrived back at OYC.  A fun excursion and we really enjoyed spending the time with Sophia and Ted!

On Monday we were (happily) informed that the gasket came in, so back to the Alameda Marina we went.  We had contracted with Svensen’s Boat Yard to do the work, which they said would likely be a maximum of 2 hours at about $100/hr.  Their mechanic showed up on time and was clearly very knowledgeable, however he was back and forth to the boat so many times that Brett started keeping track of how long the mechanic was actually on the boat actively working – which came to just under 2.5 hours.  So imagine our shock when the yard tried to bill us for 5 hours of work!  While I can understand them wanting to bill some of his “walking back and forth time”, charging double what he actually worked?  I don’t think so.  After some major arguing with the “manager”, Brett got them down to just 3.4 hours.  Still not great in our books but I guess not getting a quote in writing was our fault.  Suffice it to say that I would recommend all of the folks I’ve mentioned, except for the yard.  If you choose to use the yard, I would do so with extreme caution and get a quote in writing up front.

The bar at the San Francisco Yacht Club
After getting those repairs done, we left for the Sausalito area and had a very nice stay at the San Francisco Yacht Club – which was is the oldest club on the entire West Coast.  We were allowed to stay a night for free – thanks to Jay Hooker – who claimed anyone who came under the GG Bridge for the first time was entitled to one free night.  I think Jay was making that up to be nice after I admitted we wouldn’t be able to afford to stay on our small budget, so thank you Jay for that!  The club was beautiful in that old fashioned club way – lots of dark wood and brass – plus more trophies that you could imagine.  We sat at the bar for one drink and had some of the best fries we’ve had in ages (which might have something to do with the french fry withdrawal I was suffering from) and a wonderful wedge salad that we split.  Great staff and beautiful accommodations – thank you Jay for letting us stay!

Lovely Tiberon
Corinthian Yacht Club
While at SFYC, we took the opportunity to wonder in the very quaint small area known as Tiberon – what a sweet little place.  We also wondered through the Corinthian Yacht Club, located in the same town.  What a grand old building that was!  I’ve included pictures of both as it was all very scenic. 

Fog rolling in over Sausilito
After a particularly rock’n and roll’n night in neighboring Richardson Bay we decided it was time to continue our journey southward.  While this bay was pretty awful considering the swell and the pitching and rolling, one amazing thing was to watch the fog roll in over downtown San Francisco.  I guess I’ve never really had the chance to really watch fog come in and I must say it is AMAZING!  It was like a huge wall, eating the city up.  And rolling over the town of Sausilito it looked like a huge wave cresting over the top of the land – just like a tsunami, but one that doesn’t do any damage.  Can you say speechless?
San Francisco is gone in  a wall of fog...

All in all I would say San Francisco was a great stop and we enjoyed our stay.

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