On Friday, October 28, 2011, we feared our B-Dock (“B-Dock” is the coolest dock in Sausalito Yacht Harbor) plans to party at Ayala Cove for the weekend would be foiled, due to fairway dredging, but behold, the dredger broke down. While the dredger was removed for repairs, the fairway was clear for the escape.
Concerned about the popularity of Ayala Cove moorings on the weekends, even as late as October, we decided upon leaving the slip in mid-afternoon to motor directly over to Ayala Cove. A few of our dockmates had already arrived, and Dan was in his dinghy, ready to provide assistance at mooring if needed. Anxious to show off our mooring skills, and even more anxious about not blowing it, fortunately we managed after a bit of maneuvering, to tie off both bow and stern without incident. It is always tricky to tie off at Ayala Cove because you never know which way the strong current will be moving you once you have tied off one end of the boat and need to get the other end to the appropriate mooring ball. Especially if you tie off the bow first, it is not always so easy to get the stern where you want it to go, given prop walk and current. Rick gracefully motored in forward and reverse, back and forth, until he was able to back directly up next to the aft mooring ball, while Cindy managed to hook the balls and thread the lines through without allowing the lines to get tangled or worse yet, looped around the keel, the mooring ball, or, heaven forbid, the propeller! Dan helped us to locate a set of mooring balls that were just the right distance apart for our smaller boat, and that were isolated enough that no one would be tying off to either ball except us. That is an added blessing, since the mooring process of another boat can often not only entertain nearby boats but also be some cause for concern if they get too close.
Not long after we tied off, Nancy and Rob came by in their dinghy to invite us over to their boat for a late afternoon get-together. Rick and I think our boat is beautiful, but one thing we’re learning is that we most likely will not be the principal party boat among cruisers, because others are often larger and better equipped for entertaining than we are. Nancy and Rob’s boat is an extreme example: a 48 foot Oyster – absolutely gorgeous. We were just happy to be invited, and to try out our new dinghy and outboard motor for the first time since we had the factory adjustments tweaked so it would run in reverse! We were able to inflate it on the forward deck with ease, thanks to Rick’s installation in the v-berth of a 12-volt receptacle for our electric pump. Our new 4-to-1 block and tackle system worked great for lowering the motor off the pulpit onto the dinghy transom, and off we went, with appetizers in hand to share.
Mooring at Ayala Cove with several boats offers a slight glimpse of our future cruising life – each boat is self-sustaining, but there is land nearby (in this case, the beautiful Angel Island State Park), and get-togethers are as likely to occur on each others’ boats as they are on land. I have the sense that cruising gatherings center around food and a lot of drink! Friday night was so exception. As the last ferry departed for the night, the only people left were the few State Park Ranger families who live on the island full-time, and those of us in sailboats moored in the cove. Once the sun set, it cooled off quickly, and Nancy passed out jackets all around, but the party continued. Rick and I were the last ones to leave, after we had the privilege of a tour of their boat. With refrigerators, freezers, generators, wine cabinets, English china and wine glasses that came equipped with the boat, multiple berths and heads, it is the lap of luxury. But we motored back to our little boat, and while dwarfed by those around us, we felt safe and cozy in our own little womb, secure in the knowledge that we have far fewer systems to go wrong at sea, and far less of a financial commitment to sustain!
The next day, we joined in the fun in the picnic area of Ayala Cove, along with families who had taken the ferry over for the day to picnic, to hike the island, to rent a “segway” or a bicycle, to play frisby, or just relax. Every picnic table was taken. It was a sunny day, and unusually warm for late October on the bay. Our group had marked a few picnic tables as our own, and everyone brought food and wine and beer to share. It was Linda’s birthday celebration, but a few others of us joined in who had birthdays too. After reinforcing the old self-light coals I brought from home with a few twigs and scrounged, newer coals, we finally got the BBQ going, and Rick fired up the hamburgers while I took the dinghy to get a spatula from our boat. A good time was had by all.
Later that evening, we got together on D’Accord for an encore! We like to think of D’Accord as Cool Change’s big sister, since the boats look somewhat alike, and Cool Change used to be owned by Phil and and Sally before they bought D’Accord, their 37+ foot Gozzard.
On Sunday, we finally got out to do some sailing. Everyone thought there would be no wind, but they were wrong! We had a good, steady
18 knots across the slot. Cindy wanted to practice a few maneuvers, including a Man Overboard drill or two, and she snuck those in just before Rick’s turn at the helm, when we went flying across the bay, as he is prone to prefer. Even though the wind was substantial, it felt surprisingly calm, partly because it was a mild flood, so the winds were working in unison with the currents resulting in small waves, and partly because the wind was steady – there were hardly any gusts. We flew the staysail along with our main and jib, and had a grand old time! Of course, we returned to the slip later than we should have, arriving at home much too late to be refreshed for Monday work, but refreshed nonetheless by another great weekend!