Friday, October 23, 2015

CIYC's 31st Annual Down Bay Cruise

CIYC’s 31st Annual Down Bay Cruise

You will have to look at the many photos to get the full picture (, but we can say it was another successful event. Eventually there were eight boats involved and many CIYCers came by car along with invited guests.  Marking an all time record, Vern and Caro Green participated for the 31st time (Although Caro had to call in from a hospital once—what a gal!).

The event started a day early, on September 30th , for the Green’s on Southern Bell, Pages on Delta Moon and the Lyman’s on Happy Clown. (Southern Bell spent the night before at Pittsburg YC to break up the long trip from Discovery Bay to Benicia.) They were met on the docks by Fleet Captain, Bill Ritter, and brother Bob who keep their Suz E Q at the Benicia Marina.  Some of us walked into town for the farmers market and street scene while others repaired directly to the club bar. 2016 club Secretary, Phyllis Ritter, joined us for dinner on the deck overlooking the marina along with Glenn Peck and Marsha Fine. The weather was terrific as it was for the entire cruise.

The next morning we made our way all the way (5 miles) to Vallejo Yacht Club where the cruise formally began.  We were put in empty slips because the club expected a horde kayaks the next day who would be participating in the city’s annual Waterfest over the weekend. The four boats were joined by Joel Panzer and Linda Hess on the Happy Pappy. Also joining in were Michelle, Diane and friend, Tami, on Knot Too Fancy bringing the fleet count at this point up to six boats.  It was a very long walk on some pretty rickety docks for most us up to the clubhouse (we overheard a conversation among that club’s members about detailed plans to dredge and completely rebuild their marina in the near future.)  Dinner was in the clubhouse that night and it was early to bed ahead of longest cruise segment beginning early the next morning.

We departed as a group about 9 AM, but Knot Too Fancy was more than a bit disappointed when they got to the Vallejo Municipal Marina fuel dock and found that it was closed on weekends (Go figure!).  They had to backtrack to Benicia to take on the fuel needed to get up to Petaluma and then west to San Rafael, a long stretch of no fuel supply for the gas- powered boats.

Traveling up the Petaluma River was as scenic as always, but very slow due to a construction project along the way.  It turns out the very old rail line between Larkspur and Petaluma is being rebuilt for mass transit purposes and the bridge just before town was to be closed for construction except for between12:00 and 12:30 PM!  That meant that our fleet had to time its arrival at that bridge within a 30 minute window or risk having to idle in a very narrow channel till the next opening at 3:00. We were talking by cell phone to the foreman on the project to make sure that the bridge was actually going to get open on time.

We went through that bridge on time and under the “D” Street Bridge before sterning into the docks near the Petaluma YC deck. The new bridge, by the way, is beautiful.  Rather than tearing out the original bridge (probably built in the 20s) and replacing with a modern structure, the builders bought a bridge built in 1980 and used in Galveston, TX.  It looks very similar to the old one but has all new works. From now on we will need to arrange for two bridge openings in and out of Petaluma.

Petaluma was cool as ever with great docks, good folks in the club, many nearby restaurants, and plenty of things to see and do.  Bikes came off Southern Bell, Happy Clown, Suzy  E Q and Knot Too Fancy. We rode alone and in groups throughout the town and especially in the neighborhoods of old Victorian houses.  Groups large and small got together for dinner and it was great to include Curt and Marsha Hayes along with long time CIYC admirer Donna, Marsha’s niece, in the dock fun and dinner.  Also visiting were Red and Betty Griffith, Michael, Sally Sue and Christine Christopher, Jody Lyman and Gregor Lumsden, and Phyllis Ritter plus Bob and Bill's sister, Nancy.  One of the highlights of our time there was Movie Night put on by the Page Cinema showing "Hangover" to a good crowd and furnishing popcorn! If you can believe it, Gary actually printed up tickets for the affair.  We sat in tiers of chairs on the dock watching the monitor on Delta Moon's flybridge.

After two nights in Petaluma, we left for San Rafael in time to make the noon opening of the aforementioned bridge.  All went well for a nice trip on the outgoing tide all the way back into the Bay.  The tide was low going into the San Rafael Channel but nobody touched bottom, or admitted it.  At one point depth finders on both Happy Clown and Delta Moon reported zero water under the boats while in the channel, but if we touched, we knew that  the mud is like heavy dirty water for some feet down.

We were met by Commodore Chip Maguire and Jackie on their About Time.  They were on the docks of the yacht club along with a CIYC member from long ago, Deanna Desin, helping get the fleet onto the guest docks.  Deanna is now a member of SRYC and managed to open the bar for all. Soon Joel and Colette came in on their Dream Catcher, with wave runner in tow as a dinghy, to join the fleet.  This brought our fleet count up to eight boats.

Ted put together a crew on the docks of Jackie Maguire, Gary Page and Vernon Green to attach the CIYC collection of burgees to 10- foot lengths of line to be used for decorations at future events.  We have collected about 135 of these over the years from all over the Bay, the state and, indeed, the world.

Red and Betty Grifith came in from their nearby home in Novato and Phil Calderoni appeared from Pittsburg. (Phil wanted to come by boat, but it wasn't ready for the cruise). It was dock talk till happy hour and hors d’oeuvres at about five (as was the case every afternoon).  The Commodore fired up the club barbeque, side dishes were assembled and the night put right with a fine dinner inside the clubhouse as the bay breeze set in. 

The next day was spent, as were all the days, hanging out, shopping, exploring and the like.  The Lyman’s hosted their friend Diane Mercer for the afternoon with a dinghy ride the length of the channel and then lunch at a very cool restaurant (Pier 15) with a very rickety dinghy dock. (You all don’t know Diane, but it is her father’s recipe that JoAnne uses for her famous Gin Fizzes).  Several others made their way to that same restaurant for dinner.

About Time and Delta Moon left San Rafael after one day for a couple of days at South Beach Marina as the rest of us (the entire fleet couldn’t get reservations) headed off to Berkeley Marina and the yacht club there the following day. 

On the way to Berkeley, we traveled down and back out the historically-significant Santa Fe channel in Richmond. We checked out the old shipyards, the Red Oak Victory, now being restored, and a jeep and tank factory (once turning out Fords) along the way. The Rosie the Riveter museum is located in this facility and we had handout material from that group to help guide each boat through this area that was such a major factor in our winning WW II.

Berkeley YC offered close-quarter berthing, but we all got in without major difficulty. Guests arrived and the party ramped up. Dinner that night for most was at Skates, a great place to eat that looks directly out the Golden Gate Bridge. The sunsets from the Berkeley YC clubhouse were incredible.
We had power supply problems the entire time on these docks, with the issue apparently within the clubhouse. Our boats weren’t the problem since the weather was on the warm side so no heaters were in major use.

The second day in Berkeley found Diane Shoff and friend, Shelly, up at O dark 30 to head to Emeryville for a day of ocean fishing on a party boat (Shelly caught one small one) and the Happy Pappy crew was up at a similar hour to go to San Francisco to join Joel's breakfast club in hosting four Blue Angels pilots.  These same pilots were flying their practice runs overhead that afternoon.

After two days in Berkeley, we took off for Treasure Island’s Clipper Cove and guest docking for two days at that marina. We were joined again by About Time plus Erlyn Lucas Payne and Don Payne on their Dawg Gone Wild with dog Betty on board. Delta Moon had to boogie back to Village West to get ready for a long-planned visit to the east coast to see relatives.  Out came the bikes, the dock tables and chairs, the gin fizzes, and everything else that goes with CIYC cruise outs. We were joined over the two days by some of Caliente’s most active members—Jack and Rosalie DiBartolo, Red and Betty Griffith, Kim and Mark Sechler (and her granddaughter), Phil and Sue Calderoni, the Christopher clan and visitors to the Greens, Maguires, Paynes, Curtis-Browns, Lymans and Ritters, which means, every boat had visitors.  The big dock party after the Blue Angels flew had 35 folks lined up along the sterns of our boats. Fleet Captain, Ritter, graciously supplied margaritas for the dock party and the Treasure Island Yacht Club roasted a pig in our honor (or maybe just because they wanted to and we happened to be there!).

Alas, after two days of this fun, it was time for the group to break up and make their ways onward. Happy Clown, Suz E Q and Dawg Gone Wild headed off for an overnight on the docks of the Sausalito Cruising Club. Yes, the water is thin there and that island seemingly feet in front of their guest dock is still there, now with a little man standing tall (see photos).  We began calling this very cool place the Rusty Porthole of Sausalito. A long walk along the waterfront, leisurely drinks at the club bar and dinner at a nearby Japanese restaurant rounded out the day.

To catch a very timely flood tide, we left Sausalito early and rode home in perfect weather.  It was a good time had by all.  Thanks to Fleet Captain, Bill Ritter, for putting this fine Down Bay cruise together.

Speaking of Rusty Porthole, don’t forget our General Meeting there on October 24.  Check in with Commodore Maguire on docking and Entertainment Director Marsha Hayes for meal info.

Ted and JoAnne Lyman