Tuesday, April 24, 2007

2C Update - 070424 - Oakland

The Oakland Boat Show

The Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Oakland wrapped up Sunday, April 22, and with it Don's and my last boat show of the season. As usual I was working in the SeaTech booth with Steve and Capt. Marti, but for the first time Don was working for Spectra. Don worked for Spectra dealer Murray Marine at two shows this year in Florida (Stuart and Miami), but out here he was working with the company itself in their section of the huge Svendsen's booth. The good news is they sold 24 watermakers in five days; the bad news is he wasn't on commission! Nope, he was on an hourly rate here, but at least it made a big dent in the cost of our travel back to Fiji. Still, it was great experience for him and he earned a lot of brownie points, I think, with Spectra's sales manager.

The weather here is pretty chilly for these two captains: a temperature range of about 49-60. It's hard for us to imagine anyone wanting to go sailing, even though the bay sure is gorgeous. Yet, sail they do. Generally speaking, we had pretty decent weather most of the week (the weather forecasts seemed almost never in sync with reality) until Saturday night, which was, of course, the traditional Lats & Atts Party with the Eric Stone Band and free pizza and beer. Despite the cold rain (you could see your breath!), the crowd pressed into the lone tent and danced to the wailing guitar of Eric's new young lead guitarist! Wow. (Sorry, don't have his name or picture...he's cute, too!) Now that I have my regular Admirals' Angle column in the magazine, I kind of feel like one of the family. Plus, not only is SeaTech a long time sponsor of these parties (Steve usually gives away a satellite phone), but this year Spectra joined the ranks!

Saturday night's rain made for Sunday's flooded tent. We arrived to find a fleet of guys with large Wet-Dry vacs trying to suck up the water that pooled in the center of Tent B, with our booth pretty much at ground zero of the mess! Fortunately, none of our product was in harm's way, but we did lose some of our brochure packets.

Ironically, Sunday itself was gorgeous, and Jack London Square where the Show was held opened up into a festive plaza with organic vegetable vendors in tents next to exotic food vendors selling tempting items from gourmet sausages to crepes, all overlooking the marina full of new production boats with their banners snapping in the breeze. I'm not sure from a vendor's point of view that gorgeous weather is a good thing, since everybody would rather be outside. Jack London Square is immortalized as the "stomping grounds" of the young author who wrote such classics as “White Fang,” “The Sea Wolf,” and “The Call of the Wild”. There are bronze wolf prints scattered throughout the plaza "left by" a striking bronze wolf statue, that catches me off guard every time I pass it. Near the wolf is a reconstruction of a cabin London is said to have holed up in (it's very small) to write many of his books, and a few more yards away is Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon a tavern dating from the late 1800s that is set deep into the plaza at the plaza's original level. With its floor at a steep tilt, the tavern is still operating, and the 2Cs, of course, enjoyed a draft in honor of the origins of good literature.

The best part of the show for the Two Captains was the chance to visit with far-flung friends. John and Janice of Splashes, a boat that crossed from Mexico with us and which is currently in the care of our friends Larry and Sheri in Tonga, came up from their home in San Miguel for a few days, and took us to a delightful restaurant called Quinn's Lighthouse in Alameda. Over some fine beer (this part of the world really appreciates their beer!) and a nice meal, we enjoyed an evening of sea shanties, a regular Thursday night thing there.

Another night we were treated to a fine "California gourmet" meal as the guest of Don's Spectra boss Ray Carter at a favorite restaurant of his a few blocks away. I'll have to see if I can get the name of it later, but it was a lovely evening enhanced by the chance to get to know Dean Carmine and his wife Kopie (sp?) of sv Martha Rose. Long time cruisers, Dean was a roving rep in Mexico just as Don got started, but they were pulled back to the Bay area for an ongoing family medical situation, and so Dean now heads the Spectra Tech desk.

Sunday night, after the booth was broken down and packed away, we split off again to rendezvous with Diane Keaton (not THAT Diane Keaton), a high-school classmate of Don's from Indiana. Diane guided us to an amazing sushi restaurant/jazz club called Yoshi's, where we had quite the feast while the two Hoosiers caught up.

I can't say we were broken-hearted to close out our boat show season. It is hell on your feet and joints! But you do get to see different parts of the country.

Free Day - Road Trip Up the Coast

The highlight of both my trips to the Oakland Boat Show -- last year and this -- is Steve's annual excursion out of the city and up into the beautiful coastal country of Marin and Sonoma counties. Last year, guided by a customer who was a retired Sonomoa county sheriff, Steve and I had visited the Armstrong Redwoods preserve and Fort Ross, an historic Russian fort built in the early 19th century, along with more nooks and crannies of the county than typical tourists ever see (along with a lot of policeman stories to go with them!) This year Steve and I hoped to share what we'd so enjoyed last year with Don and Marti, as well as boatshow friends John and Libby of Hotwire Enterprises of Tarpon Springs.

We ended up spending most of the morning, however, visiting Point Reyes National Seashore. Cruisers in the Pacific know Point Reyes as the strong radio station from which come all important NOAA weather faxes. Historically it was also the location of the huge antenna arrays that made up AT&T's KPH marine radio station. Since Marti, with her two Idiyacht books, is the today's guru of marine radio, Steve felt it was an appropriate pilgrimage. Afterwards, we continued out the twenty some miles to the Point Reyes Lighthouse (here is a link to a camera at Point Reyes! Today -- April 24 -- fogged in!).

The drive reminded us of the terrain of Easter Island, rolling hills with few trees fringed by surf crashing on rugged rocks, only instead of the field being populated by horses, these were grazed by huge cattle herd with the occasional black tailed mule deer! (Steve was very keen to see the park's herd of elk, but we discovered that most of the elk are up in the park's northern reaches.) Our exquisite weather afforded us incredible vistas, and from the lighthouse itself (what remote duty for the park rangers!) we sighted a mother and calf gray whale poking along well inshore on their migration north.

From Pt. Reyes we stopped for a delightful lunch in the town of Inverness. Inverness is sited on Tomales Bay, a long skinny gulf along the San Andreas fault zone. Then we drove around the southern end of Tomales Bay and then north along the coast on Rt. 1, through the lovely rolling farmlands and dramatic coastline of northern coastal Marin county. At the Russian River -- Rt. 116 -- where we came out to the coast last year, we turned inland in order to take everybody to the Amstrong Redwoods. WE reached the preserve after five, and down in the gorge where the redwoods grow for water they need all was quiet and dim. These giants are simply amazing, growing to heights of 300 feet. Their bark is roped, like giant corrugated cardboard. We followed a twisty road that brought us up through the higher oak forests to the top of the ridge where the sun was still bright and we had a superb vista of the hills of this part of Sonoma.

Our very full day was winding up quickly so we turned our car's nose south and headed back to Oakland for the last motel night before heading back to Fiji. One last note: about the only NEGATIVE thing I can say about our time in Oakland was the dreadful rental vehicle steve was given at the airport. Having reserved a minivan (for the four of us and ALL our luggage: Steve's five and hour four), he was given a Jeep Commander. Maybe if you were a couple and wanted to look tough, this would be a good vehicle, but for such a huge presence (we called it the pseudo Hummer), there was very little space. My knees were jammed behind Steve in the driver seat the whole week, and while the Commander offers a third row of seating in the back, John and Libby had to climb in over the seat and perched with their knees to their chin the whole day. Also, the windows all around were small (the better to repel attackers, I guess) so ill suited for sightseeing! I don't complain much, but there...I feel better now. I just hope it will get us to the airport this morning!

Which we've got to go do NOW! Bye.


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