Armed with four bottles of wine, three wheels of cheese, a box of crackers and a carton of dried mangos – the five of us set off for a sunset cruise around San Francisco Bay aboard a 20-foot sailboat.
I would like to be able to tell you exactly what type of sailboat it was – particularly because I specifically asked and thought I had committed it to memory – but I guess that’s what happens when you indulge in too much vino while on board. However, I can tell you this: it was white, it had two sails and a mast. I also heard the terms ‘spinnaker’ and ‘jib’ tossed around, although I have no idea what they mean or if the captain and first mate were using them in code to refer to the three other swabs on board.
Anyhow, I highly recommend touring the Bay by sailboat. Especially when your only job is to stay out of the way of the ropes, watch out so that you don’t get hit in the head with the beam thingie, and make sure the rest of the crew has plenty of wine. I am not sure what that position is called. First lush? Boatswain wino? Whatever it is, I am not looking to promote any time soon.
Emily and I hit the high seas Saturday evening with our friend Dayton and his pals Kelly and Jordan – the expert skippers. It was an amazing experience. I can’t recall the last time I was on a sailboat. Watching the crew of a sailboat at work is nothing short of magical. It’s like a ballet with lot of ropes and cranks and yelling against the wind. Plus, they speak in another language. And boat talk is sexy.
I am not going to lie. I didn’t understand a single word of it. But listening to Kelly and Jordan communicate in sailor lingo was enough to make me want to sign up for lessons. That is, until I actually picture myself skippering a vessel. I am not even sure I would make it out of the marina before one of two scenarios occurred: capsizing or mutiny by my underlings. For now, I will remain a member of the cheese, salami and cracker assembling crew . Sure, the level of responsibility is low, but at least there is no catastrophic failure involved if a slice of salami hits the deck.
But on a more serious note, I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to explore my new city by boat. Saturday night, I was surrounded by good people, good conversation and introduced to San Francisco from a new perspective entirely.
We departed out of Berkeley about 5 pm and sailed to the ‘Richmond Riviera’ where the waves are typically smoother due to the wind pattern. As the sun dipped behind the clouds and below the horizon we passed tugboats pulling oil tankers and watched as the marine layer blew in over San Francisco. Emily and Dayton assembled the snacks while Kelly and Jordan traded off steering. I held the wine. Meanwhile, Jordan told stories from his sailing trip across the Atlantic and I silently added it as another item on my to-do-someday list.
After bottle two or three, we sailed to the Bay Bridge and witnessed as the lights clicked on by sections. Cars zipped overhead, their headlights chasing the darkness from the rails. The wind died down by Treasure Island and all you could hear was the gentle lapping of waves against the rocks, the rustle of the sail and rubber tires on steel. I have traveled across the bridge so many times and never really thought about it. Now I know what it sounds like underneath. It seems like a more peaceful existence than guarding the waters under the Golden Gate.
And looking up at the bridge from the water, you gain a deeper respect for the civil engineers who first built it in 1933. It took less than three years to construct the bridge that is home to the world’s deepest bridge pier at 242 feet below sea level. It was also finished 6 months early. Looking up at the steel giant you kind of marvel at the feat of man. Or maybe that’s just me.
For photos of our adventures on the high seas visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilyyurko/2855569220/