Part of our plan for the early summer was to head to Alameda where West Marine has their rigging shop so we could get some repairs completed and also just to enjoy a different venue. I called around many places in the area for guest berthing but was told that our boat was too large, either by length or draft, for their harbor. Ultimately I found Ballena Isle Marina which is on the West side of the island and they had a slip available for us to use for an extended stay so we began planning for our trip down the Napa river and into the San Francisco Bay. It was a little hectic as I had a full day and night of meetings Thursday, my last one ending at nearly 11pm. Meanwhile Keith was working to setup lines and sails for the boat and move any items from the cars that we might need on the trip. We had glanced earlier in the day at the tides and found they were not very favorable except early, early in the morning, leaving at 5am or leaving after lunch. With our slow boat it is always important to catch at least the slack tide or better yet to catch it going the right direction...in this case the ebb towards the gate and the flood towards Alameda. With meetings finally over, we double checked the tides once more and I checked the timing for the Mare Island bridge and then we decided to hit the early morning start so that we wouldn't get hammered with too much wind in the bay during the middle of the day. We thought we had a great plan in place. Key word to note here....."thought".
Our oldest was visiting cousins this week so we only had our two youngest on the trip and they were soooo excited that they decided to wake up at 4:30AM!!! Ugh! I heard them up on the deck excitedly talking to each other. Loren says to Elliot, "Look it's the sunrise. Isn't it beautiful?". I rolled out of bed nearer to 5AM and we began prepping for our stroll down the river. We made perfect time to arrive at the Mare Island Bridge at 7AM, the time I had read they began monitoring for river traffic. Alas, they didn't answer their hail on channel 13 and didn't answer their phone so we checked once more on the internet and found that I had screwed up and their hours were 9am to 7pm, not the reverse. Lesson here? Don't do your navigational planning late at night after an exhausting day! Keith wasn't particularly happy with me because we were already pushing the limits of the tide but there wasn't much we could do but keep on keeping on. We dealt with it by anchoring for the 2 hours till the bridge opened and then finished our jaunt down the river.
We headed into San Pablo Bay still with the tide still slightly in our favor and managed to chug along at about 6 knots for a short while. After a bit Keith checked the engine and it smelled like diesel fuel. Another Ugh! It seemed we were leaking a bit of diesel and our fuel level was much lower then we wanted but no big deal we are, after all, a sailboat. So we turned the engine off and just went on sail alone for awhile and though pretty darn slow it seemed to be fine. Keith pulled out the charts to look for marina's with fuel and you wouldn't believe how few there really are. I called the closest marina on the phone because the charts seemed to say it was pretty shallow and found that we definitely couldn't make it...their clearance was a mere 4 ft in some areas and we needed 7 to be safe. So on we went at a total crawl until the tide turned and instead of crawling forward we were drifting backwards. We decided to kick on the engine and get us further around the point and headed towards Berkley and our ultimate destination. After a bit we turned off the engine again and seemed to be making our way at a leisurely pace without too much issue other then a couple boys who seemed to be endlessly hungry. Keith noticed that the wind line ahead looked dark and the boats in the distance were all reefed or double reefed. He decided to put a reef in the main while it was still mellow and I'm sooo glad he did for not 20 minutes later we were hit with gusty 25 knot winds and the little guys weren't very happy or hungry anymore. We battled the wind and the current for a few hours before managing to tuck in behind Treasure Island and the home stretch towards Alameda.
We arrived at Ballena Isle Marina around 4:30 and pulled into our shiny new slip for the week. Ballena Isle is an older marina, a little dilapidated but the people at the office are super friendly and it does offer some nice amenities like on site laundry. The most significant issue we are having so far is the lack of internet. It appears to be a cell phone hole and the marina doesn't offer any wi-fi which makes it really frustrating for this technology girl.
I'm the wife of the captain, a mother of three boys and a PM in the corporate world. This blog is my view of life and activities related to our boat.