Saturday, July 19, 2014

Shopping in SF and to Bodega Bay

July 19
I’m writing this while in the harbor at Bodega Bay, sitting aboard the yacht Groovy. We’re in the Spud Point Marina, and they can’t find the keys for the boat, so we’re just hanging about until we can get it sorted. There’s always something to get in the way.

Yesterday was a big, expensive day. It’s a good thing I won’t be spending much over the next couple of weeks, because I had to buy all new gear for this trip. I already have all the sailing gear I require, but because I thought I was going to be moving to Toronto until recently all my gear is currently in a shipping container in a warehouse in Toronto.

I had planned to meet my friend Gennyfer Santel for lunch yesterday, but knowing my plans she had offered to drive me to a couple of sailing supply stores instead. It was a god-send, as it would have been a huge pain to get to the shops near marinas in the Bay Area. Genn is a sailor too, so she had a bit of a need to go to one of the shops anyways. So it worked out well for both of us.

The day started with the “continental breakfast” at the hotel. This was awful. They had stale danishes slathered with thick creamy icing, bread with grape jam, or dry cereal. Not a combination I’ve ever seen on the continent. Maybe they’re referring to a different continent. Instead I popped up the hill to Flour & Co bakery, which seemed nice, and got a breakfast sandwich. It was much better than what was on offer at my hotel, but not as fabulous as their reviews on Trip Advisor implied. And seriously overpriced.

Next step was to go to the AT&T store on 3rd and Market. They were very helpful there and got me set up and going in no time. If anyone reads this and wants to call me in the next week or so, my US number is 415 203 5881. I don’t expect that to work much beyond the next week or so, so if you read this after July ’14 don’t use it. Now we’ll get to see how well AT&T works on the water. In Bodega Bay it’s already working fairly well.

I took BART over to Fruitvale Station, where Genn was going to pick me up. I called her, and she told me she was running a few minutes late. She told me to watch out, because apparently Fruitvale was the location of a nasty killing a few years ago by the BART cops and isn’t in the best neighborhood. I had to laugh, because I was standing in the middle of the Fruitvale square, chatting on my iPhone, looking like a complete tourist. But then I realized that I probably looked more a cop than anything. Like a Bait Tourist.

While waiting I called the insurance company’s number that my sister Christy had given me the day before. They told me that their deal with BCAA was only available for people who have Canadian health coverage. Unfortunately, I can’t get that as I haven’t been back in the country long enough. (They make you wait 3 months. Why? You start paying taxes on day 1.) So they couldn’t insure me. They told me to go into any random insurance office and ask for travellers insurance. It just so happened that there was a State Farm office at Fruitvale Station, so I popped my head in there and asked the solitary woman sitting there if they could sell me travellers health insurance. This was clearly the first time anyone had asker her this question (no surprise there) but she was very helpful. She said she couldn’t take care of it for me herself, but she sent texts out to her colleagues and called a State Farm help line, who gave her a number for me to call.

So I called the number they gave me, and it was a medical insurance company who said that they could sell me insurance. They wanted to know where I was going to be based and I told them I was sailing up the west coast. This was a first for them, but they said that they could use my hotel’s address and take care of me that way. All they needed was for me to fill out a form that they’d e-mail to me, and then fax it back. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that, but hoped that the hotel would have a printer and fax machine that I could use.

By the time I got off the phone Genn had arrived. So I jumped in and off we went. We had originally planned to hit West Marine, but I had called around the day before to see if they carried a Gill OS1 or OC jacket in size medium, which is what I was planning to get. Not only didn’t they carry it in any of their stores, but the three different people that I spoke with were all rude and unpleasant. I had called another company listed on the Gill site called Svendsen’s Boat Works and they not only had the jacket I wanted, but they were extremely nice and helpful. So we went there.

The place was very difficult to find, hidden behind yacht works, but once there the people were very nice. They had my jacket set aside and it fit great. Now I needed some proper ocean going pants. Unfortunately, here the Svendsens inventory didn’t hold up. We were going to have to try somewhere else. When we paid at Svendsen’s I was made a comment about my trip and they found it very interesting. So interesting, in fact, that they took a big discount off of my bill. Very nice. Saved a bunch of money there.

Our next stop was Pineapple Sails, where Genn was going to put her spinnaker and another sail or two up for consignment. It turned out that Pineapple also had a small clothing retail business, and they sold Dubarry boots. We had kitted Colleen out with Dubarry’s while in Dublin (Dubarry’s home base) for her amazing adventures and she swears by them. The brand has some wonderful heritage and seems to be worn by all the top crews. (The Dublin store is lovely too, if you are looking for great country wear for a fox hunt.) They were extremely pricy, but I decided to try them on. Once on, they weren’t coming off. They were very nice, and if they could stand up to the elements, not slip, and keep my feet happy and warm, then they were right for me. I bought them at Pineapple from an extremely helpful woman named Aimee.

I now had two of the five things I needed. Pineapple also sold some really nice sailing pants, which I required, but they were pretty pricey, so I took a pass and decided to see what they had at West Marine. Yet again, West Marine wasn’t successful. They didn’t have the pants I was looking for, and couldn’t find them at any of their other stores in the Bay Area. They tried to sell me on some others that weren’t adequate for what I’m up to, so I passed on them. At least the guys in the store weren’t as rude as the ones on the phone. I bought some gloves and a rigging knife. But now we were at a bit of a loss. I contacted the other stores on the Gill site to see if they carried proper Ocean going pants, and none did. So, it was back to Pineapple.

At Pineapple I tried on a few pairs of Musto MPX sailing pants. Found a pair that fit. Swallowed hard and paid the price. They’re really nice. I’d better do lots more sailing after this trip, to make it all worthwhile.

While at Pineapple I had mentioned to Genn that I was hoping my hotel would have a fax machine so that I could complete my insurance arrangements when I got back that evening. Aimee overheard my comments and offered to let me use her fax and printer. I eagerly took her up on her offer, printed and filled out the forms, and faxed them to the insurance company. Glad to get that taken care of.

The last things on my list to buy were a sleeping bag and a head lamp - So it was over to REI in Berkeley. We dug through lots of sleeping bags, looking for one with the right temperature rating that could also handle getting wet. (Pretty important on the boat.) Apparently lots of the bag manufacturers are now covering their down with a water resistant coating, which sounds pretty great. My last bag, bought about 15 years ago, was a Blue Kazoo from North Face. It was a great bag and has held up well over the years, so after trying out a few I decided to get the Blue Kazoo again. I also needed a good head lamp, so we picked up a Petzl. We chose to go with the good one, since the price differential was pretty minor and it makes sense to spend some money on light.

So that was it. I’d got all my gear and spent a small fortune. Perhaps not the best idea for a guy who isn’t currently working, but my philosophy is that if you’re going to spend some cash on something you should make it either gear or airfare. Those are the things that lead to experiences that last.

After the shopping spree Genn and I had a Chipotle lunch and then she dropped me off at the BART station. It would have been a miserable and almost impossible day without her help, and I appreciated it a great deal.

I made my way back to my hotel with my purchases. Did a quick photo shoot.

 And then headed out to meet my friend and former colleague Andrew for a drink. He was at a restaurant near the Razorfish offices called Hillstone. While I’ve gone into a lot of detail about my shopping spree, I won’t say much about our drinks other than that we spent some time at Hillstone, then went to another “local” for a few more. Then I somehow made my way back to the hotel for the night.

Today kicked off early with a very foggy head. I had to get down to San Carlos to meet Cuno, the skipper that I am to be sailing with. I packed up, grabbed one of the nasty danishes from the continental breakfast, got a cab to CalTrain, then took the train to San Carlos, then hoofed it over to Cuno’s hotel.

 I met him there and we jumped in a cab, that took us right back up through San Francisco (grrr), over the Golden Gate bridge, and all the way to Bodega Bay. About a $235 cab ride.

We arrived at Spud Point and were to pick up the life raft, keys and some other parts from the marina office. Unfortunately, the guys in the office only knew where the raft was. (It’s big.) They have no idea where the keys are. They aren’t the most helpful of folks either, so it’s not a great situation. I’m pretty positive that if Cuno or I could have 5 minutes of free access to their office we could find them, but that’s not going to happen.

We grabbed some clam chowder at the restaurant across the way and have been sitting on the yacht ever since. Cuno finally got ahold of the yacht's owner about an hour ago, but now the marina staff are saying they can’t help us back in the office for an indeterminate time. It’s all a little ridiculous. It’s a pretty place, but a disaster of a marina as far as helpfulness is concerned.

So that’s it so far. More entries to come. I’ll try to put something together every day, weather, sailing conditions, keys and battery permitting. When I can post will be more sporadic and will depend on Internet access.

It's been a crazy few days, and frustrating at the moment that I can't get on the boat, but I feel very good about the whole thing. It's wonderful to be in a harbour, on the water, getting ready to be on the Pacific.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

Sorry to hear about the hotel and shopping mishaps but we're happy to see you're all geared up and ready for whatever the ocean throws at you. Keep the posts coming...