SOME THOUGHTS ON GETTING THE MOST OUT OF WEEKENDER SAIL-INS
(Tomales Area Lodging Info Below)
One reason the HobieCat developed such an active association was that they were the first catamaran really designed for easy beaching; which means, of course, beach parties. -And lots and lots of short sails for racing, and just showing your boat off to new crew members, and shooting around between conversations, when you feel like getting waterborne. As Hobie told me one day, "Remember, it's not just a boat. It's a way of life!" The same long-term kind of fun can be true for Weekender skippers, if they feel like it.
With the Weekender, (as well as the Vacationer and Pocket Cruiser too) we're lucky to share a few features with the HobieCat. They're fun to sail off a beach, -and they're fun to squirrel around in, much like a catamaran. Plus, you can always curl up in the cabin when the conversation runs out (a lot cosier than sleeping under the bridge deck of a catamaran like we used to). So this is why we vote for sail-ins that are beach-oriented, rather than yacht-club style regattas where it's a major effort to return to the dock to switch crews and freshen the drinks.
The Goal, of course, is a bunch of sail-ins across the country where skippers and their crews can pull up on a sunny, cross-wind beach, picnic (or trade salamagundi recipes in a cook-off), enjoy some sailing games (Polaroid scavenger-hunts and the like) and generally have a great time on the water and the beaches.
To make this goal happen by the twentieth anniversary of the Weekender next summer, we need to do some scouting, some experimenting, and some trial runs to get the act down right. So we trundled our way up to Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco, to get the low-down on the local conditions of this promising area, prior to a trial run get together in November. We're going to be meeting with other area skippers in October to scout some East Coast beach possibilities, so the West Coast trial has to be put back into what may turn out to be the rainy season. But that's the breaks.
Tomales is a fjord with good wind possibilities and lots of sailing room. It's nestled in a very protected region next to the Point Reyes preserve and a lot of carefully-guarded landscape. So it's absolutely beautiful (as is the outer region on the Pacific side of the peninsula around Drake's Bay, where the old pirate stayed some time to regroup in his round the world raid on the Spanish). However, what the galleon-sailors considered a fit bay, is more like a shallow dent in the coastline. They didn't like getting caught in tight harbors with their balky craft.
So for our purposes Tomales Bay is ideal, with lush coastlines, several beaches, an uninhabited island of pretty good size, lots of funky Popeye boatyards, a cute little old-style yacht club, a seafood restaurant you can tie up to, and so on. It's the closest thing to a down-east "Sweet Haven" we've seen out here.
But we need to put several approaches up to a vote of anybody interested in coming, either with a boat, or just to cadge test rides. The first choice we found was a "Boatel" with launch ramps, slips, a restaurant, and a beach. Perfect.
Except for one thing. According to the sulphurous receptionist, we can't use the empty slips, we can't tie up at the restaurant, we can't store our trailers still hitched to the cars, and we can't even look at the beach. And the launch ramp costs$10 for every dunking. Apparently, the "Boatel" has lost its enthusiasm for boats, and concentrates on old retirees with nothing but a Buick Century to cause them docking problems.
Discouraged, we offered a few caustic remarks of our own and soldiered on. Across the bay is a completely funky little wide spot in the road called "Marshall". There in Marshall, (besides rafts of rotting old cabin cruisers and mountains of nets and traps) is a large launch ramp with lots of parking space, a special hidden-away lot in the trees for overnight parking ("no camping" -although we saw a motorhome setting up for the night). There's a campground about 14 miles south, and another to the north a little ways. Lots of Bed&Breakfasts and wilderness trails to explore.
We like the looks of this spot for a sail-in. It's only the need to schedule this trial-run so late in the season that worries us. It'll probably be stunning weather (it's the best time, according to locals) IF the rainy season doesn't start early. So with that caveat, we're going to shoot for the weekend of November 3,4,5. If your boat's not finished, or even not moveable yet, you still might want to come and have a trial run to see what mods and custom features you may want to include. But if you're driving any distance, watch the weather satellite to cut the chance of a drive through the rain. We'll be there rain or shine, just for the socialising, of course.
Another possibility is Morro Bay to the south, just west of San Luis Obispo. It's a funky, boat-friendly place with a park and a beach, but fairly limited sailing inside the bar, (and a fearsome coastline outside). We think it's definitely a place to have a get together eventually. But sailing room is a lot better in Tomales.
The Stevenson Projects crew will be staying at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge and trailering their Weekender to the water. Other area lodgings are the Golden Hinde Inn & Marina (415.669.1389). There is a nearby campground, the Olema Ranch Campground. This is a nice looking campground. There are several very good restaurants in the towns of Point Reyes Station and Olema. The Olema Inn is very nice, and easy walking distance from the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge and the Olema Ranch Campground.
A good starting point for researching the area is this link: www.pointreyes.org
Any inputs will be welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org ...Keep watching this space!