How did everyone celebrate? Party like it’s 1999? Stay at home and watch the fireworks on TV? With a kiss from your special someone?
I only got kisses and cuddles from Bear and Zita, but, the evening somehow was very romantic. When I was having a hard time finding somewhere to live when I first moved to SF, a co-worker asked what I was going to do (month four of having no permanent residence). In frustration and just hours after I’d learned that people live on boats I let out a “I’m just going to sell everything and move onto a boat” sigh of defeat. Her silence said she knew I was just frustrated and that I didn’t really mean that. I certainly did not realize the craziness that came out of my mouth was soon to become a reality.
On New Years Eve three years later: I had the Golden Gate Bridge behind me, the beautiful Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge ahead of me, Ghirardelli Square to my right and Alcatraz to my left. Are you freaking kidding me? I got here on my own. I left the dock, motored, and dropped anchor all with not a soul to assist me. I wanted it this way. How else am I going to learn? It’s scary because I am not used to relying on a motor and this baby can’t sail yet. The engine is brand new, less than 35 hours. I still I don’t trust it, mostly because I have never relied on an engine before. I’d never dropped anchor before either. What if I drift and hit something? How does the windlass thingy even work? Putting faith in something I don’t trust or understand is pretty nerve wracking. Alas, if I’m ever going to get comfortable taking people out on Coconut I need to learn her quirks to ever be in charge.
I made hot toddies and snuggled in the cockpit with the fur babies and watched the fireworks burst out from behind Coit Tower with a huge smile on my face. I shouldn’t forget to mention that bacon and eggs were on the menu, and I had a quick chat with my bestie as the clock struck midnight.
I didn’t really see this as romantic when my former co-worker said that, but it actually really is. I just wanted to keep my family together and this was the easiest way to do so. And bam. There I was hanging out on my boat in the heart of San Francisco enjoying a few days peace in beautiful and sunny (but cold) weather.
I anchored out for three days total. I actually did drag anchor, like I woke up the second morning with a boat that had been behind me suddenly in front of me. I hope I didn’t hit it in the middle of the night (it was on a mooring ball unattended). I didn’t really want to pull up the anchor and re-set it. How was I going to do it better? Behind me was the pier and I certainly didn’t want to hit that, so, I had no choice. Pulling the anchor up only pulled me closer to the boat ahead of me, which was no bueno. I decided to motor forward gently to the left a little to ease up on the chain and get away from said boat.
Thankfully the wind shifted and I was able to pull the anchor up (by hand of course, I couldn’t figure out the windlass) without hitting the boat. I circled around in the tight anchorage and thought I found a good clear spot, but I still didn’t quite get it right and pulled up the chain (by hand!) and tried again. A nice man who had arrived the night before waved and after complimenting my beautiful boat said he had to put out 150′ of chain before he felt safe. A nice way to say “put more chain out!”
I played it cool and responded with “I’ve never anchored before I don’t know what I’m doing!” He offered assistance if I needed any, but thankfully I felt something different the third time that I hadn’t felt the other times. I set out a bunch of chain. And then more. And then more. I reversed the boat, to which it instead went to the left and sideways. I let it settle with the engine in neutral and watched the north tower of the Golden Gate bridge to see if I was still moving backwards or not. I felt a bit of a tug and suddenly saw that we moved forward. BAM! Anchor set! Now all I need to do is mark my anchor chain so that I actually know how many feet are flying by as it goes to rest on the bottom of the bay. Honestly I have no idea how much I was putting out. 20′? 30′? Probably not what I should have, but in a small anchorage I didn’t want to put out so much I came too close to the other boats.
I had only previously checked to make sure I wasn’t drifting 2,394 times and as soon as I got a comfortable night’s sleep I drifted. Everything was OK though. What happens on boats happens so slowly, thankfully you have time to react. I also watched my battery usage, I hardly used anything at all. Granted I only have the fridge, radio, and LED cabin lights, I was happy to see the volts meter hardly budged in the three days. I did notice that the engine, however, isn’t charging the batteries. I need to look into that to figure out what that’s about. The first night out I used my awesome oil lamp instead of the cabin lights. But… I’m thinking of dumping the Kerosene and putting something else in there. What is up with the black smudge left behind?! Gross. I was breathing that. Anyone have recommendations for oil to use in a lamp that doesn’t leave a nasty residue?
Last but not least, a former neighbor from the People’s Republic of Berkeley, who had moved his boat to San Francisco, came out to visit me for a minute. He didn’t know I’d gotten a bigger boat. Oddly enough, the same kind of boat I used to live on was anchored right next to me. What a good feeling to have made so much progress!
Initially I was trying to recreate the same lame NYE I had last year. I’d gone over to a friends boat and by 10:30 pm we were both falling asleep, so I went home and called it a night. I had the best year of my life! SO I had to be lame again, which was what I was aiming for. I don’t think anything I did was lame, actually it was awesome! I did feel guilty when friends were asking if there was anything fun going on just hours before midnight. No, no, nothing happening over here 😉