July 4 -7, 2002
Benicia Yacht Club Rendezvous

(If you like, you can skip down through the prose and go straight to the pictures below!)

Glorious 4th at Benicia
Cruise Host: Don Henderson,
Written by Barb Henderson

Historic and charming Benicia attracted 16 Islanders and 48 people for a very warm but beautiful Fourth of July Cruise.

Kindred Spirits and a few boats went up on the 3rd, and ten more Islanders rendezvoused at Southampton Shoal on the 4th. Leader Mike Bennett on Getaway sent them north about 10 a.m., saying it was good form not to pass the leader. Chuckles crackled over channel 72 as Pacific High broke away in good racing form to eventually pass Blockbuster which was handicapped without its jib. There was good wind and smooth water all the way, even in the normally obstreperous San Pablo Bay. The fleet arrived about 3 p.m. with ready hands waiting to assist with docking and rafting up.

By late afternoon they were settled in: Blockbuster (Bill & Jim Higdon, Ron Kitowski, later joined by Marci); Getaway (Mike & Leslie Bennett), Kindred Spirits (Peter Wilhite, Don Henderson); Lean Times (Rhonda, Tim and Ian Shea); Mischief (Kathryn & Charles Hodgkins), Moriah (Katherine, Ashley and Savannah Trewman); Natural High (Dennis, Judy and Matt Bush); Noncents (Sandy and Jack Thomson); Ophira (Pat & Gary Salvo with "Kathy"); Pacific High (Harry Farrell & Peggy Eisenberg - Barb Henderson hitching a ride - THANKS Harry!); Snowflower (Nancy and Skipper Wall); Solace (Smokey Stover & Laurie); Tomcat (Barry and Sylvia Stompe); and Woodbine (Karen & Ron Damsen).

Rick and Sandy Van Mell (Vanishing Animal) and their daughter Kelly, who was visiting along with her husband Fabian and beautiful baby girl Amparo, arrived by land cruiser and joined in the afternoon festivities and potluck. It was also good to see Fred and Barabara Cucksey of Oakland and Tortola who stopped by to greet old friends.

About 5:30 everyone brought their hors d'ouevres, side dishes and meat to barbecue at the Benecia Yacht Club, and we patronized the Club bar. How handy to be out on the cool deck for Happy Hour while grilling your meat and catching up with everyone.

Judy Bush's photos from the Bay to Breakers Race caught the bare essentials and provided lots of laughs.

Somehow the dishes on the long potluck table increased and multiplied (no, not a miracle - we didn't realize that we were part of the BYC Thursday Night Potluck.) Special thanks to Laurie Skaling (she becomes Mrs. Smokey (Jim) Stover on August 3rd) who presented each boat with a cheery gift packet full of goodies, all in a 4th of July motif, including two flags and a "God Bless America" keyring.

The Van Mells and Cuckseys had to leave, and people drifted off as daylight faded, promising to gather at 9:00 pm for fireworks and singing patriotic songs. About 20 Islanders, armed with song lyrics and flashlights, walked over to the Harbor Master's area for a better view of the pyrotechnics. They sang about a half dozen songs beginning with "This Land is Your Land," and ending with "God Bless America," with the National Anthem in between. We weren't always on the same note, but the Islanders made a spirited patriotic contribution at Benicia and it was fun. After some awesome fireworks, most of us were ready to turn in.

Friday the 5th was quiet, and perhaps not quite as warm as the 4th. The quaint little town was already cleaned up. Time to explore. It seems most of the Islanders hit the 1st Street Cafe at some point during the day, enroute to view glassblowing at Lindsay's or to visit the Embroidery Factory which had a special drawing for an I-36 windbreaker for those who signed up (winner to be notified the following Tuesday). Back at the docks, a little varnishing happened, some conversations, dinghy rides, and a lot of napping. The Bushes were missing a good part of the day, having done the town, then made the two-mile jaunt to the other three glass factories on its outskirts.

Lean Times and Tomcat had departed, but Fowlers on Zenith and Szasz's on Midnight Sun arrived , and Carol and Bruce Hunter (Escape), joined us by land yacht. At 5:30 it was time for another Happy Hour. Hors d'ouevres appeared, and people filled three boats rafted together starting with Ophira at the dock, spilling over to Solace and Noncents - the food was passed among the three boats. What a nice sharing - even the Hunter's caviar goody came by. As we approached dinner time, someone (who WAS that?) suggested we see how many I-36ers you can get on one boat. Everyone loaded onto Ophira, a few prominently displaying copies of Latitude 38 (hint, hint). Late nappers awoke, the Trewmans dinghied over from A dock. There were about 30 broadly smiling faces aboard as Charles Hodgkins and Barb Henderson snapped photos, then headed to the Club for dinner.

The downstairs dining room sparkled with red and white table cloths and twinkling fairy lights, pretty enough for evening gowns and tuxes, but it was too hot so we stuck with our shorts. The prime rib dinner (a few had salmon), was buffet style and good, with cheesecake for dessert. Commodore Bush spoke briefly to express his appreciation to the members who attended the cruise, the Cruise Host for his organizing efforts, and to commemorate this first 4th of July holiday since September 11th. After dinner people drifted back to boats or off for a stroll around town or upstairs to the bar.

Saturday morning Skipper and Nancy Wall treated all comers to breakfast served from Snowflower's galley: OJ, French toast, bacon and sausages. Way to start the day. Many thanks to the Walls!

Nine Islanders headed home after breakfast. Kindred Spirits tacked 10 hours to Sausalito, due to an overheating engine. Ophira had trouble and got towed back to Benicia; at 12:30 they opted to sail Ophira home. They had a great sail from the Carquenez Bridge up to the Brothers until they hit a wind hole, bobbed around for about an hour and finally got a tow from some nice people to a wind line just past Red Rock. Near Southhampton Shoal the wind died again and the tide started to flood; they were going in the wrong direction with 0 wind and not happy campers. After another hour without wind, it finally started to fill in. By the time they rounded Berkeley Pier they had more than they wanted (30 knots). Still they were able to sail into their berth about 8:30 pm. Anyway, they made it in one piece and had a great time at Benicia.

We hope all others had a good ride home. Five boats stayed on for more poking around town, R&R and the dinner-dance at the Club Saturday night; Getaway and Solace were planning to take some time to probe into the Delta.

Thanks Benicia. It was loverly. ~ Barbara and Don Henderson

These great photos are compliments of Charles Hodgkins, Ron Damsen & Barb Henderson. Ron's were taken with a new 5 megapixel digital and are so sharp you can see if your teeth need flossing. We had to reduce each one from it's original 2 meg size to 800x600 for faster loading, but they're still great. Barb Henderson swears Renoir did not get hold of her pictures, but her scanning/compression added a unique touch - we fixed some, and left others for your enjoyment. Charles had the best dinner time and relaxation shots. We had over 140 pictures to choose from - certainly a record for a rendezvous.

Click on images to enlarge, click "Back" to return.

Solace heads for the San Rafael Bridge. Getaway getting away for Benicia.
Mischief with the San Rafael Bridge astern. Kathryn Hodgkins keeps Mischief out of same.
East Brother at Pt. San Pablo. It's now a B&B - make your reservations early!
Mischief moving fast. Getaway sparkles.
Moriah looks good from leeward... and windward!
Mischief overtakes Getaway. Karen Damsen tucks Getaway astern.
Woodbine enjoys the ride. Getaway takes it easy.
Noncents, by Renoir. Blockbuster goes fast without a jib!
Skipper Wall & Peter Wilhite welcome Bill & Jim Hidgon on Blockbuster. Solace arrives.
Mike Bennett's "Getaway" from the sun! Jim Higdon retrieves Blockbuster's halyard.
Snowflower is dressed for the Party! So is Ophira.
Rhonda, Ian & Tim Shea know how to use a foredeck! Pat Salvo serves Carol Hunter aboard Ophira.
Lots of shade on Snowflower. Sandy Van Mell & Teak are dressed for the occasion.
Harry Farrell, Peg Eisenberg & Barb Henderson relax. Barbara Cucksey & Karen Damsen catch up.
Smokey Stover & Tim Shea keepin' cool... while Rhonda & Ian Shea get nibbles.
The new record - 30 aboard. Ron & Karen Damsen and Harry Farrell & Peg Eisenberg are ready for dinner.
Katherine, Savannah & Ashley Trewman with Don & Barb Henderson. July 4th extensive potluck.
Eating on the BYC porch. Waiting for fireworks.
Friday Cocktails on Ophira. Commodore Dennis Bush.
Benicia Cruise Chair Don Henderson. Newsletter Editor Barb Henderson.
Did they really run the Bay to Breakers with no clothes on?! "Yes,.Barb, they did!"
The Islanders, however, dressed up. Renoir's "Benicia Porch".
Friday night roast beef dinner at BYC. From the other end.
One more table of fun! Hanging out on Jack & Sandy Thompson's Noncents.
Nancy Wall serves Harry Saturday pancakes on Snowflower. Just retired Smokey (Jim) Stover & bride-to-be Laurie.
Mom & kids want breakfast too. "Duck for breakfast?, says Kathy Salvo.
Kindred Spirits looks good in Carquinez Strait. So does woodbine.
Mischief starts the long beat back. Ron Damsen drives Woodbine home.
Smokey & Laurie again. "Sunset" by Renoir!

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