July 4 -6, 2003
Benicia Yacht Club Rendezvous

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

Under Construction!!! There are more great pictures to come from Tim Shea, and perhaps a few others. Check back until you find this "Construction" message missing - then we'll call it complete!

Those coming from the south bashed their way across 15 knots of head wind in "The Slot", the wind-pipe that blows under the Golden Gate Bridge straight east overAlcatrazz Island and onto the Berkeley Hills. By the time they got to the rendezvous point at Southampton Shoals, about due east ofRaccoonn Straits between Angel Island and Tiburon on the Marin shore, there was no wind. Go Figure! Typical Bay conditions.

A few had headed to Benicia for the July 4th weekend the day before. Commodore Don and Barbara Henderson on Kindred Spirits, Skipper & Nancy Wall on Snowflower, Jack & Sandy Thompson on Noncents, and Ron & Karen Damsen on Woodbine were already waiting for the crowd.

Bright sun, and lazy circles until the fleet assembled included Dennis, Judy & Matt Bush on Natural High, Brian & Fran Jacobs on Blue Moon, Mike Bennett & Leslie Larsen on Getaway, Scott Shwarts & Madeleine Trembley on Joyfull (all 3 Freeport 36s), Al & Nancy Farnum on Silver Shadow, Julian & Debby Cohen on Four Cs and Rick & Sandy Van Mell (plus Teak, of course) on Vanishing Animal. As the group gathered, Dennis Bush was on the radio for a role call of those present. He asked if anyone had seen our designated leader for the trip to Benicia, Pacific High. After a few moments of silence, Mike Bennett calmly commented, "It's usually quite large and about 1,000 miles west of here." Harry Farrell & Carol Williams on Pacific High, showed up a few minutes later. We hovered impatiently for the last two in the caravan, Tim & Rhonda Shea on Lean Times, and Smokey & Laurie Stover on Solace with new members Larry & Terry Reinstra.

When at last Harry said it was time to go, the "go" was the throttle as no wind had yet to set in. A couple of the Freeports had moseyed on ahead, claiming they were not as good a powerboat as the I-36s - but some of us caught them anyway. It was an uneventful trip the 25 miles up past Point San Pablo, across San Pablo Bay past Point Pinole, and through the Carqueniz Straits to Benicia. One, by one, we entered the channel and Ron Damsen, working from Don Henderson's list, guided each boat to its slip or rafting spot. It was all beautifuly organized - complete with Barb Henderson's agenda for the weekend and a map of the sights to see in Benicia. Laurie Stove delivered individualized goodies bags with little flags, flag buttons, note pads, and peppermintsts all in red, white & blue. Also included were star necklaces and Nutrigrain bars to sustain us at all times. Really beautifully done and much appreciated - Teak even got a little bag of colored dog treats!

Boats with names from A - M supplied the goodies for cocktail hour starting at 1730 on Friday afternoon. Dishes galore were aligned on Kindred Spirits' deck, and you'd swear there was a 5 degree list to starboard! Everyone came from all the docks, with help from dinghy drivers Dennis Bush & Brian Jacobs. Those who arrived by car were there too, including Cruise Chair team Charles & Kathryn Hodgkins (Mischief, Gary & Pat Salvo (Ophira), Hank Williams & daughter Lori (Night Train) and Bruce & Carol Hunter (Escape). Cocktail hour segwayed right into dinner as more platters of goodies appeared and Kindred Spirits heeled a little farther. Grilled shrimp and a lemon chiffon dessert both had red-white-&-blue tinsel tops for the occasion and great acclaim for Lauire Stover. Of course all the dishes were delicious - though perhaps Hank William's personally baked cake may have been the only truly skipper-prepared dish.

As always, there was enough food to invite a second fleet to join us. Among the conversational tidbits was our lexicographer, Mike Bennett, who opined, "When thinking of a collective noun that might apply to a group of Islanders, the wording 'Archipeago of Islanders', comes to mind."

We were still tasting the last of the treats when it was time, around 2045, to start our walk over to the waterfront for fireworks. A few stayed behind and watched from the comfort of their own foredecks. Others made it all the way to the grassy lawn at the bottom of First street. The rest made do with chairs and tarps in the rough field just beyond the Harbormaster's building. But any way you looked at it, it was a beautiful, warm evening, with a silver half moon hung above the Straits. Fireworks exploded at 2125 with an impressive assortment of colors, styles and patterns. Away to the east, displays from Martinez, and perhaps Antioch could also be seen. They all sparkled, banged and whistled for a good 20 minutes to a rousing finale and a round of cheers and applause from the gathered crowd. It was easy to be a-bunk by 2200!

Delightful smells wafted dockside from several galleys on the lazy Saturday morning. Eggs, bacon, toast & jam, some yogurt - what more could you ask for. Some did boat chores - a wash down or chrone polish - while most made a trip into Benicia town. Thanks again to Barb Henderson's great organizing there was a long list of destinations, but a popular one was the Lindsey Glass Factory where the chore-of-the-day for gaffer Sean was making glass long stemmed roses. A group got a first-hand tutorial in the way the core color was fused into clear glass, then an outer layer of clear glass is added from which the petals are pulled. Finally, a separate glob is colored for the stem, mushed onto the back of the first piece, and under Sean's skillful hands a true work of art is complete and ready for the anealing oven - 16 hours going from 900 degrees to room temperature.

And, if Islanders themselves aren't "antique" enough for you, Benicia was filled with stores stocked with them, and crafts too. Lots of things to to before - what else - another Happy Hour come 1700.

This time the bottom half of the batting order - boats N - Z - had to provide the goodies. They did so in style, and no one had really finished much of anything before it was time to march up to the Benicia Yacht Club for a nice buffet dinner. Commodore Don Henderson wrapped up the meal with a thanks to all who had come, those who had provided dinghy service between the docks, and particularly our host, Benicia Yacht Club. Their Rear Commodore acknowledged Don's remarks, and made us feel warm and welcome at this fine club. The town band completed the evening with a concert right at the marina - finishing with the 1812 Overture (sorry, no cannon!).

Sunday morning dawned soft and peaceful. Winds were light, compared to the flapping flags of Friday and Saturday. It looked like we might have a nice ride west down the fabled San Pablo Bay. Though all had their tide books, Skipper Wall had printed out the current flows in living color, and it was plain to see that departing before 0900 would catch the ebb tide for the 25 miles back to Southampton Shoals. By 0830 boats were under way.

But the wind gods, driven by a high south of us and a low north of us, turned on the egg beater and blasted 20-30 knots almost on the nose. With 1 to 1.5 knots of ebb current against that wind, the waves were short and steep - just right for an Islander to pound. The fleet was split between those who stuck to power (again we quote Mike Bennett, "A gentleman never sails to windward") and those who sailed - some able to lay the course, some taking a short hitch through Point San Pablo. Either way it was wet - real wet.

The good news was that as you rounded Point San Pablo the wind was a little lighter. The bad news was that you were now under the "fog" - the forecasters describe it officially as "stratus, spreading inland nights and mornings". Boots and full wet hear were just warm enough against the regular drenching of blown back bow waves. Those below were dry, perhaps - if the leaks weren't too bad - but were getting flight pay while bouncing up and down. I think Sandy Van Mell was heard to remark as we finally cleared the square waves, "I'll never go up San Pablo Bay again!"

Barb Henderson polled the fleet for their comments about the ride home. Here is her initial request and some excerpts from the replies:

Barb Henderson's original email: (Kindred Spirits)

Everyone get back AOK? We heard broken bits of chatter from Getaway, Four C's, Pac High, but that's it.

What kind of ride did you have? We saw most with mainsails up, which Don says probably smoothed your ride. ????

As junior novice crew-person, I had foulies on for the first time and now know what they stand for. Motored home (Sausalito) in 4 hours. Our gauges showed 25-26 knot winds in San Pablo but we were still plunging and getting sprayed until got inside Racoon Straits.

Ron & Karen Damsen, Woodbine

Well, as far as San Pablo Bay goes, that was the "Full Monty". After passing the docks west of the bridge, the wind started kicking up.

The hero of the day for us was Otto. I turned the autohelm on as soon as it started getting wet. We had steady water over the dodger all the way home. With the autohelm, I was able to sit or stand behind the dodger and duck the spray. I saw a high of 32 kts apparent as we motored all the way home. I wasn't back by the gauges much and am curious as

to other reports of wind speed.

It took us 3.5 hours to get to Marina Bay in Richmond. We also had soup when we got back.

It was a great weekend. Kudos to Don for a well planned cruise.

Julian and Debby Cohen, Four C's

Four C's had pretty much the same experience. We motored all the way home to
Sausalito and arrived about noon.

It was Debby's first foul weather experience as well and she did great. Of course, you all gave me the best advice ever when you said be sure to go buy a dodger. Debby was nice and dry all the way home!

We did however discover that almost all of our windows leak rather badly in those conditions, looks like I'll be spending some boat bucks soon.

We had a wonderful time and are really glad we have found such a great boat and a
great group of people. We look forward to seeing you all at Coyote Point.

Jack & Sandy Thompson, Noncents

Well let me add Noncents' two cents worth.

We put up the sails around Mare Island. We were getting a little wet (remember us, we are the one without a dodger) but we all love an adventure, right? Had a great sail until well past Pinole Point. At that point we were about to enter the narrow shipping channel which is frowned upon, so I decided to furl the jib and motor a while. Then the fun started.

While motoring along with reefed main, I noticed a little sloppiness in the upper shrouds. Needless to say we lowered the main ASAP. What happened is (unknown to me) the upper shrouds were not secured at the spreaders. With all of the strain on the windward side, the leeward shroud was slack enough to come out of the slot. I improvised shrouds by attaching the main and spinnaker halyards to stantions which reduced bending of the mast in the swells.

Fortunately, we were close to the Brothers by then and things quieted down some. Also, fortunately, this didn't happen with both sails up. Had I decided to tack instead of furling the jib, this story may have had a different ending.

We made it in to Brickyard Cove around noon and had some very hot chocolate.

Anyway, great weekend. Great job Don, thanks again.

Al and Nancy Farnum, Silver Shadow

Silver Shadow sailed all the way from Carquinez Bridge to Grand Marina. It was raildown, in 22-26 knots of wind, with one reef in, averaging 7.6 knots over the ground.

We had one long port tack from Carquinez to just south of Marin Island, then two tacks through the Richmond Bridge and passed the barges west of Red Rock and then over to a close hauled starboard tack which took us all the way to the mouth of the Estuary.

One mystery! We caught up to and passed Smokey, and then all of a sudden Smokey is going in the Estuary ahead of us. Now, how did you do that?????

Thank You to Don and Barbara and all your helpers for a terrific weekend. We had a wonderful time. A Great Ride, and a GREAT cruise.

Smokey & Laurie Stover, Solace

Well we left Benicia Marina and set up full sail right away in SOME decent wind, but ended up motoring to the Benicia Bridge. It wasn't long after that before we saw all the white water and reefed the main a bit.

Our new member Larry Reinstra really needed to know what an Islander can put up with so we sailed out by the channel and pointed on a port tack all the way to the Sisters and toyed with a couple of larger Catalina's. We registered well over 30 knots of appearent wind most of the way and the GPS tracked a speed of almoast ten knots over ground somewhere. We had just about caught up to Pacific High when the head of our jib parted and ruined out plans to rag on Harry. We dragged in the fallen wet jib and hung up another one on a spinnaker halyard while Silver Shadow sailed by. Harry bid us farewell and proved once again that he doesn't need Rick on board to tell him what to do.

We also discovered leaks around the stantions, along with a gallon or so that came in through the hatch with the jib.

Larry and Terry were very impressed at what a fine group of people belong to the Islander 36 Association. Glad everyone made it back all safe and sound. See you at the next one.

Harry Farrell, Pacific High (note First Mate Carol Williams' version immediately following!)

After running into the SPB wall while passing Vallejo, I put out the jib hoping the direction change and boat heal would eliminate the pounding... It did help, but not much. We did maintain a 7.5. to 8.0 kt. SOG which helped get through it faster (I think), but of course we were not taking the shortest route.

Returned to my Sausalito slip at 12:15 in a dead calm.

If you remember, last year we motored back on flat water. Part of the excitement of the Benicia cruise is the SPB return trip roll of the dice. What a great weekend!

Carol Williams from Pacific High

Preparation at Benicia to leave
Carol in shorts and short sleeve shirt (dumb and happy)
Carol: " Harry, should I just leave the windows open. There was no wind on the way in and a breeze would be good"
Harry: " Well, it might get a little breezy -- better close everything down. "
Heading out
Carol: after awhile on the way out "OK. I can take over the wheel"
Harry: " this is a test. See if you can keep the point correct"
(Wind is picking Up )
Carol : "this is not what it was like on the way in"
Harry: "you are doing fine"
(humongous wind increase)
Carol: "THIS TEST IS OVER. You Take the wheel "
(Dumb but not as happy)
Harry: "The last gust was 30 knots "
Carol: " I thought it was racing that beats up the boat"
Harry: I just heard glass breaking down below"
Carol : "I'll check "
Down below --- don't go there -- Water was leaking thru the window which I tried to mop up. The GPS I found swimming in 2in. of water attached to the computer which was no longer any fun to watch the progress of the "little red boat" . Slammed the computer shut and yanked the cords from their respective outlets and put them safely onto the quarter birth.
Went up to the safety of the cockpit where I immediately received a direct hit with ocean spray into my left ear leaving me with only the right to receive orders from the skipper.
Harry:" O.K lets bring in that jib a little"
Cranking started and a BIG BANG -- the self tailing winch had let loose the sheets on the jib --it was just flopping out there . We both in unison pulled in the sheets but had knots all over the place. (or Smokey , we would have been WAY AHEAD)
Carol -- not as dumb but O.K.
"So Harry - how long does this last ----usually"
Harry: " to the San Rafael Bridge"
Carol: "THE BRIDGE!!!!" (Not dumb anymore , a little chagrined , but coping)
interim responsibilities: wiping Harry's glasses so he could see and my own so I could commentate. "other people have their mains up. Other people are motoring etc. " Harry is very patient.
Julian - thanks for checking in - You are great.
Nancy, for you it was a "breeze" I hope to get there.
It was so nice to get back to 26 knts at San Rafael.
Barb - glad to hear your foul weather gear was utilized. We wondered how you were doing.
This is my first Benicia cruise. My anniversary will be the Coyote Pointe with the group. What a great group of people. It is so-o-o fun!!!.
Pat & Gary --- It was so-o-o- good to see you
and Bruce and Carol -Welcome Back!!
Harry is cutting me off Good sailing to all.

Brian & Fran Jacobs, Blue Moon

Thanks to all for a great weekend. David slept through the North bay, skippered the rest of the way to Coyote point. Fran worked on projects, took care of Tillie, and helped when I called, Tillie didn't know the difference and was totally fine the whole way, a real boat dog in the making.

I stayed behind the dodger and only got soaked when I would peer around the corner to see if anything was in the way. We measured 25 knots but it sure seemed like more. We made the trip all the way to Coyote point in 6 hours flat. The world is changing though, the calmest part of the ride was through the slot, and the only sunshine we saw was in San Francisco. Oh well, that's sailing.

Tim, Rhonda & Ian Shea, Lean Times

After reading all these wild stories, I thought I would share my response to Barb to let you all know that there was actually some mellow sailing out there (and entice you to travel up the Napa River !)

Hi Barb. Good to see you this past weekend. Lean Times had a great ride home to Napa. We left Benicia around 9:30 - 9:45 and arrived at our dock at 2:30. We sailed the whole way up to Napa and it was a fantastic sail. Calm gentle winds, sunshine and Rhonda and Ian lounging in the hammock. Made for quite a sight as we rounded the river banks under full sail. And to many on Hwy 29 in Napa, it must have looked strange to look out across a pasture and see a white sail moving through the field!!

Anyway, we had a great time and look forward to seeing you all again real soon.

Barb Henderson's reply:

Rick, We were so glad to be able to duck under the dodger and dry our faces and glasses until I felt this DRIP and saw the dodger was sodden and leaking!

Nancy, sounds like a good ride. I gather you and SPB are old friends.

Ron, yeah for Otto. He's a good guy to have as crew. Thanks so much to you for talking everyone in, and Karen out there on blistering E dock and for all your help at Benicia. We had our soup cold, from a bottle labeled Kenwood.

Somehow I could not physically handle the helm (one of my few sailing skills!) going up Thurs. with that following seas chop, but yesterday was a different animal. Good thing I read Perfect Storm & watched the movie several times; SPB seemed sorta tame by comparison.

Harry, wasn't that dead calm in Sausalito a relief? Peter Wilhite came down to catch our lines and hear the adventure. We tasted salt all the way. I found a piece of seaweed on deck. You're right, we have to take the good with the bad in SPB. Think the mornings at Benicia among the most beautiful ever saw - sort of makes up for the wild wooly ride home.

Great seeing, being with all of you.

But safe home we all made it. A good meal; a warm shower; a good night's sleep, and it will be remembered as a fun weekend and another testimonial to the soundness of the Islander boats. If you didn't have an occasional day like this, how would you ever appreciate the really great ones?! You can bet there will be lots of folks ready for the August 1-2 cruise to Coyote Point.

Thses pictures are contributed by Barb Henderson, Larry Reinstra, Ron Damsen and Rick Van Mell. Enjoy!

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Waiting for the fleet I wish there was more wind! Now what? When four are gathered...
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At least the Freeports have lots of comfort. Golden Gate & Fog?! Passing The Brothers. Getaway got away!
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Good Sailing Karen likes to drive. Determination! The Gentleman's way.
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The Benicia RR Bridge. Headed into Benicia. When do I get ashore? Dockside conversations begin.
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Very pretty. Comfort Zone. Improvised awning. E Dock fleet.
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Four C's Solace on 4th Natural High Vanishing Animal
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Party??? Relaxation. Skipper & Nancy on Snowflower. Flags fly for 4 July.
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Jacobs, David, Tilly Walls & Karen Damson Lesli,Chris,Sandy,Teak Cohens & Kathryn
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Lots of boats on lots of docks! Mom duck & Teak talk! The Commodore keeps cool. Just an average I-36 pot-luck - appetizers!
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How do you get 30 people on a narrow dock? Simple, add food. Commodore Don out-shadows Commodore Skipper. Bush's express ferry service from E Dock.
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Who needs suntan with those backs?! Almost serious concentration. Charles is making a point. All smiles!
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No end to the fun. Now we're down to serious eating. Charles, did you get the name of the duck? Teak has a new friend, Lori Williams.
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It's great to have new moms in the fleet. Is it time for fireworks already? Happy 4th of July Larry & Terry Reinstra
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Margarita time on the Solace At the foundry Don holds sway on Saturday night. The Benicia Rear Commodore welcomes us.
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Ian,RhondaShea,Den,Matt Dinner on 5th Shea family Bennets & Thomsons
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Cohens & Shwarts Bushes, Jacobs Bush dinghy service After the concert
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Laurie & Smokey mellow out. Glorious 4th local band is great. The town is the audience. Laurie Stover's great 4th boat gifts.
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Ready for bed Damsens inside & out Taking down flags Don - cruise done
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Getaway 1st to get away Snowflower departs A great start to Benicia Dad look, I can see over the bow now