September 2-4, 2000
Napa Rendezvous
A great cruise punctuated by a magnitude 5.3 earthquake! Lots of great camaraderie and sailing; we even had more babies (2) and kids (2 more) than dogs and cats (2 total). It started out with mild breezes at noon on Saturday from Southampton Shoal, and rode the flood with unusually light winds up San Pablo Bay. At times engines added assistance, but we sailed nicely into Mare Island Straits and under the bridge into the Napa River.

Tim Shea on Lean Times and the Nimbus crew sailed the whole way while the rest powered the five miles up river to the marina just below the town of Napa. Nine boats were present, with Gary and Pat Salvo arriving by car to put us in double digits. Saturday evening we all headed to Moose Landing for beer, wine and blues music on the deck alongside the Napa River.

We returned to cook our pot-luck dishes and gathered all 28 of us on Mike & Leslie Bennett's F-36 Getaway for the feast. Harry Farrell provided desert in the form of a giant cake for Kay's birthday. As usual, there was more than enough to go around, and we drifted off to bed well before midnight.

Our sleep was abruptly interrupted at 1:36 am when the earthquake struck. Flashing lights from arcing power lines, dock banging sounds, and sharp jolts shook us from our bunks. Sandy thought someone had run into the dock; Betsy thought it was a thunderstorm. Power went out on the dock. A quick tuning of KCBS radio confirmed it was a 5.3 magnitude earthquake centered south of Yountville, about 10 miles straight up the Napa Valley from where we were. No damage was done to the boats, and the Kindred Spirits crew, and a few others, slept through the whole thing. (Those with looser dock lines felt less than those with taught lines.) The first radio reports suggested little serious damage, and aside from jangled nerves, we went back to sleep.

However, by sunrise Sunday it was becoming clear that for many this was certainly more serious. The city of Napa was under a state of emergency and 35 people had been admitted to hospitals, and at least 2 people were in critical condition. The store at the marina was a mess with groceries spilled off shelves amid pools of broken wine bottles, maple syrup, A-1 sauce, paint, and dozens of other things. TV coverage began to show similar pictures at stores throughout the area. Tim & Rhonda quickly packed up baby Ian and headed to their Napa home to check it out (Tim was one of those who had slept through.) Betsy Fowler headed out to check on her sister Alison, also living in Napa, who had joined us for beverages the night before. Fortunately, they were among the lucky ones with almost no damage, though almost 5000 Napa homes and businesses suffered some structural damage, estimated to be as high as $50 million in total. Telephone service to 10,000 customers was out for most of the day, and broken water mains added more woe in a two square block area.

The rest of Sunday was spent touring town and enjoying the symphony on the bridge, and an evening fireworks show. Skipper Wall got an unexpected opportunity to fly the colors when Kay's birthday balloons escaped from Pacific High and lodged aloft at Snowflower's masthead. Harry and Rick provided Skipper an elevator ride to set them free.

Monday morning dawned soft and warm. With fresh coffee mugs steaming in the still morning air, the fleet cast off at 0800 to catch the falling tide down the Napa River. We cleared the Mare Island bridge in just over an hour and enjoyed a tranquil ride under power down San Pablo Bay. So unusual was it, that someone on channel 72 remarked, "I'm on "Lake" San Pablo!" So ended another wonderful Islander rendezvous.

Click on images to enlarge, click "Back" to return. Photos by Rick Van Mell.

Zenith on San Pablo Bay. Art Fowler slips Zenith into Carqueniz Strait.
Lean Times coming up fast astern.. Sandy Van Mell has Lean Times and Getaway to windward.
Tim Shea has Lean Times in the grove. Harry Farrell leads Nimbus into Mare Island Straits.
Nimbus lookin' for wind. Ausie Christian shows fellow Ausie Sam and Daphne Jackson how to drive an I-36.
Nimbus driving abeam. Smokin'!
Safely under the bridge into the Napa River. Nimbus bow on.
Some Day heads for the highway bridge. Linda & Matt Drusanic with 3 month old Kate.
Dockside in Napa Marina on Saturday afternoon. Peach, Teak and Sandy Van Mell sleep in after the quake.
Why does Skipper Wall to to any length to wave the I-36 flag? To liberate Kay Farrell's escaped birthday ballons from Snowflower's rig!
Sunday evening at Napa... Means cocktails on Snowflower.
Skipper, Mike D., Daphne, Nancy, Leslie, Sandy, Tim & Ian. Sandy, Tim &Ian, MIke B., Matt, Linda & Kate.
What do you mean, "It's getting to be bedtime?" "Can we sleep with you tonight?"
Good night everyone, it was a great cruise.

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