May 23-26, 2003
Memorial Day Weekend
Petaluma Cruise

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

"OK, so we agree we depart at 0-dark-hundred," intoned our Cruise Chairman Charles Hodgkins. A quizzical look crossed several faces among the dozen finishing hearty nibbles below on Vanishing Animal. On deck the light was fading quickly into the foggy sky to the west of Emmoryville marnia. Seven Islanders had made it this far on Friday night, staged to get a running start for what had been billed as an 0800 depature for Petaluma from Southampton Shoals.

"What was that again?" inquired one of the faces. "Well, since the marina now says there is only 3 feet of water over the bar at low tide, be have to get there about 2 hours earlier than planned, so we'll leave here at 0500, get to Southampton by 0600 and make it to Petaluma before their 1230 deadline," Charles continued. He then collected phone numbers for those not present and, at 8:30 pm on Friday evening called the remaining nine boats to give them the good news. Miraculously they all got the message, and they all showed up, one way or another, at Petaluma!

Friday night the wind rattled through the rigging, easily 15-20 knots, and the fog blurred the lights on shore. By 0430 Saturday morning folks were well into their routines, and after a dockside skippers meeting, Gary Salvo led the parade out the gap and down the channel in the first pre-dawn light. A short chop, apparent wind around 20 knots, pinching with engine and jibs set we were splashed, bounced and soaked as we went westward to round the old Berkeley Pier. We were there by sunrise at 0554, and past Southampton Shoals by 0630. We didn't see the other four Islanders that had passed Southampton at 0600 until there was more light as we headed for Point San Pablo.

Once on a reach, the ride was smoother, and because of the earlier start, the tide was still with us. Several boats noted GPS speeds between 8.0 and 8.4 knots between the San Rafael Bridge and Point San Pablo. The wind came and went crossing San Pablo, and the sun peaked through some holes in the fog - it was to be the last sun we would see for the day.

Powering up the Petaluma River was actually quite nice. Windy, a bit cool, but nice to ride among the marshes, watch for birds and view the rolling hillls of Sonoma wine country. We passed the only settlement along the water at Lakeville, with it's Greek, Pappa's Taverna Restaurant on the water, and the next piece of civilization is the highway 101 bridge just at the Petaluma Marina. Everyone made it safely over the bar - or perhaps plowed through a little of it for the last arrivers.

After such an early start, the majority of the fleet opted for an afternoon nap. That was enough, however, to rejuvinate everyone for a 1730 cocktail hour and Pot Luck aboard two adjacent Freeport Islanders - Mike Bennett's Get Away, and Scott Shwarts' Joyfull. Sixteen Islanders were present, plus two more represented by land or crew, and, if you count Fred & Barb Cucksey who showed up at the Friday night gathering at Emoryville, and Smokey Stover & crew Larry Reinstra (Solace) who arrived late and didn't get over the bar until after dark, 20 Islanders made an appearance for the weekend. Led by Cruise Chair Charles & Kathryn Hodgkins (Mischief), there was first time cruisers Scott Shwarts and wife Madeleine Trembley (Joyfull - F36), Julian & Debbie Cohen (Four C's), Glenn & Julianna Zimmerman (Dayna Marie - F36), Ashley, Katherine & Susannah Trewman (Mariah), Lou & Diane Zevanov (Diana), Mike Bennett & wife Leslie Larson & crew Jackie Davidson (Getaway - F36), Jack & Sandy Thompson (Noncents - F36), Brian & Fran Jacobs and David (Blue Moon - F36), Bill & Jim Higdon (Blockbuster), Al & Nancy Farnum (Silver Shadow), Dennis, Judy & Matt Bush (Natural High), Gary & Pat Salvo (Ophira), Commodore Henderson - Barb came by car - (Kindred Spirits), with Skipper Wall (Snowflower) as crew, Harry Farrell & Carol Williams (Pacific High), and Rick & Sandy Van Mell (Vanishing Animal). Robert Aston & Mary Gleim (Pegasus) arrived by car. We had five canines too, Teak (Vanishing Animal), Cathy (Ophira), Annie (Mariah) and Darwin and Scotia (Joyfull). Also five Freeports - a cruise record. It was a terrific turnout.

Pot Lucks are aways a hit with the fleet. Goodies abounded, from salads through deserts. Libations washed them all down, and the close proximity of over 35 bodies on two boats kept everyone warm against the cool breezes. And then it was off to a long, enjoyable sack time to recharge the depleted batteries. The wind went to sleep too, and most slept on into a calm and cloudy Sunday morning.

Some opted for a walk into Petaluma. Others walked the 3 mile nature trail starting at the marina. A few did boat chores, but all enjoyed a peaceful Sunday. The sun broke through the clouds after noon and it was most enjoyable. By Happy Hour, though, the wind was up again and some clouds returned. But that didn't cool the spirt of the fleet as they gathered for a few nibbles before trooping into the Jellyfish restaurant at the new Sheraton Hotel at the marina.

Cruise Chairman Charles had passed out menus Sunday morning, so when we arrived there were placecards by boat name already set on the tables, and the meals were ready shortly after we arrived. We all toasted Charles & Kathryn for organizing a great cruise, then enjoyed fine food and good company until well after sunset.

Monday morning dawned beautiful and clear. A perfect day for the return trip, and boats started leaving as the tide came in, around 0845 for some, many around 0930. Other fleets that had been up the river also departed, and a stream of over 28 masts could be seen across the marsh lands. Mother Nature did, however, present us with a gentle southerly on San Pablo Bay, so it was cast-iron-genny time rather than sailing for most. At Point San Pablo the usual bent westerlies were encountered, and some chose to beat down under the San Rafael bridge into the main bay. By 1700 most boats were safe home, and the last of the radio traffic on channel 72 included Blue Moon and Dayna Marie passing Hunters Point enroute to Coyote Point, and Lou Zevanov, from his slip in Oakland, thanking Charles once again for a great weekend.

Pictures are compliments of Barb Henderson and Rick Van Mell. Click on images to enlarge, click "Back" to return.

4 America's Cup boats grace the Clipper Cove pier on Treasure Island. Two older New Zealand boats.
Stars & Stripes needle nose bow. S & S lookin fast!.
Slightly undressed. Even the stern view looks fast.
Charles & Kathryn discuss options with Gary Salvo on Friday night at Emmoryville. The crowd below on Vanishing Animal concentrates on nibbles and goodies.
Judy Bush, Barb Cucksey, Katherine, Ashlew & Savannah Trewman to starboard. Dennis Bush, Fred Cucksey, Pat Salvo and Sandy Van Mell to port.
Teak wishes SHE were a VanishED Animal crossing San Pablo Bay. The fleet has a tranquil cruise through the marshes.
Jack & Sandy Thompson enjoying Noncents. Flags flying on Kindred Spirits & Silver Shadow.
Julian & Debbie Cohen have Four C's trucking. Great smiles too!
Commodore Don Henderson coming aft on Kindred Spirits, while Skipper Wall (Snowflower) steers. A happy Skipper!
Al & Nancy Farnum tucked snug aboard Silver Shadow. Rick & Sandy Van Mell on Vanishing Animal.
Canoe racers greeting at Petaluma Marina entrance. Stroke!
Lou & Diane Zevanov depart Diana for the Saturday night Pot Luck. Glenn & Julianna Zimmerman and Jack Thompson attest to the cold evening.
Kathryn & Charles and Julian & Debbie wind up with the cold cockpit seats! Darwin (the Beagle - of course) and Scotia were the welcoming party on Joyfull.
Leslie has the hostess spirit on Get Away. Julianna seconds the motion.
Captain Mike Bennett attends the crowd aboard Get Away. The most gracious Lou Zevanov.
Jack, Bill & Don chow down. Jim can't decide what to try next.
Robert Aston & Mary Gleim joined the group by land yacht. I don't think I can eat another bite agree Skipper, Sandy and Barb Henderson.
Jackie relaxes between Madeleine and Scott aboard Joyfull. It looks like Jackie is offering to do the dishes!
Beautifully lined up on Sunday afternoon. Proud burgees fly!
Four C's, Diana and Ophira alternate slips near shore.. Teak guards Vanishing Animal.
Scott Shwarts relaxes on Joyfull. Darwin & Scotia are on watch.
Across the slip, Jackie & Leslie mellow out. The boys chat on Kindred Spirits.
Sunday cocktails on Joyfull. Savannah, Darwin & Kathryn share a smile..
Joyfull's Madeleine Trembley sets the style tone for the evening! Meanwhile, the boys chat..
Judy, Matt & Dennis Bush are ready for food! So are Harry, Carol, Julianna & Glenn..
The Trewmans get a laugh... as Charles & Kathryn smooch!.
Harry, Carol, Gary & Pat retire to the lounge for a nightcap. Smokey, Larry & Brian do the same..
The bridge to the 3 mile nature trail with the Sonoma hills in the background. Skipper Wall and Commodore Henderson walked the whole trail, while Sandy Van Mell and Teak did about half. A resident great blue heron warily surveys the departing intruders in his marsh.
Pappa's Taverna is a great watering hole along the Lakeville Highway - but very limited dock space. Apparently Gilardi owns most of the Lakeville waterfront too!
Homeward bound.

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