Just had the best couple of days in and around San Francisco on our trip to the States to see Doug’s family and friends before he heads off to New Zealand. He thought it was just a chance to show me where he used to live, not realizing my ulterior motive for the visit – checking a) whether he really does have a sailboat, b) whether he knows how to sail it and c) what he’s like as a captain. And the results of my research? Affirmative for the first two questions, mixed responses to the third….
We stayed with his friend John, who used to own Illusion’s sister ship – another 65ft MacGregor named Mystique. He sold her (“sailing was just too much work!”) and now has a powerboat. Perfect for a night-time cruise under the Golden Gate bridge, past the San Francisco marinas, around Alcatraz, then mooring on Angel Island for dinner. Other trips with John and his gorgeous partner Tracy to Muir Woods and into the city to ride the cable cars, along with fun times in their beautiful house complete with hot tub and pool, combined with their amazingly generous and open-hearted personalities, ensured a memorable time – I’m already wondering when I can invite myself back.
John’s boat is moored where Doug used to live on Illusion so I got the guided tour there, too. “This is where I used to shower. Here’s the washroom. That boat was there when I lived here”. That kind of thing. (Ha! Although that sounds sarcastic, it was actually pretty cool to be able to picture his life there and get a feel for it, after hearing so much about it.) We also spent a lovely evening with the people who used to live on the boat next door to Doug in Pelican Harbour, Sausalito, back in the 1990s: Christina, David, and their two boys, Davy and Dylan. Here they are:
A smiling, fun family, who welcomed me so warmly and were happy to reminisce about what Doug was like back then – I think the words “typical bachelor” may have been used. I definitely enjoyed hearing their memories as we sat out under heaters on the bar’s deck, watching the sky darken and the boats bobbing about in the water, as the boys played bocce ball and made us laugh. There was some discussion of Doug’s attempts at sailing in a rather unusual manner under a bridge. He claims not to remember that particular incident.
He does however accept John’s description of him as “a bit of an obsessive captain”. A fact which was apparently highlighted on one trip on Illusion when John and another crew member had to spend a couple of days installing the new water maker, while underway. After two days upside down in the bottom of the boat, trying to get the job done, they emerged triumphant, expecting a slightly more gracious response from their captain than “you got salt water on my tools”. Doug was, even now, quick to defend his concern: “I didn’t want them to get rusty.”
We all agreed, though, that a cautious, obsessive captain is probably the best kind, and after meeting these lovely people who’ve known him for much longer than I have, I am feeling reassured that he knows what he’s doing at sea. Although John’s comments about the sailing departure date – “yeah, right, I’ll believe that when I see it” – and refitting – “as the trip gets closer, prepare to write more and more cheques” – left us both a little worried about the amount of work that needs doing before Illusion can sail again.
Anyway, a great trip to a beautiful place, and it felt right to be there, hearing all the boating stories and seeing the places Illusion‘s been, just before Doug takes off to New Zealand. A good ‘starting’ point. Plus I’m getting more and more convinced that the next big trip on the boat should be down the West coast of America. I reckon Sausalito or somewhere else near San Francisco wouldn’t be a bad place to hang out for a little while longer!