Test Sail

With a boat, things are never that easy

Making an offer on a boat without test sail and a marine survey is not wise.  After the sellers had accepted our offer, we scheduled the test sail and survey on adjacent dates, made a mini-vacation out of it, and stayed overnight at the  Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square in Oakland.  We drove down and met our boat broker, Elvis, who had brought Mike with him to help out.  Mike had actually had a little experience sailing a Nonsuch.  He also ended up being the “muscle” as the huge sail can be a bit of a bear to raise – especially since, as we found out pretty quickly, the main winch needs some servicing…  it goes backwards as well as forwards.  Elvis motored the boat out of the maze that is Grand Marina and into the Oakland Inner Harbor Channel between Alameda Island and Oakland.  Once Mike had the sail up, Elvis said, “So who’s going to be captain?” 

 “ME!! I squeaked.”  

“Well get on over here and take the helm!”  

I scrambled over (it is a small cockpit) and grabbed wheel in a death grip.


There was a nice breeze, and Scat! heeled over and took off!  She was amazingly sensitive to any touch – far more than I had expected.  With gentle coaching from Elvis, we tacked back and forth in the narrow channel, tried a controlled jibe, which ended up not-so-controlled, and decided to turn around when an enormous container ship looked as though it was headed our way.  It was awesome.  We then fired up the engine and put her through some more paces.  She turns on a dime.  As far as we were concerned, she passed with flying colours.  Elvis then took the helm, and motored us around into the slightly dilapidated dock where the survey would be performed the next day.  

Bob leaped off and Elvis and I gasped as the dock rocked precariously.

Then, giddy with excitement, we made our way to Jack London Square for a night out on the town.  Well, ok, dinner and an early night.  We had to get up early to meet Elvis and Richard, the surveyor. 

View of the Oakland Ferry Terminal from our hotel room balcony

King Tides and Flash Floods

We had several inches of rain last Thursday.  Not something we’ve had very often here in California recently.  I got a text from Bob while I was in a meeting – There’s almost a 7 foot tide behind Scat! right now! (High tide us usually a little over 5 feet).  At about the same time, some people in the meeting got messages that our Napa office was closing due to flash flood warnings.  Scat! is docked in Vallejo on the Napa River.  When I got out of the meeting I called him, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: There’s flash flooding in Napa right now.

Bob:  I’m going to go down and check on Scat!

Bob was in Sacramento – about an hour’s drive away from Scat! on a good day. I was about half an hour farther away.

Me:  YOU’RE NOT GOING WITHOUT ME!!  AND I HAVE THE JEEP!  (Looking at the giant green, yellow and red Doppler radar blob over Napa and Vallejo) You’re DEFINITELY not going in the Veloster.  And what can we do when we get there, anyway? We can’t take her out. We might not even be able to get out to her.  We could only watch.


We got off the phone and I decided to call the Marina to see if there was anything terrible happening.  I left a message and got an almost immediate call back from the VERY excited harbor master.  I told her I was a nervous new boat owner, and was wondering how things were going down there.  She said that water had come within a foot from the top of the sea wall and the Promenade, but things were ok after the King Tide and that they had checked all the docks to make sure all the boats were ok.  Several buildings had flooded, and roof was leaking in her building, but the boats were all ok.  That was the important part. Whew!  We decided to go home to our cozy cottage instead.