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.  

Love at first sight

We had been dreaming about sailing a few years ago when Bob saw an ad in Yachtworld for a 26 foot Nonsuch Ultra sailboat for sale in Alameda. He did a bit of research on Nonsuch boats, mentioned it to me, and asked it I wanted to go and look at it. I said, “Why not?” so we called the broker and headed down to Alameda the next day. We had been aboard other boats, both larger and smaller, but this one just seemed to suit us to a ‘T’ (note the Three Men in a Boat reference?). It was love at first sight for both of us.

This didn’t just come out of the blue. I grew up in a sailing family (my father’s family used to vacation on the Norfolk Broads) and read Swallows and Amazons over and over. I had a major crush on Horatio Hornblower well before he was played by Ioan Gruffudd, and read all the novels in chronological order – no easy task, since they weren’t written in chronological order (CS Forester wrote the first three, and then did prequels, sequels, and filled in the gaps between 1937 and 1967). When I was about seven and we lived in upstate New York, my father built a Mirror dinghy in the basement. We sailed this 11 foot boat as a family. That dinghy is still in my parent’s garage, albeit a little worse for wear since my father accidentally ran into it with his tractor. My mother wants to give it a Viking funeral. When My son, William, was about 10, I bought an elderly Coronado 15 with which we and the dog, Charlie, had quite a few adventures, and I really learned a lot about sailing.

Bob and his parents owned an O’Day 22 when I first knew him which they sailed on a nearby lake. Bob’s dad and grandfather had been into boating, and Bob became interested in sailboats while living in Juneau, Alaska along the inside passage. Bob always likes an adventure, and sailing seemed like a great adventure. He also became a Jimmy Buffet Parrot Head at that time, which is probably related.

This particular boat was owned by a couple who were going their separate ways. Although Bob and I absolutely loved this boat (but not really the name – Scat) we had one tiny problem. We couldn’t afford it, and we weren’t in the right place in our lives to actually buy a boat. It was the only Nonsuch 26 Ultra for sale on the west coast, but it was still WAY overpriced compared to any other Nonsuch 26 in the world. We loved it, but we came home and watched it on Yachtworld over the next couple of years hoping the price would drop. The price did drop slowly by a couple of thousand dollars every so often, but then one day Scat just went off the market. We figured that someone had finally purchased this quirky sailboat, and we were very sad to say the least. We occasionally looked for it on Yachtworld and over the years eventually gave up on the idea of owning a boat. We even moved in into a little cottage in the foothills and farther away from the ocean.

Then a couple of months ago, we were sitting in our cottage (that we love) and Bob said, ” Huh.  There’s a Nonsuch 26 Ultra  for sale in Alameda.  I wonder if it’s the same one?”  We thought it *might* be the same boat, but we thought the chances were fairly low.  This one was significantly cheaper, but still priced a little high.  Then a week later the price dropped again.  I said, “We’ve got to go and at least look.” We called up the broker (a different one), and met him down in Alameda.  We hopped into his car and he drove us around to…the same marina.  It was eerily familiar.  We walked out to the same dock and same slip and there was Scat just a little more weathered than the last time we’d seen her.  We gave her a really good look this time, took the leap, and made an offer.  We couldn’t lose her again.

Same boat, same slip, just slightly older and more weathered