I'm Matt, a software engineer and boating enthusiast based in Washington State (but on the move). I started Hermit Cove Boats, offering cool skin and frame boat plans and kits. Check it out!
The trip started, I think, when we unplugged the boat. We left Big Island marina on Sauvie Island at the end of May and didn’t get the extension cord back out of the locker until just the other day. Now we sit here in Emery Cove marina plugged in once more. No longer living at anchor, we’ve swallowed the hook (as they say, though they don’t seem to let the internet know about it. I couldn’t find any online reference to the metaphor).
When we first arrived in the bay we didn’t know where we’d live. In fact, I was prepared to spend 40 days and 40 nights moving the boat from guest slip to guest slip, picking Kristin up from work wherever was most convenient. They get uptight here about people who live on boats. The real estate situation makes cheap rent very appealing, and its not always the most desirable people and boats who come knocking. So there are hoops to jump through. For one thing, they want you to live on a boat that is longer than 35 feet. Never mind the beam, number and size of occupants, etc. It just has to be 35 feet long. Of course they don’t care how comfortable you are, its just that a 35 foot long boat costs a certain amount, and people who can afford that are more desirable. Then, you must have insurance. Insurance that covers them, not you.
They make exceptions to the boat length rule, and that we’ve just rounded the north end of Vancouver Island speaks in our favor. But insurance is required. No trouble, we’d be happy to pay for the absurd fig leaf. But to get insurance we would need a recent survey. A survey? We’ve been surveying the boat constantly for the last 6 months, I could write a novel about the boat’s current condition! But hoops must be jumped through, so we had a survey done. We called Odus Hayes, and explained that we needed a survey not to set a value on the boat, nor to inform a buyer or a seller of its condition, but so that we could pay 150$ per year for liability insurance that no one would ever use. He typed up a glowing report on Madrone (she is an excellent boat), and we got our stupid insurance.
Now to pick a marina. Living downtown might be nice, but the only marina (Pier 39) was not taking applications. And that marina has its drawbacks: the boats roll to the point of banging spreaders, the sea lions bark all night long (party animals), and every human on the planet will one day buy a novelty t-shirt in the mall there so it is crowded at all times. Sausalito is lovely, but the marinas there all claimed a waiting list. And you’d need to drive to just about anywhere you’d end up working. Also, they seemed overly proud of being from Marin County. Xenophobes. That left somewhere on the east bay: Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland/Alameda, and San Leandro were the options. Berkeley had a waiting list of a year, but just south in Emeryville they were taking applications.
S/V Wondertime spent time at Emery Cove and they spoke well of the access to Trader Joes and lovely bathrooms (these things loom large in a cruisers mind - how hot are the showers and do they require quarters?). We applied and the delightful staff saw fit to approve our application despite the paltry length of our vessel (it really is quite cozy, I don’t see what all the fuss is about).
So here we are, residents of Emeryville, CA. Specifically dock D, slip 49. Emeryville is home to Pixar, a Trader Joes, a Target, and an Ikea. Its more of a shopping opportunity between Oakland and Berkeley than a city. But boy is it convenient. From a boat you are just minutes from Angel Island, Alcatraz, and open water. On foot you are a free shuttle ride from BART, and from there the world. Our portion of Emeryville is a park sticking out into the water, which gives the area an almost rural feel. Rural, if you consider a manicured lawn surrounded by asphalt rural. It’s no Sauvie’s Island, but that is exactly the point. Which brings us to Trader Vic’s.
Our marina is at the end of the road and mostly surrounded by water. On one side we have another marina, and on the other, Trader Vic’s. It is a classic tiki bar, with Hawaiian themed totems, grass-mat walls and artifacts that lend it an unmistakable air of authenticity.
As the line from my favorite song goes -
I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s
His hair was perfect
I love it. They have a drink on the menu for the sailors of the marina, and you know how those small touches breed brand loyalty. Plus they have 2 happy hours a day.
Its fun finding all the treasures in a new place. We’ve anchored in downtown San Francisco, walked around Sausalito, and taken mass transit around Berkeley and Oakland. There is so much to see, it will take us years. We are looking for jobs, but until we find them, we have time on our hands. So you should visit. If you do, we promise to get you drunk at Trader Vic’s and take you sailing on the bay. Its a lovely bay.