December 3, 2011

The idea for this outing came in May after getting lunch in a Korean restaurant in North Cambridge.  Elisabeth would be in San Francisco for a Kepler science conference in December, and I’d promised her oysters and sailing.  We schemed with Andy, who would be moving to California, and all decided that we’d brave whatever cold weather awaited us in seven months in the name of mollusks and sailboats.

Elisabeth and Andy arrived unfashionably late at the Inverness Yacht Club on a Saturday afternoon, but it turned out to be a good thing: the late arrival meant more water in which to launch the boat!  Upon setting down her gear, Elisabeth exclaimed that this one was of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Why would anyone want to leave West Marin, ever?

The method of launching the boat produced some laughs: lifting a 19′ boat weighing almost 1,000 pounds with a hoist is very different than simply shoving a Tech Dinghy or a Hobie 20 off the dock at MIT.  The boat hangs, comically, from a hook and chain, floating in the air above the dock.

We launched and set across the bay in search of oysters.  It was a glorious December day: clear as it ever gets, and warm enough for shorts. Don’t try this in Massachusetts!

We landed on the western shore of the bay.  I hopped overboard to haul up the boat on the rocky beach, quickly realizing how absolutely cold the water was.

We walked the tenth of a mile or so to the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, joining legions of tourists in shucking and eating oysters at the grills.  To supplement the oysters were five cheeses, Mandarin Satsuma oranges, and a variety of other goodies.  I proceeded to shuck a few dozen oysters, throwing their shells in a bin after slurping out the contents.

The sun dropped low over the ridge; it was about time to leave.

But first, it was time for the black radish.

The setting sun silhouetted the trees on the ridge.

We launched as the sky faded from yellow to a lavender blue.  Time to rig the boat.

The oyster company slipped away as we moved out into the water, searching for wind.

Andy went to adjust something and comically became caught on a combination of the anchor and the seat.

The moon rose over the ridges to the east as we slowly moved over the glassy water.

This is the life: improvising ankle-driven auto-pilot systems for Flying Scots.


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