Visit to San Francisco – much fun

San Francisco – what did Beetle get up to whilst tied up there for the week? Short answer is not much running around with the boat, but definitely got a few things taken care of: cleaned the hull with phosphoric acid (Boat Life) which pulls the mineral deposits out of the paint, removed or at least trimmed back the padeye rust stains with naval jelly (don’t leave on too long or it leaves interesting marks on shiny metal), made up the two fender boards, found and repaired the corrosion problem with the starboard interior lights, applied sealant around the exterior of the main deck hatch forward to see if that would reduce the water that likes to come in through the old caulking that beds the hatch frame to the deck (forms Macfarlane’s pond in the forepeak, so far the temp fix has worked out super!), picked up replacement SOLAS flares from Sal’s Inflatables, replaced the spray painted depth markings on the chain (red paint has proven difficult to see at night, so went with hot yellow marks at 50′ intervals complete with white stripes to indicate precisely which 50′ piece of chain happens to be going by at the moment), got out the compressor and went under the boat to clean off the bottom (lots of small barnacles have sprouted since the last cleaning in San Jose del Cabo), and not much else on the boat. Oh, I did procure a nifty shiny Canadian courtesy flag and purchased the current electronic BSB4 raster charts from the Canadian Hydrographic Service via my friend Marilee at her store Waypoints. The USA now releases the NOAA charts freely online, whereas Canada still charges the public for information that the public has already paid for – but at least the charts are high quality information and will be mighty useful in British Columbia – where I hope to be soon.

It was fun to play tourist in the area I’ve lived for something like 20+ years – went to the California Academy of Sciences with Kristen to see the exhibits, and went out to San Francisco one evening to hit Tomasso’s (my favorite pizza restaurant) in North Beach with Kristen and Erica. I’ve been to the backside of Cal Academy to attend a PCES (Pacific Coast Entomological Society) meeting regarding the mimicry of Mutillidae (very interesting and well done presentation) and it’s amazing how much exists in an institution that the frontside public doesn’t see. At the same time I had never seen the front side so it was fun to do so, especially with Kristen. Amazing aquarium displays that rival what is at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (CAS has fewer habitats, but superb quality). The planetarium was fun though the attempt to explain dark matter and background cosmic radiation did not work well – somehow I suspect dark matter doesn’t translate well to a movie. Reminds me of a joke from a fellow known as 3 (seriously, he changed his name to just ‘III’) : ‘What is faster than the speed of light?’ – pause for effect – ‘The speed of dark!’.

It was fun to take our time to find and count every tree frog in every display in the rain forest sphere. CAS is small enough that one really can stop at each display and find every animal (and believe me, there are a lot of live fishes to look for as well as the amphibians), unlike, say, the San Diego Zoo which is sooo large that it’s really quite difficult to find everybody in a single day’s go at the park. What helped at CAS is that many of the glass or plexi enclosures are free standing such that you can walk entirely around them and inspect the insides from every angle – a feature that greatly aids the avid frog spotter.

On the humorous side, CAS does try to point out that there is a lot more going on besides artifacts on walls – including a microscope lab that has a glass wall along a corridor that the frontside public walks by. On the glass, in small neat white front, a sign that more of less reads, ‘Area not open to public. Scientists at work’. And sure enough inside is a scientist sitting at his desk which is pressed up against the glass wall and he’s peering intently at botanical specimens while preparing fine line illustrations of them. The wall made him look exactly like a live animal on display, right down to the idea of keeping him near the front of the display by placing his desk in such a way that he could not turn his back on the paying public – kinda like putting the lizard’s hot rock near the front of the enclosure to ensure he prefers to sit at the front where you can see him rather than at the back where there might be fewer intrusions.

Also caught up with Arne and Bob and the gang at the shop Wednesday night barbecues, and had a great lunch with the data warehousing gang I worked with at Berkeley Lab – interesting to hear how the project has progressed since I left some six months previously. And Mr. Nibs the black cat is doing quite nicely at Kristen’s home nearby, was able to visit with him and watch him play chase-tail (he will do entire back flips in the air in an attempt to catch the black twitchy thing that he may, or may not, realize is attached to himself). Andy stopped by a couple of times, met up with Mitch (the fellow that was on Regardless in La Paz), saw James who is back from his time in the South Pacific and is setting up to go again. And Kristen and I had a nice late afternoon outing on her Santana 22 in the Oakland Estuary.

All in all a great visit to San Francisco, and the weather window north is materializing at a good time – off we go!

– rob

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