Monday, July 09, 2007

Petaluma weekend...

The weekend before July 4th, the Encinal cruisers ventured off to Petaluma for a wine tasting extravaganza. While several boats left on Friday afternoon to anchor out at China Camp, I sailed Dog Days up to the Richmond Yacht Club to spend the night. Drifting about and possibly dragging my anchor on rope rode in the current-happy China Camp anchorage didn't appeal. In Richmond I got a nice end-tie, and joined up with two other club cruisers - Captain Penny on Out-n-About and Bill and Dinah on Bonne Vie. Some of us ventured off to Salute Restaurant at Richmond's municipal marina, which turned out to be an adventure in its own right - taxi service in Richmond leaves a lot to be desired. The moon rising over the bay with the city in the background was quite a view though.

Saturday, we all left around 09:30. I had a fine sail up past the Brothers and tacked over to China Camp arriving just in time to fall in line with the fleet which was weighing anchor and motor sailing up to the entrance of the Petaluma River. I didn't turn on my engine until we approached the first railroad bridge at the end of the very long dredged channel through the northwest side of San Pablo Bay. While our Catalina 42 fleet finally motored past me, I kept up with them for a long time at a rate of six to seven knots. I motored sailed almost all the way to the Petaluma Marina, just a half mile from the drawbridge that brings you into the town turning basin. It was a magnificent sail up the river!

After we med-tied all the boats at the Petaluma municipal docks (I think we had 19 total), we prepared ourselves for an evening BBQ at the Petaluma Yacht Club. With just over 60 people, it was a task getting to the barbecue, and we gave the PYC a good run at their bar.

Sunday our cruise leaders Mark and Karen and Sam Chris had prepared an incredible day of wine tasting. We first gathered for potluck breakfast on the docks, and by 10:00 we were loading on the bus and into a couple of cars to head off to our first wine tasting event.

Our first stop was the Gloria Ferrar Champagne Caves. A gorgeous setting, we feasted on the view, got a nice tour of the caves, and tasted a whole lot of champagne. And, of course, we got a great discount on champagne and wine - they make a really nice Merlot among others.

At 1200, we arrived at the Viansa Winery where we got a tasting and then sat down for lunch. Viansa doesn't retail their wines - you have to go to the winery or join their "club," which I always find a bit suspect. And, not surprisingly, I didn't think their wines were much to talk about. But they did have a nice little jazz trio playing out on the lawn, which I enjoyed sitting and listening to after lunch.

Following lunch, we headed off to the Valley of the Moon Winery. This turned out to be one of the best stops on the tour. They gave us steep discounts on their wines, and their Bordeaux style cuvee was really a great buy.

A bit satiated from all the wine tasting, we poured ourselves back onto the bus to arrive back to the Petaluma docks for a short break at about 1530. As you can see, some of us truly were satiated. It wasn't too long a break, because at 17:30 we were back aboard and on our way to dinner.

Dinner was set up at the Adobe Road Winery just a couple of miles from our docks. International race car driver Kevin Butler owns Adobe Road, and the tasting room is right inside the garage where he operates his race car business. Kevin and his team drivers race his highly tuned cars at Daytona, LeMans and other world class courses as well as at nearby Sears Point.

The wine at Adobe Road was wonderful, although I was tasted out and decided not to buy any despite a very nice discount. The dinner was catered by Roli Roti: Rotisserie Chicken and Beef, and it was truly wonderful, in addition to be served right there in the garage (which was truly spic and span) with Porsches and BMWs surrounding us and open for our inspection.

We arrived back at our boats around 21:30 to continue our party aboard any number of different boats. I think I finally found my berth around 01:00, but I can't be sure.

Monday a handful of our boats departed, but about a dozen remained. We lolled about the whole day, lent a hand to four boats from the Oakland Yacht Club who came in that day, and eventually had a nice cocktail hour followed by a potluck on the docks. It was a wonderfully relaxing day.

Tuesday we all were hoping to depart at the 11:00 bridge opening, but the minus-low tide was at 11:30 so we couldn't leave until the 14:00 bridge opening. Some of us discovered the Petaluma Market, a great gourmet grocery just three blocks away, and loaded up on provisions for the next day's Independence Day BBQ by the Encinal pool.

We ventured through the bridge at 14:00 for the long trek home. Some of the power boats may have made it in five hours. The larger sailboats (Catalina 42s and a Beneteau 46) made the trip in about six hours. But Dog Days, motor sailing the entire way, bless it's little 28 foot length, took a full eight hours. I arrived at the Encinal club docks at 22:10 (and I would have been there 10 minutes earlier, only I got grounded for ten minutes in a narrow spot along the river - thanks Captain Steve on Kiwi Charger for giving me a yank off the mud).

It was a super cruise, and the July 4th BBQ was a nice overall ending!

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