Marooned Without Reservations

Marooned Without Reservations

Post by Luigi Semenza » Thu, 16 Jul 1992 07:10:35

Copyright (C) Luigi ***zato, 1992

Every keystroke is painful.  The half a dozen or so cuts on each hand
have stopped oozing but still burn.  One of them, under the left
thumb, has the same shape of the island we visited yesterday.  It was
Klaus's idea.

We left the dock on the south side of the Berkeley Marina in
mid-afternoon.  The wind was marginal, and we decided to try the
Olympic Circle, on the north side of the historical Berkeley Pier.  We
slogged our way upwind, and when I felt we were far enough from the
shore, I headed for the pier, sank my tail and stopped right below it.
I looked back.  Why is Klaus going the other way?  He doesn't know, I
realized.  He doesn't know one can swim under the pier, and he is
trying to reach its end further up.  I pondered for a minute.  The
wind looked good on the other side.  A small group of people on the
pier was watching me, the human seal.  One woman was videotaping.  I
put the boom on the back of the board and pushed it between the
shell-encrusted pylons.  After I cleared the pier, I looked up.  She
was still taping me.  I would have waited for Klaus, but I did not
want to ruin a perfect video sequence, knowing how little editing
amateurs do nowadays.  I prepared to waterstart.  A lucky gust
promptly pulled me up, and I took off on a plane, waving back.

The wind was much better in the Olympic Circle, and I practiced a few
different jibe styles while waiting for Klaus: the
Board-Changes-Mind-Halfway Dunk Jibe, the Very-Sharp-Turn Jump &
Crash Jibe, the Darn-Almost-Made-It Tail-Sink Jibe.  Finally Klaus
arrived and said: ``Hey, let's go to that island'' pointing north.
The wind was good and the island was just slightly upwind of a beam
reach, two or three miles away I guessed.  A perfect destination.
``OK'' I said, and we took off for the longest planing reach of my

I know it was the longest because my muscles were getting really
cramped towards the end, and I was trying different stances so I could
relax a few at a time.  Finally we arrived in front of a dark pebble
beach littered with sea-bleached wood fragments from logs, beams and
planks.  I took my shoes from the pouch in the mast base protector and
put them on, starting a painful cramp between the shoulder blades.
Klaus was already ashore and waved me on.  ``Welcome to my private
beach'' he said as I landed.  And private it was: behind the beach a
sign said ``No Entry.''  But then, next to it, a large self-guided
tour display showed in detail the geological and biological features
of Brook's Island.  Some small print said ``by reservation only'' and
gave a phone number.  We decided that next time we'll take a
waterproof cellular phone with us and make our reservation during the

In any case, if anybody from the Coast Guard or the Ranger Service or
the FBI is reading this, I'd like to stress again that it was Klaus's
idea, and if anybody needs to be fined or jailed, it should be him.
Friendship has its limits.

After resting we started back; but less than fifty yards from the
island I saw with horror Klaus's rig detach from the board.  Hoping
for a minor problem, I sank next to him to see if I could help.  A
bolt on the universal had loosened.  Something was wrong with the
thread and it would not go back in.  Fixing it in the water was out of
the question.  The current was strong and we were way downwind of the
dark pebble beach.  We aimed for a rocky shore on the other side of
the point.  I sailed until I was in the wind shadow of the island.
The water was shallow and I found myself squishing in the old friend
EBMUD, the East Bay Mud.  I walked quickly towards the shore.  The
transition between mud and rock was more sudden than I expected.  I
crunched my nicest and friendliest toe against a submerged protrusion,
losing my balance.  In the short time between verticality and
horizontality I did not consider that four millimeters of neoprene
were much apter at bearing the brunt of the impact on sharp rocks than
one millimeter of skin, and extended my arms.  The resulting cuts were
not deep, but I started wondering how many snorkeling and scuba-diving
bacteria were going to go for a joyride in my ***stream; and I
remembered fondly the moment, only a couple of months ago, when I
conned a nurse in the Alta Bates emergency room into giving me a
tetanus shot even though I was there only for a foot x-ray.

Klaus reached the shore shortly and we started evaluating the
situation.  I proposed to go look for help at the park headquarters.
But Klaus said: ``There is enough junk here to build a boat from
scratch'' and started looking around.  By the time I had taken his
mast head apart he had returned with some large pieces of rusted
metal, that with some skill and imagination could be used as pliers.
I started helping him***the bolt in until the sight of my ***
and the rust stirred vague recollection of motherly warnings about
rust and scuba-diving bacteria.  Evidently Klaus's education had
included the same set of warnings because he insisted on finishing

By the time we were ready to sail off the sun was low and the wind was
light.  We slogged all the way back to Berkeley.  The wind had become
so light that it was very easy to fall, and very difficult to restart.
The muscles in my arms hurt from all the lactic acid, and the fatigue
was really affecting my balance.  Klaus landed on the seawall north of
the Berkeley Pier, while a group of people watched and videotaped him.
I had tried to stay upwind to get a stronger breeze (it hadn't helped)
and it was impossible to go directly downwind without falling.  I
sailed on a wide reach, planning to zig-zag my way to the landing
point.  But the zag never happened.  As I fell near the pier a strong
current sucked me under it, and I had to struggle to avoid scratches
to board and sail.  I landed at His Lordship's, with nobody watching.

I know that Klaus likes my windsurfing stories and at this very moment
I am beginning to wonder whether that loose bolt was really an accident.
Could it be that---no!  It couldn't!