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Thread: San Rafael Yacht Harbor thoughts?

  1. #1
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    Default San Rafael Yacht Harbor thoughts?

    Tapping the cumulative centuries of Bay boatyard wisdom among this group.
    When I think of yards, I think: Sven's (r.i.p.)/Bay Marine, KKMI, BMC, Grand, SFBW, maybe Spaulding, maybe Bay Ship...and that's all I know.
    But new-new old boat for Lanikai is at Helmut's getting a (free!) re-power, and they may haul it across the way at San Rafael YH to do so. First time I'd heard of this place! I may try to kill 2 birds with one haul out fee and get other work done, but a visit to the yard wasn't terribly inspiring, at least not in the way a visit to the aforementioned yards can be. Couldn't find anyone to get some info from, in fairness. Seems like it could be a laid-back, hidden DIY haven. Or it could be a graveyard for unfinished projects and cranky management holding years of lay-day fees over boaters' heads. Hard to tell from a short walk-through.

    Any folks here have experience with this yard, good or bad, or at least some entertaining history? Note that the bar for what I find nautically entertaining is very low.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2007
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    These days it comes down to whether they have enough skilled labor to get the work done timely. I'd ask about that.

    The only recent word about the yard in San Rafael is that they did a couple of Cal 40 topsides repaints and the owners were happy.

    Ruben Gabriel ("Sparky") is the yard manager at Berkeley Marine Center now, and I'm hearing good things.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobJ View Post

    Ruben Gabriel ("Sparky") is the yard manager at Berkeley Marine Center now, and I'm hearing good things.
    I didn't know that!

    That's powerful incentive to go there instead of SF Boatworks, it's just that SF Boatworks is so close to home, and I can actually take the train to get there.
    S-2 7.9: "Wildcat of Loch Awe"
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  4. #4
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    Ditto. I took to using SFBW when I was at Brisbane and Svendsen became a bridge too far. Now that BMC is my backyard, I may have to reconsider. Having an ocean-crossing Electra sailor on board out-karmas the few mixed things I'd heard about BMC.
    A place with a good reputation for topside jobs has always seemed like an especially good indicator for quality in general, so maybe there's hope for San Rafael. Still haven't gotten through on the phone, though. On a related note, BMC does seem to churn out a breathtaking topside job weekly. Latest was the Ericson 35 that I used to read about here (Ergo?). Candy apple red.

  5. #5
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    I always take Dura Mater to Berkeley Marine Center, and for lots of reasons. First, I’ve been going there for a long time and they’re nice to me. There is not much turnover, so the same people are there year after year, and that’s important to me. Second, it’s fun to just walk around and talk to other people whose boats are there.

    When I was there for DM's new rudder Ergo’s current skipper had removed the rub rails and was sanding down the edges. He was debating whether to retain the name and I told him that I thought people on the bay would always refer to it as “Bill’s boat” regardless of what he called it. That might be when he got the idea to paint it red. Ha! Now we know that Bill’s boat has been painted RED!

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    You may meet Sonya, who works at the front desk. Here she is as her own boat was being launched. Please say “hi” to her from me if you decide to go to BMC.

    https://vimeo.com/357982586

    There are usually other singlehanders at BMC. It attracts ‘em like bugs to lights. I learn alot from other singlehanders. Randy Leisure was there chatting with a friend who was installing a new engine into her WestSail. Yeah. Doing it herself. Those WestSail people are serious gearheads. Gotta be, I guess, the places they go.

    Across the aisle from Dura Mater was the beautiful Nozomi, Rob Walker's Cal 40, getting a new rudder and bottom job. Rob had been working on her 6 days/week for the past month. I learned alot from Rob, who has had boats his whole life.

    Also, there are always one or two new boats being built at BMC. From the bottom up. Or from the top down, depending upon the design. Cree has a remarkable network of sailing colleagues and friends who come around to chat with him. Some of them have made significant contributions to sailing history. They wander around the yard inconspicuously, sloppily dressed as sailors tend to be. It’s like a game of Where’s Waldo to guess which person is the important and maybe famous boat designer and which is someone walking through looking for a dry place to sleep.

    It's Berkeley. Eavesdropping has enabled me to soak up a lot of really interesting information. And then there is Reuben. And Ryan. Seriously? Why would I go anywhere else? Your choice. Let us know.
    Last edited by Philpott; 10-09-2019 at 06:33 PM.

  6. #6
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    BMC is where I have been taking Kynntana to do my own work for the past 4 years, but you need to schedule DIY projects at least 6 months out. Word has gotten out. All the folks who work at BMC are great. Ruben runs a tight yard and always seems to do it with a smile. Ryan at Rogue Rigging is now there, too.

  7. #7
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    Berkeley Marina
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    Ok, ok, I'm sold. BMC it is, next time. San Rafael this time. Finally got Matt Butler on the phone. They're a contractor free-for-all, including the crane operator. A few recommendations for Carlos Boatworks (over a couple other contractors that operate there) came my way in the last 24 hrs and work is already underway. Between him, Helmut's, and the yard, I have an interesting few days in front of me. My phone's calculator app has never seen this much use.

    Couldn't agree more about the pleasures of wandering BMC. I drive, bike, or walk by almost nightly to see what's what. The understandably suspicious looks I get from owners with shiny new engines sitting on pallets as I case the joint are especially entertaining. DM and the other SSS boats came and went before I could say hi; good on you guys! Not like "Feelin' Good", which has been there for at least the year-and-a-half I've been at the marina. It might need a name change after lay days are factored in the bill.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2008
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    Santa Rosa
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    You'll find Matt "crusty" - but I, along with several good sailing friends, think it's more colorful than intimidating. San Rafael is laid back and pretty much do it yourself or get someone like Gordie, as I did last year. Pulled, sanded, painted mast. Installed new B&W wind instrument, once again re-fastened the sail track, and had bottom painted - by one of the yard "workers." Okay job - I just ran out of time and didn't have much crew help Due to scheduling. I'll be back next Spring for another bottom (me this time), washing/polishing topsides, and rudder check/new bearings. You need to schedule your arrival/departure due to shoaling in San Rafael ditch and boat hauling pool. Since I live in Santa Rosa (lights just came back on!!!!) and the boat's in Sausalito it's also convenient for me. Pat

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wylieguy View Post
    You need to schedule your arrival/departure due to shoaling in San Rafael ditch and boat hauling pool.
    That's for sure. I found marker 17 at about 1 hour before high and lined up the channel, moseying in as slow as impatience allowed. There were a few spots at 6.5', but mostly 8-9' and a little better than that once inside the canal. I didn't know about the hauling pool, but I guess that's for Helmut's to deal with.
    The canal itself was an unexpected treat. Felt like an miniaturized piece of the ICW in southern Florida. Looking forward to a return trip to visit Terrapin Crossroads, if the dock-for-shows rumor I've heard is true.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanikai View Post
    Looking forward to a return trip to visit Terrapin Crossroads, if the dock-for-shows rumor I've heard is true.
    Father up the canal the water gets even thinner; you might want to walk or dinghy in to the Terrapin Crossroads, which is a wonderful place worth a visit.

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