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A North Bay Getaway

For most North Americans summer is the prime time to escape from the rat race on a fun-filled vacation. But these days, not many of us can rationalize jetting off to some exotic destination. No worries. If you have access to a sailboat, there are a bunch of worthwhile getaway options right in our own backyard. 

One example — as illustrated by a recent Club Nautique cruise-out — is making a trip up the Petaluma River into the sunny latitudes of Sonoma County. "About a dozen boats rendezvoused around Red Rock at 11 a.m. on Friday morning and headed into San Pablo Bay," reports organizer Marianne Armand. "The layer of cloud cover burned off around noon and we were treated to a nice downwind sail in shorts and t-shirts."

When the breeze went light, the fleet motored up the final miles to downtown — after all, no one wanted to miss the 5 p.m. cocktail party.

© 2011 Rod Witel

After lacing their way up the winding river, past farm fields and vineyards, the fleet passed beneath the D Street lift bridge and Med-moored in the town’s historic turning basin, in the heart of the Victorian-era business district.

Marianne reports that after a cocktail party aboard the fleet’s mother ship, the 40-ft cat Cats Aye, the Club Nautique 40 catamaran, "We spent the evening laughing and roaming from boat to boat meeting new friends and catching up with old mates. We danced on the bows of our boats as the cool tunes from a Jazz band across the basin floated us into twilight."

The river snakes through farm fields and vineyards far from freeway traffic.

© Rod Witel

"We purposely built in a day with nothing scheduled. It was so great. There are so many fun things to do right in downtown Petaluma. People went on walking tours, enjoyed mani-pedis and puttered around in dinghies. It was one of those magically delightful weekends where friendship and camaraderie filled the air with easy relaxation. I can’t recommend Petaluma enough. It’s a fabulous getaway destination that’s right here in our back yard. Trust me, you’ll love it!" Read more about the cruise in the September edition of Latitude 38 magazine.

Bouyancy test? No, it’s the fleet’s cocktail party, aboard the mother ship Cats Aye.

© 2011 Rod Witel
There are few other places in the Bay Area where you can berth your boat safely, then walk to dozens of shops, restaurants and nightspots.

© Rod Witel

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Late summer may curse us with seemingly endless fog and chill but it blesses us with the arrival of many southbound cruisers with whom we have the pleasure of visiting.
Although details are not yet clear, we’ve learned that the 42-ft American yacht Ri Ri was lost recently on a reef at Palmerston Island in the Cooks.