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New Girl in Town

Seemed like everyone in Sausalito wanted to meet the new girl in town.

© John Skoriak

If someone had asked Sausalito yacht skipper Paul Dines to find a well-built traditional sailing schooner, survey her, purchase her, haul and ship her from Miami to Ensenada, offload her, sail her to Sausalito, and insure that she would pass a Coast Guard inspection — all within 60 days — he would have said it was impossible. But that’s exactly what Dines and his partner Marina O’Neil did. And that 79-ft (LOA) schooner is now the latest addition to the San Francisco Bay charter fleet, operated by the pair’s company, S.F. Bay Adventures.

Despite the lousy economy, there’s substantial demand here for traditionally-rigged vessels, so Dines and O’Neil went in search of a schooner — in both the U.S. and Canada — that was ideally suited to chartering. In Miami, they eventually found the steel-hulled gaffer Liberty. Launched in 1991, she’d been built specifically for chartering and was Coast Guard-certified to carry 47 passengers. Perfect!

Captain Paul takes the wheel as First Mate Marina shows him love. Buying this 79-ft schooner was a gamble, and getting her home to the Bay was no easy feat.

© 2010 John Skoriak

So they took the plunge. With hurricane season approaching, Dines did some work on her in Florida, then shipped her from Fort Lauderdale to Ensenada, Mexico. From there, he and his crew sailed her to Sausalito in only 3 ½ days. At her new homeport, she was soon re-named Freda B, in honor of O’Neil’s grandmother, who was raised in Mill Valley area and worked on liberty ships in Sausalito during WWII.

Freda B greeted her guests with grace and flair.

© John Skoriak

The sleek gaffer passed her Coast Guard passenger vessel inspection a few weeks ago, and the crew got her into top shape in time for an on-board open house last Sunday at Schoonmaker Point Marina. More than 100 well-wishers showed up to celebrate, toasting Freda B‘s bright future with glasses of O’Neil’s homemade Sangria — a warm welcome for the new girl in town. (For info on chartering her, contact SF Bay adventures at  (415) 331-0444 or check out the website.

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