They’re Back!

This year’s salmon season is in full swing…finally!  It’s making up for the last few years of reduced catches and closures while diminished stocks rebounded.  Every afternoon I have watched enviously as salmon laden anglers disembark from returning party boats docked by my office at Clipper Yacht Harbor.  Tired but smiling, they carry their precious silver fish, tackle and gear back to their cars, headed home to enjoy fresh salmon dinners they caught themselves.

Last week my long time friend and boating accomplice, Chuck Kamanski, and I headed out to test our own luck and admittedly rusty skills.  (Almost four years had passed since I sold my 28′ Boston Whaler at the end of a dismal salmon season when the talk of indefinite closures loomed on the horizon. )  We were fishing this day off Chuck’s 17 foot Scout, an impressively sea-worthy trailer-boat responsible for the demise of many a Tomales Bay halibut and in years gone by, King salmon at Duxbury Reef.

Always mindful of sea conditions, we approached Pt. Bonita with care and felt the first Pacific swells raise and lower us gently, dropping us into the long troughs with that fluid motion all ocean anglers love.  Holding our speed we planed towards Muir Beach, our faces wet by an occasional shot of spray as we crossed the wakes of the accompanying armada of fishing boats.

It’s a short run to Muir so we were idling down and rigging up by 7:45 as the morning overcast lightened.  The spectacular Marin coast line was within view and as I watched cars transit US1, most likely occupied by harried drivers headed to work, I thought of that notable saying, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working.”  Truer words were never spoken!

We were using my go-to salmon gear:  Seeker Classic 10-25 lb. and 15-40 lb, 7 ft. fiberglass rods matched to 1980’s vintage red side plate Penn Jigmasters I had upgraded with aluminum spools, HT100 drag washers greased with Cal’s drag grease, oversize power handles and spooled with green P-Line XX strong mono.  Deep Six planers, Big Al and Hotspot flashers on 30 lb., 18 inch fluorocarbon leaders with Roscoe ball bearing swivels topped off the rigs.  Next came a Rotary Salmon Killer with a tray fresh anchovy on one rod and a 5.5 inch Apex watermelon lure with a 6 ft., 20 lb. fluorocarbon leader on the other.  Crimped barbs and sharp hooks.  60 pulls later, each rig was thumping along a tide line at an approximate 45 ft. depth, drags set at 6 lbs. and clickers on.

I rotated the companion seat aft, settled in, sipped my Irish coffee and focused on my rod tip. In shock I watched it take several quick dips.  I sprang towards the rod, easing it slowly from the holder, tensing with excitement and pent-up frustration to hopefully land a salmon after such a long dry spell.  Fish on!

Following a short but adrenalin raising fight, Chuck skillfully netted a fat but one inch-under legal size, Chinook salmon.  Carefully released, we watched it slip away into the deep green water.  Laughs, smiles and good-natured jibes at each other were exchanged while I cleaned up, checked the leader and hook, and reset my gear at the same depth.

Moments later a repeat performance of my rod tip found me engaged with a much more powerful, drag worthy Blackmouth, as our Northwest neighbors call the kings in their waters.  Under the discerning (and dare I say, jealous) gaze of nearby anglers on surrounding boats, I soon guided this fish to our boat, stepping back from Chuck and the net, keeping the rod high.  Backing off the drag in case of a last-minute net-evasive run, I politely encouraged Chuck to perform a proper netting and avoid damaging our friendship.  An ex-F14 pilot, cool- under-pressure-guy, Chuck rose to the occasion and cleanly boated this stunning specimen.  Shouts of congratulations from fellow anglers and words of praise from Chuck filled the air.  I raised the fish and scale.  20 lbs. on the nose!

Phone calls and pictures home to our wives reassured them that our intended plan of a salmon barbecue that evening was in fact, now a reality.  Break out the cedar planks and chardonnay.

We fished another four hours with one more fish lost at the net (but not Chuck’s fault as I let slack line develop at that crucial moment) and several more hits but no hookups.  Still elated, we turned home ready to assume the duties of cleaning, filleting, and preparing this fine and long-awaited fish for dinner.

So don’t wait any longer.  Find space on a party or private boat, grab your gear and get your game on.  Fish on!  The boys are back in town.

Posted in About John Baier, Boating, Fishing | Leave a comment

Columbia Crest

This past spring I travelled to Portland, Oregon to attend sea trials, and engine and hull surveys on one of my listings.  A fellow Broker from Vancouver, B.C., and his client, had been in contract on this 56 foot boat and we had all arrived this day to begin the process of viewing it and removing those contingencies of his offer.

We knew challenges lay ahead before our journey even began.  The mighty Columbia River was swollen to flood stage due to torrential rains and spring snow melt.  Our selected boat yard for the haul-out warned us that the approach to the travel lift slip was dicey due to the strong current and we might be denied a haul-out accordingly.  All parties agreed to give it a go in Vancouver-speak and arrived at the boat that morning with high hopes.

High was accurate.  Six feet over the 16 foot flood level greeted us on the river level gauge. Our mechanic, hull surveyor and skipper were scheduled, present and charging for their time as they awaited our decision.  At least four knots of current ran under the boat as her lines strained to keep her in her slip and pointing upstream.  The debris flowing by included whole trees, deadheads and less well secured docks.

As the representative of the Seller and there to protect his interests and property, I knew the right decision was to abort the day’s activities even while knowing it could well end our deal then and there.  I can’t sell damaged merchandise echoed in my head as I informed everyone we were staying securely at the slip.  To untie, ease backwards in the current’s slipstream and try to turn sideways, broadside to the current, and move the 300 feet down the marina and out to the main river with only 75 feet behind us before we met the bows of the next row of boats was clearly impossible.  I could almost hear the sounds of the crunching, splintering fiberglass and twisting bow rails as we were swept to a certain entanglement downstream. Worse yet was knowing it would be most unlikely that once pinned by the current against the unyielding and unfortunate boat we would become lodged against downstream, a way to extricate ourselves and move upstream against the current was not possible.

Moments after I made the call and began the sensitive restructuring and rescheduling of our sales process, I received news from the haul-out facility.  A 50 foot motor yacht had ignored the boatyard’s instructions to avoid attempting to enter the travel lift slip which lay broadside to the current.  That boat was now pinned again the concrete pilings downstream with no possible escape, slowly self destructing as it ground itself into a painful  and totally avoidable state.

So we proceeded with the static, dockside portion of the engine survey.  We pulled oil samples of the mains, gears and genset, reviewed the findings of the pre-sale, in-the-water survey and sea trials I had already conducted and enjoyed a thorough Broker and Buyer inspection of the boat.  We rescheduled the under-way survey activities and modified the haul-out inspection for a future date.  This was then followed by lunch at a lovely, water front restaurant after which we headed to the airport.

Better safe then sorry…….

Posted in A Day in the Life of a Yacht Broker, About John Baier, Boating | 1 Comment

Mayor Announces America’s Cup Plans



San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced the issuance of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), a critical milestone in the planning for the America’s Cup events in 2012 and 2013 and the associated construction of the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27 by the Port of San Francisco.

“This is a major milestone for our efforts to bring the excitement of the America’s Cup events here to San Francisco,” said Mayor Lee. “The Draft EIR represents a significant and thorough effort by the City and its partners at the America’s Cup Event Authority and America’s Cup Race Management to analyze the impacts of the events. Now, with the help of further community input, we look forward to refining those plans even further in advance of the project approval process later this year.”

The economic impact of San Francisco hosting the 34th America’s Cup is significant, and includes an estimated 8,800 jobs, distributed widely across occupations from food and beverage to hospitality, transportation, and the construction trades, and nearly $1.4 billion in economic impacts to San Francisco and the Bay Area region.

The San Francisco Planning Department, pursuant to the San Francisco Administrative Code, Chapter 31, has determined that an EIR is required for both projects based on the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Draft EIR presents an analysis of the physical environmental effects of implementing the proposed 34th America’s Cup project and the proposed James R. Herman Cruise Terminal project. The Draft EIR addresses the full range of environmental topics required under CEQA, describing the environmental setting, assessing impacts, and identifying mitigation measures for potentially significant and significant impacts.

As set forth in the Draft EIR, the America’s Cup events in the City are proposed to include two separate nine-day America’s Cup World Series regattas in late summer 2012, followed by the Louis Vuitton Cup, The America’s Cup Challenger Series and America’s Cup Defender Series (if necessary) in July-August 2013 and the America’s Cup Finals from September 7-22, 2013.

If the proposal is approved as described in the Draft EIR, the core and shell of the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal would be constructed to house America’s Cup hospitality functions as part of the larger America’s Cup Village at Piers 27-29, before completion of the remainder of the facility following the America’s Cup events. Other key event locations would include Piers 30-32 (racing team bases), Pier 80 (racing team industrial bases), and park lands along the City’s northern waterfront where spectators would be expected to congregate.

“With our partners, we’ve focused on building a plan that will deliver the greatest America’s Cup ever seen, connecting millions of global fans back to the sport while respecting the needs and values of our host city and its residents,” said America’s Cup Race Management CEO and Regatta Director Iain Murray. “The proposal in the Draft EIR really supports that vision, and with further input from community, will enable us to stage an event that showcases San Francisco on the world stage as a top international destination and model for global sporting events.”

“The energy and commitment shown by the City and its America’s Cup partners with respect to the CEQA process has benefits even beyond the events,” said Planning and Conservation League (PCL) Executive Director Bruce Reznik. “By upholding the engagement process around these key environmental issues the America’s Cup is bolstering the commitment of the state of California to the thorough vetting of environmental impacts prior to the approval of projects.”

“We are witness to an incredible effort by the City to mobilize planning and environmental resources and expertise under a microscope of public scrutiny and compressed time frame,” said San Francisco America’s Cup Organizing Committee Chairman Mark Buell. “This feat makes our job of raising the funds necessary to pay for the environmental review a little easier as our donors will be honored to support the City’s herculean effort.”

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Blogging and Boating?

I founded Oceanic Yacht Sales in 1991 and for a number of years called myself a “broker of the 50s” because I have always enjoyed actually talking to my customers, either by phone or in person while keeping track of information on 3×5 cards.  Sounds simple but I like things simple and more importantly, it’s worked.  But times are a-changing and in today’s complex world,  it’s apparently not enough anymore.  People want more. There’s the computer, social media, the iphone and something new always around the corner. Now I consider myself a “broker of the 90s.”  I send emails.

But it’s hard to shake old habits when that means truly connecting with someone who shares my love of boating and fishing.  There’s a lot of joy in that so I guess I will continue trying to know my clients, share experience and knowledge and just maybe, build friendships in the process.  I’m not saying it’s easy as it becomes harder and harder in this fast paced, need it now world but I am tenacious and hopeful.  That is why Oceanic’s blog  will allow our visitors to get to know me and our staff better and at a time and place convenient for you.

There have been thousands of people who have walked through our doors here in Sausalito over the past 20 years and they all suffer the same affliction.  They want to be on the water, smelling the sea air, feeling a light breeze, the birds above, sharing with family and friends.  I discovered my “love” off the shores of Long Island in my first runabout I bought myself  at the age of 14 from money earned delivering the local newspaper, News Day.   I still have that boat.  I shipped it to Sausalito years ago and keep it at the office. Now my 16-year-old daughter, Amelia, plays with the runabout and like her father, has also discovered her love of the water and boating.

I hope to hear from you as our blog grows, answer related questions and have fun.  After all, isn’t that what boating is all about? And by the way, feel free to give me a call……..

The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.    Joseph Priestly

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