Bill Grunwald Memorial Row
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Bill Grunwald Memorial Row 

May 6, 2000
By Bill Stoye

Friday morning; Iím dragging myself with Anne in tow over the Santa Cruz Mountains in route to Elkhorn Slough, just going thru the motions, for some reason I donít seem to be able to muster up much enthusiasm. Joan, my wife says, "just go, itíll come", I promised Bill and Wendy Doll a ride, Ursala Grunwald goes thru a lot of time, effort and money putting on a feed for any TSCA members and guest that care to come, Bill Grunwald and I had rowed this slough many times together; this event is not about me.

Driving the speed limits and keeping to the trailer maximum speed limit is relaxing, a break from the Silicon Valley, high tech road stress. On Elkhorn Road there is a spot prior to reaching Kirby Park where the slough unfolds before you, it always gives me a boost when I see it; this time is no exception. Enthusiasm is creeping in.

The plan is to take my time rigging, have a bite for lunch, launch, go for a little sail, maybe to the Hwy.1 bridge, then anchor out near the launch ramp with a good book and Iíll be nearby and ready in the morning for the event. 

stoye-anne600.jpg (35042 bytes)
Bill Stoyes's "Anne" - Click on the Picture to see a larger version!)

Anne is an eighteen and a half foot Bud McIntosh daysailer, draws 11 inches, centerboard up, without the rudder, and16 inches with the rudder; designed as a sloop, converted to a yawl after sea trials here on Elkhorn Slough with a temporary rig. Jake Roulstone and I felt if the temporary yawl lash up worked here, itíll work anywhere, it does.
Pulling off Elkhorn Road onto the Kirby Park access road there are new gates and signs that read, "Gates close 10:00pm, Open 5:00am." Hmmm! "Well, I guess it should be OK to park overnight, I wonít need to get in or out. It was OK last year."
Rigging is tedious but completed, have a bite to eat and plan the single-handed launch. Backing down the ramp and getting out of the truck, I become aware of eyes on me, a gentleman has parked his car at the top of the ramp and makes no bones about watching my every move, likewise for a police officer who pulls up alongside him. The launching goes particularly well. Whew! The cop car pulls away.
Making Anne ready to get underway single-handed, the gentleman gets out of his car and walks down on the dock for closer observation, not a word is said between us, he never offers to help and I donít ask, wanting the experience of getting underway single-handed. Move Anne to the leeward side of the dock facing to windward, fore and aft dock lines looped around dock cleats and tied off to the onboard deck cleats, lower the centerboard halfway, unfurl the mizzen, raise the jib, not the mainsail, too much wind, cast off bowline, the bow falls off, cast off stern line, sheet in the mizzen, sheet in the jib; we are under sail! Looking back at the dock, the gentleman smiles, I smile, it would look smooth if I wasnít shaking so bad. Close scrutiny rattles me.
The tide started to ebb about 1:30pm, a half an hour ago; the wind is its normal northwesterly at about 12 to 16 knots and the sun wants to break thru the thin overcast, really nice sailing conditions; Anne and I are doing just fine. Jake tried to show me how to steer the boat without using the rudder during the yawl rig sea trial, that comes to mind, so weíre going down river just trimming sails; it becomes tiring paying that much attention, and I take back control using the tiller. Itíll be a piece of cake going to the bridge, into the wind but with the current, weíll be bucking the current on the return run, with this much wind itíll make no matter.
Under "Jib and Jigger," what a way to go; itís pleasing how well Anne goes to windward and becomes so manageable under this combination of sail; of course it helps to have a favorable current but sheíll move against one also. Tacks are going good; weíre now across from a farm that has cows jammed into a feeding lot, sorry conditions. On a port tack, "the water looks a little thin up ahead, better come about;" Anne gives a shudder.... "She hit! Get up the centerboard, get her head around; too late, it wonít go, fall off and jibe, this is driving us on harder, get the sails down, break out an oar and pry off, oh man, the oar blade broke off, itís the rudder, the rudder is stuck, geese thereís a lot of force on this thing, canít get the retainer pin out, push down on the head of the stock, pins out, got to try and pry us out of here or itís going to be a long stay. Come on Anne we donít want to be here all night! Oh man, the waterís getting thinner! Maybe Iíll have to get out and push. How firm is the mud? Will it support me? What if I canít get back in the boat?"
Remembering there is a swim ladder on board, I hang it off the stern just in case, stepping over the side, cautiously step out onto the mud, it just barely supports my weight, there is no way that I can do much pushing. Calm resignation or acceptance comes over me, as Iím aware that this is where weíll be Ďtil high tide. I had printed out the tide table for today and tomorrow and promptly left it on my desk, but I recall a high tide about midnight, as close as we are to the high tide line itís a good thing that itíll be a six foot tide.
Leaning on the wash boards trying to prevent sinking further in the mud; surveying the mud shoal and reflecting on what to do next, it dawns on me, "if the wind maintains this direction and force there is no way weíll be able to get off when the water returns, weíll just get driven up further, I need to put an anchor out. Iím already in the mud, whatís a little more?" Itíll need to go out about sixty feet or so, to where the shoal drops off. Getting out the anchor and chain, as I take the first step with the extra weight in my hands, I sink in the mud up to my knees. Two or more steps tell me this is not going to work. "Maybe I can drag it along on all fours, like a turtle." The anchor has eighteen feet of chain; Iíve been trying to get the courage to shorten it and this is on my mind as it adds considerably to the weight. Iíd like to get the anchor out further but "this will have to do, Iím out of gas," struggling in the mire is strenuous, "this would be a bad time to have a heart attack, take it easy." Getting back to the boat seems even tougher, finally reaching the boat, hanging on and resting for a few minutes before stepping onboard. The swim ladderís a joke; itís just a matter of stepping into the boat, like stepping onto your front porch step.
In the boat itís a mess, mud everywhere, looking at myself, soaking wet, black with mud, I look like Bríer Rabbit when he got through with the Tar Baby. "How am I going to clean up this mess? First things first, change your clothes. Oh...my wallets in my pocket, good thing itís mostly plastic." Stripped of my wet muddy clothes a tour boat with a dozen passengers onboard picks this moment to cruise by, a towel comes in handy, the skipper asks "Are you OK?" I assure him "I am", and ask him "When is high tide?" He tells me "7:30pm." "Iím sure thatís wrong, he must have misunderstood me, thatís low tide!" On his return he comes by again, this time I was dressed, and he ask "Do you need to contact anyone?" "No, Iíll just be here a little while... Thank you!"
Throwing out clumps of mud, rinsing off the wash boards with buckets of water and sponge, next the seats, drying them with a towel, have to do a good job, Wendy will be onboard tomorrow in her finery. Next the floorboards but the race is on, in a few minutes thereíll be no water to reach with the bucket. Itís a draw; time to take a nap.
About a half hour later, getting up from my well needed rest, Itís a little early to cook dinner, starting to get cool, winds blowing harder, the hand held wind meter is showing a minimum of 12 knots, frequently at 18 and gust to 30 knots. Strip again and put on my long underwear, no tour boats this time.
May as well pump out the bilge; the piston style hand pump exhaust into the centerboard trunk, as I pump, water geysers out of the centerboard pendent hole like a whale spouting, the slot for the centerboard is completely sealed off with mud due to being aground. "Well thatís not going to work!" And I had thought, "Itís so cool, having the pump exhaust into the trunk."
Sitting down on the floor boards gets me out of the wind, Iím cold but not unduly uncomfortable, read a little of the book I brought; ĎBlind Mans Bluffí, true submarine stories, running aground is not so bad compared to this stuff!
Go into the galley, get out tonightís dinner; Trader Joeís beef stew, instant potatoes in a cup, and a banana. As Iím "cooking" my meal, a very humbling thought occurs to me. "Our friends and fellow TSCA members, Clifford and Marion Cain have traveled around the world in a 23 ft. yawl.... I couldnít make it to the Hwy.1 Bridge from Kirby Park! Oh man!"
Back to reading the spooky sub book, the wind has abated and clocked around to the south with an easterly component, directly onshore and building back up, but not to the force it was from the northwest. Building a little fort using the duffle bag and anchor box, helps block the wind. Iím glad I put the anchor out despite the risk; itís never a good thing getting out of the boat and into the mud though. Anne and I still need the tide to be higher than normal. As Iím reading thereís a flash of light on the pages, looking up the sun has started itís evening show. The thin cloud coverage helps the show, what a treat! The flashing on the pages occurs another half dozen times before the sun extinguishes itself.
A battle is raging between the Ebb and Flood Tides, itís repeated three times a day, the ocean is battling with the slough to change direction, you just know the ocean is going to win, it seems to take forever, the Ebb gives in and the tide starts its Flood. The anchor has been dry for about four hours, and now the water is lapping at it; watching progress of the waters return, it is creeping back, the tide has itís own pace, waiting for release from our incarceration is an exercise in patience, the flood gains momentum. "Better put the book away and start paying attention to getting off the mud bank." The rudder is sitting on the aft deck, this and the outboard canít be installed until there is sufficient water, galley has been put away, the oar, rather push stick is ready, things are in reasonable order.
Water has surrounded Anne, Iím confident weíll be able to float, but still unsure of being able to overcome the wind blowing onshore, thereís no way we can sail off. Did the anchor get put out far enough to be able to install the rudder and outboard? Sheís starting to float; taking a little strain on the anchor line, when sheís afloat the stern will fall off, (weathervane). Testing the feel of the anchor line, slight movement can be detected, she inches forward and stops; "donít rush it, the anchor may drag." Keeping a steady pull on the anchor line she now moves a foot and stops, another foot, a couple more.... "Sheís free!" Bringing in the anchor line till it reaches the chain puts us in sixteen inches of water with eighteen feet of chain out. Now Iím glad I have all that chain.
Fumbling with the rudder, trying to line up the pintles and gudgeons is an exercise in brail. Itís very dark, there should be a sliver of a moon but it and the stars are hidden by cloud coverage, trying not to use the flashlight because every time itís turned on night vision is lost for five minuets. Install the tiller, retaining bolt, washer, nut and safety pin by brail. The outboard bracket is in place, hang the outboard, attach the safety lanyards, and weíre ready.
The outboard has only been used on the boat twice, so we donít know each other very well, it fires off on the second pull, life is good. Take in the anchor while the engine idles, rush back, crack the throttle open a little, she bucks the wind, weíre out of jail! Itís 9:45pm.
Being high and dry behind us, under power, heading back to the launch area, things are looking up. Itís a good thing thereís a few farm houses around in the hills, without out their lights shining on the water I wouldnít be able to tell where the water ends and the land starts. The little 1.2hp outboard is doing a fine job, running just above an idle, canít hardly see, being cautious, donít want to run aground again, there is no way to "read the water", steering where I think the water should be, the slough starts itís bend to the north. This is a bad area, local knowledge tells me the east side of the slough is very shallow and the "channel" sort of hugs the west bank, trying to thread a needle it the dark. The outboard sputters, Anne shudders, the outboard stops, itís quiet, and weíre aground!
Take off the rudder, more pushing, pulling and prying, the damage Iím doing to Anneís rub and toe rails is eating at me. Getting into deeper water the outboard wonít start, "it must be flooded;" now the incoming current is carrying us into a creek that I really donít want to go into. Putting the rudder back on and rowing out of there with one oar isnít easy. Back in deeper water, try to restart the outboard; it fires off, underway again.
This sequence of events occurs a few more times prior to dropping anchor across the slough from the Kirby Park parking lot after midnight. The dock was banging away while we were launching and I feel it would be better to anchor out than tie up to the dock. In the process of putting up the boom tent, I see a police car pull up along side my truck and trailer; it looks like he may be writing out a ticket. Canít be worrying about that, need to get some sleep; no patience to wait for the self-inflating air mattress to inflate, roll out the sleeping bag and out like a light.
Awakening to the sound of an airplane flying, a Cessna with floats is buzzing around; heís breaking the law flying so low, needs to be something like 500ft away from people! I slowly come to and realize this is a beautiful model being flown with a good deal of expertise, the "pilot" greaseís on a number of water landings.
Weíre high and dry again but this time Iím pretty sure weíll get off about 10:00am, in time for the Bill Grunwald Memorial Row. Hot oatmeal, a banana and two bad cups of coffee do for breakfast. TSCA members are filing into the parking lot and launching their boats. Jake Roulstone and his son in-law, Kenny Starr, paddle over in Jakes big cargo canoe and check up to see how weíre doing.
Afloat, outboardís idling along, Bill and Wendy Doll are ferried out and transfer at sea. No wind, yet, beautiful blue skies, putting along, Billís taking soundings with the stick, (used to be oar), weíre able to stay in the channel, life is good and calm is being restored to my world. Wendy, wearing her brand new and very nice windbreaker, "her finery", passes out a few goodies. Things are going well but Bill made a mistake; he didnít rinse the grapes! A conflagration ensues, the damage control party arrives, and peace is quickly restored. He should have rinsed the grapes.
Thereís a good size flotilla of rowboats and kayaks ahead of us and quite a few late starters and stragglers behind stemming the flood tide. Reaching the area near the cow lot, the breeze picks up. Those familiar with the area know we either have no wind or a lot of wind, little in between; today is no exception. We raise sail, put away the outboard, and proceed to have a delightful sail. Bill D is at the helm; Wendy and I tend the jib, tacking our way to a cove near the Moss Landing, PG&E Power Plant, and drop anchor. The self-propelled vessels are having a harder time of it, fighting both contrary wind and current.
The Hwy.1 Bridge precludes boats that canít readily lower their mast from going under to the Elkhorn Yacht Club for lunch, thatís us. Unsure of how we are going to get there, we hail down a little outboard launch going by, in it are two EYC members out for a joy ride, we hailed the right boat. In the yacht club lounge the TSCA members and guest are all wearing big smiles. I think theyíre happy to just get there; it was a tough pull.
Elkhorn Yacht Club has been gracious over the years allowing TSCA use of their club through fellow members, Bill and Ursala Grunwald; Ursala has now been carrying that on as well as providing lunch for the whole group on her own since the loss of Bill. This year, Ursala outdoes herself, what a spread! There is a table with appetizers, various kinds of crackers, cheeses and cold cuts, thereís a salad table, a selection of entrees and for those that believe, "dessert should be eaten first, because life is too short", a dessert table to die for. Even I couldnít sample everything.... believe it!
A small dent put in the food, exaggerations told, boaters make their way to their craft, getting underway for the return trip to Kirby Park. With the favorable wind, anyone with a handkerchief sets sail after the bridge. Andrew Church gives Bill, Wendy and I a lift to Anne, rigs sail while streaming off the stern, we raise Anneís main and jib, the mizzen was left set and sheeted in, Andrew lets loose, Bill raises anchor, Anne falls off and weíre under sail; Bill sets the new, never used whisker pole, I furl the mizzen, Anne wants to run.
Exhilarating! What a good ride. Bill suggest turning back and sailing with the rest of the fleet. Good idea but Iím tired and want to get the boat on the trailer, unrigged and on the road; lots of unrigging to do.
Clifford and Marion Cain are within hailing distance as we enter the turn of the dogleg that swings north to Kirby Park. "Need to be alert here, itís shallow," no sooner thought than done, hitting bottom the rudder digs in and we come to a screeching halt. "Not again!" Bill and Wendy go to the leeward bow, the rudder lifts out of the mud, and we sail off. "Where were you two last night, when I needed you?" As we go by the Cainís, Clifford mentions something about us finding the bottom again; it hadnít gone unnoticed.
A parking ticket is waiting for me when I return to the truck. While retrieving the boat on the trailer with plenty of help, the rest of the Armada arrives, and they get their boats and gear stowed. This has been a particularly good event; arduous conditions on the outbound leg, refreshing and exhilarating on the return, great vittles; a good turnout of people and boats, familiar faces and some new. Looking at the smiles on faces, I think most have enjoyed themselves. Ursala is pleased with the turnout as well as the event sponsor, Jake.
We read about Alden, Atkins, Culler, Gardner, the Herreshoffís and others, but to me, no one has done anymore than Bill Grunwald to put people in boats and has done so, single handedly and so quietly, avoiding notoriety! He promoted his boats by attraction, just showing up for events with his craft. His boats are up and down the West and East Coasts, in Alaska, Australia, and even in Patagonia. The last time Bill and I rowed together he said to me "you must have rowed this slough about thirty times now;" thinking about that, he was as close as I could come with a number; he was always thinking. If you told him you were going to row from Santa Cruz to Soquel, he could tell you how many strokes it was. If the tide was favorable (high) in the slough, we would take Billís "short cut;" the "short cut" added another mile to the row, we saw more that way. Bill was quite and it was hard to know what was on his mind but I do know he loved Elkhorn Slough and introduced everyone he could to it, including me. When the influx of kayaks appeared, he felt it was a good thing; they would help to keep the slough open for our use. I am sure Bill would be pleased with todayís event, if it were at all possible for anyone to speak for another.
 

This event is not about me.
Best Regards;
Bill Stoye

You may contact the author at: skiffworks@earthlink.net