Category: Sausalito


Video and photographs by Shaun Edward

The 59th Sausalito Art Festival is open for business this Labor Day Weekend. Of course, this fact will already have been figured out the hard way by anyone trying to go anywhere in Sausalito this weekend. The Art Festival is by far the biggest annual event held is Sausalito, and the scale of the festival is expanded thanks open gallery viewings around the town.

Getting to the festival can be an adventure in itself. Those who drove could chose from paying ten dollars to park far away and take the provided shuttle buses, or could pay a staggering twenty dollars t0 to park near the festival entrance–although by 2pm the twenty dollar parking lot appeared to be totally full. Of course, many chose to walk to the festival as well, but those who did had to keep a constant eye out for the “shuttles,” which were actually enormous tour busses barreling down the industrial backroads that lead the festival entrance. There were parking-control type people pretty much everywhere you looked, many feeling extra-authorative in their official-looking but powerless reflective vests.

Pay a slightly staggering twenty five dollar entrance fee, and the stress and hubbub of the parking lots transforms into a world of high art and big money behind the festival gates. There’s no mistaking festival’s target demographic from the moment you enter, in no small part thanks to the Aston Martin and Jaguar convertibles on display just inside the festival entrance.

Sausalito Art Festival Entrance

As expected, the art on exhibition doesn’t come cheap either. While there certainly are pieces available in the sub-500 dollar range, the number only goes up from there–five-figure-plus pieces were not hard to spot.

But this is not to take away from the quality of the art on display, because much of it was truly amazing. Sausalito has a vibrant art scene, and local artists were well represented, like painter Anne Davis of Sausalito.  I don’t know how much a booth costs for the Sausalito Art Festival, but artists must be invited and you can be sure that it does’t come cheap, so it’s nice to see local artists represented.

Artists made the trip from far away as well. One of Sausalito Waterfront’s favorites was Jeffrey Zachman, who’s kinetic sculptures drew a constant crowd to his booth. Zachmann made the trip from Minnesota. Other favorites included Adam Homan of Tuscon, Arizona, whose metal-scupture critters stare back at you with beady fiber optic eyes. “You are not just looking at art,” his business card reads. “Art is looking at you!”

We’re big fans of metal work at Sausalito Waterfront. Bruce Macdonald’s booth was hard to miss, given that it was covered in the shiny metal panels that Macdonald works with. Similarly impressive was Michael Gard, who was hard to miss thanks to the delicately constructed wire human forms that hung around his booth. Another favorite was Theodore Gall’s elaborate cast sculptures–many of which were interactive.

Floating People Sculptures Sausalito Art Festival

If wandering around looking at art you couldn’t afford got boring, there were plenty of distractions available. Alcohol–though pricey–seemed to be flowing freely, and there were clearly some festival goes who’d had a drink or three too many. Not that it would be a hard mistake to make, as there was somewhere to exchange your hard-earned for booze virtually anywhere you looked, including a “food” truck where attractive women served patrons Kahlua or rum, as well as a dockside bar offering a huge variety of mixed drinks.

Drinking aside, there were two stages, the lesser of the two was surround by artist’s booths and played appropriate-but-forgettable music during our visit. The other, the Main Stage, was somewhat less tasteful. During our visit, the Main Stage–and indeed most of the festival–was dominated by the wafting sounds of hard rock songs from the stuck-in-the-80s cover band. While there was without a doubt a good crowd enjoying rocking out to songs from their glory years, equally amusing was the man muttering “It’s way too loud” as he wandered away from the stage, or the comedy of watching an artist haplessly located right off the Main Stage try and talk about the intimacies of his jewelry with interested couples over the blasting Bon Jovi covers.

Face Sculpture Sausalito Art Festival

There was also food, and while we chose not to partake in throwing any more of our money into Sausalito’s coffers, there certainly appeared to be a great variety to choose from, ranging from whole smoked turkey legs to crab cakes and veggie wraps.

But as is too often the case in Sausalito, to get the most out of the festival takes a lot more than the budgets of many have to spare. To truly experience all the Sausalito Art Festival has to offer would easily turn into a hundred-dollar date after the entrance fees, a few rounds of drinks and some food, not to mention the parking or ferry costs. Just hope she doesn’t settle on that thousand dollar oil painting.

Video by Shaun Edward

More than anything else Angel Island–the largest island in San Francisco Bay–is known for its immigration station. Opened in 1910 and operational until 1940, more than 1 million immigrants passed through the station–sometimes refferred to as “The Ellis Island of the West.”

The  Station was closed following a fire in 194o. But the military, which had first opened a quarantine hospital at Ayala Cove  in 1891, continued to be a presence on the island until the Nike Missle site built on the Island’s southern tip was closed in 1962. The State Park Service, which had started buying land on the island in 1954, took over complete control of the Angel Island.

Today, Angel island can only be accessed by boat via Ayala Cove, right across the Raccoon Straight from Tiburon. A ferry ticket from Tiburon costs $13.50 for adults 13 and up, and includes covers the park entrance fee as well.

Ayala Cove Angel Island Boat Docks

The docks at Ayala Cove can handle boats up to 50 feet long. Photo by Shaun Edward

For those wising to take their own boats there–as Sausalito Waterfront did–there are docks available for day use at Ayala Cove as well, which can accommodate boats of up to 50 feet. Docks cost $15 per boat for an all day pass, and mooring buoys are also available for $30 a night.

Ayala cove is the gateway to the rest of the island. Here you’ll find a cafe, bicycle and locker rentals, and Tram and Segway tours for those who don’t like to do their walking the old fashioned way. For people not wanting to shell out anymore cash than it already took to get there, there are also picnic tables and grills for public use.

There are trails for hiking and biking all over the island (click here for a map), but we’d recommend the 5-mile Perimeter Road for first time visitors. The paved road winds its way around the island, passing all the historically significant spots–the Immigration Station, Camp Reynolds, and the Nike Missile site, just to name a few.

Camp Reynolds Angel Island State Park

Photo by Shaun Edward

Angel Island’s south side probably offers the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and San Francisco, but there really are no bad views here. Not only are the views of San Francisco Bay stunning, but the natural beauty of the island itself is also worth taking the time to appreciate. If you want the ultimate in 360 degree view, it’s worth the climb to 733-foot tall Mt. Livermore, the top of the island.

San Francisco Bay view from Angel Island State Park

Photo by Shaun Edward

Angel Island State Park is open seven days a week from 8am to Sunset. Wherever you may choose to wander on the Island, you’ll probably need to come back again and again before you’ve had your fill.

 

 

 

Shaun Edward Photography

The annual Sausalito Art Festival is a big deal around Sausalito, so it’s no surprise that preparations are well underway. The festival won’t open until Saturday, September 3rd, but crews were busy over the weekend at Marinship Park.

Photo by Shaun Edward

As usual, festival tickets don’t come cheaply–25 dollars for a one-day general admission or a 40-dollar pass good for all three days. Senior (62 and over) and Junior (12 and under) tickets are also available for 15 and 5 dollars, respectively. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending the Sausalito Art Festival before, you’ll quickly need to learn that nothing comes cheaply. Beer, wine, champagne and a whole variety of foods will be available–and I promise they’ll all be delicious–but you should also be prepared to pay for the privilege.

The art, too, doesn’t often come cheaply at the festival (or in Sausalito as a whole, for that matter) but once you’re in the festival, it doesn’t cost anything to appreciate the art, and with hundreds of artists from all over California, the country and the globe, there’s sure to be something for everyone. Just bring the checkbook or the platinum card if you want to take something home.

Photo by Shaun Edward

The Art Festival’s official site boasts “14 acres of paid parking, including handicapped areas,” but what they don’t boast is that you’ll have to pay for it. Still, at least your parking fee gets you a free shuttle ride from the lot to the festival. Alternative transportation options abound as well: The Marin Bicycle Coalition provides a free  bicycle valet service, Blue and Gold Fleet will run a direct ferry service between Pier 41 in San Francisco and the Bay Model dock at the Art Festival, and there will also be shuttle busses between the festival and the Golden Gate Ferry dock in downtown Sausalito.

Below you’ll find some useful links to festival information, and don’t forget to check back to this site for coverage and photos of the 59th Annual Sausalito Art Festival.

Sausalito Art Festival website

Buy Art Festival tickets online

Festival Map

Parking information/map

Festival Hours

Saturday, September 3rd, 10am to 6pm
Sunday, September 4th, 10am to 6pm
Monday September 5th, 10am to 5pm


Festival Program

Blue and Gold Art Festival Ferry schedule

Photo by Shaun Edward

Sausalito in time

While your intrepid blogger is abandoning Sausalito for a month to go home for the holidays, I’ll leave you with this, a compilation of time lapses taken in and around Sausalito. Hope you enjoy, and have a happy holiday season.

Music: Bells, by Marco Esu, Creative Commons, used with permission.

Time lapses produced by Graham Henderson

Keep an eye on the “Not Sausalito” section as I may try to post some things while I’m away.

Sausalito, Calif. has a rich history, spanning from the enormous ship yards cranking out liberty ships in World War Two to the hippy-heavy counter-culture that sprung up around the shipyards during the 1960s and 70s.

Today, Sausalito is a distinctly  affluent community which has secured a place in the art world, thanks in part to its annual art show and plethora of galleries.

But however Sausalito might change, its past will not be lost, thanks to the Sausalito Historical Society, which works to document the city’s history, preserve important historical artifacts and buildings, and also provide the public access to historical records and documents.

The Historical Society operates out of two rooms in Sausalito’s City Hall, but also has a downtown visitor’s center that’s open daily to the public. The society also has an exhibit on the  shipyard that built liberty ships to support the war effort. The exhibit is open to the public, and is located at the Bay Model and open to the public.

Sausalito Historical Society President Larry Clinton and society volunteer Bea Sielder were both kind enough to share not only the Historical Society’s goals with us, but as both are long-time Sausalito residents, they also provided some insights into the changes that the town has gone through over the years.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Heavy overnight rains combined with a high tide over six feet led to flooding in parts of Sausalito’s Waldo neighborhood.

While high tides flooded parking lots are nothing out of the ordinary for Sausalito’s houseboat residents, the high tides backed up storm drains, preventing rain water from draining into the bay, making the flooding worse than usual.

The entrance to Issaquah Dock was completely under water.

Parts of the Mill Valley-Sausalito Path were under water, and Caltrans crews closed the Highway 1 northbound exit on U.S. 101 while they worked to clear clogged drains.

Caltrans was kept busy, opening up drains and closing flooded roads near the Highway 1 North exit.

Houseboat residents had no choice but to put on their boots and go about their Sunday.

Gate 5 Road was completely flooded over in front of the Anchorage 5 building, and the water was deep enough that only trucks were able to get through. Other traffic was using the building’s parking lot as a detour.

A bicyclist makes his way along a flooded Gate 5 Road.

Roads were also flooded near Strawberry Village and Tam Junction.

Trucks make their way across a flooded intersection near Tam Junction.

As the high tide recedes, most of the flooding drains off into the bay. The high tides are nothing new for residents of the Gate 6 Cooperative–the ragtag bunch of houseboats that have yet to be integrated into an organized dock.

Even though most of the path was above water, any intrepid users had to watch their step if they wanted to stay dry.

 

The entrance to the Gate 6 Cooperative was completely flooded.

This is usually a gravel parking lot.

The high tide flooded the lawn near the Kappas Marina West Pier.

The Mill Valley-Sausalito Path just barely remained dry.

After being harassed mercilessly for years by angry Bay Area environmentalists, your intrepid blogger finally got to use four wheel drive.

Perhaps the most famous and recognizable part of the Sausalito waterfront are the town’s famous houseboats. While this once-alternative community has lost some it’s 60’s charm to development and and vacation renters, there is still a unique vibe to the houseboat docks.

Click on the image below for an audio slideshow that captures some of the docks’ counter-culture charm.

Click on the image to view the audio slideshow

Produced by Graham Henderson

Voices (in order) Gidion Butler, Shaun Goo

Music Standing in the Mud by Luke Tan (Creative Commons, used with permission)

Sausalito is not known as a particularly polluted area. Still, there is an industrial side of Sausalito that stretches from Dunphy Park along the waterfront to the houseboats at Waldo Point on Gate 5 Road.

Along this stretch there are boatyards, film processing centers, ceramics factories, and automotive shops, just to name a few. Many of these companies are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency because they release pollutants of one type or another. The EPA’s website offers specific details about each company–what kind of pollutants they release, where the site is located, and also the demographics of people living near by. It’s a very cool Web site, enter your zip code to check out where you live.

The result of this bit of industry is that there are some cancer-causing air pollutants in Sausalito. While the odds of actually getting cancer from these are slim–less than 27 in 1 million, to be precise–the chance is still there. Below is a graph that shows what pollutants may have cause that pesky cancer if you happen to be one of those poor 27 per 1 million people. At least it should help you figure out who to sue.

While there are no dangerous superfund sites in Sausalito, there is one site in the Marin Headlands listed by the EPA of having toxic releases. The site is listed as belonging to Service Engineering Company, and while the address given was Pier 38 in San Francisco, the EPA’s map showed the actual location as being in the Headlands.

Below is a graph showing the demographics of the residents who live within a mile of the site. Too often, minorities and poor people are the ones who have to live near toxin-releasing sights. But this being Marin County, the the vast majority of the thausand-or-so residents have college degrees and are fluent English speakers. At least it’s bucking the trend.

All in all, Sausalito, and Marin County in general, are quite pristine when it comes to air quality. But nonetheless, people should know about what poses a potential risk in their neighborhood, so make sure to check out the EPA’s site, it’s their job to tell you, after all. May as well get something for your high property taxes.

Richardson Bay is dotted with boats anchored offshore. Viewed from a distance–say while looking down from Mount Tamalpais or the Marin headlands–all the anchored boats make for a picturesque postcard.

But up close, it’s a very different situation. The anchored boats come in all shapes and sizes. There are small runabouts no larger that 17 feet that would be more at home pulling waterskiers on Lake Sonoma than running around San Francisco Bay. There are sailboats–very small and very large–some with their masts and rigging still intact, others that are just floating hulls. There are large motoryachts, some that look like they might still be able to move under their own power, and others that look as though they haven’t moved in years. There are few ex-commercial fishing boats too–their huge steel hulls looming ominously over the nearby pleasure boats. There’s even one large barge piled high with old dredging equipment.

This old barge is piled high with miscellaneous junk. It wasn't clear if it was also someone's home.

But most of these boats have one thing in common: They are all in various states of disrepair. Look at it this way: the owners of these boats couldn’t afford a slip to keep them at, so instead they’ve been anchored offshore. And if a yacht owner can’t afford $300 a month for a slip, then they definately can’t afford the upkeep required to keep the boat spic and span.

Many of the anchored out vessels also serve as a home for their owners. Afterall, being anchored in the bay is free, but it’s free for a reason. There’s no electricity, water, or sewer system. Fuel for generators and drinking water all has to be brought over from shore by a dingy.

Oar or outboard powered dinghies are the only link to shore for the anchor outs.

While there are certainly a handful of seaworthy yachts simply anchored in the bay as they tranist their way up or down the West Coast, it’s obvious that for most live aboards anchored out, thier owners are one step from being homeless. Some boats are piled high with gear and junk, others are covered with makeshift shelters made out of blue plastic tarps.

Junk covers what was once the aft deck and cockpit of this double-ended ketch.

The anchor-outs are sometime seen as part of Sausalito’s appeal–as a throwback to the 1960s when Sausalito was more artsy counter-culture than yuppy–Marin Nostalgia has all sorts of interesting history on about Marin County and the anchor outs. But despite this, dilapidated boats riding at anchor also present a number of hazards.

It may be small, but the solar panels on this sloop give it away as a live aboard.

With no “honey barge” pump-out option in Sausalito, many live-aboards at anchor dump their sewage directly into the bay, polluting the water. But it is the anchors and anchor lines themselves that actually do the most environmental damage.

That’s because each anchored boat needs to have at least 50 feet of anchor line out, even in Richardson Bay’s relatively shallow water. (In order to hold, the anchor line needs to be at least 3 or 4 times the depth of the water.) So every time the tide changes or the wind shifts, the boats swing around, and some of the anchor line drags across the bottom. As it does so, it kills any seagrass, mussels, or other organisms that usually help keep the water clear. The dragging line also stirs up silt, clouding the bay. (Editor’s note: I read a great op-ed piece about this, but now I can’t find it, if someone remembers where it is please let me know!)

There is another danger as well. During winter storms, boats sometimes break away from their anchors and are left drifting. The boats are typically blown toward Tiburon, and smash into the docks and homes of residents there–often causing thousands of dollars of damage to the home, not to mention the cost of removing the boat. An excellent article in the Marin Independent Journal provides a typical example of what happens during a storm.

While I've seen this boat securely anchored for over a year now, if such a large boat were to break free in a storm, the damage could be consierable.

There have been proposals in the past to clear the boats out, or to at least provide mooring balls, but for now, it seem like this charming-yet-problematic part of Sausalito will remain.

Marin County is known for being a bicycle-friendly place. That is, it’s bicycle friendly if you aspire to be Lance Armstrong, and like getting dressed up in your favorite team’s jersey and tight shorts and then riding your carbon fiber road bike over twisty mountain passes.

But for an average person, or even an average cyclist, Marin is not terribly inviting. That’s because most of Marin’s towns are laid out it a North-South line along the 101 freeway. It’s great for drivers–I can get from Sausalito to Novato in 20 minutes–but having a freeway as the county’s main artery is difficult for those who’d rather walk or bike.

But Sausalito and Mill Valley have managed to find a way around the problem, thanks to the aptly named Mill Valley-SausaltSausalito Path.

The wide path provides plenty of space for trail users of all types and abilities.

The paved, 3.5 mile path stretches from Gate 5 Road in Sausalito all the way to Vasco Court in Mill Valley. The path is literally the only way for pedestrians walking from Sausalito to get anywhere north of Gate 6 Road, as the only road is the 101 freeway.

Luckily, then, the path is extremely pleasant to walk or ride on. The path is paved all the way, and for much of the way, there are dirt or gravel paths on the side was well, ideal for those who don’t like jogging on hard pavement.

Heading North, after passing the Bait Shop Market and Mike’s Bikes–both ideal places if you or your machine needs some refreshment–the path parallels the shore of the Pickleweed Inlet. Just before crossing under the 101, there’s a small seaplane and helicopter airport that offers aerial tours of San Francisco should you be so inclined.

Physical activity not for you? Hope on a helicopter or seaplane tour instead.

After passing under the freeway–don’t worry, it’s not too creepy in the underpass–the path makes its way across the wetlands in the Bothin Marsh Preserve. This is the most beautiful part of the path. There are wooden bridges over small inlets and canals and an abundance of bird and marine life. Tidal wetlands are, after all, the most productive ecosystems in the world. Dogs are allowed on the main trail if kept on a leash, but are prohibited on the smaller side trails to prevent damage to the wetlands.

Ok, so maybe it's a little bit creepy.

One word of warning, though: Because it’s built on a levi across the tidal wetlands, the path is occasionally underwater during the highest tides. Forget to check before you go, and you might be coming home with wet shoes–that or waiting for the tide to recede.

The inlets and canals can be kayaked during higher tides, but be careful, the tidal currents can be surprisingly strong.

After crossing the wetlands, the path passes Tamalpais High School before continuing through several of Mill Valley’s parks. If you’re trying to get to downtown Mill Valley, take a left on the sidewalk at East Blithedale Avenue.

The Redwood Bridge takes U.S. 101 across Richardson Bay. The original bridge was actually made of redwood, hence the name.

The traffic on the path is usually quite heavy, and ranges from kids walking to and from school to the ever-present hardcore cyclists. It helps to get out of their way, because even though the path speed limit is 15 miles per hour, there’s little enforcement.

It’s an easy and flat walk, but 3.5 miles is farther than most Americans walk in a week, so make sure to wear decent walking shoes if it’s your first time.

The South end of the path provides view of Sausalito's famous houseboats.