Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rico from Gate 5 in Sausalito

Rico sported a mustache and goatee, and leaned towards the serious side. Actually he had somewhat of a menacing presence. At the least he exuded an air that warned people not to mess with him. He was little less than average height, with long hair to the neck, and had a packed, solid build. Rico was a generation older than most living in the Sausalito Houseboat Community circa 1971. He was building a wood boat when I knew him. It was a 30 foot double ended boat on stays off the swaying wood dock leading to his and Dolly’s flat bottom houseboat in Gate 5. I’d see Rico working and knew he was building a fine boat because I saw that for myself. Dolly had cascading red hair and alabaster skin. She was about 30 years younger than Rico and the love of his life.  

I lived anchored out on the water in my wood 25 foot cabin cruiser. I’d anchor out at different places at different times, maybe off the Heliport or Gate 3. Or maybe off Gate 6 or Gate 5. At any of these designations of waterfront location among the houseboat people, I’d anchor where ever I wanted. Nobody charged rent on the waterfront. I had paid $700 for the cabin cruiser with the anchor and chain thrown in for free.

I liked to move to one Gate for a time and then to another. I'd visit neighbors who anchored out, but I had friends who lived on docked houseboats to visit and a frequent need to land for food or to shower or do laundry. I’d skull my dinghy from my cabin cruiser to a dock and tie it up. Gate 3 was not as protected from the open sea as the other Gates. The Heliport, so named because it had a working heliport, along with Gates 5 and 6 generally had much calmer water. If there was a storm all bets were off and the wind and rain turned the water into a thrashing sea that amply demonstrated the power of nature. 

I anchored quite a bit off Gate 5, thus running fairly often into Rico working on his boat. I’d ask questions. Rico eventually felt he liked my company enough to invite me to his houseboat.

We probably smoked pot. We were talking, and at some point Rico claimed to be a Warlock. At that I instantly scoffed but he retorted “I could stop your heart now!" I shut up. I felt if he feels that way it might be true and I’d better just take him at his word. I didn't question his claim after that exchange. And we stayed on good terms.

Rico started to build a new boat. It was a long, slim boat that reminded me of a high end canoe. When it was painted and complete, I was impressed at how expert a craftsman Rico was. It was a splendidly built boat and Rico was justifiably proud of his work. But when he boarded it, I became aghast. The gunnels of the port and starboard sides lowered to hardly more than an inch above the water line. 

To be continued...       

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