Thank you to Scott for giving me time on a foggy Monday morning. Scott is apprenticing in the art of building wooden boats at the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center located in Sausalito. Scott also rents space in a workshop a few blocks down where he and a friend are building a wooden dory skiff that they hope to sell when complete.
He lives on the Famiglia Santa, which is anchored in Richardson Bay. This boat was an operational fishing boat from 1926- 2006. It was refashioned shortly thereafter to include living quarters. We set off at low tide crossing the walkway over mud flats and barnacle-laden pillars. Scott rowed us out to his home in what I suspect is actually a one-person rowboat. After a series of awkward movements involving us getting our legs untangled, we were underway. A harbor seal followed us to the main boat while coots and a grebe continued about their watery business. A metal fishing boat motored farther offshore, a man in a red slicker waving. I later saw three of these boats lined up cranking in their nets just off the coast. Tourists gathered in clumps taking pictures, the netted fish glinting in the dull light, while seals and gulls surrounded the boats waiting for lost fish.
There is no real electricity on the boat although there is a solar panel that supplies energy for small mounted lamps in the “living room.” A lack of electricity means no refrigeration so food on the boat must be nonperishable. There is a burner run on propane that is used to cook meals and also doubles as a heater when a terra cotta pot is put over the flame. Coffee, whiskey and canned smoked oysters were favorite food and drink items.
We sat in the living room with light from the rippling water reflected onto the ceiling above, all calm except for the barking of seals congregated farther south. Scott said that often he sits here and sees pelicans dive-bombing for fish. He has never seen a shark but once saw a dolphin approach the boat. With no computer or internet, Scott writes letters, draws and reads. Everything on the boat is compactness and simplicity. Every item has its place as there is no room for the disorderly. Maps and fishing rods find their space lashed to the ceiling while canvas bags attached to the walls hold and conceal smaller items. Scott will most likely return to his hometown of New Orleans when he has completed his apprenticeship in May. All the photos from that morning can be viewed at Scott’s Living Space.