Marina Life: A Friend In the Bathroom

It was only our second day at Kona Kai marina, and we were really making ourselves at home.  After spending a night at La Quinta in Old Town and getting our land legs back, we drove back to Shelter Island and pulled into the large parking lot between the Kona Kai hotel and the Best Western Island Palms.  After paying a visit to the dock master to retrieve our gate keys and parking passes, we returned to the boat, our floating island home.

Living on a man-made island that is only populated by resorts is actually quite lovely.  There is usually very little traffic, and the south side of the island is one long greenbelt dotted with picnic tables and bougainvillea. It’s also the windward side of the island, meaning the side from which the wind usually blows.  On the northern , or leeward side of the island, sits the marina.  The location is ideal, being well protected from the wind and facing the lovely homes with private beaches that cover the hillside of Point Loma.  To the west is the Naval Submarine Base, and to the east is Harbor Island, Coast Guard Sector San Diego, and the airport.

We spent the morning rearranging the cabin of the boat, and doing menial tasks like taking out the garbage, washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, and taking inventory of supplies and provisions we needed to get.  Around noon, one of Brent’s best friends- Joey “Tortuga” Sansom”- called to see if surfing was on the day’s agenda.  He said the Cliffs looked all right, and did we want to meet up?  The answer was a resounding “Yes!!”  We hadn’t surfed since Santa Barbara, and we were both itching to get in the water.

Early in the afternoon we met up with Tortuga at the top of the hill overlooking Sunset Cliffs.  We’d driven in the entrance on Point Loma Nazarene campus, which is a private Christian university with a stellar view.  We suited up and hiked… and hiked, and hiked until we reached the bottom of the cliffs. There a natural rock stairway has been worn into the hillside by scores of surfers traversing the same path on the mission to score some waves.

After only surfing once on the sail down, and only twice in the three months prior to that, I was totally out of shape, and the paddle out informed me of my less-than-perfect condition.  I watched as Joey and Brent paddled out to the lineup with a quickness, and I harnessed my chi and paddled to meet them.  Twenty minutes later, I arrived in the lineup.  The waves were pretty good that day, shoulder high and working on the mid tide.  Sunset Cliffs is an awesome break, because there’s so many peaks to choose from, and it has something to offer every surfer.  Whether you long board, short board, fun board, or fish board, when there is swell, there is something for everyone… even the dreaded stand up paddle boarders.  It took some time for me to figure out “Garbage,” the peak where we were surfing.  The Cliffs are all reef break, so often the wave coming in will jack up like it’s going to throw, and then it backs off and disappears.  Other times a fun wedgie wave will appear out of nowhere- wedgie like peaky and thick, not wedgie like underwear up the butt.  Maybe sometimes like that, but not so far as I’ve experienced.  The waves I was particularly enjoying were super-mellow reforms, which would build outside, break, and then cool off a bit- it was easy to catch them right in the crest after they broke, then surf it almost all the way to the beach.

We stayed out for a few hours before calling it- the tide had come up quite a bit, and it was pretty swamped out.  Paddling in, all three of us were hungry and ready to find some food.  Joey told us there was good Mexican food nearby, and I think we both started drooling.  After hiking back up the cliff, we changed out and jumped in the 4runner, and followed Joey as he led us to the food.

We went to Rancho’s Mexican Food in Ocean Beach, a cool restaurant on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. that offers a wide range of vegan, vegetarian, and meat-lovers food.  Brent and Joey both ordered the Surf ‘N’ Turf burrito, which is carne asada, shrimp, guac, cheese, and beans.  They kept it truly So Cal by adding potatoes.  I ordered a pollo asado burrito, and we snagged a lentil, avocado and cheese to take back to Rosy, Joey’s wife.  I look forward to going back to Rancho’s many times, and trying their vegan salad bar and desserts.  If you’re in the OB area, you should try it too.

After hanging out at Joey’s house with Rosy and Connor, their amazingly cute eight month old son, we said “adios” and went back to the boat.

That night we celebrated our arrival by opening a bottle of champagne, and inviting friends over to our new place.  I wish I could give you more details, but the night wore on in the usual fashion- our first overnight guest on the boat was our good friend Russell Black, who came over, had some drinks, and was game enough to stay in the v-berth, snuggled up amongst all of our crap.  He swears to this day that it was comfortable and cozy between the propane stove, tennis rackets, and our makeshift dressers full of all our clothes.

So many nights now have come and gone with friends, and fun, and partying on the boat.  It would be impossible to go back and blog them all, but I remember this night in particular, because it was the night I met my friend Liz.

If you’ve kept up on, then you know a bit about Liz.  She’s my favorite new friend.  We met in the bathroom at the marina the second night we were there.  As fate would have it, Liz and her husband Charlie (or Chuck)  moved in the very same day that Brent and I did!  On the evening we met, Brent and Russell and I were hanging out on the boat and had moved on from champagne to cocktails.  Living on a boat, people seem to think the requisite thing to bring as a hostess gift is booze.  The result?  The icebox in our boat is bursting with bottles of every spirit imaginable.  Naturally, in our effort to get rid of it, we peer pressure guests to imbibe.  To even things out, we imbibe with them.

It should come as no surprise that while imbibing, one often has to use the facilities.  It was around seven in the evening when I walked up to the marina restroom at the top of the gangway, and after fumbling with my card key, let myself in.  As I pushed the door open, my face encountered with a wall of steam, and I heard the sound of a blowdryer in the background.  Rounding the corner, I saw a pretty girl about my age standing at the sink, with her toiletries strewn about the counter, and a duffel bag of clothing exploding onto the bench behind her.  No doubt, this girl was a boat woman, like yours truly.  Imagine my excitement at finding a young lady amongst a marina of mostly retired couples and grizzled single men over sixty.  My champagne buzz only heightened my enthusiasm, and I greeted this girl with a major grin and a bubbly, animated conversation.

“Hi!  How are you?  Do you live here?!”  I said, as I scurried into the nearest stall.

“Yeah, I do.  Do you?” she replied easily, which I took as a sign that she wanted to be best friends.

“I do!! We just got here,” I began,”like, two days ago.  We sailed our boat down from Morro Bay, now THAT was an adventure.  So, tell me, do you like it here?  How is it living on a boat?  Are you married?”  In hindsight, I realize this is a lot of questions to ask all at once, but I was on a roll.

“I love it!” she exclaimed, “That is so weird, we just got here two days ago too!  We are on the first dock, the blue canvas boat closest to the gangway.  My husband and I brought our boat down from LA, yeah I’m married.”

Walking out from the stall, I sidled up next to her at the sink and began washing my hands.  Our reflections made eye contact in the mirror, and we both smiled.

“So have you ever lived on a boat before?  This is my first time.  I really like it too, it’s just so amazing to feel like every day is a vacation!  Your hair is so pretty, I wish my hair was that long.  I’m taking pre-natal vitamins, because I heard that will make it grow.  I’m trying to get it really long for my wedding.  It’s supposed to be this fall, but Brent is in the Coast Guard, so I don’t know if he’ll get it off work.  Do you work?”  No boundaries, no limits, just non-stop Chatty Cathy.  That’s me.

“Well, this is my first time on a boat,” she replied, “but my husband lived on a sailboat in Mission Bay while we were dating, so I kind of knew what I was getting into.  You can totally grow your hair out, you know what also helps?  Pre-natals are great, and try braiding it every day because seriously it makes your hair so much stronger.  That’s so cool that you’re having a fall wedding!  We just got married last October, and it was so beautiful here.  You should look at Balboa Park.”

Love. This. Girl.  She is SO friendly, and doesn’t think it’s weird that we are befriending each other instantly in a bathroom because we live on boats.  I grabbed a paper towel and started drying my hands.

“Well, we should totally be friends,” I said, “because you seem amazing and I don’t have any friends here!  Do you work?  Are you in school?  I’m going to be in school this fall, but right now I’m not working yet so if you want to hang out and go stand up paddle boarding or bring your husband over and barbeque that would be so fun!”

She switched off the blowdryer and turned to me.

“I’d love to!” she said with a smile, “I do work, two jobs, but I am off Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Do you guys have the gym pass?  If not, you can use mine.  It gets you into the pool, too, so we could go lay out and swim.”

“That sounds great, let’s try to do that next week!  What’s your name?” I asked.  She extended her hand, and we shook.

“I’m Elizabeth, what’s yours?” she asked, as she picked up the blowdryer again.  Her hair reached all the way down her back, and I marvelled at it, envious that my hair never gets past my shoulder blades.

“Amelia,” I replied, “it’s so awesome to meet you!  We are on H-dock, the gray canvas all the way at the end, you can’t miss us.  We’re the Following Seas.

“Ok,” said Elizabeth, “we’re Windsong.  Come over anytime!”

“Ok, bye!” I said, and walked out of the bathroom, overjoyed to have made a new friend so soon after arriving at the marina.  Life is grand, I thought to myself as I swiped the keycard to the gangway gate and trotted happily back to the boat.

As soon as I stepped up on the deck, before either Brent or Russell had a chance to speak I said “Guesswhat?!?!  I made a new friend in the bathroom, her name is Elizabeth, she lives on that dock over there-,” pointing, “…and she’s really nice and has really long hair and she said if I braid mine it will grow and she’s married to her husband and they want to barbeque with us sometime isn’t that cool?”

Brent and Russell were laughing and then Brent said, “That’s great babe!  I’m so happy for you that you made a friend in the bathroom.  Is there any way we could get a refill?” he asked, shaking the ice in the bottom of his red plastic party cup.  I picked up Russells cup and noticed it was empty too.

“Gosh, you guys, didn’t I just fill these up before I left?  Wow, ok, no prob, I’ll fill ‘em.”  I started down the companionway ladder.

“Babe,” Brent said with a smile, “you were gone for like forty-five minutes!”

“Really?”  I asked incredulously.  “Wow.  I didn’t realize!  We were having so much fun.”

With that, I refilled all of our drinks and came back up to see the fireworks at Seaworld lighting up the sky.  Feeling grateful and happy, I sat back and gave silent thanks for the amazing new adventure upon which we were embarking.

UP NEXT:  Lake Powell with the Fam.  Come back soon!

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