The eclectic houseboat community at Waldo Point Harbor in Sausalito is a San Francisco Bay landmark. In June 1967, Otis Redding rented a houseboat there, strummed his guitar and sang a ditty that was rolling around in is head:
Sittin’ in the morning sun I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes
Over the past 50 years, Sausalito’s floating homes have attracted artists, writers, and celebrities as residents. Among them were Shel Silverstein, Sterling Hayden, Rip Torn, Geraldine Page and Stewart Brand.
Sausalito came into existence well before the era of love, peace and happiness. Since 1838, it has at times been called everything from Saucelito to Sauz Saulita. However, it is the location, not the spelling of its name that gives Sausalito its unique flavor. At its nearest point, Sausalito sits three nautical miles across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. Until the bridge at the entrance to San Francisco Bay was completed in 1937, the only way to reach Sausalito from San Francisco was by a short boat ride or the lengthy land route around the bay.
After the gold rush, the only two groups that had easy access to boats were commercial fisherman and wealthy yachtsmen, and Sausalito’s heritage became that of two disparate classes of society. That background served as the premise of the 1947 film noir movie, The Lady from Shanghai, starring Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles.
Today, Sausalito is not only a destination in its own right, but the jumping off point for exploring the wine regions of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, hiking nearby Mount Tamalpais and walking through the groves of giant redwood sequoia trees at Muir Woods. Other day trips from Sausalito include Point Reyes National Seashore and the hot mineral baths at Calistoga.
While at the dock in Sausalito, visit the nearby waterfront shops that are home to art galleries, ceramics, glassware, antiques, clothing and fine fashion which will keep the most discriminating shopper busy for hours. A very pleasant way to round out the afternoon is wine tasting at Bacchus & Venus or the Madrigal Family Winery Tasting Room, and watching the fog roll down the Marin headlands to the bay.
Where to Dock
- Clipper Yacht Harbor (415-332-3500, clipperyacht.com) The largest full-service facility in Sausalito offering fuel, boatyard, onsite restaurant and fish market.
- Schoonmaker Point Marina (415-331-5550, schoonmakermarina.com) The 161-slip marina accommodates boats from 35 to 70 feet with side ties available for yachts up to 220 feet.
Where to Dine
- Sushi Ran (107 Caledonia St.) Combining both traditional Japanese and Pacific cuisine, Sushi Ran has been regarded as one of the top-ranked restaurants in the Bay Area over the past 30 years.
- Cavallo Point (601 Murray Circle) The Lodge at Cavallo Point offers accommodations along with a range of dining options. The acclaimed Murray Circle Restaurant boasts stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, while the cozy Farley Bar serves up small plates and creative cocktails.
- Le Garage Bistro (85 Liberty Ship Way) Natives of France and seasoned chefs, Bruno Denis and Olivier Souvestre, launched Le Garage Bistro in 2008 with a commitment of serving simple French bistro style food in a casual atmosphere.
- Copita Tequileria y Comida (739 Bridgeway) This Mexican eatery and tequila bar is in the heart of downtown Sausalito with an extensive tequila selection and seasonal menu options featuring ingredients from a local garden.
Capt. Jeff Werner has been in the yachting industry for over 25 years. In addition to working as a captain on private and charter yachts, both sail and power, he is a certified instructor for the USCG, US Sailing, RYA and the MCA. He is also the Diesel Doctor, helping to keep your yacht’s fuel in optimal condition for peak performance. For more information, call 239-246-6810, or visit MyDieselDoctor.com. All Marinalife members receive a 10% discount on purchases of equipment, products and supplies from Diesel Doctor.