No Squall for the Shipwright’s Ball

By Victoria Colella

Hundreds braved the threat of storm to gather atop a 1948 Army Artillery Barge in the center of Sausalito’s waterfront Saturday night, March 21, and the clouds parted. The first annual Shipwright’s Ball, a benefit for a comrade in need, was attended by 250 people and raised enough money to help off-set the cost of the shipwright’s surgery.

Sausalito is renowned for its community of skilled shipwrights who work to build, maintain, and repair boats of all types and descriptions. But Sausalito is also a mecca of wooden boats, and the core of Sausalito’s shipwrights are skilled in the traditional methods of wooden boat building. This community, renowned for its camaraderie, started the “ball” rolling.

Jim Crothers came up with the concept of a Shipwright’s Ball and along with Peter Strietman engaged Roderick “Smitty” Smith to create a nautical logo for the event at the Sausalito Cruising Club. Pretty soon there were posters everywhere and the word spread. Crothers and Strietman organized a great barbecue dinner menu and Susy Petterson, Janet Erickson , Tracy Carus, and Sylvie Faucher spruced up the club for the black-tie optional, costumes encouraged event. Tom List and friends played old-time fiddle music, a true delight for all the beautiful dancing ladies and gentleman, for on this night the waterfront turned up in tux and gown of all descriptions.

The silent auction, organized by Victoria Colella, raised over $2,000. The nature and sources of the donated items tell a story of their own. Sausalito’s city manager, Dana Whitson, donated a Jazz on the Bay home cooked meal. Phil Frank, creator of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Farley, donated one of his very funny books, “Fur and Loafing in Yosemite.” Colella donated a copy of her “Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour” guide book. Artist Peggy Ward presented “Pieces of Flirt,” a series of tiny images hand painted onto pieces of teak used in the 2000 restoration of the 1914 Charles Mower-designed sailboat, Flirt. The rebuilding of the Flirt was beautifully documented by professional cameraman Strietman, in a video that was previewed for the first time at the ball. Strietman also offered sailboat rides on the Flirt as an adjunct to the fund-raising efforts.

Other auction items included chiropractic services from Dr. Lance Lesneski; salon services from Experience and Michelle’s, Yoga of Sausalito classes; elegant gift items from Still Life and Dis and Dat; vintage ’60s posters from the Strietman collection; nautical equipment from Tony Badger; Sea Trek certificates; dining certificates from Paradise Bay, Bayside Cafi, and Real Foods; original artwork from Kathryn Strietman (Houseboats of Sausalito) and Heather Wilcoxon (Red Sky Tonight); and commemorative prints from the 1930 logbook of the famous German Pilot Schooner, Wanderbird. Wanderbird was once restored by Harold Sommer, who donated a framed giclee print of one of his famous tugboat paintings, “Sea Rover.”

All in all, this was community at its best: impromptu, heartfelt, and successful. Sausalito waterfront aficionados had a great time doing something positive. The evening ended with the spirited call, “Let’s do it again next year!”

Note: Contributions to the trust fund are still being accepted. For more information, please contact Peter at (415) 332-1582.