Besides the Duck Tape printed with hot rod flames, there was another part of My Beloved's Father's Day surprise, a sail on the bay aboard USA76, a former America's Cup challenger.
There are lots of reasons why that is a great gift for My Beloved. First, he comes from a sailing family - he's the black sheep car lover in a flock of sailors. He grew up sailing on Long Island Sound and, when you've sailed as a kid, the fascination never really leaves, even years later when you're a California car guy.
His parents were both excellent sailors, his mother, sister and sister-in-law all Adams Cup challengers, and his father sailed with some of the biggest names in racing back in the day, completing the Bermuda race among others. After his parents retired, they sailed their boat back and forth to the Caribbean 18 winters in a row and lived aboard for months on end. My Beloved's brother has always sailed and skippered boats, and recently purchased another boat, this one large enough to enjoy cruising down to the Bahamas once he retires. His sister worked in a sail loft for several years and has been instrumental in teaching sailing to generations of youngsters. His parents were members of the New York Yacht Club where for many glorious years the America's Cup resided in its own little purpose-built round room so the hideously ugly cup could be admired from all sides.
If that wasn't enough, San Francisco is hosting the next America's Cup challenge, the replica of the original yacht "America" is here in the bay and they are offering rides on USA76. It was a must.
We had a simply splendid day on the bay. It was warm and windy, cloudless and gorgeous. USA76 is a dream of a sailboat - 85 feet of sleek black hull, fast, smooth and beautiful. She cuts through the wave chop like the proverbial hot knife through butter, rides the swells like the thoroughbred she is and when the wind catches her high-tech sails she simply flies over the water. No wonder the rich cats got hooked on this kind of boating! I found myself wishing for the kind of moolah that would allow me to have such a craft.
My Beloved and I each got a chance to stand at the helm with all that sail power under our hands and he took an active part in crewing the boat, using the "coffee grinder" to trim the sails and talking shop with the nice young skipper while I took a boatload of pictures. The crew was businesslike and friendly at the same time, offering us their expertise (one of them was on the all-woman America's Cup challenge team a few years ago) and enjoying the day with us. There were only six passengers (they will soon start sailing with 20 passengers, so if you want to go, go now to avoid the crowds) and an equal number of crew members. We rode out to USA76 on a zodiac and climbed aboard in heaving swells that zinged both the ride and the boarding with excitement. We had a lovely zig-zagging run past the city, out next to Alcatraz, down past the ball park and under the Bay bridge.
When we got home, a little sunburned and very tired, dinner had to be quick and easy but filling as we were hungry as wolves. I made this pasta dish in a flash, simply sizzling minced garlic in olive oil, adding slices of pre-cooked (very) spicy Italian sausage and a sprinkle of Herbes de Provence, then broccoli florets and coarsely chopped fennel, finishing off with green onion at the end. I added a small ladle of the pasta water, stirring it around in the pan to create a sauce, then added the drained penne to the pan to toss, and grated ParmReg at the table.
We inhaled it and went back for seconds before falling into bed to dream of skimming like sea birds over the rolling green waters of the bay. It was quick and delicious, like a ride on an America's Cup contender.