About The Bay: Despite Storm Damage, Sausalito Boaters Celebrate Cheap Living

SAUSALITO (KCBS) – The Bay Area’s legendary high cost of living hasn’t dampened spirits of every local resident. In fact, the people who drop anchor off the coast of Sausalito declared they were living large – and loving it.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

For the past few decades, a community of boaters has survived in the Bay water bordering Sausalito by essentially living off the land while in the water.

Home, the Richardson Bay Anchor-Outs say, is where your anchor is. And, what a home it is: it could easily be considered the Bay Area community with the cheapest rent and the most expensive vistas around.

“I’ll tell you, you get up in the morning and look out the windows or go out on deck and you can’t beat the view, that’s for sure,” affirmed Deb Rohdel, whose home is a 30 ft.-long, 10 ft.-wide sailboat affectionately called Fast Company.

Rohdel and other Anchor-Outs had been controversial fixtures on the Bay since they started dropping anchor in the 1960s. At first, they were generally regarded as bohemians and free spirits. Today, though, they are more likely to be pegged as free-loaders or law-breakers.

“Oh yeah, yeah our neighbor here, he’s out at the moment,” said Wolf Girley, who lives aboard Fast Company with Rohdel. “This guy, I don’t know what his story is, this sailboat here has got nothing on it.”

Girley, who makes a living cleaning and fixing boats, also is an active diver. He proudly declared that Fast Company’s papers were all in order – in other words, he and Rohdel were living legally in Richardson Bay. Others, he acknowledged, were either living there illegally, or participated in illegal activity.

“If I personally saw anybody dumping their sewage in Richardson Bay I would turn ’em in, in a heartbeat,” he affirmed. “And most of the people out here would do so. Who wants to get out and see feces floating next to their boat?”

Anchor-Outs have generally been able to fly – or sail – under the radar, though they have been subjected to renewed scrutiny recently because several of the boats broke away in the late March storms, beaching in Mill Valley and Tiburon.

“I’ve been doing it for almost 40 years,” acknowledged Kirk Celis, whose boat was among those washed ashore. “It was like riding a Harley Davidson, you know?”

Even though his boat – which was also his home – was destroyed, he has been unable to get assistance from local authorities, driving home the point that there are inherent risks with this type of lifestyle.

“Yes, you have to be a little salty,” confirmed Girley of life as an Anchor-Out, a life that most – if not all Anchor-Outs – agreed they wouldn’t willingly give up.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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  • FacePlant Nathan Archer

    Though it appears “Free” to live on the bay there are many incurred coasts that can come up; the recent storm is evidence of that. But there are numerous others not often considered, some include:

    Waking up to a drifting boat tangling your bowline and slamming against your vessel, causing repairs to be made. Perhaps a motor boat cut your bowline in their prop while you are away on shore, this can end up in your vessel needing new ground tackle and possibly a tow.

    On the water these are things you HAVE to deal with, you can’t put it off when a vessel collides with you in the night. You do what you have to do when you have to do it. This is not so easy as it sounds.

    Stormy nights it can be so rocky out there that one can only get cat naps. These are just a few of the difficulties of living out on the bay that can coast an undetermined amount due.

    So “Free” is not so much in reference to coast as much as it is to style of living and feeling in ones self.

    I have lived out there for 4 years now and watched many landlubbers attempt to live out on the bay only to turn tail and run to shore at the first 70 mile an hour blow or heavy rain.

    Not that many people have the salt to hang out in this type of lifestyle.

    So why knock those who can?

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