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Op Ed Piece from SF Chronicle

A right to live Anchor Out

By Barbara Sapienza

April 5, 2017 Updated: April 6, 2017 1:24pm

In 2007, I started writing a novel about the anchor-out community in Sausalito. My novel comes out just as the waters of Richardson Bay are boiling over in controversy. After a hellish winter, the anchor-outs face the loss of their anchorage and nautical homes.

I live onshore. Each stormy night I ache, thinking of vigilant people, waiting, working, protecting their crafts.

A month later, live-aboards spoke to the Sausalito City Council of the serious threat that their vessels could be seized. An amendment to Sausalito laws makes it unlawful to berth, anchor, moor, store or beach any boat in water of the city for more than 10 to 72 hours.

Lt. Bill Fraass, Sausalito Police Department, spoke of the effort to remove marine debris and obstacles, resulting in live-aboards having to vacate

Anchor-outs spoke about their love of the water, their livelihoods, and the lack of affordable housing.

I heard the richness of their lives. Each of us deserves a refuge to call our own.

We need positive solutions for dealing with the real problems of refuse, sewerage disposal, and public access.

From our safe place on land, it’s easy to call the shots that might devastate people’s lives. As a community, we need more humanity for people who make their life on the water. The community needs to offer assistance.

The council agreed to postpone a decision until May.

Will they assist the anchor-outs in keeping their vessels? Provide assistance in registering boats, sanitation and practices that will protect the ecology of the bay?

Or clear out the anchorage of this community?

Anchor-outs have taught me much about living. Listening to their stories of living on the sea, rowing in daily for their bread gives me courage. Guided by the sea, which holds and tosses them mercilessly; threatened by gale-force winds, horrific swells, torrential rains, wild currents they exhibit a willingness to surrender and a determination to hold on.

We could all use a little more of that in our daily lives and interactions with one another.

Barbara Sapienza of Sausalito is the author of “Anchor Out: A Novel” (She Writes Press, Forthcoming: April, 2017).

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