Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pancakes on a Big Boat

What's not to like about that?

Today we took the kids to the monthly pancake breakfast at the SS Red Oak Victory, berthed at the Port of Richmond. We had never been before and had only the vaguest idea it was even there until I picked up a flyer somewhere for the event. You get a scenic (I'm not being sarcastic here - it really is, if you and your kids have any interest in boats/cars/trains/trucks) tour of the Port of Richmond. There's also a staging area to bike out there - unfortunately this is on the other side of a gap in the Bay Trail from Berkeley - for intrepid cyclists who don't mind busy city streets, it's doable.

Volunteers cook up a hearty plate of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and bonus apple slices (classy touch). Juice, "coffee", tea, and water to drink. Only $7 per person, and kids under 5 are free. We got in just under the wire with my 4 11/12th-year-old. Dining tables are set up on the main deck outside.

After eating, you get to tour the ship - a 1944 cargo vessel - on your own, but there's lots of volunteers around to answer questions. You can also buy a guided tour if your kids are old enough to do that. (Mine are so not.) It's fun to explore all the levels and little tiny rooms - including the head! - at your own pace.

Perhaps needless to say, this ship is not childproofed. What's the opposite of childproofed? Because that's pretty much what it is. However, if you are prepared to CLOSELY supervise your kids, and/or you have older kids who can be trusted not to hurl themselves over the side or miss a step on the many ladders between decks, do not miss it. We'll definitely be back next season. You can also go explore the vessel without pancakes - I guess that is a valid choice for the pancake-phobes. Check their website for the schedule.

Words to the wise:
  • Sit facing away from the sun (assuming it's out) - there is no shade. Also try to sit next to the side (not the middle) so you get a better view of passing boats.
  • There's a lady selling mimosas!!
  • The line to send a radio message to your loved ones gets long fast, so may want to do that right at 10 when it opens.
  • Be prepared for any weather - it can be windy, sunny, misty, whatever. It's the ocean.
  • Sometimes they blow the ship's horn. It is loud. My toddler lost her poop and sobbed hysterically for 10 minutes.
  • BYO coffee; let's leave it at that.

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