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Sausalito attracts celebrities, and launch of SF's oldest ship

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The village of Sausalito is popular with celebrities like Robert Downey, Jr. (video) who hosted his wife's birthday there last fall. Just last week, it was the site of a rebirth as California's oldest ship, the sloop Freda B., hit the waters of the Bay. There's no end to the popularity of this seaside village just across the water from San Francisco. Sausalito has been an historic ship-building area for over 100 years, and is home to a plethora of wooden boat builders and fans. An enthusiastic crowd was on hand for another Marin moment.

The Marin Independent Journal reports on this exciting moment.

After eight years of museum-quality restoration work, the oldest sailing yacht on the West Coast was relaunched on Saturday before a cheering throng at the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center in Sausalito.

The man who oversaw the restoration, master shipwright Bob Darr, splashed Old Potrero whiskey on the 32-foot-long wooden sloop Freda, as the curvaceous sloop was gently lowered by crane into the water.

"It's a wonderful moment," a beaming Darr said, admiring the voluptuous shape of the 130-year-old "Matriarch of San Francisco Bay. "The sloop was originally built in 1885 on the bayfront in Belvedere by a Marin County saloon keeper named Harry Cookson, who named her after his daughter.

Freda will join the fleet of wooden boats in the Spaulding Center's community sailing program. Members of the public will be able to sail on the last sailboat of its kind in the country.

"We hope that Freda will delight sailors and admirers for many decades to come," Darr told the festive crowd gathered on the boat center's dock.

For an upscale stay nearby, check out the Acqua Hotel, with jawdropping views of Mount Tamalpais. From there, it's just a 5 minute drive to Sausalito or San Francisco. The Muir Woods National Monument and gorgeous Muir Beach are just up Highway 1 and over the hill. Muir Beach just reopened after a 6 month long facelift. Go now before the tourists arrive for the summer!

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