Thursday, January 12, 2012

The City by the Bay

LaMonts on the dock alongside s/v "Good News"

One of the neighbors "walking" her dog.

Alameda, Ca.-- This small island city on the east side of San Francisco Bay was once known for Salmon fishing fleets that spent their time in Alaskan waters, ship-building to support the maritime military during World War Two, and then as home to a large naval air base.
Today it is mostly redeveloped into apartments and homes, a main street lined with great places to eat, and more marinas than you can count on both hands.The view from our front porch, er, deck.

It has become our second home, aboard our sailboat "Good News," which we keep at the Oakland Yacht Club which is in Alameda, across the Oakland Estuary from Jack London Square. That's a waterway that comes off of San Francisco Bay.The small red dot shows Alameda with the estuary on the east.
When we lived in cities, our cabin in the mountains was our second home. Now that we live in that cabin in the mountains, where most of our neighbors are absentee weekend folk, the boat is our happy place away from home when we need to be in touch with the ocean, the bay, the estuary.Oakland Yacht Club's marina on the Oakland Estuary
The reasons are many.
Pat and I both were raised on or near the water, we met and lived in Florida for years, and there is something therapeutic about being rocked to sleep at night by gentle waves with the sound of seabirds keeping us company.
Plus, it is a great location on and off the water. Eating out is our major recreation, and the places are plenty. The club itself offers a group of friends and part-time neighbors who share our interest in boats.
And it is within a short sail from the heart if San Francisco Bay, one of the most beautiful spots in North America.
Last week we took a mini-vacation. We motored out of the estuary, found the wind as we crossed under the Bay Bridge near the home of the San Francisco Giants, turned the corner past Pier 39 with Alcatraz off to the starboard side, and headed for the Golden Gate Bridge.
The view from the cockpit looking toward Marin.

Because it was mid-week in mid-winter, we almost had the bay to ourselves. The cold wind was blowing in the gate, pushing a layer of fog against the bridge and over toward Sausalito. The fog horns on the bridge were blowing loud, warning traffic to be aware.

We turned on the radar to watch out for big container ships that sometimes pop out of the fog, but saw none. Then we sailed back and forth across the bay, skirting the edge of the fog, and enjoying the moment.
The Palace of Fine Arts while the fog lifted

One other sailboat was near us, ghosting along on the edge of the fogbank.

Finally we began to get cold as the sun started sinking, and we turned and sailed back to our marina, where we turned on the heaters, taking away the chill below decks, and headed off for dinner.
A pretty darned nice day.
The next day we decided to drive through San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands, the worn-down mountains that frame the north side of the entrance to the bay, part of the National Park system. This is the spot for the most spectacular views of the city of San Francisco and the nearby coast, and we had not visited for 20 years or so.
Standing above the cliffs looking down into the bay, we could see the excact spot where we had been sailing the day before. The fog is gone as Pat takes in the view

Then we wandered out to the point of land where we could see the Point Bonita lighthouse, the flashing light the guards the north side of the bay entrance. Off in the distance enormous waves were breaking, both offshore and onto the rocks.
Point Bonita Lighthouse from the Marin Headlands

We ended our day with a bit of bad timing, but it provided a cultural experience. We were stuck in awful rush-hour Friday evening traffic in the heart of the city, where normal people fear to drive.
We made it safely home after a very slow reminder of why we never enjoyed commuting, but lacking a photo proof of the event because of fear of collision with taxicabs.

It matters not. 'Twas a lovely day on the bay.

No comments: