Saturday, December 22, 2012

Alameda Shipping Channel - Nov. 2012

Alameda - Amidst the Ships  
November 27, 2012

I recently went out on a sailboat with Ken Hauck in Alameda. We experienced the veritable calm before an advancing storm; it was a dark afternoon, with slivers of sunlight on the water.

It was so calm, in fact, we decided to motor out of the channel instead of hoisting the sails. We headed roughly north toward the San Francisco Bay Bridge (that spans between San Francisco and Oakland, with Treasure Island in between). We crossed under the bridge and turned around, returning to Alameda just in time to view a great sunset.

A small map (by Studio L'Image) insert shown (above right) shows the general area where we were today. The map can be seen in its entirety at SF Bay Water Trail site.

When I walked along the Bay Trail (on the shore) near the Port, I marveled at the variety of different boats moving to and fro in such a narrow channel (that can be barely seen on this small map). Some kayakers venture into this shipping channel where we were today, but I felt a bit safer seeing this area by larger boat.

Red spots on the map indicate access facilities/ramps in place; black dots indicate possible future put in and take out spots. The closest red dot to where we were was the Tidewater Boating Center.

The real fun was seeing all the working ships and crafts of all sorts in this industrial area. On the way out of the Alameda Marina we caught sight of Coast Guard Island across the channel on the Oakland side, and three large USCG ships that were docked there. We passed some houseboats, and caught glimpses of Jack London Square.

We also maneuvered around large container ships going in and out of the Port of Oakland. It was a great spot different types of tug boats at work. International container ships loaded flats of cars like they were small toys.

Ken originally learned to sail in the Eastern U.S., in 1973, and when he moved west to work in the technology industry he started sailing in the San Francisco Bay in 2003.

He feels a connection to the Alameda area -- a location that allows easy access to some of the best sailing on the West Coast. I asked Ken some questions about what he liked best about his boat and sailing in the Bay.

What type of boat to you have?
It's a 1979 Catalina 38. It's noteworthy because the hull was designed by naval architectural firm, Sparkman and Stephens. It's a design made to conform to the IOR racing rules prevalent in the 1970s, and it used to be the class boat for the Congressional Cup match race in Southern California.

What do you like best about your boat?
It's a good size to sail SF Bay, it handles the typical high summer winds well, and it's big enough to be stable and comfortable for the usual waves in the Bay. Because of its racing heritage, it's also fun to sail!

What do you like best about being out on San Francisco Bay?
Everything! The views, the great sailing winds, the weather and sharing it all with friends.

Is there anything about the Alameda area (where you keep your boat) special for you?
It's where I was introduced to SF Bay sailing when I dropped in at an open house at the Catalina dealer in Marina Village and found my boat. It has great services for boaters and it's fun going out the channel past other marinas, Jack London Square (Oakland), the old Navy airfield (Alameda), and the Oakland container shipping docks.

Are there any trends or changes you've noticed since you've been sailing on SF Bay?
Not really; it feels about the same as in 2003. But I have enjoyed watching the Bay Bridge getting built, and also some of the development south of Market (Street) in San Francisco.

Any memories or stories you'd like to share about being on the Bay?
Lots of memories, mostly good times with friends. Watching the Blue Angels (jets) perform near Alcatraz during Fleet Week. Sailing to Angel Island to picnic and spend the night moored in the cove. Seeing lots of marine life, including sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and even a pair of humpback whales once near Angel Island.

Image of San Francisco Bay Water Trail map is from San Francisco Bay Water Trail website.

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