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Catching Cal Maritime’s ‘Golden Bear’ Coming and Going

What are the chances that a sailor might spot a well-known local vessel making its annual transit of the Bay not once, but twice in a year? Pretty good, as it turns out.

Taking a break from the screen last week, I walked onto my balcony above San Quentin Point Village to stretch my legs, and saw a ship just south of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge that made me do a double take. “Is that the Golden Bear?” I wondered.

It most certainly was.

The Golden Bear makes its way to the Golden Gate for Cal Maritime’s summer cruise on Tuesday, May 9.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

Serendipitous sightings abound.

Last year, I walked out onto the deck just as Golden Bear was returning from its 2022 summer cruise. Please forgive me, reader, but I need to take a moment to contemplate the extraordinary luck of stumbling outside just as a well-known Bay Area vessel steams across the Bay in its biannual Bay crossing. Both encounters were pure chance, and I hope you think this is as cool as I do.

Golden Bear heads back to the Cal Maritime campus in Vallejo on August 25, 2022.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim Henry

Coolness abounds. Cal Maritime Academy is a unique and pretty cool college experience, at least for those of us watching from a distance who don’t have to take 25 units a semester.

Last year, CMA added the TP52 Heather to its fleet of vessels. The boat — renamed after CMA President Thomas Cropper’s wife Heather, who passed away in 2019 — was the result of donations from a “very generous anonymous donor.

Cal Maritime will be the only collegiate team competing in this year’s Transpac; CMA also sailed in the famed L.A. to Hawaii race in 2019. The “Keelhaulers” won’t be sailing their TP52, but rather their Andrews 77.

The TP 52 Heather as seen in January or February (on one of the precious few days it wasn’t raining) at the Corinthian midwinters.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Another pretty cool college experience is having a school ship, and taking it on a summer cruise.

We here at Latitude 38 are always pleased to see Golden Bear go globetrotting, training a new generation of merchant mariners. The training ship’s departure was ushered in with much parental fanfare.

From the Bay, Golden Bear headed south down the West Coast, stopping in Long Beach before steaming for Cabo San Lucas. From Baja, it’s across the Pacific to Apia, the capital of Samoa, in early June, then back east to Hilo, Hawaii, in late June. From there, Golden Bear heads back to the West Coast and Astoria, Oregon, in early July, before returning to Vallejo on July 7. (You can follow the Golden Bear’s voyage here.)

Scenes from Golden Bear’s departure from Vallejo on May 9, last week.
© 2023 California State University Maritime Academy Facebook page

As it turns out, Monday, May 22, will mark the 90th observance of National Maritime Day, which recognizes “one of our country’s most important industries,” according to the US Department of Transportation.

“Congress declared National Maritime Day to commemorate the American steamship Savannah’s voyage from the United States to England, marking the first successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with steam propulsion,” the Department of Transportation said.

In this season of graduation, we tip our hats (then fling them into the air) to the Cal Maritime class of 1945.
© 2023 Cal Maritime Academy

“During World War II more than 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine served their country, with more than 6,700 giving their lives, hundreds being detained as prisoners of war and more than 800 US merchant ships being sunk or damaged.”

1 Comment

  1. Michael Blecher 4 months ago

    Nice work, tug Delta Deanna!

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