This past weekend we enjoyed some spectacular Bay sailing, including an overnight club cruise to Encinal Yacht Club in the Oakland Estuary. Despite our recent stories on the challenges and controversies surrounding this incredible ribbon of water between two East Bay cities, we relaxed with a comfortable sail down the Estuary and along the Oakland waterfront, and had a great weekend in Alameda.
However, as noted in our Wednesday story about the thefts and anchor-outs in the Estuary, we also mentioned that Oakland has more public dock space than any other municipality in the Bay Area. While this is true, we passed close by while heading out of the Estuary on Sunday and, as with San Francisco, we found the welcome mat less than welcoming. The guest docks outside Scott’s restaurant were taped off with caution tape, cones and barriers.
Coincidentally, we just received the recent Sail America newsletter. They used to produce Pacific Sail Expo at Jack London Square, where thousands of people would attend to look at dozens of boats along a sparkling Oakland waterfront. They’d dine at Scott’s and Kincaid’s (now closed) and have a beer at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. The newsletter contained a photo from the event showing Jack London Square in all its glory. The infrastructure that supported these activities has been slipping away.
This is in sharp contrast to the story told by friends who just returned from canal cruising in Holland. They described the meticulously cared-for docks and public access points for a nation that respects, loves, and enjoys its waterfront. This is true of most waterfront cities across the US and around the world, but looks, at best, like an afterthought to some cities in charge of the shoreline along the Bay Area’s main attraction — the Bay.
As our weekend demonstrated, there’s still lots to love about sailing in the Estuary. The water is flat, the air is warm, and the breeze is ideal for youth sailing, small boat sailing, kayaking, rowing, beer can racing and just messing about in boats. We can’t wait to get back to the Estuary again soon, but we do hope Oakland and Alameda do all they can to maintain their waterfronts for the enjoyment of boaters and their citizens.