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Welcome to the Oakland Waterfront

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.

Encinal Yacht Club Roll tacking
Sailing life for kids, as it should be. An Encinal youth sailor was out expertly practicing his roll tacks with the youth program.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

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.

Jack London Square Guest Docks, Oakland.
There are guest docks at Jack London Square, but they are not exactly inviting.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

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.

Jack London Square
Do you remember walking the docks and enjoying your visit to Jack London Square?
© 2023 Sail America

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.


  1. Anneke dury 9 months ago

    AMEN!! Thanks for writing this and keeping the issue on the front burner!

  2. Gary Martin 9 months ago

    I used to keep my boat at Jack London Square, right adjacent to the Mast Restaurant. Back in the 70’s, on weekends, it was like living in a fishbowl, but it was clean and fun.

    • JLS Boater 9 months ago

      The “taped off” area is not the guest dock. The derelict boats are actually no longer on the guest docks, and the guest dock at the end of Broadway and the one under the Scott’s sign are all fine. The Oakland Marina part is soon to be repaired. Resident boats have been moved to other basins. Additionally, there are guest slips available for overnight by calling Oakland Marinas. Keys would typically be picked up before the fuel dock closes at 4:30PM.

  3. Bob Hinden 9 months ago

    I agree the state of marinas on the Oakland side needs more attention. However, good to note that Marina Village, Alameda Marina, Grand Marina, etc. on the Alameda side are all very nice and well kept. We keep two boats there.

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