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Putting the ‘Fleet’ Back in Fleet Week

We’d venture to guess that for most Fleet Week devotees, the main draw to this special end-of-summer event is the air show. After all, nothing can jiggle your molars or send a shiver down your spine like a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet bolting across the skies overhead. It’s enough to give even the pacifists among us that ‘John Wayne’ feeling. But since its inception many years ago, there’s always been more to Fleet Week — slated for October 7-13 this year — than just the air show.

After many local bases closed here, the number of ships available for Fleet Week viewing diminished sharply, but this year there’s been a multi-agency effort to put the ‘fleet’ back into Fleet Week. As a result, at least a half dozen ships will be on hand for public viewing and demonstrations. This year’s Parade of Ships will take place off the Cityfront from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday. See the website for full details.

Hundreds of boats gather mid-Bay to watch the Blue Angels Air Show during Fleet Week.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The Blue Angels will, of course, be back again this year to wow a crowd of thousands, both on and off the water. You can catch their practice sessions between 1 and 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday this week, or join the masses for the big Sunday show: stunt planes will perform aerial acrobatics from 1-3 p.m., followed by the Angels, from 3-4 p.m.

It’s great fun to catch all the excitement from the comfort of your own boat, but if you’ve never done so before, be warned that the impromptu anchorages both north and south of Alcatraz can be a zoo. Lots of not-so-accomplished mariners turn out, so ‘defensive driving’ is the phrase of the day — and when you’re underway, don’t presume that the folks around you have the foggiest idea what Rules of the Road are. We’d also recommend that you don’t get too crazy with the cool beverages. It’s a day when every skipper needs to stay alert — and besides, every law enforcement agency within spittin’ distance of the Bay will be out in force patroling the no-go zone, while keeping an eye out for boaters under the influence. 

So be safe, have fun, and we’ll see you out there!

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