Log #61T San Francisco Bay Part 2

December 12, 2016 in Logs by Series, Series 61, The Logs

Log #61t San Francisco Bay Part 2

Bahia de Los Muertos, Baja Peninsula, Mexico

Dec. 14, 2016

 

Hi Folks,

 

We have arrived at Judy’s favorite climate where when we get up in the morning we just put on a bathing suit. We are motoring north up the inside of the California Baja of Mexico, unfortunately into northerly winds. The winds work up in the afternoons to 15 to 20 knots on the nose, to the extent that now we leave late at night when the winds are down and do a night passage to our next destination.

We rounded the southern tip of the Baja and are now in Bahia de Los Muertos, and heading for La Paz for Christmas and the New Year. I hope to get caught up on my logs while there, lazing in the sun, swimming, and taking life easy at anchor. The chartlet below indicates our travels from Los Angeles down here.

This log #61t takes us around San Francisco Bay and our departure south. We had a most interesting time exploring much of the bay area as this log testifies.

 

I hope to go fishing tomorrow, before I send this log. I will let you know of my success.

 

All the best,

Aubrey

 

PS – I am sending this from La Paz where we will be for Christmas. I didn’t catch anything when an Aussie friend and I went trolling in his large dinghy, but on the way up here the next day I caught a 30” Mahi Mahi. Judy filleted it in her Caribbean style , “au natural”. We ate sashimi for our first meal.


 

 

Log #61t San Francisco Bay Part 2
Los Frailes, Mexico
Dec. 12, 2016

There was a sail past and an air show as part of Navy Week in San Francisco, so we motored out into the bay and dropped anchor south of Alcatraz Island which allowed us a view of the ships as they paraded under the Golden Gate Bridge and past downtown San Francisco, led by a fireboat with all its water cannons spraying. There were only three warships, the AOR we toured through, HMCS Calgary, and a USN destroyer. There were a couple of Coast Guard ships and the Presidential Yacht used by President Roosevelt (FDR). It was not an impressive show.

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                Fireboat spraying                        USN Warship toured yesterday
     

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               USN Destroyer                                RCN Frigate (HMCS Calgary)
 
We left after the parade and anchored in a cove on the south side of Angel Island for a rolly lunch before returning south of Alcatraz to watch the airshow.
It featured the USN Blue Angels doing aerial acrobatics, and a couple of other aircraft flew by. The aerial acrobatics were impressive, and loud, as the fighters made several low passes across the waterfront, then accelerated skyward with roars of power to trail smoke and do a variety of rolls, somersaults and dives. Several times the seven aircraft separated to come across the waterfront from different low angles on what looked like collision courses only to roll away at the last moment and dive back up into the blue sky. They came across at low levels in inverted positions just above the mast heights of the watching boats. The show ended with a low slow pass of a United Airlines 747 as a sponsor of the show. The Blue Angels were good, but I would have liked to have seen some more smaller civilian aircraft doing their  barnstorming tricks, and a flying display of other navy aircraft and helicopters that would fly off of their aircraft carriers.
 
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After the show we anchored back in Clipper Cove for the night, and next day motored up to Garrison Bight on Angel Island, just off the remains of a large ferry dock. As the anchorage was iffy, Judy took me over in the dinghy to Quarry Beach, and returned to Veleda while I explored the remains of Fort McDowell. I am always intrigued by ruins, especially military ones. I like to anticipate what they were like when in use. The families which grew up in a now deserted house; the soldiers who marched, guarded, lived and trained on the parade grounds and in the barracks; the military personnel going to or returning from foreign wars and conflicts; all intrigue my imagination. As I climbed the dune to look at the shell of a large building that was obviously a barracks, I came upon an information centre staffed by helpful volunteers who gave me a good orientation to the remains in Angel Island State Park.

This island, a couple of miles north of Alcatraz and much larger, was used by the military since the Civil War when it was used to protect San Francisco. Since then several different camps were set up for a variety of purposes. It garrisoned troops serving in campaigns against American Indians in the west. It served as a detention centre for soldiers returning from the Spanish-American War. It was a processing centre for troops going and returning from World Wars I and II. It was abandoned by the army in 1946, but the army returned in 1954 during the Cold War to establish a Nike Missile site which was decommissioned in 1962 and the island was turned over to the California State Parks in 1963.

On the civilian side, the island was a major quarantine station from 1891 to 1946. From 1910 to 1940 nearly a million immigrants from over 80 countries were processed here, not unlike Ellis Island in New York City.

The Barracks are empty shells falling into disrepair. A few of the officers and staff houses are occupied by State Park personnel and volunteers, but others are deserted, perfectly good housing, but unused.

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There is a trolley which goes to the many locations, but I did not bother taking it. The Nike site is now just a concrete parking lot.  I went through a Titan missile silo in Tucson a few years ago. Very interesting, and much larger than the Nike misile.   

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Titan Missile in its silo

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I called Judy on the hand held VHR radio to pick me up, and we weighed anchor to head north, past the San Quentin prison (Alcatraz is no longer used as a prison, but a popular tourist site) under the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge into San Pablo Bay where we anchored in the shallows off China Camp State Park. It was only a nine mile motor passage. There is a pleasant beach, the remains of the Chinese workshops where they processed the shrimp  and a dock with the Grace Quan, an interesting junk rigged boat used in the shallows of San Pablo Bay for shrimp fishing.

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              The Grace Quan

(note Veleda at anchor in the background)

Onward next day we motored up San Pablo Bay into Suisun Bay. Just before the Carquinez Strait which joins the two bays we passed the Napa River which extends up into the Napa Valley, a famed California wine producing area. Before entering Suison Bay we stopped at the fuel dock in Benicia, and were allowed to leave Veleda alongside while we walked up into town to do some grocery shopping. It was a long walk. Coming back, we tried to get a taxi, but none would be available for over an hour. Judy approached a gentleman who quite willingly and helpfully drove us back to the marina. We thanked him profusely and carried our groceries to Veleda. However as we were putting them away, we realized that we must have taken one of his bags of groceries by mistake!  He had left, and we did not know where he lived. We waited for another hour in case he returned for his bag of groceries. He didn’t, and we had to get going to anchor some place before dark. Maybe this goes under the rubric that “No good deed goes unpunished!”

It was getting dark and the anchorage we anticipated was no longer there, converted into a marina. We went up into Suison Bay and anchored in a shallow area off a chemical plant for the night. This area was just below the graveyard for the few USN ships still mothballed in this estuary of the Sacramento River. At one time there were hundreds of warships mothballed there, ready to be re-activated if necessary.

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USS Cape Fear and Petersberg

But the war plans have changed and a prolonged conflict which would necessitate activating old ships is no longer considered. It is a “Come as you are” scenario with little time to gear up industries and re-activate mothballed ships (and aircraft). There were no fighting ships such as destroyers, cruisers or aircraft carriers, but only a dozen AOR (Auxilliary, Oiler and Replenishment) ships, most of the Cape Class of supply vessel.  For me it is a sad sight to see ships which were once alive with crews of hundreds, carrying out their prescribed tasks, but now abandoned hulks forlornly maintained with no prospect of re-activation, just awaiting the breakers’ yard.

Onward next day, but we called the fuel dock in Bernicia to let them know of the grocery bag we purloined, and asked, if the gentleman appeared for it, to let us know and we would stop there in a few days to deliver it. We did not get any response, and so a few days later enjoyed his flank state, spinach, and whipped cream. Our destination was into the San Joaquin Estuary, where we were recommended to go to Potato Slough for bird watching by a Bernicia Yacht Club member when we were at the fuel dock. He also gave us a map of the area to orient ourselves as we go up the San Joaquin Estuary. Friendly people!

As we wended our way into the myriad of islands in the estuary, I was impressed by the large ships  which still navigated this far upstream, some going all the way to Stockton. 

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Ship coming through the Antioch Bridge

We diverted into a chain of islands, using our GPS, depth sounder and our eyes to navigate the narrows and shallows around them. We identified Potato Slough by a small dock indicated on our GPS, and anchored across from it near a raft of water hyacinths. It was a gloriously isolated location, the dock being empty and no one around, and off the main channel. We dinghied around in the late afternoon, seeing a few water fowl, egrets, herons, and oyster catchers. There were a few small marinas and RV parks for fishermen to launch their boats and fish the estuary. It is a very tranquil part of the world, linked to San Francisco Bay over 30 miles away.

61T-3 It took us two days to return to Clipper Cove in San Francisco Bay. We stopped at Meares Beach just off China Camp on our way back, but did not go ashore. Passing under the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, I took a picture of San Quentin Prison above, still actively used. Alcatraz Island Prison has been closed for many years and is now a popular tourist attraction. Judy and I visited it a few years ago when in San Francisco area with our trailer.

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Alcatraz Island Prison

We spent three nights at anchor in Clipper Cove. I dinghied ashore to explore the former navy base on Treasure Island, and learned more about the base function as a processing centre for troops going overseas and returning from WW II to Korea and Viet Nam. Prior to 1940, it was the landing area and terminal  for the Pan American Clipper flying boats, and the site of the San Francisco World’s Fair in 1938.

I wanted to explore around Alemeda Island and so we called the Aeolian Yacht  Club on the southern tip of the island and arranged a slip there as a member of a reciprocal yacht club for two nights. It is a small friendly club, and within walking distance of a large grocery store, where we resupplied as we would be leaving the bay and heading south in a couple of days. We enjoyed a cruise-in dinner at the club and gave a slide presentation on our first eight years of live-aboard life.

On our way back up into San Francisco Bay we went up the busy inside channel
of Alemeda Island where there are several large marinas, catamaran ferry docks, a Coast Guard station, and very large container ports.   

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On the way we passed FDR’s presidential yacht, a brig under sail, and a very large container ship fully loaded at a dock. The area is a maritime extravaganza.

 

Below is a chartlet of our travels of this log.

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We returned to the Berkeley Yacht Club for the last two days in the area. The night before we left there was a Pot Luck supper after which we presented again our first eight years of Live-aboard Life. (I have several presentations made up which I call Living the Dream Part 1, Part 2, etc., and have given them to yacht clubs, community centres and libraries when such are interested and invite us.) There was a sunset glow behind the Golden Gate Bridge giving a lovely view from the BYC the last night before leaving.

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October 19th we left the visitors’ dock at BYC at 0800, went across the harbour to pump out our holding tank (There are many free pump out faclities located throughout the San Francisco Bay area.), and headed out into the bay. We hoisted a double reefed main and the genoa, and motor sailed out the Golden Gate Bridge, heading south once again.