The Maritime Report: America's Cup finals coming

The Maritime Report: America's Cup finals coming

Dave Bloch

This abandoned tug is one of several items to be pulled from the water during an upcoming Estuary cleanup. Photo courtesy of CalRecycle.

It was a busy couple of weeks around the waterways!


If you're someone who reads this column, then you know by now that Emirates Team New Zealand soundly defeated Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge for the Louis Vuitton Cup, winning the right to take on Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup regatta. At this point, nobody is looking for the same kind of lopsided results that took place in the races up to now: Both Oracle and ETNZ have been flying around the Bay. Oracle has one distinct advantage: They have an extra boat in case something goes really wrong. Races begin Saturday, September 7, continuing with two races per day until one team wins nine races. (The last race, if it goes down to the wire, will be September 21.)

Regardless of who wins the Cup, New Zealand has every reason to be proud. Its own team is almost entirely from their small country, and New Zealand sailors are found all over the other teams as well (including Oracle). The fact that the America's Cup does not require team members to have the nationality of the entering country is very good for employment of Kiwi professional sailors!

Meanwhile, don't miss the Red Bull Youth America's Cup regatta starting this Sunday and running each day through Wednesday, September 4! Racing is scheduled between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. These are fleet races, meaning that all ten national teams (and they are NATIONAL teams) will be on the course at the same time. These young sailors have been training hard all summer and should be very exciting and fun to watch as they race the AC45 catamarans. You can see these really well from the San Francisco shoreline (provided of course that you can get there without the Bay Bridge) or watch them on YouTube. I believe the races will also be carried live on COZI-TV, digital channel 11.2.


If you've seen the abandoned hulks floating (or stuck in the mud) out in the Estuary and wondered when anyone would ever do anything about them, you're about to get your wish. Last week, representatives of more than two dozen local, regional, state and federal government agencies, plus folks from local businesses and organizations, met at the Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland to hear about the successful application for $1.3 million in grants to clean things up! By the time you read this article, the California State Lands Commission will have already started posting "No Trespassing" signs on illegally-moored boats; the owners will have thirty days to move them to legal berths or they will be confiscated by the state.

The floating ones are the easiest to move, though. The project also includes removal of some sunken hulks, and there is often no way of knowing what steps may have to be taken to, among other things, prevent the release of toxic substances into the Estuary. Sometimes lifting an old hulk can make it fall apart, so inspections have to be made by divers first. Because of these unknowns, project managers from CalRecycle (a/k/a the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery) cannot say how many of the 17 identified vessels will be removed with the money available.

The great news about this project has been the cooperation and collaboration shown by the government and non-government stakeholders. Instead of a "not my job" or "not our jurisdiction" avoidance, these folks have stepped up and said "Yes, if you can't handle that piece, we will." For example, the State Lands Commission inspectors will have law enforcement officers from Oakland, Alameda or the Alameda County Sheriff's Office along in case they meet some unhappy boat owners when they post their signs. The harbormaster from Alameda Marina, Brock de Lappe, has been tireless in moving communications along between all these groups including getting many support letters sent to CalRecycle from a wide range of agencies and organizations.

It also appears that this may only be the beginning. Other sources of funding and other resources from agencies like the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and the California Division of Boating and Waterways, have also become available and known to this group so that the removal of some of those tougher (and potentially more dangerous) sunken hulks can be removed.

This round, paid for by the $1.3 million, should be done before Thanksgiving. It will be a better-looking Estuary for the holidays!