The Maritime Report: Summer sailing season

The Maritime Report: Summer sailing season

Dave Bloch

Photos by Dave Bloch except where noted.


These past few weeks really have been the "peak of the sailing season," and we're not done yet.

We started with Summer Sailstice on June 21, the international event that gets thousands of people around the world out on sailboats. Sailstice was created in 2001 by John Arndt of the local sailing magazine Latitude 38, and the official San Francisco Bay Area gathering at Alameda's Encinal Yacht Club is the flagship event of the whole festival.

EYC's event included a boat building contest, sailboat display, free sailing rides and introductory lessons, music, food and exhibits. The Coast Guard put on an ocean rescue demonstration with a helicopter pulling a simulated drowning victim out of the water. It was a great day for sailors and non-sailors alike!


The biannual Pacific Cup regatta started this past weekend, with boats leaving daily from the Bay for the 2,000-mile trip to Hawaii. This is the time of year when marina slips suddenly go empty as the owners sail their boats out the Gate for this adventure, which can take two weeks or even longer. The smallest boats making the trip this year are only 24 feet long; there are cruising yachts twice that size headed out there as well.

You can follow these racers, and it's fun! Go to for daily reports, along with short texts and longer blog entries from the racers themselves. You can also click over to and view an almost-live (six-hour delay) map showing the positions of all the boats. Slide your mouse over any boat to see its details. (The tracking map is free for computer users; there is a $2.99 charge to view it on a mobile device.)


It's great when the Fourth falls on a Friday so we actually get a three-day holiday weekend. Many sailors take their boats out for at least part of the weekend, especially to view the fireworks shows around the Bay.

We jumped a day early and took our sailboat over to Richmond, where every THIRD of July the Oakland East Bay Symphony gives a free public concert in the wonderfully restored Craneway Pavilion on the waterfront. Thousands of people come out for this, and a unique feature are the "indoor picnics" - folks spread out their blankets and baskets right on the floor of the building to enjoy the music. It is often really windy and cold outside, which was the case this year as well. NO FOG, though.

The fireworks show takes place right outside the building, but another great way to watch these is from a boat in a slip at the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor next door.

Lots of area yacht clubs, including some of Alameda's seven clubs, hold events over the holiday weekend. It was the Island Yacht Club cruise-out that brought us to Richmond, and we followed that on Saturday with an overnight at anchor in Paradise Cove off of Tiburon.

Oakland Yacht Club held the latter event; it was a "progressive dinner" with different combinations of the 10 participating members' boats serving appetizers, entrees and desserts. Members with small inflatable dinghies had the fun job of ferrying everyone between boats. The weather cooperated by holding back the fog and keeping the wind down for the evening, and all had a great time.


Not all of this week's news was fun, though. Since the Great Estuary Cleanup spearheaded by Brock de Lappe of Alameda Marina cleared out many of the illegal anchored and/or sunken hulks defacing our waterway, some are beginning to creep back in. The photo below shows one at the docks behind 2827 Marina Drive, just west of the Fruitvale Bridge. It is not known yet if there are fuel oils or other environmental hazards aboard; we hope to have more information on that very soon.


Your maritime reporter is headed out to the far Northeastern reaches of the state for a couple of weeks. Enjoy mid-July on the water!