Alameda Shows Strong Signs of Marine Life

Dennis Evanosky

The USS Hornet has played an integral role in Alameda's marine life. The historic carrier is missing its starboard anchor. This week the Hornet received a much-needed assist from its sister ship the USS Oriskany. The Oriskany was decommissioned in 1976, and its one of its anchors has decorated Oakland's Jack London Square since 1980. The 30,000-pound anchor was sent to the Hornet on Monday. It will replace the Hornet's missing anchor.

Alameda is home to a half dozen yacht clubs including the Encinal and Oakland yacht clubs, another half dozen marinas, three boat yards and about 4,000 slips. A hardy contingent of sailors, some of them brand new and others who have enjoyed sailing as both a sport and a way of life for decades call the Alameda waterfront home.

The Island City boasts some of the oldest yacht clubs in the Bay Area and may be one of the biggest sailing communities in California, with more boat slips that almost any other California city.

Local mariners attribute Alamedas status as a sailing hub to the Islands hospitable weather and light winds which offer access to world-renowned sailing in San Francisco Bay without the cold, choppy conditions sailors may experience in the waters off San Francisco and Berkeley and the availability of waterfront property to businesses, alongside a rare, well-maintained deep water channel.

It is a lot calmer and warmer to sit on your sailboat in Alameda on the Oakland Estuary than almost anywhere you can go, said Kame Richards, owner of Alamedas Pineapple Sails.

Richards said Alamedas moderate weather makes it easier to work on boats outdoors, and its winds, which might blow at 10 knots, compared to 20 to 25 knots in nearby Berkeley, are gentler, a boon to sailors with smaller boats. The lighter weather also makes it cheaper to sail here, he said, because it doesnt require sailors to don expensive foul weather gear.

Alameda has historically been an address to shipping outfits like the Alaska Packers and also the military, but its also home to some of the Bay Areas oldest yacht clubs, including the Encinal Yacht Club founded in 1890 and the Oakland Yacht Club, which was founded in 1913 and which made its way across the estuary to Alameda in 1977, after a dispute with its former landlord, the Port of Oakland.

Author Jack London was one of the Oakland Yacht Clubs earliest members one wall of its bright Pacific Marina clubhouse are graced with a slip reminding London he was late paying his $5 fees. Today its home to sailors like Jim Jessie, a former commodore who has twice circumnavigated the globe but now looks forward to watching the Americas Cup races the World Series kicks off Tuesday in San Francisco Bay and sailing around the ditch, as he calls the estuary.



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