Dec 3, 2008

Retracing Jack London's Journeys on the Bay

Reading Jack London’s Tales of the Fish Patrol was like my grandfather spending an afternoon on my boat telling me tales of fishing and other stories, with some embellishments, I am certain, and perhaps a few outright lies which could be categorized as “fiction”. The settings in the stories are part of my everyday life. I spend a lot of time with my kids at the precise spots in the bay described by Jack London and I work in Benicia. I thought that I might be able to provide the other members of the group a different view of their local world of the Bay Area, but from the Bay side.

It really is a very different world from the water. Each time I go out it is a bit of an adventure, due to the confluence of the wind and the currents, the water is always different from the day before.

Our first group was comprised of Tom, Terry, Armando, Glenn, and myself. We departed Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael and followed the Marin coast to Angel island, then across to San Francisco waterfront, down to Candlestick Point and then across to the Oyster Beds which is now the Oakland Airport. Even Asparagus Island is connected by landfill to the airport. We followed the East shore to Alameda, Oakland, Treasure Island, then to Richmond, the Brothers Islands, Point Pedro, Point Pinole, across San Pablo Bay. We viewed the asphalt cap which tries to encapsulate the slag from the Selby Smelter then up the Carquinez straits past C&H Sugar, then Port Costa and into the Benicia Harbor were we docked and walked down the street to one of my lunchtime hangouts overlooking the Benicia Bight, Captain Blyther’s. Nearly everyone followed my advice and got the Reuben sandwich once they found out that is the only thing I ever order from the menu, perhaps not so much in agreement of my good taste, but likely in fear that it is the only edible entrée on the menu.

After lunch, we went east, up the straits and entered Suisun Bay, and toured down the rows of ships which comprise the mothball fleet, a huge relic of World War II and the Navy’s vow that they will not have to retreat due to lack of shipping capacity again. There is also an environmental reason why they are anchored in Suisun Bay. America has very little capacity to dismantle ships. Most of that is done in Korea and elsewhere in Asia, but America also has a law prohibiting the export of hazardous waste, and since all those ships contain asbestos, they must remain here untll they can be scrapped.

We motored back up the straights past Vallejo, across the bay to Point Pablo, China Camp, and to the Marin Islands, and being fairly low tide, viewed the beach area adjacent the mud flats where yellow Handkerchief and his band dropped off Jack in the last story.

There will be another trip this Friday after Thanksgiving and possibly even another if we still haven’t taken all those who wish to go on this excursion. I was very pleased with the company on the trip and I must admit that I am much more comfortable in smaller groups like this where you can get to know each other better – because we are forced together on a small boat for hours and we need to pass the time getting to know one another. I know the ostensible purpose of the group is the intellectual stimulation provided by the engaging minds of the authors, but we had a good time together - without any help from those brilliant minds. It was a very good day on the bay.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Too bad I missed the boat ride around the bay. Roy, you are a real gent for putting your boat at our disposal like this.