In our first installment of the 'Captain's Corner', we hear from Captain Larry about his experience during a recent charter that experienced some adverse weather.
Just Dreaming Private Yacht Charter is a great way to travel to the Oakland Estuary. From on board, you get to relax with your friends, family, or co-workers while you view Jack London Square, Coast Guard Island, and the cranes of the Port of Oakland. A trip to Oakland Estuary is perfect for a half-day adventure, complete with sightings of pelicans and sometimes seals.
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Reasons to travel to Oakland Estuary on board Just Dreaming Yacht
When you are ready to start planning your trip to Oakland Estuary, the Just Dreaming Team will make it easy for you whether you call in or use our online form. All you need to do is:
To give you a better idea of what you will see and enjoy when you cruise Oakland Estuary, here are some words from Captain Larry:
There is a secret world to explore right in our Bay. It is unique unto itself. And you can only see it by boat.
You never know what you are going to find. There are days that you enter the Oakland Estuary to face an oncoming container ship. One of the largest moving objects known to mankind is heading for you. Unlike Disneyland, everything is real.
One of the many beautiful things in the San Francisco Bay that we love to share with our charter guests is the Bay Bridge. It’s a special treat to be able to view it in a relaxed manner from the water, rather than driving across it, either hurriedly or in the middle of traffic.
Originally opened on November 12, 1936, The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge was well supported by politicians and citizens alike. The opening ceremony was described as “a dozen old-fashioned New Year’s eves thrown into one,” with President Hoover in attendance, an automobile parade, and a fireworks display.
The opening day of the Bay Bridge.
For us, the Bay Bridge marks the beginning of so many of our yacht charters. As the crew of Just Dreaming, we get to enjoy the excitement of our guests as we make our way under the bridge, whether it’s for someone’s birthday, a wedding, or a corporate outing.
On our tours to Treasure Island or Jack London Square, we get an amazing view of the eastern section of the Bay Bridge. Originally a cantilever suspension bridge, after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, a redesign of the eastern section began. The bridge is now a causeway connected to a self-anchored suspension bridge, with beautiful white suspenders running down the middle and views of the water on either side.
The new Eastern Section of the Bay Bridge on the left, the former on the right.
While it was under construction, we had many of our guests request a peek from underneath the bridge. From 2002 until 2017, we were able to watch the construction of the new span alongside the old. The destruction of the old bridge began in 2013, gradually disappearing from the skyline. We were thrilled to be able to provide such a unique vantage point of the shifting waterscape on our way out to Clipper Cove at Treasure Island, or heading back from the Central Bay toward Jack London Square. And now, the elegance of the newly designed span continues to wow us all.
Construction of the new eastern section of the Bay Bridge taken from Clipper Cove
When we journey to the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, or out toward San Pablo Bay we start our journey traveling under the western span of the Bay Bridge. The Ferry Building and Coit Tower greet us once we have traveled out from underneath the double suspension bridge, with its double deck that once housed both cars and trains.
Heading back after a full day, our guests and crew are welcomed back home with the view of the Bay Bridge lit up with flashing white lights against the darkening sky. Developed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Bay Bridge, this light display is best known as The Bay Lights. It was designed by Leo Villareal with numerous unique patterns playing in brilliant LED along the vertical suspenders of the bridge, viewable only from the outside. Although the installation was intended to last for one year, a local fundraising group known as Illuminate was successful enough in their efforts that the lights have become a permanent feature.
Bay Lights at Sunset as viewed from the yacht
Our guests and crew agree that the best way to view the Bay Lights is on board Just Dreaming. It makes for the perfect close to the end of a beautiful day out on the water.
Sláinte an bhradáin agat — Croí folláin agus gob fliuch
May you have the health of a salmon –a healthy heart and a wet mouth.
Irish blessing in Gaelic with translation
It’s the time of year when adult Chinook salmon enter San Francisco bay on their way to spawn in the upper reaches of the Sacramento River, Stanislaus River, and all with waterways up alongside the coast of Northern California. After feeding on krill (small crustacean) in the Pacific getting ready for their long trek, massive schools of salmon move under the Golden Gate into the open area known as California City, North of Angel Island and just South of San Quentin State Prison. Named originally for the Chinook peoples of Washington, Chinook Salmon are the largest of the Pacific Salmon species, and often referred to as King Salmon.
Chinook salmon making their way upstream
And, due to the selfless efforts of many to save them, the salmon are in abundance this year. Because of the drought of 2015, with such low water in the streams where the spawn, there were fear that juvenile salmon would not being able to make it down from their spawning grounds on the various rivers and tributaries to continue the cycle. Numerous organizations worked together to truck many of the juvenile salmon safely down to permit the cycle to continue. At the same time, as always, state and federal hatcheries worked hard to replenish salmon populations. It is no secret that hatcheries throughout the state bulked up to insure, as best anyone can, the continued presence of salmon in San Francisco Bay and in our favorite restaurants and stores.
Chinook salmon swimming at a local hatchery
The presence of salmon is insured with the release of salmon smolts in and leading to San Francisco Bay. Smolts are young salmon or trout, at which point they become silvery and migrate to the ocean for the first time. They will stay in the ocean for seven years, on average, growing in size and strength. Then, on average, at age 7 or so, they bulk up and travel back to the stream or river where they were started to give birth to the next generation.
Starting back in 1974, SF Tyee Club’s began raising salmon from fingerlings out of the Oroville Hatchery to smolt status, when they release them into the San Francisco Bay. Tyee Club is located in an area known by fishermen as being in “California City.” It is a holding spot for inbound salmon. From there, they make their way up the rivers, tributaries and creeks to spawn the next generation.
At this time of year, the smolts have mostly made their way out to the Pacific Ocean and the salmon run or salmon season for fishing adult salmon has begun. Needless to say, it is a great time for seeing salmon swimming in the bay near Tiburon and past California City, as well as to rivers from Redding to the Delta.
This year, the efforts of so many have been blessed not only with an abundance of Chinook and Coho salmon, but also Chum or pink salmon, much more common in Oregon and Washington. It’s unusual, but not unheard of for salmon to migrate in search of new spawning grounds. And, of course when they get here they find that there is an abundance of krill, anchovies and squid for them to eat. Insuring a health eco system insures their continue presence.
Chum salmon spotted at Lagunitas Creek
Join us on board Just Dreaming Yacht for your very own private yacht charter to watch this magnificent migration and the capture of adults in the wild for a culinary treat.
For more information, click Exploring the Bay.
At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.
Joseph Strauss, A Mighty Task Is Done, written upon completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937
Of all of the sights there are to see on board Just Dreaming Yacht, nothing compares to the Golden Gate Bridge at the entrance to the Bay from the Ocean. Cruising out underneath the bridge is one of the best vantage points for viewing the details of its architecture, its tresses and the bases of its art deco towers.
It is great to see the smiles of our guests as we take our time going under the bridge. Everyone takes photos. They relax on the deck and watch the bridge, admiring the structural design and the color contrast between the bay and the International Orange of the bridge. On one of our charters we were graced with a civil engineer on board. He told us that The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the seven civil engineering wonders of the world, alongside the Channel Tunnel between England and France, and the Panama Canal.
Given the masterful artistry of the bridge, our crew and yacht charter guests continue to be surprised to hear that there were concerns that the Golden Gate Bridge would ruin the natural beauty of the bay. Now it is one of the centerpiece jewels of the Bay Area, elegant and alluring. But, back then construction was heavily opposed by numerous civic and business leaders. Litigation lasted for eight years before the construction finally began. Ultimately, financing came from six counties, allowing all of us in the Bay Area to enjoy its splendor.
Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to host weddings up underneath the bridge and witness engagement proposals. It’s a magical and romantic place.
We’ve hosted groups of school children from around the world on our yacht charters. The question they always ask is why the bridge isn’t yellow. We explain that the name came from the gold rush at the middle of the 19th century. And then their eyes light up when we tell them about prospectors finding gold.
It is moments like these that we enjoy as a crew. We know that we are creating experiences that will last a lifetime. We take pride in being able to do so.
After spotting many leopard sharks and rays washed up on the shores of the bay last year, we have been happy to see plenty of them frolicking in the water with our charters on board Just Dreaming Yacht this Spring. In fact, we have a had a number of rays swimming around us at South Beach Harbor this Spring.
When people think of sharks, they are often reminded of Jaws and the presence of Great White Sharks out past the Golden Gate Bridge and around the Farallones. Once in a great while they come into the deeper waters of the bay, most often around Alcatraz. And the San Francisco bay is teaming with a variety of less aggressive and smaller sharks swimming alongside harbor seals, whales, and rays.
One of these is the leopard shark. The leopard shark is completely harmless to humans. They feed on crabs, shrimp, worms and small fish. Beautiful to look at with their brown-grey spots, they sometimes swim in the shallower areas of water all the way down to the South Bay. At this time of year, there are pups as well. As small as they are, our guests find they really have to be looking in the water once we make it to a dock, where the shallow water provides better visibility.
The San Francisco Bay is also home to Broadnose Sevengill Shark, sometimes called Soupfin or School Sharks. We spot these more readily due to their large fins, for years prized as a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Fortunately, they are no longer being commercially fished in the bay, though at their enormous size, up to 10 feet long and 250 pounds, they are one of the few true aquatic predators to make the Bay its breeding ground. They feed on Harbor Seals and other sharks.
The city of Tiburon, or “shark” in Spanish, was named for the lagoons in the area where sharks mate in the breeding season. It is a stunning ritual we’ve been lucky to spot with some of our charters. A few weeks ago, we spotted a six-foot shark jumping out of the middle of the bay, fulling clearing the surface of the water by about eight feet. With a jump like that, we figured he was avoiding becoming dinner for a much larger fish.
We have had plenty of passengers leery of the sight of their dorsal fins poking out of the water. The sheer size of them swimming around the yacht is enough to send little shivers down the spine. Our crew and guests are simply awed by their beauty. What is less known is that the Bay is one of only two of their breeding grounds. Around this time of year, the pups are born and the sharks head out into the open water.
Summer is the perfect time of year to watch the wildlife in the water. With whales, sea lions, harbor seals, sharks, and all of their young, being on board Just Dreaming Yacht is a true escape from the bustle of the city with sights to wow the whole family.
One of the many hidden treasures the Bay Area has to offer is Horseshoe Cove next to the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. It has breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a favorite destination among our yacht charter guests, whether they are heading out to Cavallo Point to stay in one of their luxurious suites or to go out dancing at the Travis Marina Bar, just upstairs from the Presidio Yacht Club.
I often reflect on our our last visit to Horseshoe Cove. I took the crew over for an evening of dancing and watching the sun set beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a beautiful day with a light breeze to soften the warmth of the sun. We set out from Pier 40, cruising by Treasure Island and admiring the view of the city as the crew relaxed on the deck, enjoying their time on the water.
As we made our way out toward Angel Island, we heard a view gasps of excitement coming from the port side of Just Dreaming. I took a quick glance and spotted the most amazing thing: a humpback whale! Humpback whales have not been particularly common inside the Bay, but, over the past couple of years we’re seeing more and more of them coming in to feast on anchovies. And what a site!
We slowed for a bit to watch before continuing our journey out to Horseshoe Cove.
As we cruised out under the Golden Gate bridge, we spotted two swimming side by side gracefully through the water. We recognized them as Harry and Meghan, our own San Francisco royalty. After seeing them a couple of weekends in a row, always out under the bridge, our crew named them Harry and Meghan. We’ve seen them every weekend since. Each time, our yacht charter guests have been wowed and touched by their beauty as they watch them swimming together.
After spending some time watching them and enjoying the bridge up close, we turned back into the bay and headed toward the dock at the Presidio Yacht Club. After docking, we escorted our crew up to the Travis Marina Bar. It was early enough that we were about to get ourselves a table overlooking the water for the sunset, with plenty of tables for our guests and other revelers yet to arrive.
As the sun began to set, we ordered some delicious burgers and drinks and waited for the Jamie Clark Band, a local rock group, to come on.
When it was all over, we relaxed on the deck bundled up, admiring the San Francisco skyline as we meandered back to Pier 40. Everyone had a marvelous, relaxing, and fun time. It’s experiences like this that make our work so fun. We hope to see you on board Just Dreaming Yacht Charter soon, for dancing, whale watching, dining, and more
It isn’t every day that we get to tour Alameda Coast Guard Island for the tour. Last weekend, we had a yacht charter that included a party of twenty Coast Guard Veterans in town. We were lucky enough to join them. They met us at Pier 40 in San Francisco, giving us the opportunity to make our way across the Bay, taking the scenic route past Treasure Island prior to making our way past the cranes of the Port of Oakland.
Since Coast Guard Island doesn’t offer galley services, we docked at Brotzeit for lunch, feasting on their Wurst Platter with their house made Bockwurst, Nurnberger, Bratwurst, Wurzige, and so much more. What a setting! If we hadn’t been on a mission to tour Coast Guard Island, we would have stayed on their sunny dock and enjoyed the view of the water.
Since we could not dock at Alameda Coast Guard Island, we made our way by land for the tour. We started at Working Dogs, meeting a few service dogs as we walked past numerous memorials for the dogs who have given their lives for the country. From this spot on the water overlooking the Brooklyn Basin, we toured the north part of the island, taking a peek at Building 42, the original Supply Building. Then we headed to the Westernmost tip where we viewed remains of old rum runners seized during Prohibition just visible at the edge of the water.
Our next stop included a view the Cutters docked at the piers. Such amazing vessels! For many in our party the visit to Emlen Tunnel was deeply touching. Emlen Tunnel is the base gym, named for Silver Lifesaving Medal recipient and first African-American to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The tour ended at Auxiliary Memorial, dedicated to the many volunteers from 1939 to today.
With their hearts filled with pride, our party of veterans climbed back on board Just Dreaming Yacht. With time on our side, we made our way around the bay, past Angel Island, Tiburon and Sausalito to watch the Sunset beneath the Golden Gate bridge. As we got back to Pier 40 we sent them off with a salute of thank you for their service.
About once a month we spot swimmers crossing the Bay from Alcatraz Island as we take our guests on a tour of the bay. They always ask about them. We’re proud to tell them about a few of our crew members making the journey as part of the “Take the Rock ” Veteran Swim Challenge in the Fall, open to veterans from every branch of the military, which is one of many annual Escape from Alacatraz style events.
Of course, that opens the conversation to the best-known escape from Alacatraz. It was carried out by Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin, and Allen West on June 11, 1962. Seeing the swimmers gets our parties talking about this famed event, from the intricate details of the Papier Mache heads they made to place on the beds to buy time, to the letter received by SFPD in 2018 from John Anglin, postmarked Brasilia. We love getting to talk about the history of the island and the many recreations from Mythbusters to the 1979 film with Clint Eastwood.
We tell our parties that now, 45 years later, any well-trained swimmer can recreate the escape from Alcatraz. This always comes as such a surprise. After years of hearing about so many failed attempts, learning that so many people have done the swim lends credence to the tale. And, of course, this sighting is only one of many as we cruise the bay. From San Francisco to Tiburon to Alcatraz to the Golden Gate Bridge and back, our guests always have a great time on board Just Dreaming Yacht.
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of bringing a small group of executives out to Treasure Island for an afternoon wine tour with Just Dreaming. It was a gorgeous afternoon, so gave them the grand tour, cruising out toward the Alameda Estuary, giving them an up-close view of the cranes of the Port of Oakland, before making our way under the Bay Bridge and over to the dock.
After docking at Clipper Cove Way, we walked them over to The Winery SF. They loved the vast industrial space, with wine barrels lining the walls. More than that, they were wowed by the Viognier, a Gold Medal winner in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. We were close enough to the boat that they bought several bottles and took them back to the boat.
From there we showed them the views of the Bay Bridge, walking alongside the water before turning up on Avenue I to visit the island’s original winery: Treasure Island Wines. Originally founded as a collective in 2007, the grapes are sourced from all over California with all phases of wine production are performed on-site. We were surprised at how much their faces lit up when they saw all of the dogs. The tasting room at Treasure Island Wines isn’t just dog friendly. The tasting fee is waived if you bring your dog. Perfect!
The highlight of the tour for them may have been Fat Grape because of its unique location and sulfite-free wines. Fat Grape is located inside the former Navy Brig, an ironic and unusual setting for merriment.
Or, it may have been Sottomarino Winery, or “submarine” winery. Sottomarino features Italian style wines, such as Sangiovese, served on board the USS Buttercup, a former World War II submarine training vessel. Though landed and renovated, many of the original details remain, including the escape hatch.
Wrapping up our tour, we headed back to Sol Rouge, the tasting room for the Napa Valley Winery, where they played Bocce Ball, glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon in hand, admiring the beautiful view of the Bay Bridge in the background.
There was so much more they didn’t get to see! While they positively loved the tasting rooms, there were more they didn’t get to try along with so many historic buildings to see, not only those built by the Navy, but a few built for the World’s Fair in celebration of the completion of both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate. As they left, they realized there was even a spot for to drop anchor and spend the night.
What a way to spend a weekend after meetings in the City. Join us!