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All posts by Alex

Just Dreaming Yacht Charter – Tours of the Bay – Escape from Alcatraz

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.

Come Visit the Wineries of Treasure Island with Us

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!

Favorite Destination – The Trident Sausalito

A favorite destination for Just Dreaming on the Bay is the Trident in Sausalito. It is one of the most romantic spots overlooking the gorgeous city skyline, Angel Island, and the East Bay. We’ve taken many a party there, we’ve been lucky enough to celebrate everything from graduations, to birthdays, anniversaries and romantic dinners. Everyone we’ve taken there absolutely loves this place!

First, we dock right at the restaurant. Walking into the Trident, is a walk back in time with its curvaceous wooden features; archways and booths decorated with deep dark brown wood slats; psychedelic murals painted on the walls and the ceiling. And, we’re always greeted with a smile.

The food is amazing! They offer a wide variety from steak, to fish, to mussels with chorizo. Guests often rave about their Pan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops, the Petrale Sole Picatta, and the Vegetarian Strudel. So delicious…
You can also ask the host for the historic tour. In keeping with the original mission of the restaurant from the time it was opened by the Kingston Trio in 1966 everything is locally and sustainably produced and the service is top notch. For those that don’t remember, they were a top of the charts band at the forefront of the hippie revolution. Here’s a look at the original menu, prominently placed near the entrance of the restaurant.

From there, our host showed us the private entrance Janis Joplin once used, filling us in on the crazy parties thrown by the Rolling Stones on their 1972 “Exile on Main Street” tour. One of the original bartenders, Bobby, served Mick Jagger one of his own concoctions, the Tequila Sunrise, and he was hooked. And so, the Tequila Sunrise was born.

Our host ended the tour by walking us up the stairs to Ondine. With one of the most spectacular waterfront views in the Bay Area, Ondine is a unique private dining venue specializing in upscale Modern American Cuisine. The setting is described by most as being undoubtedly the most desirable location in Northern California. With panoramic views of San Francisco, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge. They were setting up for a wedding party when we did our tour. Maybe we’ll get lucky enough to help one of our charters with their own wedding.

Jack London Square – Kincaid’s

On a recent tour, we stopped at Jack London Square in Oakland, in the Oakland Alameda Estuary, for lunch at Kincaid’s. Getting there was half the fun. From San Francisco we passed the Admiral’s house on Treasure Island, including his own light house on the south end of the Island.

The Coast Guard base there and the new sections of the Bay Bridge grabbed our attention as we made our approach in to Jack London Square, named for the accomplished author.

Jack London Square is a maritime center for lots of different boats and modes of transportation.   It is the home of restaurants, hotels, specialty stores and an Amtrak station.  Ferries go back and forth between San Francisco and San Mateo Counties all day long.   It enjoys an abundance of entertainment, boasting itself as center of the bay area jazz scene.  A farmer’s market is hosted among the retail shops on Sunday mornings.

A visit by boat to Jack London Square offers the sights and sounds of a unique historic location and the opportunity for lunch at an amazing restaurant, Kincaid’s.  On a recent visit, one of our guests enjoyed one of their Lavender Cosmos. There was also a Jumbo Prawn Cocktail with spicy aioli and a perfectly textured Lobster Bisque.  While we were there, everyone marveled at the view of San Francisco and the bridges.

 

 

Kincaid’s has a great wine list with a moderate price range.  At the higher end, they carry Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valle and the Louis Roederer Brut Premier, one of my personal favorites.

There are some notable items on the lunch menu such as the French onion soup, the Chophouse Burger with Brie, and the Seafood Louie salad.  The dinner menu features a Seared Peppercorn Crusted New York Steak and a Pan Seared Shellfish Fettuccini.

 

As delicious as the food was, the view was what brought it all together. From the deck of the restaurant, we could see the San Francisco skyline across the water, framed by the boats docked on both sides and the crane of the port of Oakland.

On the weekends Jack London Square fills with one person sail boats, including dragon boats at the end of the summer preparing for the San Francisco Dragon Boat festival. The Estuary is a bustle of excitement on weekends.

Come join us for a cruise on a historic wooden Jackie O’ designed vessel into our own Bay Area history at Jack London Square.

Amazing Adventures on Angel Island

Driving around the bay and looking out at Angel Island, it’s hard to imagine just how spectacular the views are from the Island.  It is all right there, from the San Francisco skyline to the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais, Sausalito, Tiburon, Richmond and Oakland. On a clear day, you can see as far north as Sonoma and as far south as San Jose.

Angel Island was originally a fishing and hunting site for the Coast Miwok Native Americans, Angel Island has been home to cattle ranchers, immigrants, and a camp for the U.S. Army starting at the time of the Civil War. Remnants and relics of wars gone by remain, from the Civil War to the Cold War.

As you walk the perimeter road around the island counter clockwise, the first landmark is West Garrison and Camp Reynolds. Originally constructed at the time of the Civil War, this outpost was built to defend San Franciscans against Confederate soldiers and foreign attacks. It was used as overflow housing for U.S. Troops through the end of World War II.

A little further up the road the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline bring you back into the present, in awe of the beauty of the bay.

 

The next landmark is the Nike Anti-Aircraft Missile Site. Although Angel decommissioned as a military post in 1947, in 1954 missile magazines were constructed on the islands southeast corner above Point Blunt as well as at the top of what is now called Mount Caroline Livermore.

Once upon a time this missile site was part of our front line defense for incoming missiles. Today this vacant launch pad serves as a reminder of the Cold War.

One of the final sites to see as one tours the island is Immigration station, where countless Chinese immigrants were held as part of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Until immigrants could prove that they had husbands or fathers who were U.S. citizens they remained on the island or were subject to deportation. The walls of the station are covered with poems in Chinese of detainees, both heart wrenching and beautiful. Though there were immigrants from a total of 84 different countries, approximately one million of these were Chinese. In 1943 the Exclusion Act came to an end when China became our partner in World War II.

At that point, there were numerous prisoners of war held on the island, though they were given free roam.

The combination of the scenery and the history of the island make it one of the most amazing hikes that the Bay Area has to offer.

From the Galley: Tom Kha Gai

One of the biggest hits from our galley on board Just Dreaming is our Tom Kha Gai soup. Also known as Thai Chicken Coconut Soup, this dish is flavorful, delicious, and exotic. It is a perfect dish on the yacht when the cold wind kicks up.

“Tom Kha Gai Soup” literally means “chicken galangal soup.” It is based on the 19th Century Siamese recipe, Tom Kha, a dish of chicken or duck served in a coconut broth flavored with galangal, a spice in the ginger family with hints of citrus and sweetness. It was then paired with a chili jam, similar to sweet chili sauce. Moving into the 20th century, the dish morphed into Tom Kha Gai, a mainstay in Thai and Lao cuisine.

The main ingredients are coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, and chicken. It can be mild and delicately spiced or set your mouth on fire spicy. We will make it to your liking.

When we first had it, we were sitting on the deck, watching the sunset just approaching the Golden Gate Bridge. It was awe inspiring. With the beauty of the ocean, the hills, the bridge, a slight breeze, and the delightful spice and warmth of the soup, we found ourselves completely in the present, all of our senses engaged.

It made for a perfect escape from the day to day. And as we wound back around the bay, passing Angel Island, Sausalito, and back toward the city, we enjoyed the glory of the skyline, the pleasure of each other’s company, our friends and family: the crew of Just Dreaming.

There really is nothing like the smell of ocean air, the view of the bay, the feel of the breeze in contrast with the smells, taste and warmth of the soup. The powerful combination brings you right into the present. This is living!

On your next trip onto the bay with us, order it in advance, or any of our custom menu options.