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Visiting Oakland Estuary with Just Dreaming Yacht

Oakland Estuary San Francisco Bay Area
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.

Want to learn more? Contact Us.

Reasons to travel to Oakland Estuary on board Just Dreaming Yacht

  • Just Dreaming Yacht is an elegant and comfortable vessel.
  • The Oakland Estuary is frequently sunny and filled with activity.
  • Cruising the Bay on your own private yacht charter is relaxing.
  • Just Dreaming Yacht holds up to 40 people, making it ideal for smaller, more intimate gatherings.
  • Just Dreaming can dock at Jack London Square.
  • The Oakland Estuary offers warmer, sunnier weather than the rest of the San Francisco Bay.
  • The breeze is light and pleasant as one travels between Oakland and Alameda.
  • The trip to Oakland Estuary is on calm waters, making the cruise comfortable for all passengers.

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:

  • Tell us a little bit about who will be on board and if it is a celebration, work outing, or just a quick getaway from your daily life.
  • Provide some days and times that will work for your cruise.
  • Let us know what you’d like to eat and drink.

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.

Oakland Estuary Map

A Bird’s Eye View of Oakland and Alameda with the Oakland Estuary Flowing Between Them

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.

Oakland Estuary, container ship, cranes of oakland

A Container Ship Heading Straight Toward You.

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Bay Lights viewed from private yacht charter at night

Viewing the Bay Lights and Bay Bridge from Just Dreaming Yacht

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.

Bay Bridge Parade of Automobiles

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.

View of old and new east bay bridges taken from private yacht charter

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.

East Section of Bay Bridge - transition between bridges

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 viewed from Just Dreaming Yacht Charter

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.

Salmon Jumping Out of San Francisco Bay

Come Watch the Salmon Run With Your Own Yacht Charter


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.

Salmon smolts at California City Hatchery

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 or Pink Salmon Swimming in Lagunitas Creek

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.






The Golden Gate Bridge

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.

Golden Gate Bridge viewed from yacht charter

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.

Just Dreaming Wedding Charter

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.

School Charter Sunset Trip

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.

White Shark

Sharks in the Bay

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.

Leopard shark on surface of bay

A leopard shark swims along the surface of the water.


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.

Leopard Sharks spotted frolicking on board yacht charter

Leopard shark frolicking about in shallow water.

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.

Shark fin sculpture near dock in Tiburon

“Coming Out” sculpture in Tiburon resembles a shark fin, sails, or waves, depending upon vantage point.

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.

Shark watching

Charter guests looking for sharks under the Golden Gate Bridge

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.