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Old 10-06-2010
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Questions re: San Francisco Fleet Week

We'd like to sail the SF bay to watch the Blue Angels and warships this coming weekend. However, we've never done this before. Will there be any area of the Bay closed to recreational traffic? Also, what's the best place to anchor in the bay for the best view of the Blue Angels?

Thank you.
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Old 10-06-2010
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Ah, Fleet Week and the Blue Angels Airshow – one of the three weekends when all of your land friends all come out of the woodwork, snooping around for a boat ride. It is also one of the three weekends when all of the crazies, inexperienced, and unprepared come out on the Bay. Make sure your insurance is paid up and VHF is working. You never said what type of boat you have or what kind of experience you have?

But seriously, it is a zoo out there and factor in the currents, water depth and wind and you get some real interesting anchoring situations. Everyone should do it (perhaps once). Back in the Cold War Days, when Alameda was homeport to two carrier battle groups, the parade of ships was really something to see. Now, the largest ship is some sort of amphibious assault ship that is actually going to dock on Thursday or Friday. The largest ships are going to be Frigates or Destroyers. As I recall the parade is at 9:00AM on Saturday and the ships will pass under the Golden Gate, go between the City and Alcatraz, then dock along the waterfront as far as Pier 50. To view the parade, think about hanging in the Central Bay halfway between Yellow Bluff and Blackaller. That will give you plenty of room. You can hang closer to the city front but be prepared to get hassled by the coasties as they enforce the exclusion zone. It will be slack water turning into a flood so you won’t be swept out to sea.

Airshow starts at 1:00PM(?) and you will see 1.25 of flood current turing into an ebb during the Blue Angels show. The airshow “box” is between Alcatraz and the City from the Marina all the way past Pier 39. There is not much room on the city side to anchor but I’ve seen some people do it. Most will anchor on the Alcatraz side. The water is deep and holding poor. The ground is hard packed sand. I have anchored on the south side of Alcatraz in waters between 60-80 feet. I use all of my 300’ of rode and 40’ of chain. The shallow area on the North side of the island is the Alcatraz Shoal and if you want to make the cover of BoatUS (Insurance) Magazine, anchor in the vicinity of the buoy. Most people anchoring will have insufficent ground tackle so plan on having someone else’s gear trip or foul your own

What a lot of people do is “motor and drift”. Slowly motor in idle against the current and drift down. Repeat. Unfortunately, the skipper gets to play dodge’m boats while the guests have a good time. IMHO this is safer as you can get out of the way of others who aren’t paying attention and you can watch the show in water too deep for practical anchoring.

Be forwarned, it is a zoo out there. Besides the inexperienced, you get the machismo racing types who will think of nothing of sailing through the impromptu anchorage, flying their spinnakers. When the show breaks up it is Le Mans time. Everybody going every direction, very fast. It is fun to listen to Ch16 and hear all the emergency calls, boat crashes, cat calls, and such. And beware, every law enforcement agency is out looking to enforce the boating laws. The Highway Patrol will station a fleet of squad cars At Jack London to facilitate the booking process for offenders in the Estuary.
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Thank you George! That's a lot more helpful info than I asked for.

We have a Catalina 27 with an 8hp outboard. I consider myself inexperienced, but I expect to have an experienced sailor accompany me this weekend.
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Old 10-07-2010
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Just remember; the deeper you sail into the crowd, the more chaotic it becomes. Consider dropping down to a single sail (preferably the main) when you get close to the recreational fleet. Don't be afraid to run your outboard keeping it on standby in the event that you need to make a powerboat maneuver to avoid a collision. Stay well clear of the areas where boats are anchored too closely together; because you could end up either fouled on an anchor rhode or in a place where you can't avoid drifting into an anchored boat (in this situation you are give-way; regardless of how stupidly they are anchored). And don't enforce the right of way rules. If someone is bearing down on you; turn away if you are clear to do so even if you are privileged.

Don't anchor out there; too many people anchor too closely together (people will come and anchor on top of you) and many boats get snagged. If the ebb is strong where you anchored earlier at slack (like on top of the dredge tailing mound off of Alcatraz) you will be in for a rough ride when it's time to pull up the hook.

There are fewer boats to the east and west of the exclusion zone. Most boaters want to see the show from the West of Alcatraz near the outer boundary; so if you go to the East end (off Pier 39) or West end (off Crissy Field) you should have fewer boats to avoid.

Go to the USCG website and download the notice to mariners for a map of the boundary.

Last edited by KeelHaulin; 10-07-2010 at 04:13 AM.
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Old 10-10-2010
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Yesterday we anchored just south of Auatic Park. We were out of the wind, and had little current. The show is always fantastic, and a good time was had by all. It's great to be home in October.......i2f
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