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flo617 07-13-2012 02:45 PM

Oakland estuary navigation

I'll be moving my boat to Svendsen this week-end. It seems I'll be doing it on my own and I'm not too used not having another pair of hands holding the tiller when I go to the mast.

Anybody knows what is the current delay between the gate and the estuary? How bad is usually the current there?

I'm shooting to be entering the estuary some time towards the second half of a flood tide, getting to Svendsen around slack.

I have a hank on jib and I was thinking of sailing with just that and taking the sail down about halfway inside the estuary, after clearing the traffic from the port. Bad idea? How is the traffic there?

I've never really sailed there although I did move another 29 footer from a marina there to svendsen and it seemed there was a lot of space to safely idle upwind take down a jib down on a 29foot boat without causing too much trouble.

Am I wrong?


GeorgeB 07-13-2012 03:26 PM

Re: Oakland estuary navigation
Flo, no working engine on your Columbia 29? I don’t have my current charts with me but flood in the Estuary or the South Bay in general happens at least a couple hours after peak flood at the Gate. Not to worry, Estuary currents are usually under a knot. You should be fine. The prevailing winds blow down the Estuary and you will be able to sail wing-on-wing from the Entrance past the old air station and down to Mariner’s square. We usually do it in two gybes. The winds are light (sometimes too light) and the boom comes across smoothly. Once past Jack London, the prevailing winds will shift and you be on a Stb broad reach until Coast Guard Island. The winds will start to back and will be behind you the rest of the way. There is a lot of space near Svendsen’s to take down your sails and not that much traffic that far down. Except for the reaching portion, the winds will get lighter the further you go down. Sometimes we don’t even bother turning into the wind to strike sails, the apparent wind from the engine being sufficient. One word of caution. The Estuary can get more than a little busy on a Saturday. Expect to encounter a lot of boats short tacking their way against the wind. You will also encounter ferries and there is at least one containership movement every day. What is the name of your boat? We’ll keep an eye out for you!

Cal28 07-13-2012 03:33 PM

Re: Oakland estuary navigation

Originally Posted by flo617 (Post 895995)

Anybody knows what is the current delay between the gate and the estuary? How bad is usually the current there?


Here's a site that might help ...

SF Bay currents

as to traffic ... depends on the weather and time of day ... can get pretty crowed if it's nice weather

SlowButSteady 07-13-2012 05:17 PM

Re: Oakland estuary navigation
Svendsen's/Alameda Marina are on a fairly wide part of the estuary. So the current there tends not to be terribly strong. However, beyond Svendsen's the estuary narrows and the current tends to speed up quite a bit. I discovered this the hard way several years ago when I almost got swept into the Park Street bridge. Also, it isn't uncommon for there to be little or no wind that far into the estuary.

Svendsen's must have a little tow boat for moving customer's boats around. Call them and ask them if they can meet you just outside the marina and tow you in.

flo617 07-13-2012 07:04 PM

Re: Oakland estuary navigation
Thanks for all your answer. I now have a clearer picture of the place.

I do have an engine so I'm sure I'll be alright.

However, I got surprised more than once by the currents around pier39 (my marina) and got some issue making headway after taking the sails down even though I was ok while close-hauling. Maybe there is something wrong with my prop because the engine is running smoothly and seems to rev up fine. Bottom line is I just wanted to make sure the currents wouldn't be bad there. I've read about people getting stuck in the estuary while paddling there but I guess it's on the other side of the bridge.

I also had the engine stall before due to some air in the fuel line (at dock and really, because I messed with the fuel filter). With all the vibrations from the 2 cyclinder, I always dread that some nut will get a little loose and my engine will shut down in the middle of worst place possible.

My boat still has its older name -"Desta"- on the transom.

Fstbttms 07-13-2012 10:52 PM

Re: Oakland estuary navigation
The Estuary in general (and particularly in the area around the Alameda Marina) is usually as benign a place to sail as you could wish for. You will be fine.

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