"It has been said that all great cities of history have been built on bodies of water - Rome on the Tiber, Paris on the Seine, London on the Thames, New York on the Hudson. If this is a criterion of a city's greatness, surely San Francisco ranks in the first magnitude among cities of the world. For never was a metropolis more dominated by any natural feature than San Francisco by its bay... Anywhere within the city's forty-five square miles a view of the water is only a few steps away - to the head of the block, or the roof of a building, or the top of a hill." — Harold Gilliam, Natural History of San Francisco Bay
Master Mariners Beat Across the Golden Gate, July 4, 1884... The strong west wind blows out the topsail of the lumber schooner Occidental as she makes a sharp turn, heading for Fort Point between two scow schooners. Parades and speeches took up the morning, picnics and watersports the afternoon, as thousands lined the wharves, covered Telegraph Hill, and placed their bets repeatedly on the 20-mile workboat race. The Champion Rooster Banner (along with a ton of coal) was awarded that night at the Mariner's Ball, where musicians were hired to play until dawn.
"Banjos, Beer by the Keg, and Homemade Pickles for the Launch of the James F. McKenna, 1902... We loved that boat, My father and uncle took our neighbors out for excursions all the time - big picnics. Sometimes we stayed overnight at McNear's Point, slept on the boat with all our friends. In hot weather we put the galley stove out on deck. The bucket came up over the side to wash our dishes, but we carried drinking and cooking water with us. The people in this view are neighbors from Butchertown, near Islais Creek. Scow schooner-men lived there because they had to go out with the tide - even if it was 3 a.m. - they could walk to the wharf, easy." — Mrs. Arend Horstmeyer, niece of owner Charlie Waack, recalls 1902 in 1967.
Jack London and Charmian on Board the Snark, Built by Pop Anderson in India Basin for their Round-the-World Cruise... In 1906, London dedicated his book, The Cruise of the Snark, to his wife with these words: "To Charmian, the Mate of the Snark, who took over the wheel, night or day, when entering or leaving port or running a passage, who took the wheel in every emergency, and who wept after two years of sailing, when the voyage was discontinued."
A Wet Sail on San Francisco Bay in 1885... William Letts Oliver has to cling to the bowsprit of the yacht Emerald and balance his studio camera with a glass negative, to photograph this wet ride, nosing the surf, riding the fast tidal surge from the Golden Gate. It you mean to move along on San Francisco Bay, the annual local tide book is as essential as your set of sails. Bay tides are so powerful that even a strong breeze cannot move a sailboat against the flow. A frisky wind and a fast ride combine to give you a ride to remember. Emerald won the first San Francisco Yacht Club regatta in 1869, when the clubhouse stood on pilings in Mission Bay.