Construction continues all around us. In Brisbane, our immediate neighbor to the north, pile drivers, beat out a hideous, head-splitting, never-ending cadence. In Oyster Point, located to our south, the idyllic spring morning is shattered by the piercing back-up alarms on the semi-trucks as they call out their shrill, tuneless melodies. To the west Oyster Point Boulevard continues to morph into a canyon of high rise, biotech office buildings. Thankfully nobody has yet discovered how to sell water as real estate or there would be a racket coming from the east as well. We have been surrounded by the wheels of progress.
In the late 70′s when we first moved to the Bay Area from Napa and took up boating, the land surrounding Oyster Point Boulevard was open and rural. The abandoned steel yard had long ago been dismantled and hauled away leaving only train tracks and open fields where the Canada Geese gathered for their family reunions. None of the dozens of biotech buildings known as the Genentech campus yet existed. Oyster Point in South San Francisco was a destination only for the marina, yacht club and the fishing pier. My goodness how things have changed, even when considering it has been almost 40 years since we were first introduced to the area, we now call home.
Prior to 1956 the Oyster Point peninsula was marsh and tidal flats, home to a thriving commercial oyster fishery. In the early part of the last century author Jack London would sail across the Bay to Oyster Point to harvest the plentiful oysters from which the area took its name. Between 1956 and 1970 the City of South San Francisco leased 57 acres of prime waterfront property to South San Francisco Scavengers as a dump and disposal site. Initially, solid waste was burned on site until 1957 when a new law was enacted to prohibit open-air burning. To address the new air quality restrictions, the South San Francisco Scavenger Company established a solid waste disposal site, dumping the garbage directly onto the tidal flats and then surrounding the debris with wire fencing to prevent the chunky bits from floating off into the Bay. Today, decades after the disposal site has been closed, the land fill material which consists mainly of poorly compacted industrial and municipal waste is as much as 45-feet deep in some areas. For the construction of the property to progress, every bit of that contaminated soil must be scrubbed. This is the phase of the construction project that we are currently experiencing.
In 1961 the Oyster Point dump site began receiving liquid industrial waste including paints, thinners and solvent sludge from the nearby Sherwin-Williams paint factory, all conveniently dumped into what was known as Sump 1. Unfortunately, Sump 1 was built with no containment therefore the toxic liquid waste seeped directly into the Bay. Berms, constructed from Bay mud, were built around portions of the site beginning in 1961. Remind you of the movie Erin Brockovich? Me too.
The disposal site was eventually shut down in 1981 and efforts to rejuvenate the property were made with the public in mind. The marina, yacht club and open recreational space made good use of the bruised and neglected property.
Fast forward 50 years to what we are experiencing today. Sifting and removing acres of contaminated soil prior to developing the property is an extremely expensive and messy proposition. You can bet your sweet britches that the City of South San Francisco and the South City Scavengers (now out of business) don′t have their check books open. That burden falls only on the developer who is spending mega dollars and time to bring the site up to code prior to redevelopment. Just the other day I observed someone in a full hazmat suit directing trucks loaded with contaminated soil as they exited the building site and made their way toward the freeway. I shudder to think what nightmares those trucks contained. Good riddance!
On a cheery note; the summer birds are in. Western Grebes and Diving Terns are plying the fairways here in Oyster Cove in search of an easy meal of the plentiful bait fish. Cormorants are working in teams to herd shoals of shiners into the narrow bay behind our marina. The tiny House Finches are calling out their melodious love songs as they select the perfect mast or boom for the ideal love nest. These tiny harbingers of spring are a joy to hear, especially over the annoying drone of the pile drivers. So far, no large flocks of Canada Geese have arrived. One or two solitary birds have come to call, but not like in years past.
Neighbor Marlise is host to a pair of Canada Geese which have taken up residence and built a nest on the flying bridge of her boat. The gasoline engines on her old Carver just won′t cooperate with the new marina mandate that all boats must be operational, no matter how much money she throws at them. Unfortunately, Marlise will eventually need to find a new slip and move on. I′m sure her adopted goose family will miss her, I know I will.
More boats have been towed out of the marina these past weeks. My heart aches for good neighbors like Sean who has lived in Oyster Cove longer than we have and who now must vacate because the engine on his houseboat is non-existent. Many people have come to realize that dropping a new, $20,000 engine in a boat that is only worth $7,000 just isn′t a viable option.
Although things are up in the air here in our little marina, and over at Oyster Point, I figure we are much better off than so many boaters who watched as their marinas closed down entirely. Pete′s Harbor, Peninsula Marina and the municipal marina in Alviso are a few here in the South Bay that have been shut down or allowed to silt in. The last dredge in San Leandro Marina was back in 2009. Since that time the City of San Leandro has been unable to secure funds to dredge. Boaters there are advised to enter the channel and marina at their own risk. The closing and silting in of these marinas represent collectively at least 1000 boats that are now homeless. As the cost of dredging and marina maintenance becomes more expensive, the remaining available berths will come at a premium price. I am very grateful that the property developers believe our marinas are worth saving.
With the upcoming Westpoint Regatta slated for the 22nd of June I thought a little revisit to our newest marina in the South Bay might be interesting as well as an update on their latest projects.
Fifty acres of undeveloped shoreline in the Bay Area is very hard to find. In 1998, Mark Sanders bought a former salt pond from Leslie Salt (now Cargill) with a plan to turn it into the most advanced marina in the Bay Area. Little did he know that it would take 10 years before his vision would see boats in the harbor.
On August 8th, 2008 Westpoint Harbor opened for business with just one dock and a handful of boats. Today it is a thriving place with over 400 slips accommodating boats from 30- to 120-feet. What makes Westpoint so special is the care and attention to detail in everything that goes on there; from the pristine Bay Trail that surrounds the harbor, to the highest quality concrete docks. This was an important factor in the marina being awarded the 2018 North America Marina of the Year.
Westpoint is a boater′s delight. Extra wide fairways and the rounded-end fingers (a Westpoint innovation) make returning to your slip uncomplicated, safe, and worry-free. On the docks there are wide pathways, concrete pilings, and fingers on each side of your slip ensuring you have plenty of safe space as you walk around. The marina offers numerous free facilities such as your own dock-box, fresh water, ice, WiFi and ample parking. There are modern showers that are maintained by the staff every day and you will find the Harbormasters friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help.
Located in Redwood City, the marina boasts 300 days of sunshine a year and is one of the most protected and sheltered harbors in the Bay. The Club at Westpoint opened last year offering sporting and social events along with a very popular cruise-out program and the new Friday Night Fun Series sailboat races. Later this year a new restaurant and clubhouse will be constructed affording the most amazing views of the San Francisco Bay. Westpoint is also home to 101 Surf Sports (101SurfSports.com) and the Airbnb on a Luxury Boat program called Yacht Suites (YachtSuites.net). You can learn more at WestpointHarbor.com or by calling 650/701.0545.
The great cleaning project of 2019 is well under way. My fabulous new deck brush made short work of the collected grime on the flying bridge, but I was shocked and dismayed to find that the deck needed more than just a good scrub. Large patches of paint came up with the dirt. I guess I will need to put sanding and painting on my list now. Job security, right? Today however, I will move down to the main deck where the real dirt lives and continue with the scrub-a-dub-dub. First things first, after all.
Congratulations go to HydroHoist Boat Lifts for their new contract with the United States Navy to provide HarborHoist boat lifts to protect Navy security and patrol boats from the elements. The installations will include ports in Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Hampshire. JB Robison Jr., HydroHoist Inside Sales Manager says “Ultimately, the affordability of the HarborHoist, ease of operation and low maintenance requirements confirmed the U.S. Navy′s decision to choose HydroHoist.” For more information visit www.boatlift.com
The noise and dirt from the surrounding construction finally got down to my one, last nerve. “Sweetie let′s get out of Dodge for a few days, please. The sound of the pile drivers is making me want to murder and pillage.” What an agreeable, jolly good fellow my husband is! A short trip to the store to top off the pantry, a splash from the hose to fill the water tanks and we were under way to spend a few days at Clipper Cove.
The boat started right up and ran well for the short trip up Bay. The weather, after weeks and weeks of gray skies, was predicted to be perfection. It had been a while since we had taken the boat out for an overnight. A full moon set the stage for a perfect few days on the hook. No WiFi, nothing to interrupt a much-needed break from civilization.
The Bowling Trophy slipped over the bow and gave a confident tug as the anchor quickly set and pulled the bow around into the wind. I added a few more feet of chain, just to sleep securely and then shut down the engines.
Guess what? The construction on Treasure Island was actually LOUDER than back home. Not only were they doing major construction on the causeway roadway, accompanied by the usual symphony of back-up alarms, but more construction, or deconstruction, was also going on in the area where the old Treasure Island Yacht Club used to be. I guess you just can′t escape progress.
Also registering on the Noise-O-Meter; I find that the new bridge is much noisier that the old span. Something about the openings in the center makes the sound reverberate through the cove like the sound box on a guitar.
When Sweetie decided that it was time to turn on the generator and add to the maddening cacophony, I threw up my hands in frustration and determined that perhaps it was time to splash a little paint around.
I confess that I am the world′s worst painter because my motto is; okay is good enough. Unlike Mary Buckman, who spends hours and days on the prep portion of any job she tackles, I just want to get finished and put the project behind me. Terms like “cutting in” and “feathering” hold no meaning for me. If it looks okay from 50-feet, it′s okay by me! Consequently, I get a lot of holidays, slags and drips; terms I am intimately familiar with. Spilling and splashing fit my painting style which is why I start at the top and work my way down. Paint on the deck? Not a problem, just paint over it later.
The problem in this style of maintenance is you just never know who is going to drop by. Some visitors are more forgiving of a work-in-progress, while others like Pat Carson and Bill Wells have boats that gleam with pride of ownership. I hang my head in shame beside these dedicated gentlemen.
I had a note from Captain Greg Coleman, another skipper who takes pride of ownership, and reports he is very happy with the extensive canvas, carpet and upholstery work done recently by none other than Curt Page of West Coast Canvas. Captain Greg reported that all are alive and well and business in Stockton is booming. Captain Greg′s boat was kept in one of West Coast Canvas′s covered slips while the work was being done. I know several people who have had canvas work done and they rave praises of West Coast Canvas. So glad to know that they are back up and running smoothly after their forced move from Tower Park. Their new location offers a large workshop, plenty of in-the-water docks for larger boats and a lot space for working on trailered boats as well. Curt and the staff can be reached at www.westcoastcan vas.com or 209/333.0243.
Canvas? Put that on my list too. Fiddle-dee-dee, I won′t think of that today.
Even accounting for the construction noise, a visit to Clipper Cove was just what the doctor ordered. The surrounding hills were green and easy on the eyes and the calm water inside the Cove was the perfect venue to observe the Junior Sailing Program in action. The sailing dinghies were loaded to the gunnels with neophyte sailors out for their first adventure on the water. A nice picnic on the beach was further enticement for these future Olympic hopefuls.
Of course, no boat trip would be complete without the usual glitches and gremlins. This time the generator wasn′t willing to shut down on command. The kill switch had no effect so poor old Sweetie had to venture into the bilge to shut it down manually.
Aside from a bit of splashed paint on the deck and the untimely death of the water heater, no real damage was done on this outing and a jolly time was had by all! The replacement water heater has been ordered and should arrive in a few days.
I hope you can get out and take advantage of our beautiful waterways now that the weather is finally agreeable. The Bay and Delta are delicious treasures and ones that not all have the means to enjoy.
If you have any questions, comments or contributions please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I′ll see you on the water! H