Photo by Curtis Cronn, http://www.flickr.com/photos/cronncc/4611082238/
Have you brought a boat out on Bay waters this summer? Oakland may not be known for its boating sports but you can enjoy them all off the estuary. Sailing, kayaking and even rowing are fun summer activities that you can enjoy without breaking your bank.
Where Oakland meets the sea is not the wilderness it once was. Port cranes straddle much of the shoreline. Kayakers may be seen pushing off the marshy Middle Harbor Shoreline Park (but not during low tide, when the shallow water and muddy sandbar are better for fishing or bird watching).
As Keith Miller, president of the boat rental shop California Canoe and Kayak, said, "It's definitely an urban boating experience. But the last time I was out there I saw harbor seal and pelicans."
For white water boating, Miller enjoys trips along the south fork of the American River. But for pushing off Jack London Square, he recommends a two-hour jog up the estuary to circumnavigate Coast Guard Island or to Alameda's Park Street Bridge and back. For the uninitiated, California Canoe and Kayak also offers a full-day beginners course that teaches kayakers how to stroke the oars and bail out if they tip over.
Adventure-seekers boat out to AT&T Park from Oakland shores, which have changed since the marshy days London described in his memoir, "John Barleycorn."
As a regular at Heinhold's Last Chance Saloon, Jack London did a fair amount of tipsy sailing on his watercraft. Perhaps if he could have rented a rowboat rather than taking out a loan for an pirate ship, he would have stayed out of trouble.
Oakland-grown author Jack London got a taste of the seafaring life when he was 15 years old and toiled every day at a local cannery. When London met some nefarious oyster pirates who combed the coast for free fish, he relented to a life of crime.
"I wanted to be where the winds of adventure blew,” he once said. “And the winds of adventure blew the oyster pirate sloops up and down San Francisco Bay, from raided oyster-beds and fights at night on the shoal and flat, to markets in the morning against city wharves, where peddlers and saloonkeepers came down to buy."
These days, you don't have to visit the Berkeley Marina or even Lake Cabot to take to water. Here are some options for boating close to home:
California Canoe & Kayak
409 Water St., Jack London Square
Boat rentals from Jack London Square location
$15 per hour for single kayaks
$25 per hour for double kayaks
$25 per hour for canoes
$150 for three-month seasonal rental
$250 for six-month seasonal rental
Classes on the Oakland Estuary
$59 for kayak basics class
$89 for weekday sea kayaking class
$99 for beginning sea kayaking class
$99 for intermediate sea kayaking class
Lake Merritt Boating Center
568 Bellevue Ave.
Dragon boating with the Renegades adult team
Join the team for a free trial practice: 10:15 a.m. to noon Saturdays or 5:45 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
$30 for four months
$90 for one year
Boat rentals, with a discount for Oakland residents
$8–$12 per hour for kayaks, canoes, pedal boards and rowboats
$15–$18 per hour for sailboats, and you have to answer a 10-question quiz before you set sail
$60–$72 per hour for pontoon boats, which hold 20 people
$70 frequent kayak club card for 20 paddles or trips out on the lake
Sailing classes at Alameda Crown Beach Memorial State Beach
Corner of Westline Drive and Otis Drive
$20 per 1.5 hours in a single
$30 per 1.5 hours in a double
Stand-up paddling rentals and class
$99 for 1.5-hour group class
$25 per hour for rentals or $50 per day
Windsurfing rentals and classes
$165 for two-day lesson for ages 12 and up (includes gear and wetsuit)
$139 for one-day lesson for ages 12 and up (also includes 2 hours of rental practice sessions)
$35 for 2-hour rental
$168 for 1-hour rental
Kiteboarding rentals and classes
$50 for 1.5-hour lesson
$350 for 5-hour, semi-private lesson
$385 for 3.5-hour, one-on-one lesson
$200 discount on kite boarding kit given at all beginner lessons