A Day Cruise On San Francisco Bay

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Yesterday, my granddaughter and me went on a cruise on the San Francisco Bay….It was only a 90 minute cruise, but it seemed to last all day! There is nothing like the exhilarating feeling of being out on the water, the choppy waves slamming hard into the boat as you bob and weave and plunge forward into the next set of waves, sideways and head on, sometimes the waves even splash onto the deck, and you realize that you are truly at the mercy of the elements…

I don’t want to give the impression that we were in some ultra dangerous situation, I mean this is a well known commercial cruise line, the Blue and Gold Fleet, and they run all sorts of Bay Cruises all the time, year round and have been doing so for years…The boats are large, with several levels, and have a capacity of 300 to 800 people, depending on the type of cruise you choose to go on…

But I mean, once you walk up that ramp onto the boat, you realize you are leaving the safety and stability of solid ground behind…Safe as it really is as advertised as a tourist attraction, STILL anything can happen to you and the boat and your fellow passengers at any time once you board, and only the fragile hull of the boat is protecting you from the cold, silent, choppy, icy waters below you!

You realize how very fragile that you are, and you can feel the mighty power of the ocean, as the bay waves continuously slam into your cruise ship…The land is always in view, the city of San Francisco is all around you, and that is a comforting, reassuring sight, but the land mass seems impossibly far away and you realize that if the boat were to somehow capsize you would have no chance to make it to shore unless you were an expert swimmer…

It is impossible to walk around on the boat while it is sailing, it is like being in a 90 minute earthquake where there is no solid ground and everything is lurching and dipping and swaying underneath you, and you need to grab onto hand rails or tables or chairs just to maintain your balance and advance a few feet….Every step is labored and difficult, and you realize that you are in a vastly different environment than the safe, solid, steady land that you were just walking around on, standing in line waiting to board the boat…

Your perspective is entirely changed, and for the duration of the cruise you can only try to adjust to it, to roll with the waves, to enjoy the sensations as the ship lifts and falls at every turn of the prop, and the wind is very cold and pierces right through you…Many people get sea sick from the constant pounding and slamming of the waves, but there is a certain exhilaration to it also, kind of like the adrenaline rush you get on a roller coaster as you continuously plow through the water….

But there is a certain glorious freedom about it somehow too, it is very exhilarating, very bracing and allows you to see the Bay and the city from a brand new fresh perspective…The tour we took was for 90 minutes and included a taped narration of the scenery we passed by…

We sailed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, Ft. Point, the old Civil War army base we had visited earlier in the week with the big cannons for defense, it looked very small and isolated, and we were able to see the under structure of the Golden Gate  bridge from directly underneath, it is a whole different way of viewing the bridge…

The boat turned around then and the water immediately turned way less choppy and the wind less fierce, apparently going outbound is the first and worst part of the voyage, and I couldn’t help but feeling a bond of empathy with all the soldiers and sailors who sailed out of San Francisco during WW II for distant ports and fatal battles….What must their thoughts have been? I am certain many of them thought theirs would be a one way trip…

Next we sailed past Alcatraz Island, the notorious old Federal prison, close enough to read the signs at the embarkation points and see the people touring the island, that is another very educational site to see in San Francisco….We proceeded on past Alcatraz and headed for the Bay Bridge, which is a lot farther away on water than it looks, and we sailed underneath it as well….

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The wind and waves picked up again and we experienced more of the lurching, careening roller coaster feeling, but not nearly as severe as the trip out under the Golden Gate Bridge was…Finally, we ended up right back at Pier 39, right where we had started out from, and were grateful walking down the ramp to finally be back on terra firma, solid ground…

We were only out there on the water for 90 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity, time is so subjective…I now have the utmost respect for those early adventurers and explorers like Columbus and the Pilgrims who sailed across the Atlantic with no land in sight for 6-8 weeks and the suffering, fear and privation they must have felt out there in the middle of nowhere in their tiny little sailing ships, at the mercy of any storms and giant waves that might come their way…Rough crossings,  shipwrecks and pirates were not uncommon back then either….

All of our ancestors did it, one way or another, or we wouldn’t be here today, and it makes me even prouder to be an American….After this brief pleasure cruise though I have personally resolved to never sail across the ocean, 90 minutes is fun but plenty of time for this land lubber, and I know I would be frightened at being totally surrounded by water with no land mass in sight…Even if I was on a luxury liner like the Titanic, ha ha..

But if you are visiting San Francisco on a vacation trip, I would definitely recommend you take one of these Bay Cruises, they have all sorts of packages available at reasonable prices, and it will be the experience of a lifetime…I know i will never forget my cruise with my granddaughter…BTW, she loved it!

Enjoy your life while you can, after all, we only get one life at a time!

Just leave it like it is right now

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