Wish You Were Here: Caught in the Current Rounding Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay, California

by Owen James Burke


Photo: Owen James Burke

I snapped this photograph one afternoon while rounding Alcatraz in a stifling turn of the current that forms off the northeast corner of the rock in San Francisco Bay. It’s always there when the tide’s moving, and any Bay Area sailor knows this place well. It takes a bit of patience to sail through, but no one has any right to complain, not with this view.


Photo: Owen James Burke

I don’t know if it’s the reliability of the relentless breeze, but I’ve heard it argued before, and I can’t say I’d offer any dispute myself, that San Francisco Bay is the world’s best arena for cruising by canvas (or kevlar, I suppose, if you’re Larry Ellison). For me, it goes back to the stories of Jack London’s Tales of the Fish Patrolwritten in the days when, apart from the wind, the only sounds you heard was the gentle ringing of a yacht’s rigging against her mast, or the flapping of a fisherman’s sails in tack.


Photo: Owen James Burke

Of course the clanging of the trolley cars going up and down Market Street were there, and the passenger ferries, but that carries with it — for the San Franciscan — the comfort of knowing that, although you may be at sea, you’re always within earshot of home. — OJB

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