Went for a ride a while back and ended up having the most amazing day a body could wish for. Started out running errands downtown, then figured I’d take the long way home and check out the new launch ramp down on pier 52. The waterfront from China Basin to Bayview is one of my favorite stretches of San Francisco, sort of the last frontier for exploration in a city that’s constantly developing. Sadly that development fever seems to have extended even down there, as the UCSF campus has opened the place up for condos and high rises. Its got to be weird for the Mission Creek Houseboaters to suddenly look out at yellow and beige lofts after years of being left totally alone. Actually, it seems like there’s a whole new sweep of re-development going on and it makes me wonder how many San Franciscans know about it, especially considering I’ve only taken notice because I like the area and ride around there constantly. Been noticing more and more abandoned buildings being gated off and/or demolished and had a truly weird experience when Franklin and I rode down to Hunter’s Point a few weeks ago to take a look at the abandoned neighborhood by the shipyards (not sure what it was all about, probably PG&E contamination years ago, but it was an entire neighborhood behind chain link fences with boarded up houses and streets overgrown with weeds). Guess what? It wasn’t there any more. The whole hill was razed as was the visible part of the shipyards where Dago Mary’s used to stand. Nothing like hindsight to make you wish you’d gone somewhere a month earlier. As far as HP goes at least, its probably safe to say it won’t get any condos for a while as the estimated clean-up fee lies around $3 million with a good dose of radioactivity thrown into the mix. Last I heard the Navy was trying to get us to settle on some kind of $1 million soap and water job.
So anyhow, digression aside, they’ve put in a really neat informational kiosk with a couple of awesome maps right next to the launch ramp. Had a “holy shit” moment while looking at this one. I think I may have even said it out loud. They’re razing the shipyards to put in a ballpark? My mystery’s solved. Makes me wonder why no one else know about this, though maybe they do and I just never read the newspaper.
Another really cool map showing the old waterline and Mission Creek. Someday I’d like to try another storm drain expedition, this time with hip waders and flashlights. At about this point in my musings a grizzly, white-haired gent in high top Converse rode up and wondered at what I was reading (perhaps he heard the not-so-quite expletives) and after a few minutes of chatting offered to show me an available space in his boat yard just down the street. Got to talking some more about the old waterfront and as it turned out he’d grown up there and lived in the city all his life. Also turned out he was a member of the Bayview Boat Club and invited me in for a drink.
You can only imagine how long I’ve been waiting to check that place out. Total workingman’s boat club, I love it.
Got a tour of the yard and a nice cold beer, then went out around the side to see the mosaics.
Along the boat ramp was a whole tiled wall done by the club’s recent members. Pretty damn nice with boats and sea creatures and a rather voluptuous mermaid.
Up under the deck were the remnants of the original ones.
And of course the boat club’s burgee.
Back inside Larry (my friendly gent) bought me a couple more beers then offered to take me out in his rowboat. Though I suppose there’s a 1 in 99 chance I could get smacked over the head with an oar and dumped in the bay, there’s no way I was saying no to an offer like that. Besides, he just didn’t seem like an ax murderer.
Out and around the barges and through the pilings.
Rowed down to The Ramp listening to stories about nearby boats, Hells Angels and old San Francisco.
Bloody Mary’s, more drinks with Franklin at the boat club and promises that we’d be back, next time in the you-know-what.
Good day, sunshine? If you haven’t already, take a nice meandering bike ride from the ballpark and check out the houseboats along Mission Creek. Head back to Terry Francois and ride south towards The Ramp and you’ll pass by the new launch ramp and its oh-so-informational kiosk. Right next door is the brightly yellowed Bay View Boat Club, sorry it members only drink-wise. Hang around long enough though, and you just might get lucky.