It took us more than twenty days, and three attempts, but we finally made it.
When we stayed at the Aquatic Park Cove, we anchored close to a beautiful square rigged ship at the Hyde Street Pier – the Balclutha. She is one of the many great attractions of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, at Hyde Street Pier.
We launched our dinghy and tried to get access to the park, but were unable to and had to leave with Pesto to the marina in Richmond. Then, a couple days later, we drove to San Francisco and our plan was to visit the Park that time. However, we got distracted at the Ghirardelli store upon arrival and when we made it to the Park’s entrance, it had just closed – major frustration.
This week we had days of great weather, and drove again to the City specially to visit the Park – this time with proper time allocation. And in hindsight, I’m glad we weren’t able to enter on the previous two occasions, since we wouldn’t have had enough time to enjoy the great attractions of the place.
Right at the entrance, a clever set up to experience the benefits of Block and Tackle arrangements in three different purchases. The kids played there at length. And now I can leverage it at Pesto – we have plenty onboard serving different tasks.
Then we visited the steam ferry Eureka, which served in the Bay some 80 years ago. The kids had never seen a side wheel paddle boat before.
It was “just”a ferry, and still, look at the level of detail. Those were different times, for sure …
In addition to the ship itself, the park maintains a collection of well-preserved contemporary vehicles inside of it – really nice !
SF as seen from the deck of Eureka – just imagine how much this city has changed from the times ships like this crossed the bay.
And then, the main attraction. Balclutha is very well preserved – despite its intense career – and well set up for visits.
It’s cliche’, but I didn’t resist playing with the helm. Quite an honor to hold the wheel of such a complex and powerful machine.
Helmsman’s view (with a twist).
Down below, the ship’s interior is decorated as if it were loaded with cargo – we were impressed with her storage capability.
The Park installed three movie stations inside the ship, covering Balclutha’s career. The kids wanted to watch them all.
Inside the captain’s office we found this image hanging on one wall. It starts by saying: “No creation men ever achieved was more in the hands of its master than the ocean-going ship …”.
Back on deck, one of the ship’s “dinghies”. Note the graceful lines.
The beauty, and sheer complexity, of her rig. She has three of these.
Visiting Balclutha was a fantastic experience. When I was a kid, I had a fascination for square riggers and clipper ships. But more than the ship’s features, what caught my attention the most on this visit was the strength of will required to conceive, build, and specially sail a ship like this across the oceans. They had no engine, were extremely complex and demanding to sail. And fragile.
And while on Balclutha’s deck, we could gaze yet again across the Aquatic Park’s Cove:
The ever-present swimmers
San Francisco on one side …
… the Bay’s entrance on the other
As I mentioned before – the one thing about this place: you can’t beat the view. And the attractions as well !