As printed in: Latitude 38 – Sightings
In San Francisco Bay, there are rocks and then there are Rocks.
Alcatraz has long been known as The Rock, even though it’s an island.
Likewise, racers often refer to the Farallon Islands as the Rock Pile, or Southeast Farallon as the Rock. We’ve also heard Red Rock called ‘the Rock’ even though – again – it’s really an island.
Now that that’s out of the way, we can address the interesting query from a reader about where the ‘hazard to navigation’ rocks are in San Francisco Bay, and which ones sailors should be particularly concerned about. Oddly, this is the first time we’ve ever gotten this question and it took a bit of head scratching to come up with a list, since not all of the ‘hittable’ rocks are noted on charts, and not all notable rocks are hittable. Anyway, here’s what we came up with.
The Berkeley Reef – While the entire area from Cesar Chavez Park to Brooks Island is hazardous and off-limits there is a particularly nasty rock located Northwest of the Berkeley Marina, about a third of the way to Brooks Island. Normally just below the surface, it’s exposed only during extreme minus tides. The rock itself sits just East of the green piling marker (FL G 2.5s 13ft 3M “1”). At night, this light can be quite dim and is very easy to miss among all the background city lights. Warning: a strong westerly combined with current and tide can put you into the reef right out of the marina!
The Berkeley Pier – It presently extends 2.5 miles with a very dim and nearly indistinguishable red marker that blends into the cityscape at night. Currently, only the first 3000ft of the pier are maintained.
Beyond that is a 50ft gap for the passage of small boats then broken pilings between the ruins and beneath the surface that could impale your boat.