We’ve now spent two weeks, over two visits, at the Aquatic Park in downtown San Francisco. The city has carved out a section of beach and water for non-motorized activity including a regular contingent of hardcore swimmers.
Sailboats can stay at the park but not powerboats even though sailboats are allowed to use a “small auxiliary engine for safe maneuvering” as long as they keep a bow watch for swimmers. You can stay for 24 hours at any time but for longer stays you need to email the park and request a permit. As far as I can tell this is only to prevent people living permanently at anchor in the park and it is easy for a true visitor to get a permit.
The following opinions are purely based on our tastes and the conditions we had when we visited.
- You are RIGHT downtown at the foot of Ghiradelli Square by Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge (when the fog isn’t obscuring it).
- Did I mention it was FREE?
- Having swimmers hang onto your anchor chain for a rest is cool.
- Cool stuff happens like a group of Polynesian vaka’s arriving on the beach or the sounds of live blues in your cockpit.
- Bus lines and cable cars within a block of your dinghy that go to every section of downtown. Excellent base for exploration.
- Good holding.
- It’s windy in the anchorage and the swell from passing boats is fairly constant. Of course, you only feel the swell after midnight when the wind dies down. *groan*
- You beach your dinghy and lock it to a post and hope no one takes it. We felt the need to return to our dinghy before full darkness so we didn’t have to evict anyone sleeping in it (or worse).
- If you combine the previous two cons you get two people trying to row a tubby inflatable without an engine in high winds to and from the beach every day.
- The fear I feel when trying to maneuver in and out of harbor with swimmers heads everywhere.