An Ode to Bay Sailing

Save The Bay’s Restoration Program Manager, Jon Backus, and his father, Paul, like to enjoy the beauty of the Bay by sailing to the Berkeley Marina.

The warm summer sun had burnt off the fog lingering above the San Francisco Bay on a bright beautiful Sunday afternoon in June. It was a perfect day to get out on the water and go sailing. My father and I had been talking of sailing together ever since I joined the Cal Sailing Club in spring of 2013, and today was finally the long awaited day to go. We suited up in our life vests and raised the sails of a small Bahia to venture out near the Berkeley Marina.

Every time I go sailing in this pocket of the Bay between the Marina and Point Emeryville, I think of how this area could have been drastically different if it weren’t for the 3 women that started the organization I work for now, Save The Bay.

The area I sail today in the 1950’s was slated for development, filling in the shallow waters of the Bay for more commercial and residential space, and expanding the city of Berkeley 4 square miles westward into the Bay. But thanks to Kay Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick who led a coalition of 10,000 members in its first year, Save The Bay was able to stop this project from becoming reality and changed the course for any further development on the Bay. Now I am able to enjoy long sunny afternoons on the water practicing my sailing skills as others pass windsurfing, kite surfing, kayaking and more.

My father and I spent hours traversing the waters back and forth as I showed him my tacks and jibes, how to adjust the sails and what to do if the boat did capsize (which he was very happy to see that it didn’t happen). It was a great day for us to bond, showing off my new hobby and having some great conversation, with beautiful views of the Golden Gate and the San Francisco skyline.

Bay Area residents are so lucky to be living in such an incredible place, but how often do we really get out and enjoy it? I am very happy to say that with the work my organization has done, I am able to enjoy the immense beauty the Bay has to offer and share it with people I love. I encourage all to do the same.