The Maritime Report: Front Porches

The Maritime Report: Front Porches

Dave Bloch

Did you have a front porch on your house growing up? Do you have one now?

Much has been written by sociologists and urban planners about the impact that the loss of front porches, especially in suburban neighborhoods, has had on the closeness of neighbors and strength of their communities. (Alameda never seems like a suburb to me, but the town really did grow up as one.)

Fortunately, much of Alameda was built in the days before front porches disappeared from new homes. People step out their front doors and see their neighbors. Those lucky enough to have a porch large enough for a chair or two might relax there and talk with folks as they go by. Your neighbors become friends and you share parts of each others' lives.

We are finding that living in a marina feels a lot like that. Nearly every walk up the dock to/from the car includes a meeting with a neighbor. Working on the boat or relaxing in the cockpit invites conversation, or at least a "Hello!" Because everyone here has something in common - a boat - there is always something to start a chat.

The changing population of the marina adds another facet to this experience. We have a new neighbor for a month - a couple visiting from Sweden for a month as they do their round-the-world tour. Coincidentally, he worked for 15 years for the Royal Sweden Sailing Club, the America’s Cup “Challenger of Record” under whose auspices Artemis Racing is here in Alameda! And a young family pulled in across from us just this past weekend; Mom, Dad and the two kids will be moving on to their boat from Emeryville in a few weeks. I've written before about how various special events like the TransPac races brought new sailors in for short periods, so there is a mix of visitors and longer-term neighbors.

Sometime very soon, some of our neighbors, including long-term ones, will start leaving us. They will be heading for San Diego, where they'll join a couple of hundred more sailboats in the annual "Baja Ha-Ha” rally to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Many people use the Ha-Ha as the first leg of their dream voyage, heading for Tahiti, the Far East, or perhaps all the way around the world. Our own plans call for doing the Ha-Ha in 2014, and then continuing down the coast to Panama and through the canal and up to the Caribbean. Big dreams become reality on the Ha-Ha; I know there will be some interesting conversations with folks here at the marina over the next month.


One more reminder of the 20th Annual Women's Sailing Seminar at Island Yacht Club on September 22-23! Space is available, but contact them immediately for the best choice of classes. Visit for information and registration. If you are a woman who has always thought of stepping onto a sailboat, there is no better opportunity than this!

On September 29, the Pacific Inter-Club Yachting Association (which is the "umbrella" organization for northern California's 100-plus clubs) hosts the 15th Annual Wheelchair Regatta. Honored guests, mostly U.S. veterans living in area veterans' homes and hospitals, are treated to a powerboat cruise on the Estuary followed by a picnic lunch and entertainment on the grounds of Encinal Yacht Club here in Alameda. Powerboat owners from around the Bay Area donate the use of their vessels for this great event! If you're out and about the morning of the 29th, come down to the Estuary between Encinal YC and Jack London Square and give 'em a wave!

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