Boat Movement Restricted Due to Bay Oil Spill; News of Sunken Sailboat during Baja Ha-Ha

This week has been as colorful for the Bay as the sunset picture taken at Crown Memorial Beach in Alameda today at 6:48 p.m.

The birds were feeding nicely, and no oil had appeared, fortunately.

Exactly 12 hours earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard got news that the tanker Dubai Star had suffered a rupture in a fuel lines and released an unknown amount of fuel into San Francisco Bay about 2.5 miles south of the Bay Bridge.

Some 11,000 feet of boom was deployed to contain the spill more than three hours later. And the Coast Guard says that the no more fuel is leaking into the Bay.

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) activated the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to conduct wildlife search and reconnaissance operations. So far, there have been no reports of oiled wildlife, and volunteers have not been called into action yet.

Alameda residents active in the Bay Farm Nature Connection plan to volunteer as the need arises.

The public is asked to not attempt to rescue oiled wildlife, the Coast Guard says, as this may cause injury to both the individual and the animal. Instead the public should report sightings of oiled wildlife to 1-877-823-6926.

However, according to the Coast Guard, “Oil trajectory models predict potential shoreline impacts tonight starting this evening at North Alameda Island, Bay Farm Island, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island.”

Also, the Coast Guard is limiting the movement of boats in the Oakland Estuary, the Oakland Bar Channel and within the spill area.

We will continue to monitor this situation.

And in news about 700 miles south of the Bay, a boat owned by the J/World Sailing School is reported to have sunk after leaving San Diego and encountering a pod of whales.

J/World, which has facilities in Marina Village, participated in this year’s Baja Ha-Ha rally. The annual event includes about 200 sailboats this year – many from Alameda — traveling from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas from October 26-November 6.

On Tuesday, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that five people in a life raft had been rescued. And the sailing monthly Latitude 38 , which organizes the Baja Ha-Ha, says skipper Eugenie Russell and four crew members may have had only five minutes to get into the raft.

J/World opened its office in Alameda in 2002.


Join the Haunted Food Drive!

For trick-or-treaters looking to experience an encounter with a very special Halloween spirit, Alameda resident Lois Baptiste has “the” spot in town: the Alameda Food Bank barrel at 908 Lincoln Avenue, between Wood and Ninth streets.

This is a critical time for many families on the Island, and Baptiste will reward generous trick-or-treaters who stop by from 4 to 8 p.m. with some special goodies.

The food bank says these items are most needed: cans of beef stew, fruit, chili with beef, tuna and corn, as well as one-pound bags of rice.

Other drop-off points include the Alameda Free Library Main Branch, Alameda Marketplace, Bank of Alameda on Park Street, and Color Me Mine at Alameda Town Centre.

The Alameda Food Bank gives food to low-income Alamedans throughout the year and says it is “woefully short” on turkeys for Thanksgiving. To donate a turkey, call 510-523-5850.

And thanks to all the ghosts and goblins who donate on Halloween and during the holidays.


Trick-or-Treat Comes to Alameda Point

While Mayor Beverly Johnson and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce have issued written statements explaining their lack of support for SunCal’s Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative, one resident is having a bit more fun with his criticism of the plans.

Alameda resident David Howard, a member of Action Alameda,  is handing out “scary” SunCal-themed tricks and treats.

Howard calls the plans a “Frankenstein initiative,” and has printed candies with the names of “some of SunCal’s more than two-dozen bankrupt California projects,” he says.

According to Howard, the trick bags represent SunCal’s “empty promises for traffic mitigation, a sports complex and a levee to protect their development against projected sea-level rise at the site.”

Howard plans to be at the Webster Street Farmer’s Market at noon this Saturday to pass out some of the treats.

It will be interesting to see if SunCal plans a counter “trick-or-treat” demonstration – and how the various parties are costumed for Halloween.


More Ferries to SF!

With the Bay Bridge closed indefinitely as of Tuesday evening, there is now word on extra ferry routes from Alameda to San Francisco for October 29. 

Normally, there are five ferries that travel between the Main Street terminal and San Francisco every weekday morning and eight return trips in the afternoon. Now, with the bridge closure, there are 11 ferries in the morning between the Main Street terminal and San Francisco, and 14 return trips to the East Bay in the afternoon.

From Harbor Bay to San Francisco, there are now seven morning trips and nine afternoon return trips, while there are usually three morning trips and four afternoon journeys.

The impact of the latest Bay Bridge closure comes at a tough time for ferry-riding commuters. Rain and high winds led to some cancelled trips between Alameda and San Francisco earlier this month, during bad weather on October 13.  

There is a new weekend schedule going into effect on November 7 that will run through December 27 for the Alameda-Oakland-San Francisco ferries.

And don’t miss the 33rd annual Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, December 5, and the ferry that leaves the Alameda Main Street terminal at 5:15 p.m. and returns at 6:45 p.m.

For commuters traveling by ferry who want to learn as soon as possible about possible delays and cancellations in ferry service, sign up for voice-mail alerts.

We will keep you posted.


Sports Cards & Comics Store to Relocate

The Alameda Sports Cards & Comics shop at 1412 Park Street is planning an obituary — for the unique business it’s shared with the area for the past 24 years.

Due to issues regarding its lease and rental playments, the shop should be moving off Park Street in December.  It’s last day will most likely be December 26, so the current owner (Patty) says she plans to publish an obituary.

“Downtown is beautiful, but it’s time to move on,” she said. “It will be the death of a Park Street institution, but we hope to have an even better store in the future.”

The business has sold action comics, sports and other amusement cards, as well as sci-fi-themed items and lots of other entertaining products and memorabilia, for 12 years (since 1987) at its present location. And for the 12 years proceeding this span (1975-1987), it was located across the street at 1419 Park.

Stayed tuned for news about the store’s new digs in town.


The Best Haunted Houses in Town (Part I)


Sal Hernandez is one of a group of Alameda residents who take great pride in their Haunted Houses. Sal’s is at 915 Broadway.

Each year, he picks a theme and goes all out so that he and his neighbors can get into the Halloween spirit. He evens spends $100 or more on candy as Alamedans flock to his home for trick-or-treating.

This year, his theme focuses on Virginia City, Nevada, a mining town and one of the most famous boomtowns in the Old West. It appeared overnight as a result of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859.

Sal has done his homework. He’s got a group of skeletons enjoying a drink at the Bucket of Blood Saloon, for instance, which is an old bar in Virginia City that continues to delight tourists.

He’s also done a tribute to one of Nevada’s red-light district establishments with his display entitled “Mable’s Horror House.”

In past years, Sal has decorated his lawn and home with dead knights, pirate skeletons and more.

He’s really appreciated competing in Haunted House competitions over the last few years, but doesn’t know about any in town this year.

Please let us know if there are any competitions going on. And be sure to visit the Teen Haunted House at Veteran’s Memorial Hall this weekend (October 23-25), 2203 Central Ave.

Sal does issue a warning each year: His home is a very spooky (and popular) place to be on Halloween Night.


Time to Join the Bird Watchers!

There’s plenty of excitement on the Main Island and Bay Farm Island these days — within the community of bird watchers.

That’s right, bird watchers.

While many of us stroll around Crown Beach or Shoreline Park to appreciate the sunsets and walk the dog, there are groups of residents paying careful attention to the winged inhabitants of our special community.

Some of them are members of the Bay Farm Nature Connection. The group was formed about three years ago, when several Bay Farm Island residents noticed a large number of egret nestlings in the lagoon, including one infant that had fallen out of a nest.

“They needed monitoring,” said Reyla Graber, one of the group’s organizers.

“This is a big deal,” explained Graber. “We’ve been told by the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory that we’ve got the third-largest colony of egrets in the Bay Area.”

In addition to tending to the egrets, the Bay Farm Nature Connection organizes bird walks, so that area residents can better appreciate local wildlife. Past walk include parts of Bay Farm, Crown Beach and the nearby Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland.

“We try and do a walk every month or two,” Graber said. “There are all kinds of birds here.”

Members of the group recently organized a successful effort to rescue and treat an exhausted, young red-tailed hawk. Raptor-expert Harvey Wilson, shown above in a photo taken by Ralf Stinson, then released the hawk after a couple days of rest and rehydration. 

Tim Molter, a member of the group who’s been birding for two decades, says that we mainly see residential birds in Alameda who live in the Bay Area and may choose to winter in and around the shoreline, mudflats or lagoons. “This is a great habitat for them,” Molter said, and it’s also a popular breeding ground.

Some birds do go through Alameda between November and March from Alaska and the Artic. “There are a few migratory birds to be seen, but they are just moving through Alameda,” explained Molter.

“We have a large number of species, which makes for an interesting experience for bird watchers,” he said. “The best way to learn about birds in Alameda is to go on one of our field trips.” 

The group’s next outing is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 7. Meet at the Coffee & Tea Traders, 883 Island Drive, Bay Farm Island.

To get on the Bay Farm Nature Connection’s mailing list, send e-mail to dmolter@sbcglobal.net.


Appreciating the Island’s Post Offices

While residents in nearby communities, like Oakland, have been on pins and needles wondering if their post offices would remain open, Alamedans have had it easy.

The U.S. Postal Service is trying to cut costs and is trimming a good number of post offices in the process.

But, thanks to the relative isolation of the islands and the level of business going on at the post offices, Alameda’s branches weren’t included on the list of offices being considered for closure, which came out in the summer.

The U.S.P.S. has a network of about 37,000 post offices, big and small. This summer, about 3,600 were being examined for possible closure (or “consolidation”). That list is now down to 371, though it is being trimmed down further this month. 

In Alameda, there are locations, such as the main post office at 2201 Shoreline Drive, as well as a smaller office at 1415 Webster Street and 1333 Park Avenue (at Encinal). There’s also U.S.P.S. service at the Nob Hill on Blanding and on Coast Guard Island.

While neighborhood efforts in the Dimond/Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland kept an office open near Fruitvale and MacArthur Boulevard, there’s still a chance that an office in downtown Oakland on Franklin Street.

U.S. Postal Service representatives say they are doing all they can to compete, and they urge residents to call when they need a pickup of packages.


Fall Carnival Events & Fun Coming Up

As the decorations and costumes come out of the closet for Halloween, Alamedans have lots of activities to entertain themselves with.

This Saturday, October 24, for instance, Otis Elementary School is holding its annual fall carnival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on campus, 3010 Fillmore Street, next to Krusi Park.

The carnival will feature a haunted house and games, along with music performed by the Lincoln Band. There will be a costume parade and contest, kids’ obstacle course, cake walk, face painting, pumkin walk, as well as arts and crafts.

Tickets will be sold for the games and the haunted house, with proceeds going to benefit Otis school and students.

Next weekend, on Saturday, October 31, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Bay Farm Community Church at 3189 Mecartney Road on Bay Farm Island will celebrate fall with “Under the Big Top-Circus.”

The show includes wild cats, Red Panda acrobats and fire spinners. And there will also be face painters, uniciyclists, stilt walkers and a super slide. The cost of entry is $5 for kids and $6 for adults.

There will also be hot dogs, popcorn, and other treats on sale, as well as tickets for games and train rides.

Please comment on any other events that you know about going on in and around Alameda! Thanks.


Ghost Hunting 101 at the Alameda Library

The Alameda Free Library is giving Alamedans all they need to know about the paranormal this Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m. at the main branch.

The presenters are Doug Carnahan and Jesie Garcia for NorCal Paranormal Investigators.

Last year, a presentation on the paranormal included historic tidbits on ghosts out at Alameda Point, on the USS Hornet, and around town, including spots along the old train routes — such as on Encincal Avenue near Lafayette and Chestnut.

Some recordings of the paranormal are found online.

This year’s discussion will focus on what’s involved with becoming a paranormal investigator aka ghost hunter.

Alamedans love their history, including mysteries involving our historic structures and spirits, so prepare to have an informative and spooky good time.