Local Cruising Guides: Jack London Square | Modern Sailing

Local Cruising Guides: Jack London Square

1- Day Trip: Sail to Jack London Square 

Looking for fun local activities to add variety to your bay sailing adventures? Sail the Oakland Estuary to Jack London Square and explore historic landmarks and celebrated establishments near you! This 1-day itinerary blends exciting outdoor excursions with engaging indoor diversions.

The Oakland Estuary is especially lively for birdwatchers during the fall bird migration. While sailing or motoring up the channel, you and your crew will appreciate the up-close view of the looming dock cranes used to load cargo ships. Urban legend has it that the cranes inspired local filmmaker George Lucas to create the ominous AT-AT Walkers in Star Wars!

Jack London Square is named after the intrepid adventurer and author of The Sea-Wolf, White Fang, and Call of the Wild. The Sea-Wolf was allegedly inspired by tall tales told by patrons of the legendary Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon. This small bar with its tilted floor, where sailors had their first drink returning from a sea voyage and their last drink before departing back out to sea, is festooned floor-to-ceiling with nautical and vintage curios dating back to early California. 

Stroll the waterfront and Square to visit shops or tour two historic vessels: the Lightship Relief, a floating lighthouse which aided navigation along various U.S. coastlines from 1951 to 1974, and the USS Potomac, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s historic yacht. Dine at inviting options like Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar, Pasta Pelican, or Plank for bocce, beer, and bowling. After sunset, the sparkling lights of San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge will take your breath away as you sail across the bay back to Sausalito.

Sailing Snapshot

Co-ordinates: 37°47'38.0"N 122°16'37.6"W  

  • Jack London Square Guest Dock
  • In front of Scott's Seafood and Grill.

Approx. Distance: 12 nm  Est. Time: 2 - 3 Hours

  • From Modern Sailing plan on a little over 2 hours to get there.
  • 2.5 hours to get back to base.
  • Time est. vary based on winds and current, and is based on 5 kts. average speed.

Navigation Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

  • Great day trip, but may be sailing in unfamiliar waters. 
  • Navigation is straight forward if you familiarize yourself with the chart beforehand.

Sailing Skill Level: Beginner

  • This is generally a beam reach/run trip to Jack London Square.
  • Beating to weather on the way back.
  • The Oakland Estuary is narrow, but has deep water to within a boat length of the sides. 
  • Keep a good look out for large container ships, tug boats, and ferries.

Maneuvering/Docking Skill Level: Intermediate

  • The guest dock at Jack London Square is a side tie, and often crowded. 
  • Please be comfortable with side tie docking, and standing turns in close quarters.               

Approaching the JLS Guest Dock from the North

Navigation to the Oakland Estuary

  • Departing from Modern Sailing, head straight out the Richardson Bay Channel.
  • From Day Marker #2, head 114 degrees magnetic or just north of Alcatraz.
  • From Alcatraz, head 106 degrees magnetic to a point just south of the West Span Bay Bridge tower closest to Yerba Buena Island. 
  • From the West Span Bay Bridge waypoint, look for the line of red buoys leading into the Oakland Harbor, starting with #2, which should be .6 nm directly in front of you. 
  • Follow the channel into the Oakland Estuary.  
  • Jack London Square is 2.5 nm from the mouth of the Estuary, identifiable as the first large marina complex for pleasure craft on the left side/north bank of the Estuary.


Docking Options at Jack London Square and in the Oakland Estuary

  • Pasta Pelican Guest Dock
    • Please call beforehand. 
    • This dock is for customers only.
    • Dock availabiity is first come, first seved. 
    • There is no charge for docking. 

  • Jack London Square Guest Dock
    • In front of Scott's Seafood and Grill.
    • Enter East of Scott’s Seafood and Grill.  
    • Access restaurants and attractions in Jack London Square.
    • Dock availability is first come, first served.
    • There is no charge for docking.
    • Overnight docking is not allowed.

Where to dine at Jack London Square and in the Oakland Estuary

  • Scott's Seafood Grill and Bar   
    • 2 Broadway Oakland, CA
    • Phone: (510) 444-3456   
  • Pasta Pelican 
    • 2455 Mariner Square Dr. Alameda, CA 
    •  Phone: (510) 864-7427   
  • Plank
    • 98 Broadway Oakland, CA 
    • Phone: (510) 817-0980
  • Forge
    • 66 Franklin St #100, Oakland, CA 
    • Phone: (510) 268-3200
  • Lungomare
    • 1 Broadway, Oakland, CA   
    • Phone: (510) 444-7171 
  • Yoshi's
    • 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 
    • Phone: (510) 238-9200
  • Heinold's 
    • 48 Webster St, Oakland, CA 
    • Phone: (510) 839-6761



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  • Steve Hood, Basic Coastal Cruising

    I would definitely recommend Modern Sailing to anyone who is interested in learning to sail the right way.

  • Emma & George Stubbs, Sausalito

    We just took our ASA 106 at a school in Rhode Island as we prepare for 6 months of cruising in the Caribbean. The class was great, but more than anything it made us really appreciate the quality of teaching and rigor at Modern Sailing. Even though we were the newest to sailing, the group seemed to think that we had the best fundamentals. We felt very well prepared and we see why Modern Sailing has the reputation it does.

  • Alisa Driscoll, Dual Site Member

    Here are some snaps of Our Saturday, August 20, 2022 Modern Sailing Expedition with Captain Robert Bivin, who was outstanding. Please convey photos and thanks to him. He is an outstanding individual, leader and sailing instructor. His knowledge and experience made us all feel safe and our Farallones Day Trip educational and just amazing. 


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415-331-8250 / 800-995-1668

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