Robert Gray Charters



The Complete Tour

Friday Night thru Sunday

This is the only tour that explores San Francisco's maritime history, past and present. The history of industry and manufacturing on the Bay is a fascinating subject, but one as of yet, unexplored from a historical and empirical point of view from the decks of a vintage tugboat. The areaís working harbors have undergone vast changes since the first settlement formed on its shores in 1776. The Gold Rush in 1849 propelled the town into a bustling city and brought development to the waterfront that prepared the harbor as a major port. Industries flourished along the bay such as shipping, trade, fishing, shipbuilding, manufacturing and refining companies, some of which still operate today. We will explore the routes of merchant ships up thru to Suisun Bay, back thru Carquinez Strait to San Pablo Bay into Richardson's Bay and the San Francisco Bay.

The Maritime History Tour provides an unique opportunity for both San Franciscans and tourists to learn about the geography and history of San Francisco's Bay. Join us for the complete tour or just part of the tour.

Scroll down to view details on both voyages north and south. If you are interested in the complete tour you would read them sequentionally.

The next Tour date is November 15, 16, 17
Call or email for future dates.

Map of San Francisco

The red line indicates the first leg of the voyage, SF to Mare Island going north to Susiun Bay then over to Vallejo. The yellow line indicates the southern leg of the trip from Mare Island back through the Bay to SF.

SF to Mare Island

Return to SF via Baylink ferry


Pick up passengers in San Francisco.

Board at 6:00pm. Start our evening voyage up to the Mothball fleet off the coast of Benecia.

Dinner is served at 8:00 either at Angel Island or weather permitting, along the way to Suisun Bay.

While having dinner, our voyage takes us past the San Francisco City front, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, The Brothers with their operating lighthouse, under three major bridges, past the towns of Crockett, Port Costa, Benecia, and Martinez. Cruising by night, the C&H Sugar refinery and the Chevron Refinery fill the night sky with millions of lights, looking like cities all their own.

Refinery at night

Anchor next to Mothball Fleet approximately 11pm.

Tour group at the graving docks in Mare


Breakfast and take up anchor.
Cruise through the Mothball fleet and learn from a docent on the history of the ships there. There are hundreds of ships all chained together, from tug to tanker, from Victory Ship to the battleship USS Iowa.

We continue our cruise down river past our old State Capitol of Benecia, Martinez, Crockett, and Vallejo. We dock in Vallejo and are met by our Mare Island tour guide. Guests board vehicles and are driven over to the shipyards on Mare Island. The tour will include the dry docks where many ships and submarines were built, St. Peters Chapel with 29 stained glass windows from Tiffany Studios, and beautifully landscaped Alden Park.

Tiffany window at St. Peters

Alden park holds an impressive selection of exotic trees and plants from around the world. Since the 1800ís it has been a tradition for captains to bring an exotic plants to the island for planting. Also inside the park, are weapons displayed from a German suicide missile, to torpedoes and rockets. It is truly an odd but beautiful park.

Guests who are not continuing on in the tour will disembark and take the Vallejo's, Baylink a high speed ferry back to SF.

Weapons Park


Mare Island to SF

Join tour via Baylink ferry


Passengers that join us at this point, will arrive via Vallejo's Baylink, a high speed ferry.

We reboard the Gray to have lunch and continue cruising to Sausalito. We will pass through San Pablo Bay, Raccoon Straits, Angel Island, Tiburon, Belvedere, and into Richardson Bay to spend the night at the Army Corps of Engineer's dock.

Tour the San Francisco Bay Model and the Marin shipyard 1942-1945 Exhibit. This is a working model of the San Francisco Bay under one roof that contains 1.5 acres. The Model is used for studies of currents, silting, fish migration, and disaster recovery scenarios.

The Marin Shipyard is a historic yard that built tankers, victory ships for the WWII effort. A fascinating yard that rivals, Kaiser's Shipyards in Richmond for war production.

We will remain in Sausalito for the rest of the evening. At 8pm, we will be showing a movie in the Aft Salon on the Kaiser Shipyards and the origins of Rosie the Riveter.


7.30am breakfast and departure from Sausalito to Richmond past Angel Island.
Touring by water you will be eye level with SS Red Oak Victory (a Victory Ship), the Wapama (the last wooden steam schooner), Rosie the Riveter Park, location of the Kaiser Shipyards, and Santa Fe Channel. Cruise from Richmond past Treasure Island and the old Pan Am Clipper base to Oakland.

In Oakland, we visit the tugboat company, American Navigation and tour their boats. If we are lucky we will see some large container ships being docked across from their facilities. Also as an added treat, if their 6000hp-tractor tug is available, it will to do doughnuts in the water and other tricks for our guests.

We will continue our tour by leaving the Alameda Estuary to the docked USS Hornet, an Essex class aircraft carrier. Here we will dock directly under her bow and have a perspective of this ship that not many people experience. There are a number of guided and self-guided tours that we recommend. Tours of the engine room, a movie theater that shows life aboard an aircraft carrier, flight deck and the Apollo missions exhibit.

Our final leg of the trip will take us pass Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and the industrial southern part of the San Francisco shoreline to dock back at Pier 38 at 6.30pm for departure.


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