This summer season has been very busy for the old ship and quite exciting for the boys and gulls in the Avian Squadron. First of all we had a nest that was built on the ship by Charles and Claudia De Gull and that caused a lot of chatter amongst the troops and the crew as well as the visitors. Unfortunately it did not produce any new chicks, but the De Gull Family did get a lot of notoriety from the visitors during one of the cruises.
Then there were more visitors to the pier than I have seen in many a year and that generated a lot of free food for the birds. One of our favorite snacks is the bread bowl that is served filled with soup. Sometimes the soup is still in it when we get it and we get to pick out the clams and other fish that is left. Terrific stuff, but you have to fight off those pesky pigeons.
Then we had a lot of sailboats out on the water and big crowds watching them zip around. There must have been some kind of special event going on because I have never seen so many boats and the large crowds lining the shoreline.
One of the crew members on the old ship was talking the other day and he told one of the visitors that the fast funny looking sailboats will be out again when the loud airplanes are flying over the water. We have mixed feelings about that event; we do like the big crowds of people because that means more food, but we don’t like the loud airplanes because we are afraid to fly around for fear of being run over.
There are some quiet areas on the old ship and one of my favorites spots is on top of the little boats they have stored out on the deck. They are covered with a cloth tarp and provide an excellent place to sit down and rest my tired old bones. These little boats never seem to get to go in the water so maybe they are retired.
Editor’s Note: The summer of 2012 has been a big year both on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien and on Fisherman’s Wharf. The America’s Cup Trials are being held in San Francisco Bay and that has generated a lot of tourist traffic as well as local interest. The trials will continue in October 2012 and there will be almost continuous races next year from July until the finals in September 2013. The entire San Francisco Embarcadero is being ‘remodeled’ to accommodate the America’s Cup Village between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf.
The two most prevalent birds that inhabit the Fisherman’s Wharf area are the various types of gulls and the pigeons. The pigeons that Bob is referring to are actually Feral Rock Doves (Columba livia) and they do defer to the gulls when a controversy over the ownership of food occurs. The longer sharp beak and the louder squawk are the best offensive weapons available to the gulls.
The little boats to which Bob has referred are the four historic lifeboats on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. They are located on the ‘boat deck’ one deck up from the main deck. One of the historic pictures on the ship shows the waves breaking over the lifeboats while they are lashed down on the boat deck. Heavy seas were a peril faced by all ships during World War II to add to the problems presented by enemy ships and airplanes. For more information on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, and to see the historic pictures please come to visit the ship.