Monday, January 18, 2010

Jack London and Vallejo

Author Jack London, shown here playing cards at the Vallejo Yacht Club around 1913
was a frequent visitor to Vallejo. Pictured above are (from left) George F. Hilton,
unidentified, Judge John Browne, and London. The Roamer, London’s yacht, was often berthed at the Club, and London himself spent much time around Vallejo and Benicia as a young man. His adventures up and down the Carquinez Straits were detailed in his book Tales of the Fish Patrol. In one passage from the book, London describes how he tried to maneuver a small boat through the brutally swift currents of the Straits:

“We were now at the mouth of the Straits, in a bad stretch of water. Here the Vallejo Straits and the Carquinez Straits rushed directly at each other. Through the first flowed all the water of Napa River and the great tide-lands; through the second flowed all the water of Suisun Bay and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. And where such immense bodies of water, flowing swiftly, clashed together, a terrible tide-rip was produced. To make it worse, the wind howled up San Pablo Bay for fifteen miles and drove in a tremendous sea upon the tide-rip.”

“Conflicting currents tore about in all directions, colliding, forming whirlpools, sucks, and boils, and shooting up spitefully into hollow waves which fell aboard as often from leeward as from windward. And through it all, confused, driven into a madness of motion, thundered the great smoking seas from San Pablo Bay.”

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