Pirates have existed since man first sailed the oceans. They continue to terrorize waterways and coasts all over the world. Like leprosy or shantytowns in modern-day America, pirates were not a major problem until recently.
Over the summer, the piracy issue erupted in San Francisco Bay in the estuary, between Oakland and Alameda. This area is home to more than a dozen marinas, and thousands of docks. Oakland’s homeless population is also encamping along the shoreline. Some vagrants called “anchor outs” have lived on the water, in derelict boats.
The San Francisco Chronicle covered the problem in depth late last summer.
Critics of anchor-outs claim that, beyond the thefts, they also dispose of their waste into the water and are often incorrectly anchored. They say the boats become pinballs during storms. The boats can be very expensive to remove when they sink. They also pose a navigational hazard.
Pirates hide in the lawless colonies of encampment-dwellers and anchorouts, even though they are not directly involved in the problem.
Marina residents think that the “pirates”, who are homeless, live in a half-dozen camps scattered along the estuary or illegally moored “anchor-outs” on the water. However, there is no proof that they are the perpetrators.
The Oakland PD has one full-time marine officer: Kaleo Albino.
Albino concluded that approximately two dozen people who live in illegal aquatic dwellings commit crimes. In recent weeks, however, there have been reports of thieves raiding sailing centers, marinas, and yacht clubs throughout the estuary. They stole boats, stripped out their motors, or painted the hulls to hide them.
Pirates are no different from their counterparts on the land. They commit a variety of crimes. The pirates break in and steal from boats, dock boxes, and other locked storage containers on docks. They sometimes drive away with an entire boat and rob the contents. Then they strip the engine of its parts, then wreck the vessel. The thieves have stolen half of a fleet belonging to a non-profit that promotes youth sailing.
Also, they steal from businesses. This unbelievable heist was pulled off by the group in August. It’s amazing that marine law enforcement is so lacking in a community as large as boating.
The Outboard Motor shop, a repair center near the Park Street Bridge, was targeted by thieves last week. Craig Jacobsen, the owner, said that thieves loaded stolen goods, including tool bags, life rafts, and other items, onto a 15-foot section of the dock under cover of darkness before towing it to an encampment in Oakland’s Union Point Park.
Jacobsen, in an interview with The New York Times, said that “they took it to their little flotilla” referring to the stash of anchor outs and allegedly stolen vessels that were aground on Union Point’s rocky beaches, which are littered with trash.
It is obvious that the boating community and waterfront homeowners are irritated. Boatowner Marianne Armand, who has raised the issue at local meetings and on social media in recent months, has spoken out against it. Click through to read the comments on her post.
The situation has escalated all summer. The Oakland Police Department is so thinly stretched that it will not be able to respond in time and stop the marauders.
Steve Meckfessel said, “It is almost Wild West” at Marina Village Yacht Harbor. It’s like being on a boat with pirates and no government to protect you.
DeLong noted that many neighbors had watched helplessly while intruders broke their locks and stole their belongings. Some people wake up and find their boats or storage units looted.
It’s hard to believe that I’m typing this sentence in the United States of America in 2023. Residents are discussing arming themselves while the U.S. Coast Guard assists in patrol duties. Maybe the pirate problem will be brought under control for a little while. It’s just a symptom, but it is a sign of the deep rot that has taken hold in San Francisco and other blue states and cities.