Jack London aboard the Roamer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Jack London was known for his world adventures,
but his training ground — and lifelong love — was the San Francisco Bay. As a boy he learned to
sail a skiff in the Oakland Estuary, and at sixteen he ran with the oyster pirates before
jumping ship to crew for the California Fish Patrol. London
wrote The Sea Wolf aboard a sailboat purchased from the sale
of Call of the Wild, and in his final years he and his wife, Charmian, spent a month a year exploring and feasting on the bay and in the Delta.
"Always I come back to
the sea,” wrote London. “In my case it is usually [the] San Francisco Bay, than
which no lustier, tougher sheet of water can be found for small-boat sailing.”*
One of the primary sources for my book in progress about Jack London and the San Francisco Bay is Charmian Kittridge London's diaries. To coincide with the publication of the first full-length biography of Charmian London (written by friend and colleague Iris Jamahl Dunkle), I wrote an article for Estuary News about Jack and Charmian's explorations of the bay from 1910-1914.