As a rule I tend to avoid tourist hotspots, but sometimes it is fun to be a tourist in your own city. On a recent #OrangeFriday, (when San Francisco Giants players wear orange jerseys and fans do the same on Fridays during the season) I escorted two 10-year-old baseball fans on a Duck Boat Tour to McCovey Cove. The small cove next to the ballpark hosts a multitude of kayakers, paddle boarders and cocktail cruisers, and we were going to join them on a land- and sea-worthy Duck Boat.
We boarded the bus/boat at Fisherman’s Wharf all bundled up for the three-hour tour. I would recommend eating before or bringing a very portable picnic on the ride. The open air Duck Boat, based on the famous World War II amphibious design, was a fun way to travel and the kitschy mood on board was infectious. The driver was cheeky and cheesy but all in all he was quite entertaining.
We drove through North Beach and Chinatown, the Financial District and some of SOMA, till we plunged into the Bay, adding a Coast Guard trained guy to assist the one-man crew. It was a beautifully clear, warm night and as the sun set, the orange light twinkled on the Bay. The captain let the boys drive in the water and peppered the crowd with historical and amusing tidbits about the city. He was a one-man band, often cutting away to an appropriate tune: Otis Redding’s classic, Janis Joplin and other San Francisco inspired songs.
We passed docked navy vessels and caught sight of a lounging sea lion on one of the propellers. Once in the cove, we tuned in to the Giants game. About halfway into the adventure my son had to pee, given the super-sized soda that he had drunk. With no restroom on board, I was cursing my agreement to the treat. Just then, when we had agreed he could hold it or the alternative was to pee in a cup, a kayaker paddled over and asked my son if he knew who “Panda” was. Pablo Sandoval is the Giants Venezuelan-born third baseman and one of my son’s favorites. This generous kayaker gave my son a batting practice ball Panda had hit into the water, and that was the cherry on top of a fun evening!