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A Beer At...Bay View Boat Club

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San Francisco lays claim to hundreds of bars, but only a tiny fraction of them get regular press. This new column is about the other ones, the ones untouched by mixology madness. Your guide is Citysearch editor and bar aficionado Patrick Heig, who will take a look at the city's more anonymous watering holes, one at a time. His words follow:

The first time I saw an 80-year-old man offer to knock someone's teeth out, pantomime checking a woman's breasts for lumps, and ask if anyone wanted to "smoke a fatty," I was at the Bay View Boat Club, on a mucky but priceless sliver of San Francisco waterfront just south of the ballpark.

A yellow, two story shack perched on pile of mossy rocks, surrounded now by the massive loft-condos that have invaded Mission Bay along with palm trees, swimming pools and other species not native to San Francisco, the club was established in 1962 as a hang out for boat lovers. Against this backdrop, it looks a bastion of what San Francisco used to be, besieged by what it's become.

There's a Last of the Mohicans air about the members themselves--bikers, ex-hippies, still-hippies, union men, brash, witty women--who are the best thing about the club: crass, friendly sea-going folk, great drinkers, old-school San Franciscans, comrades in being the kind of people that ascot yacht clubs reject. The other best thing about the club is the bar, hung with hundreds of bright-colored burgees and other salty regalia (are there any greater hoarders of tchotchke than mariners?), where pints of Anchor are always two-fifty, and a big pour of Jameson's three. There's also a pool table where games are still 50 cents, and a big deck overlooking the bay, and a smokers' nook where people do as they please--it seemed to me that any official with the authority to bring law to this place would find his credentials insufficient amongst this crowd--and where the aforementioned old-timer was taken up on his offer.

The club is semi-private, open to members and their guests, qualifications for membership being sponsorship from two current members and ownership of a vessel, be it yacht, sailboat, or skiff, with the members' fleet tending toward the latter. The club's official craft is a faded blue inflatable dinghy roped to the pier. With so many new neighbors, many of them eager to join, the BVBC's former "come one, come all" policy has had to be tightened to keep the club from being overrun , but if you arrive by boat and know a member, how to tie a knot and tie one on, you'll find yourself welcome here.
—Patrick Heig

· Past Editions of "A Beer At" [~ESF~]

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