The Golden Gate Strait is the only entrance to San Francisco Bay and is one of the best places in the world to watch ships.
PILOT BOAT - Built to handle rough seas, these boats are painted with bright colors and often with the word Pilot boldly printed on them. They transport a pilot, skilled in navigating the waters of the Golden Gate and Bay, out beyond the Gate where the pilot climbs aboard a large ship. The pilot then takes over steering the ship into the Bay.
OIL TANKERS - The longest and heaviest ships in the world are oil tankers. The steel bulb or bump on the bow is slightly submerged under the water when the ship is heavily loaded. That bulb causes the water to pass around the ship with less resistance, improving the ship’s speed. In this photo, because the bow bulb is under the water, you can tell that this tanker is full, not empty.
CONTAINER SHIPS - These long ships have flat decks for stacking steel intermodal containers filled with products. Intermodal means the same container can use multiple modes of transportation, such as rail, truck, and/or ship. You can see giant cranes used to load and unload these ships at the Port of Oakland.
COAST GUARD VESSELS - Coast Guard vessels are marked with a distinctive diagonal orange stripe on the bow. Their mission is to coordinate the safe and efficient movement of vessels in San Francisco Bay and out beyond the Gate on the ocean.
SAILBOATS - San Francisco Bay is one of the world’s best places for sailing. Especially in the warmer months, and during the afternoon hours, a strong breeze often blows in through the Golden Gate.
TOUR BOATS - These boats can be seen cruising around Alcatraz Island and sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge before turning back, giving passengers a unique view of the Bridge.
TUGBOATS - Built with large engines, these sturdy boats are used to push and pull much larger ships to get them where they need to go. Tugboats are also used to slow down large ships, like oil tankers, which can otherwise take up to 3 miles (5 km) to come to a stop.
FERRY BOATS - The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District operates a fleet of commuter ferry vessels, lessening traffic on the Bridge.
Exhibit designed by Robert Reitherman (CUREE)