A podcast about history

That's not stuck in the past

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Since 2018, Liam O’Donoghue, host of the East Bay Yesterday podcast, has been leading boat tours of the San Francisco Bay aboard the Pacific Pearl. While cruising along the shoreline, Liam narrates true stories related to the cultural and environmental history of various waterfront sites. Tickets are available through the Fish Emeryville website. If tickets are sold out, new tour dates will be announced via the East Bay Yesterday newsletter and social media

Frequently Asked Questions 

Where do the tours go?

All three tours begin and end at the Emeryville Marina Sport Fishing Dock. The tours include a wide range of historical stories, narrated over the boat’s PA system, by Liam O’Donoghue. 

There are three different tour routes:

-Oakland History Tour: This new tour, launched in 2024, includes visits to the Bay Bridge, Port of Oakland, Jack London Square, Coast Guard Island, various points along Alameda’s shoreline, and the USS Hornet aircraft carrier. 

-Richmond History Tour: This tour includes visits to Albany Bulb, Brooks Island, Richmond Harbor, Point Richmond, Red Rock Island, Point Molate and East Brother Island. Due to frequently windy conditions, this tour is not available during the summer.

-Classic Oakland Tour: This tour includes visits to the Berkeley Pier, Treasure Island, Yerba Buena Island, the Port of Oakland, Jack London Square, Brooklyn Basin, and the Bay Bridge. This was the original route when the tour launched in 2018. 

Floating homes at Alameda’s Barnhill Marina [Credit: Richard Langs]

Who is the tour guide?

Liam O’Donoghue is the creator of the award-winning East Bay Yesterday podcast, which airs on 94.1 KPFA-FM, and the Oakland columnist for SF Gate. His journalism has appeared in outlets such as KQED, Oaklandside, Berkeleyside, Mother Jones, Salon, East Bay Express, 99% Invisible, The Kitchen Sisters, and the syndicated NPR program Snap Judgement. O’Donoghue has given presentations on local history at libraries, schools and bookstores and throughout the Bay Area, as well as institutions such as Oakland Museum of California, The California Historical Society, The Commonwealth Club, and Berkeley City Club.

Interested in knowing more about East Bay Yesterday? Check out these profiles in Alta Magazine, Diablo Magazine, East Bay Times, SF Gate or go to the media page to see additional feature articles.   

How long do the tours last?

The tours typically last between 2.5 and 3 hours. Please note that tours leave promptly at the assigned time, so passengers are strongly recommended to arrive 20-30 minutes prior to departure.  

Where is the boat? Where should I park?

The Pacific Pearl is located at the Emeryville Marina Sport Fishing Dock, just a tiny bit south of the Fish Emeryville office at 3310 Powell St, Emeryville, CA 94608. Free public parking is available in the parking lot next to the dock and also on the west side of the marina (past the Fish Emeryville office, on the left).

Is there seating?

Yes, there is enough seating to accommodate all passengers.

What if the weather is bad? What if a tour is postponed/canceled due to weather?

Tours will proceed if there is light rain, but heavy rain and/or winds will postpone a trip. We will notify you at least 24 hours in advance if a tour is being postponed due to bad weather. If a tour is postponed, you can contact the Fish Emeryville office to request a refund or move your tickets from the postponed tour to a later date.  

What should I bring? Can I bring my own food/drinks?

Passengers are allowed to bring their own snacks and beverages (water, beer, wine, etc). However, due to limited space, please do not bring large coolers* or glass bottles. (*If a charter group organizer wants to bring a big cooler to supply snacks/drinks for the entire group, that’s ok).

Also, binoculars and/or cameras are encouraged (especially if you want to get a better view of the osprey nests!). If you post photos from the tour on social media, please tag East Bay Yesterday on Facebook/Instagram/etc.

Yerba Buena Island Lighthouse [Credit: Richard Langs]

What should I wear?

The temperature on the water is typically cooler and more windy than on land, so dress accordingly. Recommended apparel: Layers (jackets, windbreakers, etc); sensible shoes (i.e. no high heels or flip-flops); hats; sunglasses. 

Are kids allowed?

Yes, although babies and children under the age of six are strongly discouraged. Because the boat is relatively small, a loud baby or child is extremely disruptive (other passengers are prevented from hearing the tour narration).  

Can I get a refund if I can’t go?

Yes, if you cancel your tickets more than 48 hours ahead of the tour, you will receive a full refund. Cancellations within 48 hours of tour will not be refunded.  

Will I get sea sick?

Because the tours stay within the San Francisco Bay, which is much calmer than the ocean, passengers rarely get sea sick. 

Do you do private/charter tours?

Yes, private groups (up to 25 passengers) can book one of Liam’s tours for $1950. Many local organizations and businesses have booked tours for a company outing or as an activity to honor treasured members, funders, etc. In order to schedule a private tour, please contact Liam (eastbayyestserday [at] gmail dot com) at least three months in advance in order to book a date/time.

Aerial view of the Oakland and Alameda shoreline, circa 1946. [Credit: Oakland History Center]

Besides boat tours, Liam often hosts events related to local history throughout the Bay Area. The best way to stay updated on East Bay Yesterday tours, events, episodes, and other news is by subscribing to the e-newsletter.

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