At Tradewinds Sailing School & Club, the American Sailing Association–certified instructors teach a diverse array of skills, from the basics of keelboating and coastal cruising to specialty work such as celestial navigation. Their intimate classes, typically capped at three students, all pair guided learning with real-world practice on the water, ensuring students truly master their chosen subject matter. Veteran sailors can challenge the class and join the sailing club, whose convenient boat-sharing program allows for trips to Sausalito, Angel Island, and other local spots.
A morning photo cruise powered by gentle sunlight and mellow breezes. A spirited afternoon jaunt toward the Golden Gate Bridge. A late-spring sunset trip over waters reflecting the city's skyline and the warm hues of the horizon. No matter the time of day, the waving sails of Afterguard Sailing Academy's vessels ferry passengers on adventures around the sun-kissed waters and iconic landmarks of San Francisco Bay.
Thanks to the academy's team of seasoned captains, tours are only one way to experience sailing's thrills. Their instructors also teach comprehensive American Sailing Association certification courses, which aim to transition ordinary passengers to crew members and skippers for more independent sailing adventures of all types. As students progress, instructors teach more advanced lessons, such as bay basics and ocean sailing. Aside from these lessons, the captains also run a nonprofit sailing academy for youth.
The party-loving minds behind Yacht Party Cruises wanted a creative way for locals and tourists to explore a city's late-night atmosphere. Eventually they launched a fleet of luxury yachts into the waters of eight of North America's most lively urban waterfronts. On each vessel, festivities abound as DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Sinatra, inviting passengers to shake a leg in between trips to the full bar or buffet lined with hot appetizers. All yachts boast extravagant details such as wraparound decks, fireplaces, or a glass atrium that hangs above the dance floor offering dancers a direct view of the man in the moon's game of solitaire. Guests can also step onto the decks for fresh air or panoramic views of city's skyline.
If you want to learn how to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer, then you can take a course at any sailing school. But if you want to be a safe, knowledgeable sailer who also knows how to get a boat to move faster than a rumor travels around a knitting circle, you might want to consider taking a sailing course from Nautic Sailing School's instructors.
Captain Dan, who has been sailing for more than 40 years, races various types of boats, and he owns a Catalina 30 that carried him to victory during the 2004 and 2009 Catalina 30 Nationals. He works alongside Captain George, who has also raced sailboats, and Captain Robert, a published sailing educator and race tactician who has trained more than 3,500 sailing instructors worldwide.
They lead everything from six-hour Discover Sailing lessons, which introduce complete beginners to the sport, to basic and bareboat cruising courses. Those who take those three- and four-day courses may even qualify to crew with Nautic Sailing School on special occasions.
Modern Sailing School & Club unfurls its sails and unveils the beauties of the bay from atop its fleet of large keelboats. Near the nautical avenues of quaint Sausalito, sailors of all skill levels trade in land legs and climb aboard a 30- to 32-foot keelboat for a six-hour sail (10 a.m. to 4. p.m.) throughout San Francisco Bay’s placid waters and bathysphere enthusiasts. Departing on Saturdays or Sundays, boats entrust themselves into the experienced hands of a Master's-licensed skipper, who controls the sails, steering wheel, and inboard diesel engine with breezy ease. Cool heels with restive lounging fueled by home-packed picnics, or join in the crew’s sailing efforts, tightening jibs, taking the helm, or explaining excessive speeds to Neptune’s highway patrolmen.
Departing from the charming town of Tiburon, the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry takes passengers on 90-minute sunset cruises as well as on 10-minute ferry rides to the historic Angel Island State Park. The ferry is run by the McDonogh family, which boasts a storied history of five generations of running boats to the island while quoting lines from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The company runs its route year-round, encouraging hikers and bicyclists to take advantage of the islands' trails in any season and also runs regular sightseeing cruises around the bay. Passengers can embark on one- to two-hour excursions that glide beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, explore Alcatraz, or cruise along the shoreline of Marin County.