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.
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.
Red and White Fleet?s inaugural launch in 1892 came courtesy of founder Thomas Crowley, a 17-year-old seafarer whose vision has since spawned one of the Bay Area?s most sought-after guided sightsees. The placid shores of Fisherman?s Wharf host a bobbing quartet of wave-riding vessels, each crewed by a savvy staff of sailors versed in the Bay?s stunning maritime marvels, including rock seals, easily recognized by their Dee Snider wigs and Flying V guitars.
Other tours with Red and White Fleet include the Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise, which sails beneath the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges, its iconic red-and-white boats dwarfed by the imposing structures. Passengers can venture onto the open-air deck to take in unobstructed views of the skyline, or gaze through large windows within indoor cabins furnished with plush seating and a full-service bar. A host of other tours is available; click here to view the full schedule.
With its impenetrable fog, gusty wind, and rough currents, San Francisco Bay is known the world over as one of the most challenging places to sail. It's for this very reason that the San Francisco Sailing Company's Sailing School has set up shop here: "If you can sail the San Francisco Bay," they declare on their website, "you [can] sail anywhere in the world." The seasoned instructors instill what they know thoroughly and quickly. In fact, after completing just two two-day classes, students at the school earn their ASA certification and the confidence to sail the Bay on their own. The school offers loftier training, as well, providing the know-how needed to charter a multiday cruise on a big boat or navigate out on the open water.
Since 1978, the experienced captains at Rendezvous Charters have staged picturesque pirouettes through San Francisco Bay waters aboard a fleet of vessels, including two schooners, two yachts, and a slew of motor yachts. The seafaring specialists welcome passengers for cash-bar cruises aboard the Bay Lady, a custom-built schooner that accommodates up to 77 passengers and boasts a cockpit big enough to seat 56 people or 30 pandas with sailor caps. Rendezvous Charters also works with clients to plan private chartered cruises and team-building events for businesses and recreational groups.