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.
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 10-minute 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.
An intro-to-sailing lesson with OCSC is designed both for beginners who can't tell a mermaid from Ethel Merman and for more-intermediate students of the stern and aft looking to perfect their technique. Skilled and certified instructors teach each lesson, while a low teacher-to-student ratio ensures plenty of attention and instruction for all involved. Your lesson will focus on practical training, creating a prime opportunity to get some on-the-water experience beneath your sails. Over the course of two hours, you'll be exposed to different roles and positions on the yacht, including the position of steely-eyed helmsman. By the end of the salt-sprayed session, you won't be a certified skipper, but you'll have had a sublime time and tasted the sailing experience, which always tastes like a combination of warm brownies and cold milk.
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.
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.