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.
Spinnaker Sailing?s crew helps people to experience the San Francisco Bay providing lessons, yacht and sailboat charters, and fractional- sailing boat-sharing memberships. During lessons, staffers challenge students to turn theory into hands-on action, using American Sailing Association guidelines to transform landlubbers into landlubbers who can sail. For those who prefer to outsource steering, Spinnaker Sailing?s captains load up to six passengers for private cruises aboard skippered 30- to 50-foot yachts. Parties can request to sail around Angel Island or stop in at Sam?s in Tiburon to grab drinks or dinner. Meanwhile, Spinnaker Fractional members share luxury Beneteau boats, indulging in the benefits of boat ownership without being bogged down with the cost of insurance, fees, and vessel upkeep.
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.
The high-end fleet of Hornblower Cruises & Events fills ports up and down the California coast, as well as in New York, with similar eco-friendly extravagance. Founded by environmental engineer Terry MacRae, Hornblower puts its luxe navy to use hosting dining, entertainment, special-event, and sightseeing cruises, as well as journeying to such storied landmarks as Alcatraz Island and the Statue of Liberty. Beyond these cruises, Terry's team champions green practices through the Respect Our Planet initiative, which works to develop and promote earth-considerate practices such as using hybrid boats that draw power from the sun.
US Coast Guard?certified Captain Bob Cole stands at the helm of the 35-foot sloop Bolgeskrekk during Golden Gate Sailing Tours? outings. Designed for all occasions, the tours cruise through the San Francisco Bay for birthdays, anniversaries, or sightseeing trips that explore the rich waters and history of the bay. Captain Bob?who is also Red Cross?certified in CPR and first aid?also holds hands-on sailing lessons for students of all ages and skill levels.