Ocean Odysseys - Mavericks Surf - Sailing SF Bay - Surf Bolinas


Ocean Odysseys

Sure, it's January, but that doesn't mean the ocean's off-limits. Whether you're looking for mean waves, sweet sails, or easy tides, here's the way to wet your winter — or at least whet your imagination.

Surfing Mavericks

Monster Mash

The water is freezing. The rocks are sharp and jagged. Great whites lurk nearby. No worries: once a year, the biggest badasses in surfing congregate to tempt fate on the monster waves at Mavericks. Sometime between January 1 and March 31, the alert goes out— and within 24 hours, elite surfers have gathered on the beach north of Half Moon Bay to ride the 50-foot-tall walls of mean water. Why surf these waves? According to the original maverick, Jeff Clark, “I love the power. I love the challenge. I love the unknown.” Some of the gnarliest views of the waves are from the nearby bluffs, but that space can be muddy and crowded. Two good alternatives: Head for AT&T Park and watch the contest live on plasma TVs, or pay $250 for a charter boat to take you right into the action. Epic, brah!

BONUS: Be the first to know when the contest is green-lit; sign up for the email or text message alert here.

AT&T Park is $25 at the door. A percentage of ticket sales helps protect the natural environment at Half Moon Bay. More information.

Sail Beneath the Moon

You don’t have to be a seasoned yachtie or own your own boat to enjoy a sail on San Francisco Bay. Just pony up $40 for the next monthly moonlight sailing adventure with OCSC Sailing on February 7. Participants cast off from the Berkeley Marina before sunset and skim the bay in a 32-foot or longer Catalina sailboat skippered by a certified instructor. The club provides you with all the gear; all you—and up to five friends—need to do is wear seaworthy shoes and dress warmly. Onboard you can relax and rhapsodize about the fine city skyline and dusky Marin hills. Or if you want, you can pull the lines and even take the helm for a while. After your return, celebrate like an old sea salt with snacks and wine in the clubhouse.

OCSC, Berkeley Marina, 1 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley; 800-223-2984.

Longboarding Bolinas

If the good people of Bolinas had their way, the quirky coastal town wouldn’t appear on any maps—and the highway marker that the locals routinely take down would never be replaced. But they can’t hide the fact that the town is a cool place to hang out, with a funky and endearing community vibe. Bolinas is a great day-trip destination any season, but if you’re a beginning surfer, winter is the time: January storms make its waves ideal for longboarding newbies. According to Nick Kreiger, program director for Bolinas Surf Lessons, recent conditions have produced “perfect” waves. Rent wet suits ($10) and booties ($5) at 2 Mile Surf Shop; they’ll also give you an hour-and-a-half private lesson Friday through Sunday for $105, including equipment. When the weather heats up, they offer group lessons seven days a week for $65 with equipment. Toes on the nose!

Bolinas Surf Lessons and 2 Mile Surf Shop, 22 Brighton Ave., Bolinas; 415-868-0264.

Information: To get to Bolinas, take the first left after Stinson Beach onto Olema-Bolinas Road. Follow that road all the way into town, turn left onto Horseshoe Hill Rd., then right onto Brighton Ave. The two best surfing spots in Bolinas are the inside part of the Patch and the Channel. The inside Patch attracts more beginners and is best at mid-to-high tide. The Channel lies at the mouth of the Bolinas lagoon; the waves are best here when the tide’s heading in. Park on Brighton Ave. near the tennis courts and walk to the beach. The Channel is just a little ways to the left, the Patch the same distance to the right.

TIP: Warm yourself at the Coast Café with a bowl of their chowder or a Niman Ranch burger. Vegans will love the gardener’s pie, made with organic vegetables and vegan gravy. Chase it all down with a Fat Tire and you’re good to go.

The Coast Café, 46 Wharf Rd., Bolinas; 415-868-2298.

Other Activities You Might Enjoy