San Francisco Bay Sailing, Windsurfing, and Sunset Picnic Cruise


On the Bay

It's been said that only 4 percent of people who live in the Bay Area actually get on the bay. Don't be a bystander: take the plunge this summer.  

Sail San Francisco with OCSC in Berkeley

Over the Bounding Main

Warning: Zipping across San Francisco Bay in a 32-foot Catalina sailboat can be highly addictive. If you've never sailed but want to try, take a two-hour Intro to Sailing session with the good folks at OCSC Sailing in Berkeley; they've been giving people the chance to "learn the ropes"—or simply kick back and enjoy the ride—for nearly 30 years. Powering out of the Berkeley Marina, the boat soon emerges into the gusty bay, famous for having the strongest average wind of any waterway in America. When the sails are raised—boom!—the wind hits and the good times roll, literally. Sailing rookies can sit pretty on the high side and take in the scenery—or frighten friends by getting behind the wheel and shouting, "Tacking on the starboard side!" or "The main sail is luffing in the no-go zone," or the always reliable "I'm sailing!" At only $40 a person, this is one of the most inexpensive (and intimate) ways to sail the bay like a seasoned yachtie. Sink in.

OCSC Sailing,1 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley; 510-843-4200. The Intro to Sailing course runs three times a day on Saturday from May through October.

Angel Island Sunset Cruise

Picnic at Sea

Every Friday and Saturday evening from now through October, the Angel Island Ferry moonlights as a homegrown cruiser and offers the best sunset picnic on the bay. We first highlighted this little-known excursion in the fall of 2007; this year, take part in the fun (and sun) all summer long. Bring a home-packed meal and your favorite companions, and get on board for a floating feast where you're more likely to find locals than tourists. After departing Tiburon at 6:30 p.m., you'll head west toward Sausalito and Richardson Bay for a 90-minute treat. This excursion is rarely overcrowded, and you're allowed to bring grown-up beverages (martinis can be shaken and stirred at sea). Sip your drink of choice and sniff the cool, salty air as the hues on the horizon change and the lights in the city shine. You can eat, drink, and be merry inside the ferry—but we recommend the stellar 360-degree views from the upstairs deck. That's our idea of a moveable feast!

The season runs from mid-May to mid-October. Prices are $20 per adult. For reservations, call 415-435-2131 or click here.

Windsurf San Francisco Bay

Ride the Wind

Fused to the sail, propelled by the wind, skimming over salty waves—windsurfing looks exhilarating, but it can be intimidating too. Get your feet wet with Boardsports School in Alameda. Unlike the high-flying, hurricane-force, acrobatic playground of the pros, Boardsports' Crown Beach location offers gentle winds, mellow vibes, low traffic, warm(er) water, and a shallow, sandy take-off zone perfect for learning launch and steering maneuvers. On-shore winds guide newbies back to the long sandy beach to take a breather and a pointer or two from wizened onlookers. After an hour of dry-land simulator and lingo tutelage, the instructors fit, rig, and guide the class out into the smooth and easy breezes off of Crown Beach. Through one-on-one attention from the instructors, you'll soon be gliding out into the cove and beyond into the bay (pictured), feeling the sail taut against your arms, hearing the slap of the water below. Riding the wind.

Boardsports School, Crown Beach (Westline Dr. at Otis Dr.), Alameda; 415-385-1224. The two-day, six-hour beginner lesson runs $165 per person and occurs every Saturday and Sunday through September, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; the lesson includes a full wetsuit and windsurfing rig. Boardsports has a more advanced location in San Mateo and a retail outlet in San Francisco. In addition, the shop offers kiteboarding and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) lessons.

Adventure Out Santa Cruz

School's Out for the Summer!

Ever dreamed of climbing Yosemite's famed Half Dome? Imagined surfing or rock climbing in Santa Cruz? Pictured yourself backpacking in the High Sierras?

Not sure you have the right skills for such outdoor adventures?
Adventure Out, California's premiere outdoor-recreation company, can teach you everything you need to know about surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, and wilderness survival. Cliff Hodges and his expert team of experienced guides keep their classes small, so you get quality learning time and a chance to bond with other adventurers. Adventure Out's popular Beginning Surfing Class, taught in Pacifica, has just three to four people per instructor—practically a private lesson! (Other companies usually teach six or more people at a time.) Not new to the outdoor experience? Then you may just want to brush up on your wilderness survival skills. Whatever your desire, Adventure Out has a program tailored for you. See their calendar of upcoming classes and small group outings—The Half Dome trip in Yosemite is coming up soon! Your adventure starts now.

Adventure Out, 800-509-3954. Adventure Out also does private programs and corporate retreats.

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