Sailing in San Francisco Bay Guide
It doesn’t get much better for diehard sailors than San Francisco Bay where the winds are almost always steady, and the water is (mostly) protected. Whether your next sailing expedition is among friends, a work team-building event, or a fun date, you should consider setting it here.
This post will cover key locations around the Bay area, awesome water activities you don’t want to miss out on, and several pro tips for sailing in San Francisco Bay.
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Where to go sailing in San Francisco
Among San Francisco Bay’s 400 miles are tucked-away coves, inlets, and other hotspots. Keep an eye out for funneling winds that can slam a sailboat over as you come out from the lee of an island.
While the Golden Gate Bridge is the perfect selfie backdrop, there are a lot of not-very-nice serious currents and fluky winds. We recommend giving the bridge some space. There’s a lot to do in the Bay, so don’t feel that you’re missing out on a truly Californian experience.
Sail by America’s Cup complex, and circumnavigate Angel, Treasure, or Alcatraz Islands. Find a guest slip at one of the 25+ marinas and yacht clubs, or drop anchor in one of a half dozen anchorages. Pro Destination Tip: Here are a few good places to set the hook:
- China Camp
- Clipper Cove
- Richardson’s Bay
- Aquatic Park Cove
Just beware of winds and currents that shift in the night.
Wondering what to wear for your sailing trip? The Bay can be frigid even during summer, and the weather here changes fast. Foul weather gear, beanies, gloves, and deck boots are safe bets on all but the warmest of days!
Pro Tip: Sailing in San Francisco can be done year-round. For the best experience, we recommend sailing between September and November. Avoid the thick fog!
Moor the boat but keep up the boating by visiting the Maritime National Historic Park and its beautiful art deco-style museum.
Looking for good food and stunning views? Here are a few waterfront restaurants on the Bay (with dockage available):
- Frankie’s Pier 43
- Crab House at Pier 39
- La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
There are many boat shows and events and exclusive sailboat events that take place on the Bay.
For example, San Francisco has hosted some of the sport’s premier activities, including the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 and the 2022 SailGP (Grand Prix)!
You could also enter one of the many sailboat races that take place every year. Highlight regattas happening here include:
- Three Bridge Fiasco (St. Francis Yacht Club)
- The Rolex Big Boat Series
- The Master Mariners Regatta
- The Leukemia Cup (Charity event)
Pro Tip: Don’t miss out on this sailing mecca! Check out the California boater card requirements before your upcoming trip to ensure you’re in compliance with the state’s laws.
Discover more on-water destinations like New York City, Chicago, and Houston at Boating Guides & Resources.
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Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin.
A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide.
Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico.