Learning to Sail on the SF Bay - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 33 Old 09-03-2006 Thread Starter
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Learning to Sail on the SF Bay

Hi All,

I've been lurking on this forum for a few weeks. I'm still in the fantasy stage of sailing and trying to glean everything I can about the boats, the people who sail them, and the practical month-to-month aspects of boat ownership (either fractional or whole).

I've lived my entire life in the San Francisco Bay Area, but have never sailed the bay. (Been on plenty of power boats, but have never sailed.) My short-term objective is to learn how to sail the bay and the delta. Long-term, I'd like to eventually get out to the Farallones and learn coastal cruising.

The main question at this point is how to get started. I've seen several "schools" that claim to teach sailing for significant fees. While I don't mind investing in a quality education, I have to wonder if there are better, less formal and more pleasurable ways to obtain the knowledge necessary to captain a bareboat, obtain fractional membership, and eventually my own boat. So I'd love to hear from members familiar with the training options in the SF bay.

In my research of boats, my current fixation is catamarans. I've read a lot on the pros and cons of both mono- and multi-hulls. I like the fact that catamarans have minimum heel, have less draft, and the living space appears to connect better with the outside environment (which is why I'd want to go on the water in the first place). My current dreamboat is the Gemini 105mc but I'm open to exploring the virtues of monohulls in the same price range, like the Catalina and Hunter. So, in other words, I'd be interested in training courses or other ways to obtain first-hand experience with these different types of boats.

A few questions:

* How did you get started?

* How did you obtain your knowledge?

* What mistakes have you made and what would you do differently if you were to start over?

* How can a newcomer get the most pleasure and experience for the least cost?

Thanks!

Last edited by GoLikeaFish; 09-04-2006 at 12:09 AM.
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post #2 of 33 Old 09-03-2006
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I've been sailing over 30 years, having caught the sailing bug at summer camp many years ago. Any learning process is done through a series of making mistakes...and often, the more mistakes you make, the faster you learn.

Most of the sailors on this site are monohull sailors. The Gemini 105MC is a solid, reasonably priced cat, and several others on this board are in the process of buying one.

Chartering is one way to get experience on a wide variety of boats. However, most charter companies won't have a Gemini as a boat...since most of the charter companies use much larger catamarans than that.

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post #3 of 33 Old 09-03-2006
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I used to teach sailing on San Francisco Bay....quite a few years ago, though. I worked for Cass' Sailing Marina in Sausalito. I believe it may still be in operation.

Cass' was then and still may be the best and most cost-efficient way to get a good basic grounding in sailing. We used to have 4 students per class and used a variety of boats from Rhodes 19s to a 30' schooner.

Four 4-hour lessons were the basic course, and each student then had one day's "solo" allowance. If they shared, that meant that each student got four additional days afloat. The cost then was VERY reasonable (under $100), the hope being that graduates would return to rent boats in the future. I don't know what the cost is now, but I can tell you that you'll learn more in such a program in a few weeks than you would in a whole season of sailing in other areas of the country where there's not such regular wind and current.

Check it out!

Bill
S/V Born Free
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post #4 of 33 Old 09-03-2006
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OCSC (formerly Olympic Circle Sailing Club) in Berkeley is arguably the best sailing school in the state, if not the whole country. Their fleet consists of appox. 40 boats, including J-24s, Ultimate 24s, Olson 25s, J-105s, J-109s and a variety of Calibers, Catalinas, Sabres, Beneteaus and yes, even a Gemini 105.


http://www.ocscsailing.com/
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post #5 of 33 Old 09-04-2006 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses for far.

I've researched prices at the local sailing schools and here is a summary of the cost of instruction to obtain ASA Intermediate Coastal Cruising (Bareboat Charter) certification:

Spinnaker Sailing School

In Redwood City: $1574
http://www.spinnakersailing.com/nofr...hool/basic.htm

In SF: $2035
http://www.spinnaker-sailing.com/lessons.htm

Club Nautique (Alameda)
$2390
http://www.clubnautique.net/northern...l-sailing.html

Tradewinds (Richmond) -- least expensive
$1295 (package)
http://www.tradewindssailing.com/lessonpackages.shtml

Modern Sailing Academy (Sausalito)
$1885 (package)
http://www.modernsailing.com/cs.html

OCSC Sailing (Berkeley) -- most expensive
$2770
http://www.ocscsailing.com/School/Ou...ifications.htm


What makes the selection process the most confusing on a cost bases is factoring the perks related to buying a membership. In some cases, members qualify for discounts and/or free instruction and discounts on chartering boats.

Of course, what matters the most is the quality of instruction. Fstbttms, thanks for the recommendation. As anyone else had experience with any of these other schools?
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post #6 of 33 Old 09-04-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoLikeaFish
Has anyone else had experience with any of these other schools?

Club Nautique (Alameda)
Big fleet of well maintained boats. Unfortunately, most of them are Hunters. They also have Santana 525s, Colgate 26s, a Dufour, a Caliber 40, some big Jeanneaus and a few trawler-type Mainship powerboats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoLikeaFish
Tradewinds (Richmond)
Most poorly maintained fleet I have ever come across (at least from a hull cleaner's perspective.) Not only that, but getting them to pay for services rendered was like pulling teeth. I believe they have come under new ownership in recent years, so take my gripes for with a grain of salt. But if they way they did business when they were my client in any way translated to the instruction end of things, I'd give them a wide berth. Again, that may all be different now.
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post #7 of 33 Old 09-04-2006
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I see you didn't list J-World in Alameda:

http://www.sailing-jworld.com/index.htm
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post #8 of 33 Old 09-07-2006
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There's also Cal Sailing Club / Cal Adventures at the Berkeley marina. Really good prices and fairly nice boats =)
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post #9 of 33 Old 09-07-2006
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So Many Choices

GLF:
The good news is that you have lots of options here in the Bay area plus a great environment to learn & practice in a variety of conditions that are probably the best in the USA & rival many in the world.
In case you have not used this web site for resources
www.sfsailing.com

Now to your challenge.................I'll disclose = I'm an OCSC member.
I did closely look at a number of places before making the same decision even though I already had a BBC. It was a balance between atmosphere, training attitude, boats & location(bay access + travel time from home). Cost was a factor yet it came down to value vs $$$ spent. I'm still happy with my decision.
The costs you have listed for OCSC could be reduced by 20% if you become a member. ....................which if you are going to charter regularly in order to get water time & build proficiency should be part of your calculations. You can even check out each school/club's charter rates too.......although they can be minimized with sharing charters.

Club Nautique - was my 2nd choice, package approach, clean boats, good trainers, have crewed from there with members & others who have chartered their boats.......plus southern bay location

Tradewinds - they always play the low cost card.............I looked at them too (another east bay option which was my focus) but I would agree with FB regarding fleet quality plus they were very laid back maybe too much when it came to explaining training details. I also considered a great package charter deal they had but passed due to fleet again.

J/World is another very good option in Alameda that was not open when I was choosing.

Cal Sailing is definitely a great option for minimizing costs & learning thru BC.....don't think they go up thru BBC. But you gotta like getting wet 'cause starting with dinghys is one of their primary training steps. Then once you move thru all their levels, you could go to a bigger school/club fleet, demonstrate your skills & get certified in ASA or US Sailing for the appropriate level, then take bareboat with them.

Fleets - yup wide array of choices with each location...............suggest you narrow your list & then stop down to really get a feel for each and the school/club in general. The web certainly helps to gather basic info though.
Yes, OCSC has a Gemini 105 in the fleet............I've had a chance to try it out a couple of times.
Good Luck
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post #10 of 33 Old 09-07-2006
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Answering Your Questions

GLF:
Oops, forgot to

* How did you get started? <<< summers on New England waters.......fishing & power boats..............very curious about sailboats

* How did you obtain your knowledge? <<<< Sailing on a friends boat but nothing is better than formal school.

* What mistakes have you made and what would you do differently if you were to start over? <<< Did not start early enough..............I put it off for stupid stuff = work.

* How can a newcomer get the most pleasure and experience for the least cost? <<<<< I'll separate.........pleasure & experience = you can share charters which will minimize costs, crew in races for free & help others who need crew for free.

Quality Training will cost money especially at higher certification levels but it will be cheap vs suffering big mistakes & physical risks that will be prevented.
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