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Meet the Charter Fleet: A Wealth of Bay Sailing Options
As excitement over the America's Cup grows, so does interest in sailing. New sailors are introduced to the sport every day, and they're looking for ways to get out on the Bay. More experienced sailors want to get in on the action, too, but maybe their finances won't allow the purchase of a new boat . . . or maybe it will, but they're not sure what kind of boat to buy. It's even possible they just don't want the hassles that boat ownership sometimes brings. If this sounds even a little like you, you'd do well to consider one of the many charter options available to Bay sailors.
Below you'll find a comprehensive list of all the Greater Bay Area charter boats that we're aware of. They vary in size from 20 to 50 feet, in comfort from stripped-out racers to comfy world cruisers, in performance from mellow daysailers to ULDBs, and in service from bareboat (sail-it-yourself) to fully crewed. Pick and choose, mix and match, whatever your pleasure. And if you don't think a local charter is right for you, read on for some reasons why it could be, then bookmark this list for when you realize a charter is just what you need.
Crewed Charter Vessels
The vessels listed in this section are accessible to folks of all ages with no sailing skills required whatsoever, as their charter prices include the services of professional crew.
Even if you are a long-time sailor with your own fleet of sailing craft, there are special occasions when chartering one of the vessels listed here might be the perfect solution to a particular challenge, such as when entertaining a large group of out-of-town family members, creating a unique office party, or a special 'benchmark' birthday celebration. By enlisting the pampering services of a professional crew, you'll maximize the time you have for socializing and playing tour guide, while minimizing potential headaches. And by hosting your guests on a classy, meticulously maintained crewed yacht, your guests will probably be a whole lot more comfortable than on your tired old daysailer, and you're likely to make a better overall impression.
Guests who care to pitch in with the sailing chores are usually welcome to lend a hand, while the rest of the group soaks in the salt air and takes in the sights.
Adventure Cat: A familiar sight on the Bay, this 55-ft catamaran was custom-built specifically for chartering here. Definitely one of the fastest local charter boats, she's been clocked at 20 knots with a full complement of passengers aboard. Guests can choose to ride on the open-air trampoline, forward, or within the sheltered salon.
Adventure Cat 2: Designed by cat connoisseur Kurt Hughes, the 65-ft Adventure Cat 2 was launched several years ago. Like her older sister (above), she is fast and fun, yet is much larger and, consequently, can carry twice as many passengers. For really big groups, consider chartering both boats and sail together in tandem.
Argosy Venture: One of the largest and more unique yachts in Northern California, this 101-ft Nevins motorsailer does occasional charters on the Bay as well as annual expeditions beyond the Golden Gate. Built as a private luxury yacht in 1947, her gleaming brightwork and period styling make her an eye-catching sight when she roars across the Bay at 12 knots.
Bay Lady: At 90 feet in length, Bay Lady is the largest Coast Guard 'certified' traditional sailing vessel on the West Coast. Licensed to carry up to 80 passengers, she holds the second-largest capacity of any sailing charter vessel in the region. Bay Lady was built of steel in New England specifically for the charter trade. Her design combines modern strength and safety features with an old-time sail plan — she carries great clouds of sail on her traditional gaff rig. Guests are always invited to participate in sailing this great schooner.
Bay Wolf: This pedigreed Santa Cruz 50 ocean racer is a veteran of many Hawaii and Mexico races. With her new mast, rigging and other upgrades, she promises fast, exhilarating Bay sailing.
Cat Ballou: Originally a Caribbean charter yacht, this sweet-sailing Catana 42 catamaran joined the Bay Area charter fleet after owner Chuck Longanecker upgraded her substantially during an extensive refit. Chuck is a management consultant by trade, and specializes in teambuilding and private charters.
Chardonnay II: This sleek Santa Cruz 70 is one of the most popular charter vessels operating on Monterey Bay. She was custom built for fast sailing, yet with the comforts to accommodate up to 49 passengers. She offers a wide array of 'themed charters' such as wine tasting, sunset cruising, and corporate teambuilding.
Derek M. Baylis: Named after a famous Bay Area yachtsman, this distinctive 65-ft cat ketch was built specifically for conducting ocean research and marine education, and is operated by the nonprofit Sealife Conservation organization. Tom Wylie designed her to be an "environmentally friendly way to keep up with whales and other marine life without using an engine."
Eros: This exquisite 103-ft schooner was built in the UK in 1939 for aristocracy. A museum-quality restoration of her was recently completed, making her one of the Bay Area's most eye-catching yachts.
Freda B: The classic 80-ft gaff schooner Freda B was built of steel in '92 in Florida, and was bought several years ago by Paul Dines and Marina O'Neil to be the flagship of their company, S.F. Bay Adventures. Inspired by the traditional 1860s coastal schooners that worked up and down the West Coast, Freda B has excellent ocean stability. She is one of the largest-capacity crewed charter boats on the Bay.
Gas Light: Built in Sausalito by master shipwright and owner Billy Martinelli, this 72-ft schooner is a beautifully crafted modern example of an 1874 SF Bay scow schooner. Gas Light has a bright and comfortable 30’ x 18’ cabin with a 12’ mahogany salon table, plenty of on-deck seating, and offers an exceptionally stable sailing experience, heeling only a few degrees, even in a brisk wind. She offers a unique glimpse into San Francisco’s maritime history plus a hands-on experience for those eager to help raise sail.
Glory Days: This classic Morgan Out Island 51 is owned and operated by Pam Powers, one of the few professional female skippers in the local charter trade. Before going out on her own years ago with the purchase of Glory Days, Pam skippered many of the Bay's biggest charter vessels. When Morgan Yachts first began producing the Out Island line in the late '60s, these comfy boats quickly became popular with both cruisers and charter companies — especially the 51-ft version, like Glory Days.
Nehemiah: Among the things that make this classic wooden ketch unique in the Bay's charter fleet is the fact that she has circumnavigated — twice — under previous owners. Her current use is also unique, however. Capt. Rod Phillips and his wife, 'Admiral' Joni, enjoy doing Bay charters for the general public, which finance their true passion, youth sail training — particularly for 'at-risk' youth. Solidly built and traditionally rigged, she is an ideal platform for hands-on training, as well as pleasure sailing. A lifelong mariner, Rod also captains SF Bay ferries.
Osprey: This sleek Gulfstar 50 ketch was built for cruising in comfort. Passengers can spread out on her ample deck to take in the sights, stay high and dry in the center cockpit or enjoy the large salon below. Participation in the sailing is encouraged. On deck Osprey has many comfortable places to sit, perhaps with a chilled glass of Chardonnay or frosty microbrew in hand. Extensive upgrades since 2011 aquisition.
Privateer: This Islander Freeport 41 cutter has teak decks, finely varnished trim and many bronze fittings. Come see her mysterious stained glass.
Ruby: At 64 feet in length, this double-ended steel sloop has been a familiar sight on the Bay for as long as we can remember. In fact, Ruby has been chartering longer than any other boat on the Bay — 28 consecutive years. She's also become a landmark at her San Francisco Boat Works homeport, adjacent to The Ramp restaurant. Owner/skipper Josh Pryor designed and built her himself back in the '70s with thoughts of long-distance cruising, but once he started chartering her, he discovered that both he and she were well suited to the business. In addition to scheduled sailings, she does a variety of special charters.
Santa Maria: Interestingly, this Islander Freeport 41 ketch was built for Wile E. Coyote cartoonist Chuck Jones. A complete refit was done on her in 2006, with a wall-to-wall teak interior.
Seaward: Originally based in Boston, this 82-ft staysail schooner has a different focus from most others. During the spring, summer and fall her primary function is running hands-on sail training for Bay Area youngsters, which is partially funded by adult sail training and private charters. When winter approaches, she heads for the sunny latitudes of Mexico, where she offers a series of programs that combine education in traditional seamanship, study of the marine environment, and fun in the sun. She is owned and operated by the nonprofit organization Call of the Sea.
Tahoe Cruz: This beautiful custom Santa Cruz 50 sails daily out of the Tahoe City Marina from May through October. Captains Jim Courcier and Mike Pavel are accomplished racers and cruisers who love sharing the joy of sailing the pristine waters of scenic Lake Tahoe. Prevailing SW afternoon breezes averaging 10-15 knots make for ideal sailing conditions.
USA 76: 84-ft America's Cup IACC race yacht from the stables of Oracle Racing. Launched in 2002, she competed in the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup in New Zealand.
Woodwind II: At 55-ft, she's the largest sailing charter boat on Lake Tahoe. But rather than boast about that, her owners like to say she's "the world's highest catamaran." She carries 1,500 square feet of sail and is capable of blasting across the lake at 20 knots. With her full bar, sun deck, two underwater observation windows, and seating for 36 in her fully enclosed main salon, she offers plenty of creature comforts and a ride that's smooth enough for Great Grandma, even at top speeds.
Yukon Jack: Although a remarkable amount of 'big boat' racing takes place on the Bay each year, only a minuscule portion of the sailing community ever gets to ride on those sleek, go-fast machines. But if you'd like to check out the adrenal thrill of blasting across the Bay on an ultralight, this proven Santa Cruz 50 is the boat for you. A former ocean racer, she once sailed from San Francisco to Tahiti in an impressive 19 days.
Please note that in addition to the six-passenger vessels that follow — many of which are operated by their owners — virtually every sailing school (aka 'club') also has boats available for 'six-pack' charters with captain and crew. Some of the larger boats in those fleets are very nicely outfitted for both comfortable daysails and overnight charters. Call them for details and pricing.
Apparition: Sleek and speedy, Apparition was custom built in Sausalito with small-group chartering in mind. Captain Stan Schilz loves to introduce guests to the ease and comfort of multihull sailing by letting them take the helm. One of the few crewed charter yachts that does overnights, this 38-footer has two double cabins and a full galley. If you're planning to bareboat a cat soon, spending some time aboard Apparition would be good preparation.
Bolgeskrekk: This carefully maintained Irwin Citation 34 is a stiff and comfortable boat, well suited to Bay sailing conditions. On blustery days she often does better than 7 knots, thus outperforming many other sailboats of her size. Her spacious cockpit is roomy enough to easily accommodate six passengers, and her teak interior is a delightful space for lounging and relaxing. Captain Bob has 20 years of experience sailing the Bay and he loves to share his knowledge of local geography and historical spots.
Caprice: This lovely Seawind 1160 was purchased new in Australia in '07, after which owners Dan and Carol Seifers spent most of '08 delivering her back to the Bay. Dan holds a USCG Master's license and is also an ASA sailing instructor qualified to instruct on both catamarans and monohulls. He and Carol would be pleased to introduce you to the joy of flat, dry catamaran sailing aboard Caprice. Her spacious salon offers a 360° view, while riding her trampoline offers thrill-a-minute exhilaration. Hands-on participation is encouraged.
Carrera: At the smaller end of the spectrum is Gene Maly's well-kept Capo 32 racer/cruiser. Based at Monterey, Carrera balances her busy schedule between intimate group daysails and instructional sails that feature plenty of one-on-one attention.
Evening Star: This fastidiously restored C&C Concours 43 is the 'dream boat' of 30-year charter skipper Mark Sange (aka Capt. Marco). He had been looking for a stiff, high-performance boat that was well balanced and responsive. And to hear him tell it, Evening Star fills the bill perfectly. Having skippered big luxury charter yachts in the Med for a decade, Mark knows a thing or two about putting excitement back in his clients' lives. "I like to introduce them to the therapeutic effect of bashing to windward in 20 knots of breeze with the lee rail buried."
Excalibur: This Sabre 30 is in great shape and is perfectly suited to the Bay conditions. She's available for charters and sailing lessons. She's owned and operated by Jonathan Ganz, who has been sailing on the Bay since the '80s and loves to introduce people to the world of sailing. His USCG license allows him to take guests offshore if they so desire. He's also a certified US Sailing and ASA instructor.
Fansea: Captain Paul Adams sails the Bay and beyond on his modern Catalina 34 MkII. Guests may participate in driving and sail trimming if they wish.
Flying Tiger: This sleek former racing yacht was originally designed to race in the SORC. She was later fitted out for comfortable cruising and explored both Mexico and Alaska. Kirk Miller (a.k.a. Capt. Kirk) gave up a successful career in the energy business to pursue his dream of chartering on the Bay aboard Flying Tiger. She is ideally suited to charters with those who enjoy high-performance sailing — it doesn't take much to convince Kirk to put up the chute on the downwind run past the Cityfront. She has recently undergone an extensive refit.
Gentle Storm II: Rick Niles bought this lovely Catalina 42 new in 2004. Since then she's been active in local PHRF racing and chartering, in addition to cruising Mexico.
Hasty Heart: One of the largest and most elegant boats on the Bay, this immaculately kept yacht was the longtime pride and joy of a S.F. bon vivant, and has only recently joined the charter fleet.
Karisma: This sweet-sailing Catalina 470 is the queen of the Lighthall Yacht Charters all-Catalina fleet. Her roomy cockpit and nicely appointed interior make her ideal for either daysails or overnights. Primarily run as a crewed yacht by longtime Santa Cruz sailors Krista and Scott Lighthall, she can also be bareboated by special arrangement. Catalina 42s and 34s are also in the Lighthall fleet.
Kuani: This comfortable Cascade 42 ketch is a proven bluewater vessel with a colorful sailing history. Originally intended to be a sailing fishing vessel, she later came to be part of SF Bay’s Peace Navy, and eventually made her way to Panama and back several times before her current owners bought her. Her ample deck, cockpit and cabin make a great platform for any Bay excursion.
Lady J: This comfortable, well-cared-for Islander 34 MKII is the first boat in SF Sailing Company's fleet, started 10 years ago, which has now grown to 11 sailboats.
MagnifiCat: This Prout 38 cat is owned and operated by Jim Keenan's company Skippered by Veterans. After Jim retired IBM, he and Maria cruised both the U.S. East and West Coasts for three years before dropping the hook in the Bay Area. As a former U.S. Army Infantry Airbone Ranger Officer, Jim has a passion for helping returning vets find jobs with help entering a new career by becoming USCG captains in his charter business. Skippered by Veterans has a comprehensive support program to help vets pass the USCG Captain's license, achieve the sea time requirements and then be hired by his company to skipper charters.
Magnum: The design of this sleek Nordic 44 combines sailing performance with a luxuriously appointed interior. She serves as a comfortable daysailer or comfy overnighter. (The owners also book large group charters on a variety of Bay vessels.)
Next Adventure: This Beneteau 423 design was named Boat of the Year by Cruising World in 2006. She is elegant, roomy, fast, well appointed and extremely comfortable. She’s a three-time Newport to Ensenada Race vet, now sailing waters of the bay, California coast, and occasional trips down to Channel Islands. Capt. Brad has more than 30 years of sailing experience, and brings a wealth of expertise, local knowledge, and humor for a fun, safe, sailing experience.
Oli Kai: This lovely 38-ft Seawind 1000 cat provides a comfortable and stable platform for all sorts of Bay charters. Her Treasure Island berth makes her easily accessible to all.
Pegasus: For the past 18 years, this beautiful 1972 John Alden 51-ft ketch has specialized in taking school groups and at-risk youth out on the Bay (at no charge to schools or parents). In order to subsidize those programs, they've made this Philippine mahogany beauty available for private charters.
Perseverance: Captain Jeffrey Berman has been a mariner his entire life. An accomplished racer, cruiser and commercial captain, he enjoys sharing the experience aboard this Catalina 36 MkII through a wide variety of charter offerings, including lessons.
Sensei: Create your own tales of adventure on San Francisco Bay in comfort and informal elegance.This 44-ft center-cockpit Norseman 447, built to the highest standards, is an ideal yacht for a tour of the Bay. Guest participation is welcome. Or sit back, relax and enjoy the sea breeze, fabulous views, and gourmet dining. New live sports monitor on aft deck so you won't miss a thing experiencing the AC races on the water while watching a live racing sports feed.
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