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Q: What should I wear?A: Dress in layers and dress warm! Even during the summer, it can be very cool out on the water. Be sure to bring an extra sweatshirt, sweater or jacket. Bring a hat & sunscreen to keep the sun off of you. Sunglasses are a must. Wear shoes that are comfortable, athletic and sturdy. No flip flops, bare toed shoes or heels. Assuming you fall within the range of normal adult sizes (XS-XL), we have a top layer of "foul weather gear" on the boat for you to wear should the conditions change. This is a top layer that is used just to keep your lower layers more protected. It will include a bib and a jacket. We'll also provide you with a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).
Q: How many people can come along on a charter or cruise?
A: As we specialize in small ultra-private sails, typically our a maximum is 2 passengers. But on a low wind day can be as many as 3 passengers. Ask us! Each situation is different. The variables are: 1) day or night 2) age of participants 3) sailing abilities of the participants 4) rigorousness of the cruise route chosen 5) strength of the prevailing winds.
Q: I have a lesson or a charter - where do I go?
A: SailBerkeley's boat is at the Berkeley Marina J-Dock, slip 204/210. Click here for directions. J-Dock is behind the Hana Japan restaurant, and just east of the Harbor Master's office. The gate is locked, so when you arrive just give us a ring on your cell phone and we'll come down to the J-Dock gate and let you in.
Q: Will my cruise be private?
A: Yes, whether lessons or cruises, we only do private sails. So you and your party will be the only party on the boat other than your skipper.
Q: What about sea-sickness?
A: The boat has excellent full view of the horizon for passengers on deck, so we find it uncommon except in people who are very very prone to motion sickness. If you are worried about it, you may want to take one of the over the counter medications (please read the directions) WELL BEFORE sailing. You must take it well before your sail to be effective.
Q: Can I bring wine, champagne or food?
A: Yes, you are welcome to bring anything you would like to drink or eat on the boat but we suggest the more simple you keep it, the more you will enjoy your sail. You can bring alcohol, but drinking must be in moderation. Try to bring things you can eat with one hand like sandwiches, fruit, bite sized things in general - these are easiest to manage during the sail. If you cruise stops at Treasure Island, Angel Island, SF, or Richmond - you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to eat by the water. If your cruise stops at the SF Embarcadero, you are welcome to grab lunch at the Ferry Building. If you would prefer, we can provide the food and wine - just let us know in advance what you would like and we can provide the cost.
Q: How do I get a private sailing lesson?
A: Goto the Lesson page and email us with your desired time for a lesson.
Q: How much do private lessons cost?
Q: How many people can come along on a private lesson?
A: Its best to do private lessons with just one student. If your goal is to learn to sail quickly, resist the urge to bring along a friend or significant other. When you have just one instructor on the boat with one student, the student, say, gets "X" learning units from it. When a second person is added, each individual's learning is not 1/2 of "X", its 1/4th or 1/8th of "X". The learning significantly degrades when other students are added. When more people are added, it essentially becomes a pleasure cruise, as opposed to a structured lessons with sequential drills that allow you to learn sailing techniques quickly and efficiently. As such, for lessons, the maximum we allow is two students, but we highly recommend just one.
Q: How much do charters cost?
A: Private charters or cruises on our privately owned Catalina 25 is priced on our Rates page.
Q: How long will the charter last?
A: As long as you want it to. We are happy to discuss various desination options and the typically corresponding time frames they typically take to sail. We can't fully control or predict wind conditions, so some flexibility is required.
Q: What are common charter destinations?
Q: What is the cancellation policy on a private lesson or cruise?
A: With 7 days notice, we are happy to reschedule your sail. However, we are unable to provide refunds.
Q: What if I show up late to a private lesson, charter, or cruise?
A; You start being billed at the scheduled time, so we recommend showing up a little early or on-time. If your lesson was scheduled to start at 1pm and you showed up at 1:15pm, the clock for the hourly rate still starts at 1pm. There are no discounts or refunds for sails shortened due to late arrivals. The Berkeley Marina is absolutely beautiful, so just arrive a bit early and if you have extra time take a stroll along the water.
Q: Do you have a bathroom on board?
A: Yes, the boat has a bathroom (in nautical terms, called the "head") in the cabin of the boat.
Q: Do you sail in the rain?
A: Yes, we sail rain or shine. We have lots of foul weather gear and have lots of fun in the rain.
Q: What if there is light wind or no wind at all?
A: Though it is uncommon, if there is not much wind, we will motor sail (for example towards the Golden Gate for great views of the bridge). We do not cancel sails for light wind conditions.
Q: On a charter can I bring my own food and drinks?
A: Yes and yes! But be sure to keep the food simple if the charter is cutting across the open water on the SF Bay. Remember the SF Bay has a rigorous sailing environment, so it makes it difficult to eat anything that isn't finger food. You are more than welcome to bring food and drinks.
Q: How much alcohol can I drink?
A: You may bring alcoholic beverages, but any passenger consuming alcohol must be at least 21, and passengers assume legal consequences due to illegal drinking of alcohol. Should you become intoxicated, or show up intoxicated, the captain reserves the right to deny service or return the offending individual/group to the harbor. No rescheduling will be available and no refunds will be issued fro sails shortened or cancelled due to intoxicated guests. It's nice to enjoy a few drinks while out for your sail, but intoxicated individuals create unsafe and uncomfortable conditions for all. Also, if you are drinking, you cannot participate in any way in the operation of the boat. We want everyone to have a fun, enjoyable, and memorable sail.
Q: Can I bring illegal substances?
A: Under NO circumstances are illegal substances permitted on board. Any passenger bringing illegal substances on board will be held responsible for all damages that may be caused by such action, including but not limited to: entire cost of vessel due to confiscation by authorities, loss of income due to vessel down time, liability for injuries, legal fees incurred by all parties, etc... Our captains are bound by U.S. Coast Guard Rules to immediately report all possession of illegal substances to authorities, who will meet us at the harbor or even board us on the water to take further action.
Q: Will I get wet?
A: The boat you will be sailing on is 25' long - yes, its quite possible you could get a little wet from sea spray. Assuming you fall within the range of normal adult sizes (XS-XL), we have a top layer of foul weather gear for you to wear. This is a top layer that is used just to keep your lower layers from getting any sea spray on them. It will include a bib and a jacket. We'll also provide you with a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).
Q: Can I bring my swimsuit and go swimming off the boat?
A: No, this is not safe on the SF Bay. We don't mess around when it comes to safety.
Q: Can I bring my fishing pole and equipment?
A: No, this is not safe on a sailboat, or legal without appropriate permits.
Q: Will it be an exciting ride or a relaxing cruise sipping a glass of wine?
A: At SailBerkeley we do real sailing - expect a thrill. Assuming there is wind, your experience will likely fall in the exciting ride side of that spectrum. When there is solid wind, the boat will lean 20-30 degrees - this is when the boat lifts out of the water and really gets moving. There are many companies that will take you out on the SF Bay for a nice leisurely sail where you can sit on the deck munching on hors d'oeuvres and sipping a glass a wine. When there is wind, that ain't us - we do serious fun and exciting sailing.
Q: Will I have to sign a waiver?
A: Yes, of course, and if you want to speed things up bring a filled out copy of the SailBerkeley Waiver with you to your first charter or lessons.
Q: Can I bring my cell phone with me when I go sailing?
A: Yes, but remember your cell phone gets very very nervous at the thought of getting wet – especially with salt water. It’s best to leave your cell phone and other electronics in your car. If you must bring them, put them in a safe dry place in the cabin of the boat.
Q: Is there free parking?
A: Yes, the Berkeley Marina has a massive amount of free parking spaces. When coming to SailBerkeley we recommend parking right in front of J-Dock. The parking lot is shared with the Hana Japan restaurant, so if you see the Hana Japan - you are parking in the right place.
Q: Can I bring a banana on the boat?
A: No. Sailors are a superstitious bunch and a banana is never allowed on a sailboat - its considered bad luck. Please don't try to slip onboard with banana muffins, banana bread, banana-flavored gum or anything banana - all are not allowed once you step on the boat. The day of your sail, just have a damn orange.
Q: Can I bring a hooker, my pet python, 10 kilos of heroine and a banana with me?
A: Sorry - no banana.
Q: What about a life jacket?
A: SailBerkeley will provide a Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), also known as a life jacket, for you to wear. In fact, you are required to wear a PFD before boarding any boat.
Q: I wear glasses. What should I do?
A: When you’re sailing, it can get windy and you can be splashed with water. If you have to wear prescription glasses, please get Croakies (available at Big 5 Sporting Goods) to keep the glasses safely on your face. Please note: cheap sunglasses never fall off your face.
Q: How long is each private lesson?
A: At SailBerkeley, most private keelboat lessons last 3 hours. Some people like to do more such as 4 or 5 hours. If we are out on the water and for whatever reason you need to come in early - no problemo - just let us know.
Q: How do I get the most out of the sailing lessons?
A: Ask lots of questions, and read lots of books on sailing.
Q: What are some of the basic sailing skills I need to know to feel safe on the water?
A: You’ll need to know wind direction (which way is the wind blowing?), rigging, knots (figure 8, bowline, half hitches), steering a straight course, leaving the dock, sailing backward, slow sailing, tacking, sail trim, heave to, points of sail, jibing, capsize recovery, man overboard recovery, sailing in circles, docking, derigging, and right-of-way rules.
Q: What should I bring when I come for a lesson?
A: A change of clothes, extra shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, snacks, drink, money for food (they sell lunch and snacks at the bait shop in front of J-Dock).
Q: What about shoes?
A: Please wear water shoes or other shoes that won't be damaged by water. Your shoes are going to get wet. Please do not wear flip flops because you need to be able to have a good foothold. It’s best to wear shoes that have a non-slip sole.
Q: When is payment due?
A: We typically take a non-refundable deposit of $100 for cruises or lessons with new customers. At the outsail of the sail when you arrive, the remaining balance of payment is due.
Q: How can I ensure that my bill won't go over a certain amount for a given sail?
A: Pay on the dock before you head off for your sail.
Q: What forms of payment are accepted?
A: Credit Card or Paypal. No checks. Your sail must be paid in full to secure a reservation. You're sail is not put on the schedule until payment is successfully received. Up until the time payment is received, other's may book the slot. Payment can be made via credit card by faxing or emailing the Credit Card Authorization Form or via Paypal to:
Q: Is tipping customary?
A: Yes, tipping is customary and typically ranges from 10-20% of the retail cost of the sail (similar to dining out).
Q: Do I need any forms completed and signed prior to embarking on my first sail?
A: Yes, everyone needs to complete and turn in a Liability Waiver Form. If you want to be super efficient and add a couple minutes water time to your sail, you can print this out form and bring it completed to your first lesson or cruise. If you forget, don't worry - we have extra copies you can fill out at the dock at the dock.
Q: Are you licensed by the Coast Guard?
A: Yes, US Coast Guard Master Captain License #3434328 allows for our commercial sailing operation. Taking money (or any "consideration") for a person to sail on your boat is in most cases illegal without such a credential. We are properly licensed and registered with the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA's TWIC program to operate vessels such a ferry boats, harbor tour boats, whale watching boats and other boats that must be inspected routinely by the Coast Guard - however, we choose to operate only sail boats.
Q: What if I have specific concerns or specific goals I’m trying to achieve?
A: If you have any concerns, questions, or want to provide feedback, please let us know!