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Old 13-02-2013, 19:46   #1
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San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

My wife and I are thinking of sailing from Washington to the San Francisco bay next fall and spending the winter there. What can anyone tell me about the best marinas with access to transportation, amenities, sunshine, bang for the buck etc.
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Old 13-02-2013, 19:58   #2
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

So much of the bay area has places to stay from Loch Lomand in the north bay to Red wood city in the south.. don't plan on staying in any one marina, skip around from place to place..
Just a hint, if you state you are just passing through, and are cruisers, the term liveaboard never comes up. And not staying in any one place, it will give you advantage to spend time at anchor around the bay...
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Old 13-02-2013, 20:12   #3
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

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My wife and I are thinking of sailing from Washington to the San Francisco bay next fall and spending the winter there. What can anyone tell me about the best marinas with access to transportation, amenities, sunshine, bang for the buck etc.
Bang for the buck? Cough.... Sputter.... Really? In SF?

A lot depends on how big your boat is. I rent a 50' slip in Sausalito for $900 per month. You can do better the further away you get from the city, as a general rule.

The more attractive marinas are going to have wait lists for anything more than transient slips. You might be able to get immediate slips in places like Oyster Point, Redwood City, Emmeryville, Alameda, or Richmond, but again, not knowing what size slip you're looking for it's hard to advise.

Access to transportation is problematic in California. Marinas with great access, such as South Beach, have wait lists as long as your arm, and most don't allow liveaboards.

Give us a bit more info, and maybe we can be more helpful.
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Old 13-02-2013, 20:27   #4
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The Oakland/Alameda Estuary has more slips than the rest of the bay combined. On the Alameda side there's more slips than anywhere in the state except, I believe, Marina Del Rey. Fortman Marina is the least expensive, Marina Village is probably the nicest, they're within 1/2 mile of each other. I have mine at Fortman. 6 - 8 blocks to a pretty good WM and the same the opposite way to a local chandlery & boat yard, Svendsens. They're a quick dinghy ride to Jack London Square that has restaurants, theater, a great jazz club, farmers market. Alameda is a nice safe little city, we call it the Mayberry of the Bay Area. Let me know if I can give you more specific info about anything.
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Old 13-02-2013, 20:28   #5
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

Emeryville Marina. Can't beat the location and price. Besides, they'll have room for you.
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Old 13-02-2013, 20:53   #6
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Emeryville Marina is nice short term, but a little inconvenient for liveaboards with limited transportation. There isn't a grocery store (Trader Joe's isn't a full service grocery store) anywhere near the marina and no chandlery nearby for boat supplies. Plus it's cold and windy.
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Old 13-02-2013, 21:16   #7
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

We spent 7 months in Alameda refitting our boat. I'd say that the Estuary side of Alameda is pretty great but I had a car, I don't know how far a walk it is to the bus.
On Alameda, a small island, you have 3 big grocery stores, 1000 good restaurants, 3 sailmakers, Svendsen's and West Marine (with a rigging shop), 2 other riggers, (maybe more) a good hardware store, several boat yards, many marinas, plus there's Oakland right across the bridge with almost anything in the world that you could imagine, plus crack and chubby hookers and illegal firearms and the world's best taco trucks. Betcha didn't imagine those items.
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Old 13-02-2013, 22:21   #8
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

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Originally Posted by Red Sky View Post
The Oakland/Alameda Estuary has more slips than the rest of the bay combined. On the Alameda side there's more slips than anywhere in the state except, I believe, Marina Del Rey. Fortman Marina is the least expensive, Marina Village is probably the nicest, they're within 1/2 mile of each other. I have mine at Fortman. 6 - 8 blocks to a pretty good WM and the same the opposite way to a local chandlery & boat yard, Svendsens. They're a quick dinghy ride to Jack London Square that has restaurants, theater, a great jazz club, farmers market. Alameda is a nice safe little city, we call it the Mayberry of the Bay Area. Let me know if I can give you more specific info about anything.
I'll second this. I've been in Alameda for 5 months now while out-fitting the boat. I walk up the ramp to Svendsens (greatest boat goodie store around). A 5 minute drive on the "Island" gets me access to the Ferries going all over the bay area. Generally speaking the largest slip is 36'...however...There are end-ties with 50'-60' boats there.
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Old 13-02-2013, 23:07   #9
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

And the Blue Pelican (used marine stuff) is on Alameda!
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Old 14-02-2013, 08:12   #10
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

This is wonderful getting all this info. Thanks so much guys.

The boat is a Tayana 37, 1984 model. I lived in SF/ Berkeley/ Oakland, from 1968 till around 1975, so I know my way around somewhat, I'm sure the bay has changed A LOT since then. Hell, BART was just starting the construction phase at that time. We still have friends in Berkeley/ Palo Alto and San Rafael. Can't wait to check out the taco trucks.

What would be the best phrase to Google to get a list of marinas there? And like I said, she's a Tayana 37 actually 41' to the tip of the bow sprit.
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Old 14-02-2013, 08:23   #11
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

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What would be the best phrase to Google to get a list of marinas there? And like I said, she's a Tayana 37 actually 41' to the tip of the bow sprit.
Marinas in San Francisco Bay | SF Bay
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Old 14-02-2013, 08:53   #12
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

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We still have friends in Berkeley/ Palo Alto and San Rafael.
Emoryville would get you pretty close to Berkeley. Berkeley Marina itself may have a waitlist. Does anyone know its current status?

I've never been into San Rafael Yacht Harbor--closest I've spent a weekend would be Paradise Cay Yacht Harbor, but I'm guessing public transportation will be minimal there. I won't be going back there because the slips weren't as deep as they'd told me they'd be. When a harbormaster in that part of the bay tells you he has seven feet at low tide, you'll be lucky to get five. (Last summer I went aground at the entrance to Benicia the day after the harbormaster assured me I'd have ten feet. I only draw seven.)

If you want to get close to Palo Alto, the new Westpoint Harbor Marina in Redwood City is great, but there isn't a single store within walking distance.

You may want to consider bringing bikes. Check out the thread on folding bikes.
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Old 14-02-2013, 08:56   #13
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

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Berkeley Marina itself may have a waitlist. Does anyone know its current status?
Their web site says there is a wait list.

Marina FAQ - City of Berkeley, CA
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Old 14-02-2013, 10:40   #14
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

We lived in Marina Village for 4 years before we started cruising.... It is by far the easiest Marina for live aboards in the Bay Area...

Maybe 200 meters from shopping and a bus to BART. There is a West Marine, several sail lofts, gas dock, propane and Svendsen's Boat Yard all within within 2 miles. You are also a dingy ride from Jack London Square and its stores. Finally, the weather is considerably more mild than SF, Emeryville, Berkeley or Richmond.

Now the problem with California is that State law limits the number of live aboards to ten percent of the total marina slips (i.e.: 100 slips = 10 Live Aboard slips).

Because most marinas have wait lists for live aboards, you might want to call around and see if they will put you on them at several marinas.


Some Mrinas, like Berkeley, will not put you on a Live Aboard waiting list until you are renting a normal slip.

You may be ableto avoid this by staying a "Vessel in Transit", but you would be paying higher dock fees.

Good luck!
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Old 14-02-2013, 11:00   #15
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Re: San Francisco Bay Area Marinas

In SF: South Beach or Pier 39. No close shopping, no West Marine or any other chandlery.

Sausalito: WM available, not sure of close-by shopping

Loch Lomand: There's a handy walk-to supermarket right there.

Alameda: By far the best for everything. Marina Village has a supermarket within walking distance. Everything else requires a car or a bike, and the area is flat.

Berkeley and Emeryville are useless for services unless you take buses.

Don't forget you can stock up by staying at a marina and anchoring out in Richardson Bay or Clipper Cove.

Also don't forget the Delta. While it gets tule (ground) fog in the winter, it can be delightful in that season without the blow boaters.

I'd plan on moving around.

Buy Kimballl Livingston's "Sailing The Bay" which includes a lot of information you're looking for. The Mahaffey's SF Bay book is useful, too.

Try Google earth for supermarkets and other services.
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