Summer has returned at last, and with that, all things sailing. All across the country we see lakes and oceans full of majestic and sleek sailboats of all sizes with skippers of all ages and skill levels at the helm. The following is a guide for sailors who are looking to enjoy some of the vast recreational sailing options along the beautiful California coast, where renting a sailing boat doesn’t just have to be a summertime event.
Renting a sailboat in San Diego
Being a year-round sailing mecca, this area of the country offers almost limitless options for sailboat charters, in one of the most idyllic and beautiful settings imaginable. Here are some companies that you can rent a sailboat in San Diego.
One popular company, Harbor Sailboats, offers a large fleet of boats ranging from 22 feet in length up to 51 feet. They also have a membership club that you can belong to which offers discounts on charter fees and special perks. You could spend the entire summer renting different makes of boats and really getting a feel for what suits you best. Prices range from $200/day to $1000/day depending on size and age of the boat that you choose. These prices are, of course, discounted if you purchase a club membership. Check them out at https://harborsailboats.com.
Mission Bay Aquatic Center
If smaller boats are your thing, Mission Bay Aquatic Center in San Diego offers a wide variety of boats ranging in size from 8-24 feet. You can rent these boats for 2 ½ hour increments at a very reasonable rate. The rental rate begins at $34/session for a smaller 8-16 foot boat, and goes up to $100/session for a 24 foot boat. They also have lessons available, as well as rentals of kayaks, stand up paddle boards, and wind surfers. A great place if you’re just looking for something fun and different to do for a day, they can be found at www.mbaquaticcenter.com.
Renting a sailboat in Newport Beach
Moving up the coast, Newport Beach just may be the busiest sailing spot on the entire west coast of the United States. It boasts one of the larges recreational harbors in the world. Options for renting a sailboat here are endless! It’s almost overwhelming to try to even put together a guide to the choices, but here it goes:
Newport Beach Sailing School
Newport Beach Sailing School is a unique place in that they specialize in private and semi-private sailing instruction. They issue American Sailing Association (ASA) certifications for beginners through advanced sailors. The fun thing about this place is that they offer “Learn to Sail Vacations”. Offering 3, 5, and 7 day sailing instruction, the cost for this service begins at $2000 for two people for the 3 day vacation, and goes as high as $4800 for two people on a 7 day vacation. These vacations all include an ASA certification by the end of the trip, however, making this a very interesting and cost effective option for many sailors. More information regarding their program can be found at www.newportbeachsail.com.
Newport Beach Sailing Charters
Not to be confused with the above, Newport Beach Sailing Charters offers the opportunity to rent sailboats with captains for those who are looking for a more relaxed and catered sailing experience. They specialize in captained charters, adventure charters, and corporate events.
Marina Sailing Newport Beach
Next, we have Marina Sailing Newport Beach, which offers memberships, as well as public rentals. They have been around since 1962, so they must be doing something right. It helps that they have 6 different locations at which you can use your membership benefits. This is one of the few companies that I have seen that also offers organized sailboat races that allow you to try your hand at being part of a competitive crew, versus just leisure sailing. Membership here begins at $295, which seems like a terrific value. They also offer sailing certification courses. Check them out online at www.sailingnewportbeach.com.
Renting a sailboat in Marina Del Ray/Santa Monica
Moving further north, but still very much southerly, we need to talk about Santa Monica. So many choices, so little time! This is such a beautiful place to sail that it is the home of the aforementioned ASA headquarters. Need I say more?
Marina Del Ray Boat Rentals
Marina Del Ray Boat Rentals near Santa Monica offers rentals of Catalina 14.2 and 22 boats. Starting at $55 for a one hour sailboat rental, and topping out at $305 for 8 hours, the Catalina 14.2 is a great value for beginners and fun seekers. The Catalina 22 starts at $85 for an hour and goes up to $476 for an 8-hour rental. This company also offers rentals of power boats, SUPs, kayaks, and jet skis, so they’re a great recreational watersports resource for fun seekers. www.marinadelrayboatrentals.com.
If you’re looking for a fun sunset cruise or a day sail, www.onboat.co offers several privately chartered sailboats ranging in price from $290 for a two-hour sail for 2 people up to $1700 for a four hour sail for 12 people. These however, are strictly captained charters and not available for self-navigating. Fun for a group on vacation though!
Another option that is becoming increasingly popular with weekend and part-time sailors is memberships in clubs that offer boat shares. Naos Yachts in Marina Del Ray offers just such an option. Many places across the US offer sailboat sharing through a group called SailTime. The beauty of this is that you get to use very well-maintained and newer sailboats each year without having to pay costly docking and maintenance fees. More information on their beautiful fleet of boats and membership fees can be found at www.naosyachts.com.
Renting a sailboat in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Sailing
STILL in the southern half of the state, Santa Barbara Sailing lets sailors choose from a multitude of day trip options, including whale watching cruises and other trips to observe marine life. Sailing lessons, bareboat sailing charters and live aboard instructional sailing vacations to the Channel Islands National Park are also enticing choices for patrons. Rent sailboats ranging in size from 22 foot daysailers to 50 foot luxury yachts. They’re a very well-rounded center for aquatic activities. They also offer discounts for members like many of the aforementioned companies.
Renting a sailboat in Santa Cruz/Monterey
Pacific Sail Santa Cruz
Pacific Sail Santa Cruz is another spot that is an accredited American Sailing Association sailing school and yacht charter company. They offer boats in 27-46 foot range with prices from as low as $350 for a weekday up to $600 for a day on the weekend. Just like many other places, they offer sailing instruction and either captained or bareboat sailing charters. More information is available at www.pacificsail.com.
UC Santa Cruz
The UCSC Community Boating Center was started in 1971 by Dick Murray, as a way to make aquatic activities accessible to the Santa Cruz community. It’s program goal is to connect students and community members to the Monterey Bay through the interests of sailing and other watersports, whether they are beginners or more experienced sailors. They offer many affordable options.
Santa Cruz and Monterey have fewer options for public sailboat rentals than their more southerly counterparts, but they do also have a great selection of privately owned charter companies that allow you to sail without the work.
A few of the local captains who promise to show you a wonderful on water experience are:
Renting a sailboat in San Francisco
San Francisco is known for being a tougher climate to sail in. Bigger wind, fog, and the setting of San Francisco Bay offer different challenges for beginner sailors who tend to venture out early in the morning when the winds are lighter. As they grown more confident, they can enjoy the building breezes later in the day. Gusts into the high twenties are very typical in this region, providing for an exhilarating sail!
Spinnaker Sailing is the place to go to learn how to sail in SF. Offering the new or seasoned sailor much in the way of lessons, sailboat rentals, and membership benefits.
Lake Merritt Boating Center
The Lake Merritt Boating Center in Oakland offers boating classes for youth and adults, boat rentals, science & boating education programs and private group boating experiences. The Lake Merritt Boating Center offers classes as well as private instruction on the topics of small boat sailing. They also have year round boat rentals for reasonable fees.
The coast of California definitely loves sailing, as you can see from the sheer number of options available to all sailors of all skill levels. If you don’t see what you need in this article, which really could be book, just a quick internet search will help you narrow it down. No matter how you choose to sail, the California coast is guaranteed to be a wonderful and exhilarating place to do it!