Regardless of the type of
human powered boat you use for adventure on the Bay there are a number
of factors that can affect your enjoyment and safety.
- Tides and currents
- Man-made hazards and restrictions
- Where you want to go
- What there is to see and where you can stop to eat
- Finding a buddy or a group to paddle, row or sail with
- Rules of the Road
1. Tides and Currents
There are four locations in San Francisco Bay that you can get daily
tide and current readings on-line. Click
The station numbers are:
Redwood City 9414523
San Francisco 9414290
Don’t forget to check the box for LOCAL TIME.
You can also get your own Northern California Tide Log (Pacific
Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924) from all marine supply stores
and most local book stores.
You can also look at a tide
To see wind, tides and currents click
There are five NOAA weather stations in San Francisco Bay that you
can access on-line where wind direction and speed, and air and
water temperature are reported every few minutes.
If you want to see wind patterns over the Bay:
here for wind direction and speed
Marine weather is broadcast continuously on your VHF radio on
channels 3,4 and 6.
To go to the NOAA weather for San Francisco, San Pablo, Suisun and
the West Delta click
To see current satellite photos of Pacific coast weather click
To find the weather forecast for any town try: www.sfgate.com/weather/
For graphical forecasts click here
4. Man-made hazards and restrictions
Shipping channels—Ships have absolute right of way in the shipping
channels. They move fast and have very limited ability to maneuver. Never
cross in front of a ship under way. To see the location of the shipping
channels click here. (the link should be to the Map-shipping channel
layer of the map if possible) You can get information about the comings
and goings of ships from Vessel Traffic Safety on Channel 14 on your
VHF radio and you can see real time movement of commercial traffic
on the Bay by clicking here
Restriced Zones—Areas around the airports, bridge pilings, etc.
etc are off-limits to all boaters for security reasons. Please
click here to see where they are.
Ferry landings—Ferry terminals and landings are busy places.
The ferries come and go on frequent schedules. Exercise special
caution in the vicinity of landings because you are small and may
not be visible to the captain. Vessel Traffic Services, San
Francisco, is developing a Ferry Traffic Routing Protocol to better
define the ferry routes
5. Where Do You Want To Go?
The Bay Access Map shows public launching spots
around the Bay that are used by paddlers, rowers, windsurfers and
Nautical charts of San Francisco Bay are available on line. Click
here & Scroll
18649 Entrance to San Francisco Bay
18650 San Francisco Bay to Candlestick Point to Angel Island
18651 San Francisco Bay—South Part; Redwood Creek; Oyster
18652 Folio, Small Craft Chart; San Francisco Bay to Antioch
18653 San Francisco Bay, Angel Island to Point San Pedro
18654 San Pablo Bay
18655 Mare Island Strait
18656 Suisun Bay
18657 Carquinez Strait
These charts are also available from most marine supply stores or
can be ordered from:
San Francisco Bay has abundant wildlife, some of which lives here
year around and some of which, like the tourists, comes and goes. There
are places in the Bay that are closed, either all the time or seasonally,
in order to give them a chance to rest or breed undisturbed. Seasonal
closures will be announced in the Bay Access Newsletter.
Guidelines for viewing wildlife are available. Click
Equipment that you will need varies tremendously depending on the
sport you choose. In all cases however be aware that the
Bay is cold; temperatures are normally in the 50s. The risk
of winding up in the water is very real for all water oriented
sports. Be prepared for immersion. Wear a wet suit
or dry suit and PFD (personal floatation device). Have self-rescue
skills. Or, have an escort boat ready to pluck you from the
water and warm you.
9. Boat with a Buddy
Each boater is responsible for their own safety but the safety factor
goes way up when boating with a buddy or in a group. Join
a club or team in order to find buddies and organized outings and
to keep up with news and important information regarding your particular
sport. Click here to
locate the organization for you!
10. Rules of the Road
The Inland Rules of the Road published by the U.S. Coast
Guard is to boaters on the Bay what the California Driver Handbook is
to automobile drivers. The purpose of the Rules is
to prevent collisions by making actions predictable. In almost
every situation each vessel is charged with a certain action. In
case of collision legal liability is established using the Rules. As
the operator of a vessel you are required to know and abide by the Rules.
You can access them on-line. Click